It’s not about seeing places or taking pictures of yourself. It goes far beyond that. Solo travel is about discovering yourself. I say this as a person who hated travelling. People are surprised to learn that I’m from India and haven’t yet seen the Taj Mahal. I hated travelling all my life. All I wanted to do was to sit in front of TV or read a book. “Who the fuck wants to go to places, get tired and then come back? That’s hardly a holiday”, I thought. But now travel is such an important part of my life that I’ve quit my job and been travelling since July 2012. It’s always the first step which is the hardest.
What reasons do you have to not travel alone?
- “What will I do?”
Whatever you want to do. You will be in complete control, no one to tell you what to do. Just do some research, find out more about the place you are visiting and you will discover that there is a whole lot more than what meets the eye. The best part is that you have it all for yourself. Live the freedom before getting back to your desk job. You will have time to get to know yourself, discover a new hobby and will have more to talk about when you return home. It will be a time for introspection and reflecting upon your experiences.
- “I don’t know if I’m confident enough”
Just fucking go. Stop making excuses. You will learn everything on the road. Step out of your comfort zone. You will be forced to talk to strangers to overcome your loneliness. You will automatically become alert knowing fully that you are alone in a foreign land. You become aware of how much you need to eat to walk a certain distance. You will make bad decisions, you will learn from them. Bad decisions make great stories. You will start to realise that everyone in the world is just the same, strip away the language and culture and we are the same bunch. You will discover new food and realise that some food which you hated all your life isn’t so bad after all. You will shed inhibitions. In short, you will become slightly more smarter than when you set out.
- “But I will get bored alone”
You will get bored much sooner if you travel with a partner. Your partner will want to go out while you want to stay in. Your partner might want to go X place while you want to go to Y place. The saying is true – you never really know a person, until you’ve traveled with them. I don’t doubt that having a travel buddy works for some. Good for them. But when you travel alone, you are doing more than just seeing places. You are discovering yourself. And ultimately, that is what it all boils down to.
- “I don’t have the money”
This is one of the most common complaints. “Oh, he’s travelling he must be having lots of money” – this is not entirely true. You need willpower to travel. Money yes, is important but that comes secondary. Look at your life. If travel is your priority, make it so. If you are spending on shiny gadgets and then complaining about how you don’t have money, your priorities need to be looked at. If hoarding gadgets is your priority, don’t complain about lack of money. If eating out at expensive places is your priority, don’t complain about how expensive air tickets are. If you prefer going out to clubs every weekend, stop making excuses. There’s nothing wrong with seeking shiny gadgets or gastronomical adventures. But to use that as an excuse is wrong. If not travel, whatever you want to do, prioritize it. Make sure you are working towards a goal. Towards something which you are looking forward to. Towards something which will make you happy. So quit complaining that you need money to travel. You already have it, you just need to utilize it better.
- “I don’t know anyone”
So? Isn’t that the best part? Travel is about meeting new people and seeing new things. While the seeing new things part automatically takes care of itself, the meeting new people part is thrust upon you when you step out. Imagine this, you are in a hostel thinking of what to do for the rest of the day. Walk to the reception, ask if they have anything planned. Most often you will be huddled in a small group to join a tour nearby or a pub crawl. Look at these as opportunites to meet new people who already share your interest of travels. Discuss with them where they’ve been, what they like there, what’s their motivation. Learn from them. Share your stories.
- “Maybe some years later…”
Some years will become many years and before you realise you will be trapped. Trapped in the same job, trying to get ahead in the rat race. Even if you win, you will be still a rat. There comes a time in your life, where you can say “fuck it” and leave for some weeks. The sooner that time comes the better. When you come back you will have a new sense of purpose, a renewed vigour and most importantly, the peace of mind. You might have all the money you need when you are 40, but your best years will be already past you. You won’t be your foolish self. You don’t want to be old and regret things you didn’t do. Regret ruins everything.
Human history is a history of moving to different places. So go ahead, stop reading and get out.