Jul 132014
 

Solo Travel: Moving out from the comfort zone and travelling alone to an off-beat destination is an exciting opportunity. It is not a common thing that we experience in India. Solo Backpacking is not a popular activity in India. Because of the family bondings and values, people still prefer to travel here with the family or the friends. But, just because of that, many people are not able to break their comfort zone to move out on the road. They abandon their travel plan, because their friends and families don’t have the time to join them.

Enjoying the Wilderness of The Himalayas @ Dhankar Lake

Enjoying the Wilderness of The Himalayas @ Dhankar Lake

Its not that simple as it looks like. You have a dream, you wish to explore a destination, you think about that all the time, you save money for your trip , you have approved leave to go on the vacation, but then, you are forced to abandon your dream, because nobody is there to accompany you. All are busy in their own life, own office, own schedule. Its really heartbreaking.

A Spectacular View of Symphony of Lights

A Spectacular View of Symphony of Lights @ Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong

And, this is where Solo Backpacking comes into the picture. It gives you that ultimate sense of freedom to follow your dreams. You decide your trip, arrange the money, arrange the official leaves and ask to your friends, “ Hey, I am going to that place in that period. Are you willing to join me? “ and if there is somebody to join you, its well and good, but if nobody is there, then you can always say,” You don’t have time. No Problem. Enjoy at home. I am going Solo. There are thousands of people already on the road.” Once you develop an idea of Solo Backpacking, there is no need to look back and wait for others to pursue your travel dreams.

Near the Mediterranean Coast

Near the Mediterranean Coast in Alexandria, Egypt

Why do I Travel Solo?

Frankly speaking, I never thought of traveling Solo. I just developed my interest in travel. And, after sometimes Solo Travel just started on its own. I didn’t have any company, all friends were busy in their own life, and I couldn’t wait more and stepped out on the road. I travelled Solo to Russia, Thailand, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Macau, Egypt and many parts of India. I got injured in Bangkok after falling down from Second Floor to First Floor, My collar bone was fractured in an accident while riding my motorcycle in Rajasthan, I was trapped inside a train in middle of the Egyptian protests. On my first international trip to Macau, the immigration officer questioned me for one hour on the suspicion of drug trafficking and scanned my whole body under the X-Ray. There are many bad experiences and stories associated with my Solo Travel.

But, then I stood alone in front of the Giza Pyramids and The Sphinx, cherished every moment of that epic journey from Vladivostok to Moscow on the Trans-Siberian Railway, enjoyed the beautiful sunrise behind the temple of Angkor Wat, made many wonderful friends at the hostel dormitory in Cairo, walked alone thorough the tea estates in Kangra and Palampur, through the majestic ghats of Varanasi and many more. Those are some wonderful moments of the life. Traveling Solo is just about knowing yourself. There is a bit of excitement and a bit of fear during each trip, but at the end of the journey, I come back with the better understanding of my inner-soul.

Coming out after the First Snorkeling Session

Coming out after the First Snorkeling Session in Hurghada, Egypt

Following are the main reasons, why I prefer to travel Solo:

1. To Travel Anytime, Anywhere : The first reason is simply the necessity to travel. I can arrange leaves and necessary money to travel frequently. But, other people don’t live their life according to my needs. They have their own life, own offices and own families, So, they are not able to join me on each trip. It forced me to travel alone first time, then second time, third time and then,  again and again. Result, I am so happy with my solo travels, that now, I don’t wait for anybody to join me on the trip. I just pick my backpack and camera to move out anytime, I wish.

Upper View of the Great Wall of India

Upper View of the Great Wall of India @Kumbhalgarh Fort, Rajasthan

Bundi Palace

Bundi Palace in Bundi, Rajasthan

2. To Avoid Conflict of Interests: Another reason to travel solo is that it simply avoids the conflict of interests. I generally prefer cheaper trips, used to travel in sleeper class of trains rather than AC class, prefer to stay in hostels’ dorm, enjoy cheaper street foods and mostly rely on the public transport or prefer to walk to save money as much as possible. ‘Budget’ is not a dirty word for me. I know the definition of my budget travel and I don’t want to force somebody else to travel as per my budget. Other person may have a sense of luxury. So, its better to travel Solo to avoid such problems.

angkor

Angkor Wat Temple Complex in Seam Reap, Cambodia

3. To Enjoy This Freedom : Traveling Solo is all about the freedom. I can decide my own destinations, own dates and own way to travel. Even the best travelling partners may not need breaks at the same time, get hungry at the same time, want to travel the same distance each day or do the exact same things. I remember my trip to Hampi, where I went with a friend. Due to the shortage of time, I wanted to cover as much as possible, but my friend forced me to stop at regular interval. At last , I had to leave him to take rest and moved ahead alone.

Sunset on the bank of Brahmaputra River

Sunset on the bank of Brahmaputra River in Guwahati

4. To Experience the Life beyond my Comfort Zone: Solo Backpacking is about testing our limits out of the regular cocoon. We really need to hone our basic skills like making a very good time-bound itinerary, gathering useful information regarding a particular destination, map reading and navigation, getting mix with the unknown person, weather forecasting and so forth. I really became much more skilled at all of these things when I started solo backpacking. There’s less room for error, so we are forced to become an expert.

Pyramid Complex of Giza

Pyramid Complex of Giza in Egypt

5. To Explore the Unknown About Me as well as The Destinations: Solo Backpacking gives me more confidence, a sense of self dependence and a new sight to see the human settlement around me.  It gives me more opportunity to study the culture and tradition of the different civilizations and their impact on our life.

The Beautiful Agasthya Tirtha Tank

The Beautiful Agasthya Tirtha Tank in Badami, Karnataka

Solo Travel has its own charm, own challenges, own advantages and disadvantages, but its definitely a way of life. You only need the first push to break your comfort zone for that first solo trip and believe me, once you embark on your first solo trip, you will never look at others to join on the subsequent trips. Push yourself beyond your comfort zone, move on and celebrate your life on the road. You are never alone. There are thousands other Solo Backpackers waiting for you on the road.

  20 Responses to “Why Should We Travel Solo?”

  1. Well written. I’m a solo traveler by choice. I enjoy it the most as I have the whole time under my own discretion!! I stay in hostels and meet new people which is looked down by us Indians!!

  2. Superb written and truly inspirational… I wish to but not sure when I would be able to go on my first travel.. please keep on writing on your experiences. One day you may come up with a book of your experiences… thanks.

  3. REALLY NICE ARTICLE

  4. Hello,
    I just came across your blog and well the thoughts were put out very well with many valid reasons why one must try going on a solo trip. 🙂

    I’ll be travelling to Rajasthan, a solo trip and I’m only 16.
    Any advice that you could give?
    It’ll be really great.

    Thank You.

    • Its always great to have some experiences in life as soon as possible. and You are going to have one of the most awesome experience in life, that is a solo trip. All the best for that. Rajasthan is really a great place to start and people are very friendly there. I had two solo riding trips in Eastern and Western Part and enjoyed a lot. Act smart, manage things confidently and enjoy your journey. Hope you are not going there during the summer.

  5. Man, just came across your blog. Amazing work.

    I have also planned my first solo trip from Pune to Bhutan. Any pro-tips, as I am quite newbie to the solo-trip, and quite anxious. 🙂

    • Hi Abhishek,
      I am about to write a detailed post on this. In short, just stay alert, while traveling Solo. Always behave like a bold and confident person. If anything goes wrong, stay calm. Just remember, in a foreign land, you are your only friend. While I was on my first trip, I had many issues, but, I had to handle everything, so, just have faith in yourself. Enjoy your trip. and forget all the anxiety. Cheers. 🙂

  6. Hi
    Very well written and Truly inspiring blog about Solo-Travel
    In India we really need more inspiring Solo travelers like you.
    Whenever you put idea of Solo travel in India, our family friends etc look at you in a weird sense.
    Either they will look in a wonder (how hell one can travel alone?) or in a Pity (Bechara!)
    I had not done a truly Solo travel yet but I go alone with different trekking and travel group tours.
    So though I am alone in this trips/treks but I had to follow the given itinerary.
    Anyways soon I will start going on a complete Solo travel….
    I am thinking of Hampi Badami tour in Sept 2014.

    Just ending on a funny note…If a Solo traveler goes on beach site then how can we go swim alone in sea?
    I mean where to put the belongings like clothes valet…if just impromptu u feel like taking a dip!
    If a miscreant stole away with those things then one can imagine situation…. 🙂

    Best Regards
    Umesh

    • hahaha 🙂 . Very valid point, but as a Solo Traveler, we have some limitations. I did it once, when I went to Elephanta Islands. After visiting the place, I thought of bath in the Arabian Sea, so I left the main route and moved slightly away from the island’s port. Nobody was there. So, I left my bag and jumped into the sea. But, then, we don’t have such type of luxury everywhere. So, better make a friend in advance at a beach holiday. Do you have any better solution?

  7. That’s precisely the reasons why I travel alone. Its been an year since I traveled alone for 2 months in Rajasthan and gujrat and 1 month in Himachal. Since the time I came back, I am itching badly to go again. Next month is my grand trip. In mid-September I am gonna take around 6 month break and travel all around India starting from north east India followed by MP and west Bengal and so on. I am so damn excited for this.

  8. Hello,

    I have been planning for a Solo trip form long time, because I have curiosity to travel and see the places.
    But this will be first time I will be moving out alone on an International travel. Yes I am half excited and half full of fear because of different country and less international exposure.

    Here is my itinerary –

    Mumbai to Kuala Lumpur 4 days
    Kuala Lumpur to Siem Reap 4 days (Flight)
    Kuala Lumpur to Mumbai

    I haven’t thought of places to visit in Malaysia, I am thinking of KL and Genting since I have just 4 days there and I dont want to make it a run.
    Siem reap is something which I always wanted to go to see the beauty of the Angkor Kingdom.

    I havent booked anything except air tickets, Planning to stay in Hostels if I find some there..

    Please suggest me the safety and precautions I need to take and any suggestion you think will make this trip more memorable and help me boost my confidence,

    Thank you in advance

    PS: I am traveling next week Monday 27th July 2014

    • Hi, It requires a detailed post on this topic. I am also on the road for next two weeks. So, in short, just stay alert, while traveling Solo. Always behave like a bold and confident person. If anything goes wrong, stay calm. Just remember, in a foreign land, you are your only friend. While I was on my first trip, I had many issues, but, I had to handle everything, so, just have faith in yourself. Enjoy your trip. Looking forward for your trip report.

  9. Hai,

    I am from Bangalore. I agree with all your points. Two things I want to mention here.

    1. I also have done few trips in my own car with my own family (Husband+wife+2kids). I have seen almost all the important tourist places in the states of KA, TN, KL, AP, MH in my own car, self driving. The routine was like this:- First prepare a tour itinerary, which consists of the route to be taken and the places to be seen. Start the journey, seeing the places en route. Take breaks wherever we like. See the places as per our likes and dislikes. Drive till sunset. Halt at the next-cum-nearest town. Search for a decent-cum-cheap accommodation and halt. Have dinner and sleep. Get up as early in the morning as possible. Finish all the morning activities in the hotel room. Vacate the room; go to a decent restaurant and have breakfast. Then repeat the journey. I/We have seen all these above states like this. We have also seen Chhattisgarh like this, but that was a tailor made tour conducted by CTB. Now due to the childrens’ studies, we can’t tour like this.

    In a way I can call it as a Solo trip because everything was decided by me. All the 5 points you have mentioned were there when I traveled with my family.

    2. In fact I have done few Solo trips also. However I have two big problems when I do Solo trip. While on a solo trip, I take public transport & hired taxis. Early morning I want to go to the toilet to relieve myself. When I land up in a new place, I find this a big problem because, …where to keep the luggage? Also, when I have to see any place, I will have to carry all my luggage with me. Same problem, while hiring a taxi also. These are the two big hindrances that I faced in my Solo trips. Can you tell me how you have overcome this problems?

    Regards

    • Hi, I am in the process to write the post on the challenges and disadvantages of Solo Travel and you raised the issues here. I also have the same problem on my trips. I generally have these solutions in this case:

      a. Find a place to get fresh and to keep your luggage for 4-5 hours. We can negotiate with small hotels on this 4-5 hours period. If they are vacant, they generally allow us to get some income.

      b. I prefer to check the cloak room facility at railway station/bus stands. Just keep the luggage there and use the public conveniences facility.

      c. Sometimes, you can go to a restaurant for the breakfast and there you can use the toilet facility without worrying of your luggage. They will keep a watch on your luggage.

      d. and last option is to carry your backpack all around. It is uncomfortable at the times, but as a Solo Traveler, we have to travel like this.

      • Yes, if you can write your experience on the PLUS and MINUS points of solo travel, it will be nice.

        Out of your four options in the reply, I have done a, c and d.

        I have not done option b, because, I rarely travel by train. (in my experience, trains are most unsafe for a solo traveler, with respect to the luggage. You may touch upon this point in your blog). And, none of our bus stand wash rooms are hygienic enough to keep our luggage.

        Generally I prefer traveling by Flight, taxi, Auto etc. And for overnight travel, I prefer Bus.

        So my problem remains… Let me go through your blog and see whether I can get any inputs.

        Regards

        • I disagree with you on the train travel. I am living 700 plus kms away from my hometown, so I travelled more than 100 times in Indian Rails, mostly Solo. I never had the issue of luggage theft. Such cases may be there and you may have the bad experience, but world- class Terminal 3 of Delhi Airport is also prone to luggage theft. We have to stay alert and a bit vigilant in case of Solo Travel.
          Air travel is the most boring mode of travel for me. I never flew on Long-Haul European nor Trans-Atlantic flights for many hours, but I got bore in 2 hours Delhi-Hyderabad or Delhi-Guwahati flight. In the trains, fellow passengers are so livable , but in Air Travel, they always pretend to be a top class executive with emotionless face.
          And, I agree that generally the bus stands are not hygienic in India, but lower your expectations a bit, they are Kaam Chalau. To travel Solo, we have to compromise on something.

  10. Nice thoughts! I always had the same problem – friends busy or had different schedule to go. Than I decided to go SOLO for the first time in April. Ofc I was feeling awkward first and colleagues added to that by asking “are you going alone? why? “. I had my answer – I am bored to death and it’s not really fun anymore to go with a group of friends. Just because of the conflicts of interests in the past which had wasted a lot of my time and money.

    Yes, it’s very un-common thing in India and its a very common thing in the western world. I had so many mixed feelings of fear and excitement of this journey and at one time I was just going to cancel my ticket. Good thing I didn’t done that! I was also motivated by your blog!

    IMO the best way to fully enjoy the journey is to make some local friends and that’s what I did and traveled to Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai in April with a local friend. Than I relaxed in BKK and explored few places a day, solo. It was one of the best journey of my life ever I made some good friends in the course of 15 days, met some facebook friends first time in real and had a dinner with them! All this was very exciting and I would have missed it if I didn’t came solo!

    I didn’t planned every place I would like to visit but choose my destinations on my local friend’s advise.
    Also, I used Travel websites, Google Maps to find my way and learnt to use their public transport, for the first time! It was so exciting to go on your own to your destination via Skytrain, Local bus, MRTs instead of a boring guided tours! And because of this I explored many places which would cost a lot on packaged tours. Also visited some places which not many Indians go and I was the only one there lol

    Just as you, this first time SOLO has really tested me on many things and also made me realize how I would feel traveling alone. I had some moments of loneliness but it passed away quickly. After all, this was the first time! It was an awesome experience for me and and now I feel more confident as ever and already planning for the next journey!

    I wish we cross paths some time and keep writing these exciting travel articles, as there aren’t many Indian solo backpackers!

    • Hi Sunny,

      This is exactly the state of mind for everyone, who embarks on first Solo trip..Half excitement, Half Fear..But at the end its a life-changing experience. Will definitely love to meet you one day on the road. Happy Backpacking. 🙂

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