By Hitesh Bhatt:
It is the fifth month of my solo travelling. In these months, I have received a lot of messages asking me why I travel alone. Don’t I get bored? They say they like the concept of travelling but don’t understand how it is fun travelling solo.
There was a time when I won’t even go to a grocery store alone. I used to call my roommate to accompany me as I would get bored alone. Our society is also constructed in a way that fosters companionship. Watching a movie, shopping, and dining: these are things if someone does alone, is looked down upon in the society. The conditioning of our minds have become such that there remain less opportunities for us to spend a single minute with ourselves, peacefully. At times of catharsis, people are explicitly suggested to spend a few minutes alone with themselves. Meditation is promoted to those who lack peace of mind. While we all know and have experienced the power of togetherness, there are only a few who have experienced the power of being alone. There is a difference between being alone and being lonely. Alone is a choice while lonely is a forced/unwanted situation.
Let’s get into the material and non-material benefits of travelling solo:
Expense Control: I travel with a shoestring budget of Rs.300 a day. If I travel with someone else, two things happen. Either I end up spending more than 300 or the other person bears my expense. While the former happens more than the latter, I don’t appreciate the latter as well. Hence, I travel solo to the far and wide places in this country. In other words, if you travel solo, you will always be economical the way you had planned.
New Friends: When you travel with someone else, you are confined in your own two-person territory. You will spend more time talking and having fun with each other. In contrast, if travelling alone, the whole world will be your possible companion if you look for it. You will force yourself to talk to new people, take interest in the conversations, listen deeply, speak limited and learn more. If travelling is only fun for you, travel with a friend but if travelling is a way of life, there is no better teacher than solo travels. I have made so many friends from all over the world through my travels. My cross-cultural understanding has improved and I have, now, some of the great new friends in my life.
Control On Your Life: When you are out there trekking through dense forests and mountains, lost in your own thoughts, or sitting on a hill top watching a sun setting into the lap of mother nature or when you are awake at 5 in the morning to go to the beach and take a plunge to experience how it feels to swim and freeze: there is no one to tell you otherwise. You decide which destination you go next, how long you stay there, how much you travel on a particular day or how much you sleep. You feel like a free bird/bull and trust me that you will fall in love with this feeling and yourself.
Fearless: Everyone knows what fear is. It is something that stops us from doing so many things we could have done in our lives were we not fearful. That girl/boy we wanted to propose to in high school, that competition we wanted to take part in but didn’t due to the fear of losing, that entrance exam we didn’t prepare for due to the fear of not qualifying it, the jobs we didn’t apply due to the feeling of being under-qualified and fear of not getting it. Not only that, there is a fear which tops the chart of fears and that’s the fear of unknown. The fear of ‘what-if’ is our roadblock.
Before I started travelling, I was a person with all these fears in my mind. What if I lose my job, what if my girlfriend breaks up with me, what if I never am able to buy my dream car and so on. In these months of travelling, at times with consciousness and most of the times without realizing, I have overcome my fears. I am not scared of death, not even a painful one because I have started seeing everything as a life experience. I have learned to detach ‘I’ from any good or bad that happens with me and I don’t feel too happy or too sad. I am poised, calm, and fearless. All the credit goes to solo travelling. Had I been travelling with a companion and these changes would have occurred, I would think the other person is a big reason for these changes. Since, I know I have been alone; I give all the credits to myself for showing courage to change myself.
More Confidence: Once you see yourself doing things you had never imagined doing alone, you become more confident about your capabilities. When you overcome your fear of heights, fear of initiating a conversation with a stranger in a café, fear of spending a dark night alone on top of a mountain and so on, you become confident about yourself. You know that you have achieved something without an external help. And you know you can do more things all by yourself. That feeling is liberating.
Time For Introspection: Travelling solo will leave you to have ample time with yourself. You will have enough time to think about your past, your present, your future, your people, your friends and your foes. You’ll think about things you could have done and things you shouldn’t have done. You’ll understand yourself better and try to become an improved version of yourself.
Appreciate The People In Your Life: I’m a people person yet I travel solo. When I see a group of people having fun during a trek or a couple engrossed in a deep conversation in a crowded street, I, at times, miss my people. It makes me sad for a while and then I look at the other benefits of travelling alone and I let this feeling go by. But this teaches me to appreciate and take care of my people who have been with me through thick and thin. We realize the value of something when we don’t have it. When we don’t have friends and family when we want them the most, we know how important are them. Travelling solo fosters that feeling.
Anonymity: You are in an unknown place. You are alone. You are anonymous. You want to do something crazy that you have never done. You don’t have a known person around you to make you feel uncomfortable. You lie down in a busy street for 30 seconds. You get up. Everything feels different. You are still anonymous. You feel great. You are mad. You overheard someone calling you ‘abnormal’. You smile. You reply within, “I have had it with normalcy, anyway.”
In the End, We Are All Alone: Many a times when our heart breaks or something else that terribly goes wrong; we feel lonely. We think about all the people in our life and realise that in the end, we are the only friend we have that will remain till the end. If you are someone who has travelled solo at least once, you will be able to bear the pain of loneliness. You’ll be much appreciative of your loneliness than ever. You’ll become a stronger person.
Know Who We Are: In the end, the most important problem of our life. Who are we? What do we want to become? What are my strengths and weaknesses (not those you write in your job application resume)? What are my interest areas? You might not get an answer but you will definitely get an idea as to who you are and what your limits are and who do you want to be.
I found my peace while travelling solo. You might find yours. I have conquered my fears. I live freely, happily, and adventurously. What are you waiting for? If you are not a full time traveller, this weekend, pick up your backpack and go somewhere solo. It is liberating. Trust me.
If you are a solo traveller, already, please do add on to the above points and share with me why you prefer to travel solo.
Note: This post has also been published on the author’s personal blog. All images in this post have been provided by the author.