I never traveled much as a child. Every summer holidays we used to travel to Bangalore to stay with grandparents. My mom would come for a day or two to drop me & my brother and one of our Uncles would drop us back. The first time I was traveling along to Bangalore, my mom came to board me into the bus, I had a smartphone, I knew that my uncle would show up as soon as I reach, still, I was worried. I kept seeing my mom from the glass window of the bus, waving my hand till I lost her sight.
A few years later on my first solo international trip, my entire family came to the airport to send me off. I remember getting into the airport, high on adrenaline, collecting my boarding pass and looking back to the departures only to see my family still waiting to say that one last goodbye for the next few weeks.
I’ve come so far from those times. But even today whenever I embark on a new journey, In my mind’s ears I hear voices of my family, friends and acquaintances warn me about the dangerous world. But then another voice defeats the rest by saying no one is braver than you, the world is dangerous but its also full of love, compassion, nature and wonderful people. And that’s how I conquer my solo travel fears.
Understand What solo travel means:
When someone says solo travel it doesn’t mean you book a fixed departure itinerary with a travel agency, go around and Come back. I really don’t know what to expect from that type of a trip…Sure you’ll have fun, taking a vacation in a new place and stuff. But will it change something within you?? – Am not sure.
Understand the difference between a vacation and a solo expedition.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
– HJ ackson Brown
I can’t agree more with Mr Brown when he says sail away from the safe harbour. Go for it. Be it a place which is an hour distance from your city or someplace cross border or somewhere which is countries apart! Trying being on your own, interact with locals, understand their lifestyle, take public transport to navigate, Try local delicacies and find Inspiration that motivates you to take a step closer to your dreams.
What to Expect from Solo travel???
For once you can be completely on your own!!! You get up when you feel like, see what you want and Eat what you like without bothering about someone else’s choices. Suddenly that burden is off your shoulders and you can do things at your own pace.
Isn’t this the freedom you longed for?
Breaking the stereotype:
It’s dangerous and you’d be bombed if you go there, they said and I met the kindest and humble people there and realized every common man wants peace to prevail. Are you crazy?? you’d be robbed or harassed if you travel there, they said and I got the best hospitality, met some wonderful people who treated me with utmost respect and I found felt home away from home.
They also said, Solo travel is Unsafe, but today I vow what I am to my solo travels. They made me a better person, I became more kind, more strong and generous.
In today’s world of Internet, the news filled with hate and social media filled with visual content, I still travel to give my eyes a different perspective to the same places I saw on social media, to give my soul the liberation of finding inspiration from the same people the media warned me about.
I try not to listen to the voices around me and every time realize that the stereotypes are all wrong.
Self discovery is the Solo traveler Jagraon:
That true, When I move away from the comfortable grounds and get away from the influence of people I know, I re-discovered something new about myself.
That’s simply because when you have you a friend or family or anybody you know around you, you start to behave differently and think according to them.
I personally give this to the fear of judgement. So when you don’t know anybody and starting fresh connections you will be ‘you’ and that’s when you truly understand what you really are.
From navigating in an unknown place and cracking hacks, to learning basic words of a new language and organizing skills you will learn a lot.
Self-acceptance and making peace with yourself is one important leaning amongst many, as there is no one with you to blame or shift liability
You will also learn to take great pictures of yourself. Using timers, tripods, gopro’s, taking help from strangers and what not :p
Become a Better Person! :
You may ask how. And the answer so simple that you already know it.
When you realize that people across any nation are just like you, they are humans and nationalities, religions, race, cast creed are just created for the record, then there is no place for Hate.
When you encounter acts of kindness from strangers, when you share a meal with a family which is not your own when you realize how wrong you were when you judged someone by their appearance or what they wear and when you feel compassionate for a community which is not in your hometown…..You regain immense faith in Humanity and you become a better person. You become more empathetic and less judgemental.
“And yes in between all this you will have a lot of Fun”
How about safety during solo travel??
Firstly let us accept the reality that Bad things can happen anywhere.
I’ve had incidents where I got cheated by locals in Europe but that happened to me in my own country as well.
I had to take harassment in the form of abusive catcalls while I was travelling in North India, but that also happened in my own city right next to the street I live.
So especially If you are a female, whether you are at your own city or elsewhere you cannot afford to take an off in protecting/guarding yourself. Solo female travel safety is important.
Here a few safety tips for traveling alone:
Have a strong belief in your instincts. You would agree with me when I say that the worst things happen when we ignore the hints of our gut feelings.
If you think it’s getting darker or the streets are getting deserted. Time to go back. If a cab driver seems to be creepy then skip taking it. If you think someone is talking to you or behaving in a way you are not comfortable then think of immediate escape plans. Staying safe while traveling is better than being sorry.
Be Responsible. Always be in your senses. [ Don’t be stupid (strike off) ]. Do not leave hints to strangers that you are vulnerable. Not Trusting strangers is not an option when you are travelling alone, but have control over what you talk and tell them about yourself at least at first. Like Never tell a stranger that you don’t know anyone in that place and travelling alone. Play it maturely and let them have a feeling that if they try to harm you they will be in trouble.
Understand local cultures & traditions. Dress up and behave accordingly.
Information. Always let your family or friends know your whereabouts. Unless you are looking for deep solitude, always carry a phone with a local SIM card. It not only comes to help in panic situations but its also very important to let our loved ones know that we are safe.
Keep the numbers of you host/hostel front desk saved on your phone (keeping a written note also helps just in case)
Always distribute money and copies of your passport and visa in multiple places. I usually keep half of my money and cards with me in my pocket or handbag. The rest in the backpack and some if you have a luggage bag.
There is nothing wrong with preparing for the worst. Keep pepper spray or a taser handy.
Research very well about the place you are going to. Do’s and Don’ts. Speak with local hosts or local people before you go there.
On day 1 try to reach during the daylight.
These are just a few must safety precautions to keep in mind. But there will be permutations and combinations of situations which you will have to handle on your own. But it’s worthwhile 🙂
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