It undoubtedly is the ‘in-thing’ these days but there’s so much more to solo traveling than following a fad blind-eyed. And if you were to ask me, every woman, at some point in her life, must go on a solo trip. If not for the fact that it is life and perception-changing, then at least for the adrenaline rush and excitement that comes with it. And this, I say, after my own first experience of solo traveling and I must confess I’m already addicted.
However, making that decision to finally go solo traveling is never easy. The pre-travel phase is burdened with doubts, hurdles, challenges and numerous excuses. The first and foremost of the lot being, of course, you! You don’t believe me, do you? So, let’s imagine that you are inspired enough to go on a solo trip. You start researching for places and reading up other’s solo travel stories and suddenly you feel a knot at the bottom of your stomach. ‘Can I really do this?’ ‘Isn’t it too much of a risk?’ ‘Am I being too naïve?’ ‘What if people think I am a loner?’ And then suddenly, all your self-created, baseless doubts will get the backing of the safest excuse we all choose to dive beneath – I. DO. NOT. HAVE. THE. TIME. You close all the blogs you were reading, all the websites you had opened, tear off the piece of paper you were jotting down your broad plans on and tada! back to normal routine life. Well, I was no different. So when I had the very first thought of a trip of this nature, I took two steps to ensure I was not going to back out on this one. One, I decided to do some pro bono work with an NGO at my destination of choice, Shillong and dropped them a mail. Once their confirmation was in, I sealed out the first possibility of escape. And the second, I booked my onward flight tickets two months in advance leaving me no scope to re-think my plans. However, it would be dishonest on my part if I tell you that I didn’t have second thoughts about the trip, I did. But the fact that I had already committed to someone about my availability ensured I was going after all.
The next on the challenge list will be family and friends. Yes, it is hard for your loved ones to understand your lunatic need to go on a trip all alone, especially being a girl, when you have people who are ready to accompany you – be it your mother, best friend or spouse. I mean, imagine the scenic beaches of Goa where you can party with friends, imagine the first snow at Shimla that you can enjoy with your husband or imagine the forest trail that your father would have loved to join you for. They may not understand the fun in going alone unless they have had their share of solo traveling too, probably. And then there is concern and fear for your safety. It’s only natural! After all, that’s why they are your dearest family and friends, right? But that said, if you can’t convince them of your plans, I guess you won’t be able to convince anyone else in the world. So with all that conviction you have within you tell them you really need to go and assure them that you will keep them updated.
Now moving onto the one excuse that we all swear by, a mention of which I did make in the beginning, time constraint. The excuse, ‘I do not have time’ is a big fat lie and let’s all face it. If we truly value something, consider it exciting or important enough, we will do it no matter what. And let’s make it clear to our conscious that the solo travel you are just about to make – isn’t a luxury, isn’t a waste of hard-earned money, isn’t about being selfish or isn’t losing focus on more important things in life. It’s just one of those things that you wish to do, that can be done on a budget and without putting everything else in life on a back-burner.
And then there is this one reason which I didn’t initially treat as a potential to this list but eventually had to include – judgments. There will be no dearth of people out there who would be curious about your reasons for solo traveling – relationship issues? loss of a job? some illness? But do not fall prey to the fear of being judged. We all have a mind and life of our own. Those who bother too much about others are best left to themselves.
Similarly, your age (I’m too young / too old), your financial status (I can’t afford it), your relationship status (It’s too selfish to leave my husband behind), your job (I would possibly not get promoted if I take a vacation), your fear (It’s not safe) will all urge you to procrastinate or even get the thought out of your mind. However, the power to steer you closer to your journey is in your hands and you must take charge because this is one experience you will cherish life-long. You can take every solo travellers word for that!