By Pooja Naik
For some people, taking a vacation means setting off with a couple of friends for a week to travel to an exotic location, exploring the local culture and figuring out what’s the best aesthetic for a particular image. While there is no denying the fact that those types of trips are fun, but setting off on a trip alone can be an enchanting experience in itself. Sure, it sounds lonely at first. But if you can’t stand the thought of being alone for more than about four minutes, that’s even more reason to set off solo. If you’re shy and find the thought of walking up to total strangers and starting a conversation horrifying – great! Not only is it an amazing experience, but you will learn so much about yourself that you never even knew, some good, some bad, but the point is there is no better time than your 20s to pack your bags and trot the globe. Travelling alone is a challenge, and that’s the point.
With each day inching closer to graduation and all the big questions glaring at me in the face, I found myself in the middle of an existential crisis. I realized I needed to shake things up and get some perspective. So, one day while I was mindlessly switching from one social networking app to another, I chanced upon a TEDx video on my Facebook newsfeed. Now, under any other circumstance I’d scroll right past the post, but something about it seemed rather alluring. It was the story of a young entrepreneur who had quit his secure advertising job of over six years to catch his dreams within the waves of change – travel and write. Twenty minutes later I was convinced to take a solo trip at least once in my life. If you’re looking for even one such reason, I present to you seven.
- Lose the white cloak
Moments after you were born, you were wrapped in a white cloak to imitate the safe environment of a mother’s womb that you had grown so comfortable to live in. Your movements were restricted and you were made to adjust to the actions of the world outside. As you grew older, you got rid of the physical cloak but you still tend to remain in your cocoon called the comfort-zone that entails everything you’ve been familiar with all your life. Traveling by yourself will push you to shed the metaphorical white cloak and broaden your horizon.
- More of everything
When you travel in the company of other people, you spend most of your time trying to explore the person. But when you travel alone, you will have no option but to explore the place and the moment to its full potential. You will stare at the sunset for a while longer, savour every bite of your meal, observe people in their casual setting and take every experience a little more in. And since you will see so much of the world with a different eye, you will turn those eyes around and discover a world within yourself.
- Rediscover yourself
Fears don’t make you uncomfortable. In fact, it does the exact opposite. Fears are the core of your comfort zone. If something scares you, you tend to avoid it. Thus, compelling yourself to stay put in your comfort-zone. But, it is only when you battle your fears will you discover a plethora of strength from within. You will learn to trust your instincts. Traveling and spending all the time by yourself will help you reflect on your life choices and form a better perspective about things that really matter to you. When you know what you don’t want is when you get closer to what you really want.
- No regrets
The biggest monster there is, is called ‘what if’. You wince at the thought of lost opportunities. You lose sleep over it because you never gave yourself a chance and jumped. Passing on the opportunity to travel alone is one such regret you do not want to live with. The experience will not only enrich you as a person, but you will look back at it with the biggest smile on your face.
- Become cooler
Travel stories are a great conversation starter. The experiences you’ve gained from your solo trips are great ice-breakers and it separates you from the rest. As much as you’d try and deny it, in truth it makes you look pretty cool among your peers.
- Let stories find you
Because of your upbringing, conditionings and world events, you may have a certain preconceived notion about a particular place, culture, religion and its people. But there is no definite way of knowing it unless you experience it first-hand. Because remember that someone else’s truth may not necessarily be your truth. When you travel by yourself, you take a step back and take things into perspective. You are open to new food, culture and experiences. You don’t go hunting for stories. Instead, you let stories find you.
When you take in new experiences, you strip yourself off the old learnings that have been fed to you from various sources and instead adopt the truth that is in front of you. The first step to learning something new is unlearning.
So pick your destination, save up the cash, get ready for one hell of an experience, and bon voyage!