Things I learnt from my first solo trip

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Photo of Things I learnt from my first solo trip 1/1 by Nivi Selvaraj

“Are you lonely?” “Are you depressed?” “Aren’t you scared to do this?” “What if you get lost?” “What if you get bored?” “What if you get into trouble?” “Why should you go alone?”

Between all the what if’s and the why’s, there were also few WOW’s and OMG’s that I heard when I first told about my solo trip plan to my friends and well-wishers. I had been to many places with my friends and family but I had always wanted to go on a solo trip, just to see whether I can handle myself and enjoy my own company.

After a month of planning, I finalised Rajasthan as the destination for my solo trip, not because I was told it was a safe state to travel but because it had all the elements to keep me entertained during my trip. It had history, art, culture, colours and most importantly scrumptious food. I booked my tickets, packed my bags and pulled off a 10 days solo trip to the land of the Great Indian Desert.

I travelled extensively, read when I got bored, sketched when I had time, shopped till I dropped and ate till I could faint, the entire trip was a mix of good and bad memories and while I still reflect on the whole trip, there are few things I realised and learnt from my solo travel. I have penned down the pointers that are to be kept in mind before hitting the road solo.

#1 Things work out the way they are meant to be, so don’t panic

Well, not everything is under our control, even if you plan for 2 months, book places, sort stuff before you start, there are things that can go haywire. Panicking only adds to more stress and trouble. If someone would have told me that I might get stranded in the middle of the road during my trip, I would have laughed on their face but yeah, I DID get stranded in the middle of the road in the wee hours of the morning in Jodhpur. I freaked out initially but eventually things fell in place as they were meant to be. All these unplanned events make us think straight and make our travel deeper, giving an enriching experience.

#2 There are nice people out there

Every time someone was nice to me, helped me with a small act of kindness, I felt reassured that world is not a bad place after all. Even if it’s a small thing: a guide showing me around the place along with his set of foreign tourists, a restaurant owner helping me with the city tour, a man giving me a lift to my hotel when I was lost and an old lady inviting me to her place for lunch, each of these moments restored my faith in humanity.

It is true, when we travel alone, we predominantly rely on ourselves, but there are nicer people out there that we don’t know exist. While travelling solo, we take chances on other people and appreciate when someone does something nice to us, especially during the time of need. It doesn’t take much to be nice and accommodating for someone just that we have to open our eyes to see it.

#3 Explore the place at your own place

The best thing about travelling solo is we don’t have to stick to a map. We can explore the place at our own pace. We can shift plans, skip places because we fell in love with a particular spot, make iterations, sleep late, wake up early, take up the entire hotel room with our clothes unpacked on the floor! There is no hurry to cover all the places in the list and there is no timer ticking by. There is a lot of flexibility and freedom that comes with solo travel.

#4 Rediscover your lost hobby

Can you imagine reading a book sitting atop of a hill while travelling with 8 other people? It can never happen. The book you carried will be tucked away at the bottom of the suitcase, waiting for you to open it once you’re back from the trip. When there is no time to talk to all the 8 people on the trip, where is the time to read the book!

This is the very reason why solo travel is one of the best chances for anyone to rekindle their passion for their long lost hobby. Be it reading, writing, art, photography, singing or anything for that matter, you can always ignite your creativity and pursue your hobby during this time.

#5 It’s okay to be lost

While walking back from the fort to my hotel, I got lost in a maze of blue buildings. Every turn I took, it led me into another lane of blue buildings. I stumped upon beautiful buildings, bumped into wonderful people and witnessed the colourful lifestyle of the people in that city.

It’s absolutely fine to be lost when you explore a place. There is no better way to discover beautiful hidden places than this! If you stick to a map, you’ll end up seeing the places that’s already planned, how will you ever discover the other places! Am not saying don’t stick to a plan, am only saying, go out of your way a little bit to explore the hidden gems. You’ll definitely come across wonderful things that will be worth remembering for!

#6 You don’t have to rely on someone to visit a place… Ever

This was also one of the important reasons why I wanted to go on a solo trip. I used to be upset every time a travel plan got flopped or a friend backed out. This caused only unnecessary trauma and stress; I din like the idea of banking on someone to visit a place. This trip had moulded me into a stronger person than I was that I can go on a solo trip any day to anyplace.

Once you learn the art of handling yourself and enjoying your company, you don’t have to bank on someone to make a travel plan.

#7 Travelling solo will test you, change you and sometimes even force you to grow

I learnt so much about myself during the course of the trip. I returned as a more confident individual

Travelling solo isn’t always comfortable; there will be times when you feel scared, when you feel lonely, when you feel lost but the journey will change you, will mould you for good. It leaves marks on your memories and on your consciousness. When you get home, home is still the same. But something in your mind would have changed and that changes everything.

#8 It’s one of the best gifts to give yourself

As everyone predicted, I got scared, I got lost, I freaked out, went through the lecherous eyes of the bus cleaners while travelling yet this was the most memorable trip of my life. Travelling solo taught me how to pick myself up when down, how to be brutally honest with what I want and need in life, reminded me of how many wonderful people are out there and showed me the unwavering strength I have inside me. While I still go on trips with family and friends, I go on solo trips to connect with myself and all aspects of my personality.

So, never let anyone scare you off of travelling alone. A solo trip is one of the best gifts that you can gift yourself.

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