There is hardly any difference between solo travelling and otherwise. Or, well, there actually is. While I am quite good at travelling with people, also goats and sheep (true story), there is nothing as calming as solo travelling. Calming even if you take away the cool quotient that people usually associate it with. As cool as it might sound, there are scary nights spent in hotels and the scary part might involve anything from shady hotel staff to recalls of the last horror movie you saw; nights when I sleep with bolted (doubly) doors and TV ON.
What a solo trips feel like?
Keep apart such nights and those times when each one of us wishes for somebody else to carry our giant backpacks, and you will get the calm of solo trips back. Other than the humourous part (coming to it), there is nothing in this world that I would trade for a walk, hand in hand, with myself on some beach.
There are times (a lot many with me) when you do not wish to speak, for you would rather listen to the ocean or yourself or a Neil Young song perhaps. With my experience, there are a few people, who can keep quite. Talking, constant conversations seem to be the norm; so much so that many of the conversations are forced. As snobbish as this may sound, I’m all in favour of deep, philosophical, life or sci-fiction talks! Talk to me about Stephen Hawking or Rumi or Kabir and you would see how much I can talk while still on that beach walk! Read my post on why non-talkers should travel more.
Of the humourous part, well yes it is a hassle to take all your baggage to a loo, in case you need to use one. Or else, it might all be stolen (true story!). Another fact, amusing though not exactly humourous, is people’s views on it. Early this December, I landed in Goa for my birthday and asked a cafe guy if I can get a birthday cake. While he was happy to get me some tarts in place of cakes, he, with a look of consideration, said nobody should spend their birthdays alone. To him, as he said, the idea of a birthday or the entire trip in no human company was unbelievable and I assume foolish too. Well, the look and apparent consideration on his face said that.
For those wondering what I do on a solo trip & why I prefer it:
So, I couldn’t get a book. Left with no internet connection, no phone network and no books, a pen and this notebook was all that I could get in the local market. This post, after a long long time, was jotted down on a paper. Coming soon on my blog; post on turning 30 and how I’m tippling the ‘settle down’ equation. #travel #instatravel #travelgram #writersofinstagram #Goa #India #nomadscribblings #iphoneonly #birthday #travelpics
Reading, yes, that is a huge part of what I do when on a trip. Starting right from the airport to those boring flights and transit hours, reading is my go-to thing. So yes, solo travelling to me has a lot of time for reading, also the best thing you can possibly do. Books also make for a great time when I get back to my hotel at day’s end, for I prefer rooms without a TV set.
Writing and music come right after reading when I travel solo; rather than carrying my laptop, I keep a notebook and a couple of pens to jot down posts, thoughts or any musings. Not essentially travel notes, these writings can be about anything that crosses my mind, right from my thoughts on turning 30 to life as a travel blogger.
Another plus of solo travelling is food choices; I’m not a fan of lavish meals or food places, keeping aside my love for generous salads and good wine. So, yes, I stick to freshly-made local food, regional dishes, vegan meals and simple stuff that can be dal-chawal for most days. Meal times, while solo travelling, are all about you.
I walk into any restaurant or cafe that feels cosy and simple enough, regardless of where everyone else is off to. Travelling with others is often binding for you are expected to dine at one place; etiquette you see.
Apart from reading, writing, photography and random chats with locals, I consider myself quite lazy when it comes to things to do on a trip. Every time I’ve travelled with somebody or in groups, there is a mammoth itinerary to follow, which mainly includes hopping across forts, insipid drives, following guide books (which never tell you the best of the lot). Regardless of how much I’ve spent on a trip or how many days I have for a place, I try not to do much.
Rather than rushing through a place, I prefer a slow pace. So, yes, I’m the one who packs up picnics, picks up a book or music, and a mat and disappears to spend an entire day by the beach. My itinerary for such days is sleep, swim, read, eat, listen to good music, watch a sunset and then doze off right there. More crowded places are not my thing, so I would be the one hitting some mountain trek early in the day to catch a sunrise, or looking at the ocean waves for hours.
If you still have not had a solo trip, do it. Do it before you get used to the safety of group travels. Better still, carry your dog along. If I can have my way, one of these days, I will hit the roads in a camper van with a dog or two for company and never come back.
Solitude is bliss as long as you know you are not alone. Let me know what your thoughts on solo travelling are in the comments below; tell me of your first solo trip. I’m listening.