It was just another day in the early summer of 2018. The weather wasn’t sweltering rather it was surprisingly pleasant. I was having a chat with an old friend and he exclaimed, “Just once! You have a long weekend coming”. Some contemplation, follow up manoeuvres, and there I was with a backpack, a booking at a backpacker’s hostel, boarding the bus to Alleppey (Alappuzha), Kerala .
Little did I know it wasn’t just my first trip. It was a beginning of a new journey.
Here’s the top 5 things I learnt and you should know while traveling solo.
- You are never alone — The first rule of traveling alone is that you’re never really alone. I know it sounds ironic but you’ll meet plenty of people along your journey, make friends, and score good moments. For the remaining time, anxiety will be your companion. It’s fascinating going through extreme swings of withering patience, hopelessness, to swivelling back with surprises. and contentment. Uncertainty drives an adrenaline rush. Also, have no itinerary ! If someone asks you at a backpacker’s hostel, “Do you want to join us and explore place XYZ ?” > YASS !
- Adapting for survival— No this isn’t a clickbait. Realising the type of person you are and the one you want to be is an evolving process. It involves meeting people across cultures and borders, respecting their behavioural traits and differences. I learnt that the only sustainable way is to be welcoming of anything that is thrown at you. There isn't a need to adjust but to calibrate. A welcoming smile and small talk is often enough.
- Trust your instincts — Making impromptu plans and getting lost on random trails ? Wandering shady places around midnight ? Inner instinct is your best friend. I have hitchhiked enough places with extremely good experiences, but the most important part is always to be be alert of your surroundings. Do not get carried away. Sometimes you quiver with anxiety, and sometimes you lose hope, but in the end you should know that there’s light at the end of tunnel.
- The bigger picture — Every piece of travel is an unknown story in making. You are wandering alone through the hills, water gushing, the sky dazzling chromatic and you come across folks moving on the same trail. Small talks turn into giggles and next thing you all are chilling at a cafe making plans for the next day. Keep your hopes high but expectations low, and let the journey build itself.
- Mingle and learn — Almost everyone I met in last 3 years had a lasting impact on me. I’ve learnt and mirrored good qualities as well as picked up new skills and hobbies. It could be social skills, motivation for fitness, running, or even self improvement. I’ve been a firm believer of the saying, birds of a feather, flock together. There’s a good chance that you’ll meet and settle around people of your type. It’s mostly luck though. Or is it ?
The hardest part is never the climb, but the way down, the good bye. Most of the times you’re not going to visit the same place or meet the same people, nor have the same experiences. There’s always something new. Expect the unexpected.
Have you ever thought about taking your first solo trip but ended up procrastinating since ?
The only person who is holding you back is YOU.
It’s not your protective parents or your sluggish friends. Deep down we’re all nervous and have our own insecurities. We often deceive to get all the other things done in life then why stop at discovering the best version of ourselves ?