#5 Solo Travel - A journey to self discovery
There is something unique about travelling on your own. Finding your own way from one place to another, meeting people, and getting to know the culture, food, art, & history all on your own is daunting and thrilling at the same time. At times you are at the crest of happiness, and other times, you find yourself at the trough of loneliness. Even so, travelling alone transforms you with each experience, good or bad, and just like some animals who shed their skins, by the end, you are different from who you were when you started. And it is the unknown of the journey that I wouldn't trade for any riches of the world and why I wholeheartedly urge everyone to travel solo once in their lifetime.
I remember the first time I travelled alone to Hampi for three days. It was borne out of frustration of no one wanting to go on a holiday but the time I spent there was nothing short of an adventure. Not sure if you'll call it a cherry on the cake or a pickle situation, but I did not get any network connectivity on my cell phone in the main Hampi area for all three days. That pushed me to be on my own and explore the place in a true sense since I had no way to connect to someone I knew.
And then there was my first solo trip outside India to Europe. I travelled from one city to another, covering five cities in 14 days, again without a cell network and somehow managing a language barrier. Just before my flight, I developed cold feet wondering if I could survive on my own in a different country. But the sight of the airport calmed my nerves. There is something different about airports that kind of pumps my heart with anticipation and excitement. My journey wasn't all amazing; there were moments of loneliness and doubt. Sometimes I couldn't figure out which street to take to reach Airbnb. But then there were moments where I was so lost in the journey that I didn't care if I had to change multiple trains or walk with my luggage instead of getting a taxi. Be that as it may, it was during such a journey that I discovered that I was capable of much more than I could ever imagine.
Solo travel has always been about a journey of self-discovery, putting yourself out in the unknown and facing whatever good or bad comes your way, all while pushing the boundaries you've unknowingly held yourself in. It is about getting comfortable with your own company, enjoying the meal on your own in a restaurant, finding a pastry shop and giving yourself that much-needed treat, waiting in line to see a street performance, or simply sitting on top of a hill looking at the ruins of centuries-old empires.
Once you embark on the journey of solo travel, you'll realise that travelling is not to fulfil a bucket list we all make. It is a learning that makes us mature with every step we take, helps us admire the difference with every place we visit, brings us closer to people we otherwise would never meet and makes us more humble as we breathe and respect a culture far different than what we live.
For anyone considering a solo journey, I'm always rooting for you. It may sound scary, but you'll return as a whole new person without regrets and with stories to share for years.