Travelling is one of my favourite activities and I have been to several places on my own and loved each experience. There is no taking away from the fact that exploring a place with family or friends is great, but here is why I find solo travelling fun and fulfilling.
Observe the world at your own pace: Travelling with friends means coordination, scheduling, budget differences and different priorities. Going solo can be liberating as you can follow your own path. Each place has a set of ‘must do’ activities but you can be spontaneous and see things that you otherwise may have missed.
Make new friends: When in a group or with a companion, you tend to stick together. When alone, you can easily strike up a conversation with a stranger by being bold and friendly. People most often reciprocate warmly; just be prudent about who you approach. For instance, when asking for directions, ask a local rather than another tourist. If at a bar, strike up conversation with a friendly looking group rather than a stranger. I met my friends Dean and Gaby while waiting in queue to enter the Sistine Chapel. We ended up spending the next two days exploring local bistros that they had researched through their Italian friends, which I would never have heard of otherwise. It made my Roman holiday that much more memorable.
Spend time with yourself: Every spiritual path recommends meditation and I find travelling solo the quickest path to a meditative state. You can sit in a café and watch the world go by, take notes about what you’ve seen or eaten, click photographs, or just allow your mind to wander. Don’t be conscious that the world is watching you and wondering why you are alone. In most places, nobody has the time for that. They are all too busy soaking in their own experiences.
A sense of adventure: Taking the road not taken (most people I know don’t seem to want to travel alone) leads to having a secret set of experiences that are your own for life. Although sharing a trip with someone else has its upside, a solo adventure gives an adrenaline rush that’s hard to beat.
Although I hope I have convinced you to try even a two-day trip on your own, before you take off on that month-long world tour all by yourself, a few simple rules may come handy.
For one, travel light. If your trip involves train journeys and boutique hotels that don’t have elevators, you will regret having carried half your house with you. Be cautious. Choose a safe set of places to visit. Do simple things like using public transport wherever advisable. Don’t attract unnecessary attention to yourself; this will ensure that you have fun and are safe too. Don’t get too friendly with every stranger or share personal information. Do some basic research before leaving, without necessarily drowning yourself in the ocean of information that’s available today. It prepares you while still keeping the mystery alive. Bon voyage!
Femina Miss India International ‘98 and an MBA from ISB, the writer is a traveller, entrepreneur, experimenter, and a connoisseur of the fine things in life. Mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org