Why you should go on solo trips often?
“We are a team of explorers, you know, you and I!” you say to yourself in the mirror after an onerous as well as invigorating solo trip you came back from. You quickly head back to your room and start unpacking your bags to take a quick look at the souvenirs you picked from a seller while hiking to the monastery up the hill or the wooden keychain you bought with inscriptions from a local artisan.
The trip is still fresh in your head and you can’t wait to tell your friends about the soul-cleansing experience you had while you were hitchhiking to a place you forgot to reserve the seats in the bus for. Not because you winged your trip or overslept but got overwhelmed with the response you got from yourself after the solo trip.
Things do not have to go south for you to settle for a solo trip. The story does not always to start on a wrong note such as, “my friends could not make it/afford the trip” or “none of my colleagues are into hiking” or “We could not get leaves on the same day”. Memorable moments have also taken through planning too. Yes, somethings might need a little bit of tweaking so we can regale people with our very own folk tales for years to come, but you can have as much fun, even more, *insert a placeholder filler*, if you plan a trip imagining no one but yourself riding a bullet through the picture-perfect terrains of Pangong lake as your Go-Pro camera shoots videos of the endless skies straight out of Vincent Van Gogh’s acrylic palette.
By the end of all this, you will realise that the reason traveling is cathartic is because you realise you and your problems in the world are so tiny that they don’t deserve the level of stress you put yourself through – that there are bigger things to get defeated from, like greatness and the beauty of a foreign land, their soil, language books, music, and way of living. And travelling alone on top of that makes us appreciate the world around us even more.
Read on know why you should travel alone more often.
As children we are taught not to take candies from strangers because their intentions might not be always be in our favour and as we grow up, we understand the meaning of the quality our parents inculcated on us to save us from bad energies and behaviours.
The quality of life that was taught in order to make us sharp and aware of mis-conducts later on becomes the very cacoon we fail to look out of. It takes shape of our comfort zone persuading us to believe unlearning will take away the sense out of our lives.
Travelling alone, however, changes that significantly and almost meteorically from your very first trip. Every time we are faced with challenges, rough pathways, and some kind of a barrier we are led to shed the old learning and embrace new perspective to adapt so we can appropriate a better understanding of things we weren’t made aware of otherwise.
I remember traveling to Jammu on a train and a solo traveller got robbed off her luggage at Mathura station and she didn’t even get off her seat let alone the train. The next thing she knew was that people travelling on the same train offered her to help with all her needs.
The solo trip was important to her since she was going to fulfill her wishes of visiting a shrine in Jammu after seven long years but was left with nothing but remorse after getting robbed off her money and winter clothes. Many women as well as men who were total strangers came together to help her with funds, clothing, and other basics she may have been in the need of to sustain the trip.
The whole incident only goes to prove that the world is not as dark as it is on the television screen. It is full of people who are willing to help each other which is rarely seen in a normal life setting.
A huge contributor to solo travelling is that you don’t have to force yourself to think about how lonely you are and how a few people at your disposal could have changed the scenario altogether. Everyone functions at their own speed and so do you. Travelling alone broadens your understanding about what you actually enjoy doing. How you spend your time when nobody is looking at you from the corner of their eyes.
While travelling alone, you don’t try to match up with anyone’s pace. You don’t need to fill up every moment with an idea or a thought to strike up a conversation. There will be times when you might miss seeing a place with someone but the realisation that you were able to see it on your own would put all the expectations to rest. In hindsight, the thought alone would bless you with golden memories that won’t lose its luminosity for a long time.
It is good to leave a few things behind while going on a solo trip. Like the weight of expectations from people and undergo an honest conversation with ourselves about what you wish would change once you are back to the old life. Will the sun hit differently? Will you be more than just someone who works throughout the week for Friday nights? Or is there a life beyond the usual conundrum?
Get rid of the emotional as well as the physical excess so it doesn’t hold you back from climbing up the summit you discovered. So you can be ready to handle any situation that once twisted your arms but now seems like a speckle of dent which was barely even visible.
In early days people felt validated when they received a letter back from someone they wrote to or someone they totally didn’t expect to hear from. We all sought for validations in the form of poetries, stories, and theatre performances which is still part of the discourse but what started as an to impart information and knowledge soon became a desperate call for attention with the influx of social media.
In this day and age, the catalogue of information and knowledge has taken a form of daily routines and what we eat. We feel the need to tell the world about the dress we are wearing and the place we visit in order to be seen or heard by strangers and people we barely even meet.
Our self-worth lies in how we see ourselves outside the world of social media which we try to frame as perfect. Travelling helps us take that step back and find the lost tune of self-discovery or rather the reason to our existence. You come closer to yourself in a way that does not need a mark of approval in the form of likes or reactions in order to feel at peace.
Although these status updates, likes, location check-ins, and brand tagging provide validation, it is short-lived which we mistake as our reality and try to compete with a world in our own echo-chamber without realising that they might not know we exist.
As I write this I become aware that before anybody else, we should be able to see our work in a good light and continue to becoming the best versions of ourselves through doing more, travelling more, and not worry about being recognised. Take a trip to a place you don’t have to use your phone as a distraction.
Going back to the incident on the train at Mathura station, I got to see the side of people I thought only existed in movies and stories. Plus, the lady who had lost everything before reaching her destination seemed surprised at seeing people putting in money and clothes so she can complete the pilgrimage without encountering further problems. Some even took her number with a promise to check on her.
Encountering new people, you will learn that the basic values remain the same. They don’t change with the language or because of a different geographical location. Men and women are willing to help others with whatever little they have in whatever capacity they can. And that in return sheds light on things you were never grateful for.
On your solo trip, you will have certain things to your advantage and things that you will be grateful for once you are back home. For example, the woman would be more thankful to have reached home from a trip she thought will not survive due to the lack of winter clothes and money. Lastly, she’d always remind herself how people showed up at her crisis time to become more helpful towards people in need.
How often have you lost track of time while doing something?
When was the last time you watched something on Netflix without being distracted by your phone notifications?
Countless number of times, I believe! Whether you are writing a book, making music, starting a new business, staying focused is the key to turning all the leads into conversions and all the writer’s block in to a creative outbursts.
Realise that creative block or writer’s block do not exist. It is a web of lies created by our brains to not focus on what’s important and wander off to trivial things in search of temporary complacency. May be it needs a change of scene to bring you back from the clutches of ennui.
When you travel solo, time restrictions are less, you don’t have to adhere to requests, chances of unwelcome guests knocking at the door are minimal and the only distractions you might find yourself in are staring at the snow-covered mountains or listening to the sound of the waves or watching the water slowly cascade in to the deep valley which are in a way great distractions to bring out the creative force in you and can help rewire your brain.
Handling emotions is not our strongest suit. We leave relationships unfinished, people unchecked, avoid taking risks due to fear of failure and don’t delve into situations fearing we might be taken advantage of, people will take your goodness for granted and leave you with nothing. We are not to be blamed either because the narrative set around us is such that if you say it loud enough no one will question you. If you say it with enough anger and fury while banging on the table, it will become the truth and the new reality. A hot topic to discuss over a coffee break at work.
The more we consume such reprehensible content, the sooner you start identifying with it, relating with it and eventually supporting it. You become a part of the noise without giving it a moment’s thought. Then there will come a point it will affect your personal life. That is when set narrative starts to win.
Any emotion, be it anger, sadness, happiness, has the potential to ruin our lives if we let it. However, if we trick our minds to use that anger in our work or art, to not let it dive head first into the natatorium of negative energy, the way forward is endless.
While traveling alone, you will come across problems with your bills at a local restaurant, the autowala might ask you to pay extra fare because you are a tourist, or the hostel staff might not agree to confirm your booking. These are the times that test your patience and how you channelize your anger, frustration into achieving a positive outcome out of a deadlock situation. Especially, when the closest help is five thousand miles away.
Plan your solo travel. Make sure you have spent enough time researching about the place and its people. Read the local newspaper online to get an idea of the kind of crimes takes place in the city and how helpful the police is when it comes to helping travellers. Most of the times, cops are well aware of the business and revenue tourism brings and are quick to act upon mis-conducts with travellers, missing baggage but in some areas they are in the know but refuse to act.
There are cities in India as well as abroad with most tourism but their conduct with outsiders is not as pleasing as their historic or religious structures. Don’t shy away from things in your itinerary because of mis-conducts. Be prepared and stay vigilant of your surroundings.