The Perks of Going Solo

I meant to write this a long time ago and I mean a really long time ago, as in a decade ago. I wanted to share my stories, adventures, travels, even misadventures but back then blogging was a word I was yet to understand or even know for that matter. Plus I think I was one of those people who lived blissfully in an era where nothing was clicked and posted on the spot.

Hey am not judging anybody, I do the same when it comes to food, travels and mountains albeit with a tinge of guilt(always) and hesitation(sometimes) and that hesitation persists even now.

For years wherever I have been travelling, I was mostly the solo female traveller and definitely that rare Indian female traveller and while it’s nice to feel exclusive about it, it ticks me off when people ask me, How come you are travelling in India?? ALONE?? It is dangerous!! Instead of showing my middle finger I smile that saccharine sweet smile and say any place in the world is as safe and dangerous as India.

The title of this blog completely describes what it’s going to be, but I have a big motivation and let’s say a slightly selfish agenda to this. I want more women,girls,young adults to travel,not with their spouses/partners/girlfriends/whoever but solo and that too in India.Not for social media, not for anything, but for themselves. One solo travel at least.

My country is such a beautiful sub continent wonderland, it has the most beautiful soul and yes it can surprise you,overwhelm you, take you in and completely mould you. And if one is stupid enough to disregard and disrespect any culture or custom in any place, you will get it and not just in India, this could happen anywhere around the world.

So let me take you a little trip down memory lane as to how it all started.

I remember my first ever Solo trip. It was 2002, I was living in Singapore, alone and bored and decided to treat myself when a long weekend came up. I had no idea where to go, what to do and internet was definitely not what it is now. It was the good old fashioned way of calling up the travel agent and checking out options.

And like that I went off on my own for the first time to Koh Phi Phi islands in Thailand. I remember feeling a little uncomfortable as there were only couples wherever I went. I was the only solo female and an Indian at that. Whether it was elephant sightings or romantic raft rides under the caves with blue green waters, I was with the guide always as he was the other solo one.

While couples cuddled, I read a book, ate and drank on my own and took up snorkelling on a whim and got hooked onto it. Slowly during the journey I started coming to terms with being on my own while travelling. I also got so addicted to snorkelling that for the next few years all my vacations were centered around it. It was calming, being alone in the waters, in silence, it was one activity where you didn’t require anybody, it was you and only you.

It’s been 17 years since my first solo travel and now I just can’t imagine not having at least 1-2 solo vacations every year.In fact when I look at it, in recent years it’s been only Solo.

Going Solo built my confidence, gave me a tremendous sense of satisfaction, exploring and experiencing things that wouldn’t have been possible if I had gone with a group .

And I say this especially as a woman, because we are, well most of us are caught in this web of comfort. We depend on others so much in our daily lives that we rarely get out of that comfort zone.

When one travels solo as a woman, there is that initial trepidation, apprehension and some of it quite justified, hell we know it’s not easy being a woman in this world right?

But slowly when you push yourself out of that zone and open your mind and heart,something beautiful happens. You get to discover a whole New You or maybe it’s the REAL YOU that has been hiding inside.

You get to manage on your own,talk more freely to the locals, know more about their culture, explore non touristy places, make new friends, and do things you wouldn’t have done otherwise.

What did 17 years of solo travel do to me? I have friends all over the world, a message and a call and that’s all it takes for me to visit and stay with them. Your views broaden, you become less judgemental and most importantly you come back with a whole new perspective and that changes your life.

The best thing that Solo Travel did to me was to remove all the unwanted shit, yes I am being that straight forward. You remove all that shit, that baggage that holds you back. You will have no time in wasting your energies on unnecessary people or things. You become lighter and freer.

At the same time, let me be honest here and say Solo Travel will not be a bed of roses always, No way, Life is not like that right? But once you open yourself to the possibilities out there, you get better in handling things, people and yourself.

And I say this to my kind, whatever age you might be, or wherever you are, just do that one Solo Trip, be on your own and see what happens, you might be pleasantly surprised and a disclaimer here, get seriously addicted to it!

So, are you booking yet?

2 thoughts on “The Perks of Going Solo

  1. Hi Swapna, my question is: can one travel solo when one doesn’t have the money to stay in a comfy and clean hotel? This is the only thing holding me back. I can’t bear dirt, dirty bathrooms and dirty hotels. Given a chance, I’d prefer to use the great outdoors and a tent. But i don’t think that is even remotely possible though solo women ravellers have done it (have you read Wild by Cheryl Strayed or Full Tilt by Dervla Murphy?).

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    1. Yes you can. It totally depends on locations. There are good backpacker hostels now in India and around the world that is safe, clean and very easy on your wallet. I will elaborate more on this in my next blog soon.

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