Couple of days ago I was part of a conversation that nearly ended up in a heated argument and what was it about- travelling, well not just travelling, it was about travelling alone.
I love travelling solo and I know not everyone will enjoy it. And am ok with that, but when you start throwing fancy words and psychology #%$@ into the conversation, that is where I draw the line. This person with who I was chatting with was sharing stories from the recent holiday he had been on. It was a new destination and so I was curious to learn more. As he was winding down, he suggested I plan a trip with friends/family and go for it. I then commented that it sounded like a place i want to explore on my own, which is when he took off on a tangent about how it is not safe to travel alone and how depressing it is that i enjoy travelling alone.
I was appalled to say the least. I started retaliating and gave up at a point where I realised he was never going to understand. We spoke about movies where the heroine travels alone, like Queen for example and then there were movies Vicky Christina Barcelone that was thrown in as well. Oh and not to forget the episode in FRIENDS where Rachel goes off on her honeymoon alone... And then came EAT, PRAY,LOVE where the heroine sets off on a self discovery path.
Hmmm... I wasn't done! He argued that I travelled alone only cos I did not have a partner to travel with and how bored I must have been during the trips I had taken. Had he been in front of me, he would have seen how smoke was coming out of everywhere and how pissed off I was.. Luckily, he was in another part of the world and so escaped my wrath! I just ended the conversation before it came to blows and told him to get back to work!!
So, what is it about travelling alone that I love?
1. Best company
I am my bet companion. I don't want anything fancy, I dont get tired that easy nor am I fussy. And best off it all , I don't have to wait for anyone. I enjoy walking aimlessly, exploring the place, I stop and eat when am hungry, I shop what catches my eye and I dont have to worry about how the other person likes the bed/bathroom or fight to keep the light on late in the night when am catching up on my reading.During my visit to Tanjore/Kumbakonam, I chose a room with Ac and no TV. It worked just fine as I was home just to zzz and shower.
Since I am on my own, I can create my own agenda, or not! During my Goa trip, I knew there were a few places I wanted to visit and rest happened on its own. When I was talking to the locals, they added a few more places and that is when I discovered a tour operator who helped me explore as much as possible during the few days I was there. And when I was done with the tour, I started taking the local buses and taxis to go back to some of the places that caught my eye. It was fun and quite safe.
3. Boosts confidence
I never thought I would be out travelling alone. And when it did happen, I want worried or scared, I was quite excited. There was a new found confidence in me, the way I spoke to people, made plans and figured my way around. I guess it comes naturally, you just learn to be bold and go for it when on your own. It is like being stranded in a new land on your own- you either sit and cry, or pat yourself down and go exploring! I did the latter and there has been no turning back. I have had people gape and ask me if I was out of my mind. Some even went on to ask if I got out of my hotel room or not. And then there are those who look in amazement and comment "I wish I could do all that".
4. Meeting people
In almost all my solo trips, I have visited a local, dined and chatted with them, only to realise it is such a joy to meet the locals and learn about their culture, food and customs. There was a family in Goa who I met during a walk, who invited me home and got me to try some of their local dishes. There as nothing weird or scary about it, they were quite caring and as I left, the couple dropped me off at the resort with a small gift.
All said and done, the other rules of travelling does apply- packing wisely, staying safe and remembering to be cautious.. well there is a thick line between being cautious and being paranoid!! ;o)
Off I go to plan another trip..hopefully it will happen soon..