The month is December, and I have been planning the itinerary, travel and accommodation logistics, getting my gear ready etc. And today I have to apply for the weeklong leave at work. I approach the boss, and seek permission for my leave. The response leaves me a little taken aback. “Is everything alright in your married life? How is it that she is allowing you to do this? Please share your secret with me, since I’ve never been able to do it?” Well, before your imagination races, and I am tagged of low moral character, let me clarify. The question I asked the boss was, “Can I get a week’s time off to travel alone, by myself?” And the background of this is that I am a married man, and father to a four-year-old.
This wasn’t the first of such reactions that I draw from colleagues, friends and even relatives, who find it virtually unpalatable that a middle-aged family man can travel solo. Traditional thought dictates that once a man is married, he would either travel with wife and kids or with friends. The concept of solo travel seems reserved for 20-year-old, unmarried blokes. Well, here is my take. Many a times, our travel goals won’t find a match within our family and friends. Does that mean, we let go off that dream? Definitely not, pick up the bag and set out on your own. Too preachy?
No, but honestly, I have started travelling solo again (after my marriage and a kid) only in the last 4 years. And I have been able to tick off a lot of things on my bucket list, which I wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise, simply because me and my wife have different travel ideas. I went to my first Tiger safari, roamed the streets of Prague, visited the Kochi Biennale, went birding in the Himalayas and went camping in the Western Ghats. None of which would’ve happened had I been constrained by traditional thought and norms.
Why Do I Travel Alone?
• Travel Interests: I am more of an outdoor person, whereas my wife likes beaches and/or places that don’t have too much activity.
• Choice of accommodation: I am more at home in homestays, lodges, basic accommodation, whereas my wife life a decent luxury hotel room.
• Choice of destination: I am most happy in a wild life national park, or trekking a mountain, whereas my wife would love the comfort of a beach destination.
• Solitude vs. Crowd: I am a person that loves his solitude, and places that offer that are my favourites. My wife on the other hand likes a certain vibe with people around, to me that qualifies as crowd.
So, What All Did I Do on My Solo Trips?
1. Went on my very first Tiger safari to Bandhavgarh: Wildlife has always been something that I love to explore and photograph. But my family does not necessarily share the same interest or the patience to sit through a four-hour safari. Hence the decision to travel solo. It was way more convenient – I travelled by train, and stayed in a not so fancy hotel. Spent the non-safari hours reading my books or basking in the winter sun. Idyllic holiday for me!
2. Went café hopping and art exploring in Kochi: The Kochi Biennale in 2018 is when I first stepped into Kerala. I’d always wanted to photograph the Chinese Fishing Nets in Kochi, and this art fiesta gave me the perfect opportunity to do so. The three days spent in Fort Kochi, exploring the streets of Mattancherry and Fort Kochi, visiting the art setups, café hopping in the mornings and evenings, coupled with a rejuvenating ayurvedic session were the best that I could imagine.