Most of the times, when we plan a trip with someone else, it either gets postponed or there’s some dilemma in choosing the destination or regarding the travel time/duration, etc. Amidst the endless confusions that keep arising every now and then, most of those travel plans get canceled forever!
I started traveling solo nearly 5 years back, when I had just finished my studies and was kinda’ clueless thinking ‘What Next?’ I explored several states in India on my own, mostly spending my time in Rajasthan, West India. Later, I started trekking in the Himalayas and fell in love with the mountains. I met some beautiful souls during my journeys, and eventually, they turned out to be the best people in my life.
Today, I’ve got a partner who happily agrees to set out for backpacking journeys with me, every now & then, and a bunch of friends who are pretty crazy and they’d seldom cancel any plan. But I still love to travel alone at times, to feel the goodness of my own company and to let go of the adverse thoughts that otherwise surrounds me. It’s my way of seeking peace away from the regular chores of life, and I’m absolutely in love with my solo journeys that help me to grow beautifully.
If you are still in thoughts to step out of your comfort zone and travel solo, then you must know how it’ll impact your personal growth and help you to be a better person!
Well, this might sound like a complicated thing, but in reality, it’s perhaps the simplest one we can do for ourselves. Before I took my first solo trip, I wasn’t sure of what exactly to take up as a career – I had just finished my Masters in International Relations and figured out that I wasn’t ready for further studies. Was I ready for a 9 to 5 job? – Well, I didn’t know about it. Once I was back from my trip, I knew what I wanted – and all I wanted was to write! My journey brought me closer to things that I never got to know while living in an urban settlement with all the basic comforts of life.
The roads taught me things that I wished to write; I wanted to let others know about the beauty of the world that lies beyond our comfort zone. I was lucky enough to get a chance to work as a Fellow in a school, at a tribal village in Western India and traveled extensively to understand how differently people lived in various parts of India. It broadened my perspectives and helped me to pursue my passion for writing.
Until you decide to break free from where you are stuck, you’ll keep missing out the surprises that life has in store for you! Set out for that exploration alone, and meet a new you – possibly, the best version of yourself!
While the thought of traveling alone might appear to be dangerous and scary, it’s nothing like that in real. Most of the things are just in our head – thoughts like people wouldn’t be nice to us and strangers shouldn’t be trusted, etc. It was only when I started traveling by myself, I realized that the world still has amazing people and strangers can become friends in no time! Traveling and spending time in a different place which is very different from that of our own, helps to toughen us up, both mentally and emotionally.
Also, facing unavoidable circumstances and difficulties in an unfamiliar environment, among new people, forces us to learn and adapt to a life that’s out of our comfort zone. This, eventually, makes us more flexible, patient and adaptive.
It’s only when I started traveling by myself, that I got to realize what culture shock literally meant, and the fact that it isn’t really ‘shocking’ but something worth enjoying! The newness in everything intimidated me, as I got to learn more with my experiences.
As you’ll travel solo and learn to cope up with situations by yourself, you’ll know that things might be difficult but nothing really is impossible! This is an important aspect of cultivating a growth mindset in your life. A friend who practices yoga vigorously once mentioned that solo traveling & yoga both combine to form the best ingredients of life, and I couldn’t agree more with her.
It’s a general human character – we tend to accept the good things with open arms, but when it comes to the ‘not-so-good’ part, we feel traumatized and broken! We often feel that ‘why is it happening to me?’ – and take everything by heart that life seems to take a pause. But that pause is just in our heads – and in reality, nothing really stops!
When you embark on your solo journey, it’s inevitable that you’ll come across several setbacks that’ll hamper the smoothness of your plans. You’ll feel frustrated and broken (as always) but then, you’ll also learn to deal with them, realizing that an obstacle on the way is never the end of the journey. The more setbacks we face on the roads, the better we get in dealing with them and in moving ahead, with much more confidence.
During a Vipassana meditation course, I had learned the lessons of ‘Impermanence’ but stuck in the regular chores of life, I was getting too attached to things. It was again when I started traveling solo, that I realized how true the lessons of ‘Impermanence’ are, and that every night will break into daylight!
Eventually, by the end of the journey, you’d realize that those setbacks have added extra spice to your adventures and blessed you with experiences that’ll help you in handling adverse situations in the days ahead.
You’ll probably be thinking that the morning cup of bed tea is something that you absolutely deserve or your 4 AM friend will always be there to hear your banters over a call. You rarely say “I Love You, Mom” or maybe you forget to hug your siblings for no reasons! Happens to all of us – I believe, as we take most of the things in life for granted! And more often, it’s difficult for us to let go of these comforts, which we are used to enjoying.
In today’s date, when everyone is running in the rat race for achieving something bigger and better, we often forget how fortunate we are to have a loving family and supportive friends, and that we don’t really have to worry about managing the finances, etc. Unfortunately, people everywhere aren’t that fortunate and traveling solo will help you realize the intricacies and the real difficulties of life and how people are coping up best with their conditions, making good use of the best means available.
It was only when I took a volunteer trip to Nepal, living at a Children’s Home with abandoned and orphaned kids, I got to value the little things of life. Choosing to do something different helps in putting a lot of things in perspective and trust me when I say this, traveling and volunteering for a meaningful cause will certainly teach you humbleness and gratitude.
People usually get confused with the terms ‘Lonely’ & ‘Alone’. You can be ‘lonely’ even when you’re with a lot of people around you! It doesn’t matter what you’re doing or whom you’re with, loneliness is something that chases you everywhere and it’s difficult to get rid of. However, being ‘alone’ is something completely different. It’s a phase that we seek, in order to enjoy on our own, sort our thoughts, be with yourself and find solace in that. Being alone, essentially, means doing things by yourself, but also doing them for yourself.
And this understanding would come easily when you travel solo. Many people thought that I’m traveling solo because I was lonely, but the truth was that I wanted to be alone – I wanted to live by myself, in a place where no one knows me and I know none! There were days when I would just travel in local buses that ply across various towns in the Himalayan region, observing people. I absolutely enjoyed it – to stop at a tea stall and sip on the steaming ‘chai’ while listening to what people discussed. I laughed with the kids even when I didn’t understand a bit of what they said! I sat by the rivers, listening to their rhythm and scribbled my thoughts on my notebook.
Now when I sit and read them, my heart fills with joy. I feel happy thinking that I chose to do something else, while the rest of the world is still stuck in the cubicles, missing out the little things in life. Traveling solo will help you to learn that being alone is a state of being; loneliness is a state of mind.
What exactly is stopping you from heading out alone, and conquering the world? My friend, I would say that for once in your lifetime, let go of all those fears and set yourself free – for once in your lifetime, travel solo, just to understand the wonderful things that it would do to your mind & soul.