On Going Solo…
No, not literally you dirty mind. Anyway, now that I’ve grabbed your attention, read on…
I did it, took out the time to go for a solo backpacking trip across certain parts of Northern India. Solo backpacking, I wanted to do this since a long time, since when I was in college. Inspired by those who traversed the Hippie Trail for months and years at stretch in 60s and 70s, I wanted to do something similar, but practically, for a much shorter duration and within India for now. I managed to get a week off from work and without thinking twice, I started planning my itinerary to head out in the unknown (for me of course). The 9 day long trip took me to three different states and exposed me to a multitude of cultures, different types of food, and foremost, bestowed upon me the feeling of self-belief and the satisfaction of accomplishing something significant. Not to mention, it helped me grow personally.
When I told my friends that I’m going to indulge in this trip on my own, I saw expressions of disbelief and surprise on their faces, like how can anyone travel solo, as in what’s the fun in that? But solo backpacking is nothing to be afraid about and I say it’s something that every young person should experience, especially in India.
- Firstly, you’re hardly ever alone. When you’re travelling solo, you’re motivated to talk to people, be it locals or other fellow travelers (and trust me, you’ll find others like you who’re out to explore, mostly they’ll be foreigners).
- Secondly, you don’t have to be answerable to anyone. Don’t like a particular cuisine? Shun it. Not satisfied with your hostel/hotel? Change it. Have had enough of this town? Leave. Want to get up at an unearthly hour to see the sunrise over the cliff? Do it. It feels good to be doing all this for yourself, without worrying about the expectations or discomfort of anyone. If I’d been travelling with someone, I’m sure I’d have been able to do only half the things that I do when I travel alone. Also being dependent on someone may not even make your travel possible. Take for example, you managed to get a week long off from work after much haggling with your boss, but your travel companion doesn’t have time during that week. What do you do? Skip the trip? No, life’s too short to waste your time. Go solo. It may sound selfish but you’ve worked and saved hard to undertake this trip and you can’t ruin it by being dependent on someone else. After all it’s your holiday. Moreover it’s tough to find people to go to the places you want to explore and the way you want to do it.
Additionally, there are smaller benefits like, waking up and asking yourself what you want to do today, and then go and do it and managing your budget as per your liking. I’ve always preferred to travel alone, be it my intra city exploring outings or something of this sort because of the above stated benefits.
- Thirdly and most importantly, backpacking solo helps your personal growth by dragging you out of your comfort zone. You don’t have people around you can rely on; you have to rely on yourself. You have to motivate yourself to make the most of your trip. You’re all to yourself and completing the trip gives you a great sense of accomplishment, trust me, it does. My trip helped me grow heaps, ranging from budgeting to people skills. You’ll learn a lot about yourself in those moments of solitude while watching the valley below or sitting beneath the stars on a clear, chilly night surrounded by the mountains, than travelling with a companion and spending half of your time arguing over one thing or the other, unless of course you’re extremely lucky to travel with someone who shares exactly your tastes in life. And once you’ve completed the trip, you’ll be inspired to undertake more such trips, because the experience is unique, for when you’re backpacking, you’re a traveler, not a tourist.
I was fortunate. Boy, what a trip mine turned out to be, ranging from getting to see His Holiness The Dalai Lama at McLeodGanj to watching the Retreat ceremony at Wagah border on Republic Day to meeting some friends whom I wanted to meet since long at Delhi.
As the famous traveler Ibn Batuta has said about traveling: It leaves you speechless, then turns you into a story teller. My story will commence from the next blog post. 🙂
Picture Courtesy: prepare-and-protect.net