Everytime I take a solo trip, it feels like the first time!
Having travelled extensively all over India with friends and family, I know that I enjoy travelling like there’s no tomorrow. But something about solo travel is always petrifying. A monstrous fear washes over me and I become breathless first followed by a migraine attack, fever and nausea. I felt the same way on that day as well but there was a voice inside me that screamed!
I took a breather, came back to my senses and decided to take off! It was one of the best decisions of my life!
Here are the top 5 lessons I learnt on my first solo travel adventure:
1. Facing your fears is incredibly freeing
I have always been afraid to face my fears. Afraid to acknowledge they even exist. I would go about life focussing on the positives, like I’ve always been taught to think. Being a happy and chirpy person came naturally to me but this deeper dimension of myself was a surprise! Not at all pleasant but surprising nevertheless.
This time around I was staring right at my reflection. I was observing my feelings and fears inside of me. They made me feel physically sick. All I wanted to do was run away from the difficult world, crawl in a corner and cry! Yes, it was that intense! But finally, I decided to “JUST GO” and it surely helped me “LET GO” of my fears.
2. You will be pushed far outside your comfort zone
I did go on a trip to Mumbai and Pune alone last year, technically my first solo trip but I had friends there to fall back on, in case of emergency. I needed to get out of my comfort zone real bad. On the pretext of waiting for friends, the right time and place, I kept postponing my travel plans consciously or unconsciously. But for a solo trip, I didn’t have to wait for anyone. All I needed was me. This was one realisation that hit me like a wave.
Want to get out of your comfort zone? Solo travel will gladly kick you out! It will throw you into situations you have never seen or heard or experienced before. Right from language barriers to staying wary of being fleeced, you will be cautious, uncomfortable and adventurous at the same time. You will be forced to talk to people in mono-syllables and signals. You will get to interact with locals/strangers. What a high this is! You will only know once you go.
3. Solo travel gives you time to reset your priorities
I had a lot of alone time to reflect on everything that is important to me. The people I cared about, my job, my positives and shortcomings. I carried a journal wherever I went and asked myself different kinds of questions that I would otherwise not ponder over. I racked my brain for all this. Usually, I would end up with a migraine, stress and give up but here, among the mountains, all I felt was a strange sense of calm.
I felt like if I could go on a solo trip alone, I can absolutely conquer the world. Trust me, if I can, you can too! Then I made a list of all my fears – it was a two pager mind you! And then I realised, no one in this new place gives a damn about me. My fears hold absolutely no meaning here (Okay except a couple, like fear of humans and snakes! These I will carry to my grave).
4. It will teach you a lesson in gratitude and courage
You never take time to appreciate the many things that you otherwise take for granted in your busy lives. Things like fresh air, nature, sunrise, the ocean, food, warmth, humans to talk to, water and even a washroom! You will amaze at the slightest beauty and wonder how people living in this place don’t seem to appreciate all this! It’s a role reversal!
I learnt that strangers are not bad after all! People in both Maharashtra and Kerala have been extremely kind and warm to me. Their hospitality made me feel welcome. They were intrigued that I could take off, absolutely solo! That gave me a sense of pride! I was the only person who could fend or defend myself against all odds. All I had was my gut feeling to guide me wherever I went. That is when I learnt to truly appreciate life as it came and I discovered a newfound respect for myself!
5. You can be anyone you want to be, especially yourself!
When travelling, no one knows who you are, how crazy, messed up, useless or weird you are! You can be absolutely yourself or be absolutely anyone you like! On this trip of mine, I faked that I was the most confident woman out there! I carried my shoulders high, I knew what I wanted, I was not gonna take any bullshit from anyone.
This may sound silly but when I was hiking along the hills studded with tea plantations in Wayanad, I carried a long stick for support. When I hit the road, I still carried it with me. There was this auto driver I was hiring who then asked me to throw away the stick or he wouldn’t let me board. I held my ground, I wouldn’t budge! The stick gave me power now. He gave up and let me in. This small incident taught me how to stand up for myself.
Solo travel is amazing and I will do more and more of this. It gave me brand new insights into who I am and even cleared my head of all the gunk I was storing there! Trust me when I tell you this, it will do you more good than bad. Even if you are facing a tough situation, it will help you come out of it stronger. You will learn to forgive yourself and fall in absolutely fall in love with yourself. Isn’t that what life’s all about?