I always traveled solo grudgingly. Because of work or my partner was too busy with work, or looking after the dogs, my friends didn’t want to spend on travel, my brother was AWOL, and so on and so forth.
Basically, travel was never something that I set out to do on my own due to a few preconceived notions . I think that would sum up the question as to why I always hated traveling solo. So one day I sat down and reasoned with myself and asked and mulled and wondered, why is that so- and decided to head out on a trip to figure if it was so bad after all. I planned a month long trip to Indonesia and set off, willingly, on a solo adventure. And here I got some myths seriously debunked.
- Noone to share your experiences with: So you spot that spectacular sunset, or witness a sudden thunderstorm, who do you turn to and say , did you see that? And squeal in delight and watch them gasp. Collective gasping is fun!
But then an experience is a personal thing. It changes you internally, and yes it changes another person in another way. Solo travel is a great way to just be in the moment. Not get caught up in the going ons in the world around us, just breathe, assimilate and be a part of the moment whole heartedly.
And if you want to share how you feel, the digital world is awesome. Call up your mom, do a video chat with your dog or get your friends on a call. You can share pictures on Instagram and you don’t, you can be inspiring someone who is having a hard day at work.
2. Its Expensive: Yes I cant give a positive twist to this, it is more expensive to travel alone than with someone. Rooms to share, meals to split, cabs to share-everything is a lot cheaper if you are a twosome/threesome and the likes.
But then again, thanks to hostels and apartments, you can minimize your spends to a great great deal. If you are easy with public transport then hop right on, the tickets are per person, and even local tours are priced per person. Meals, you can ask for smaller plates and take advantage of set menus at a price which are all priced per person. You can choose to spend on things that excite you and you only and give the others a pass. So you can even it out somewhere.
3. Asked why alone: Repeatedly I am asked during my stay here in Indonesia “You come to Bali alone? Whaaaai? No Boyfriend? No husband? Whaaaai” I have politely learnt to laugh this off and said “No. No Boyfriend. No Husband. All alone” I was hoping that that will get them to stop, but then its spurs an optimistic chat about her single friend from Australia met a boy from Slovenia and they fell in love and lived happily ever after and that I what was going to happen to me! Phew and there it goes again!
I’m not going to take offence, as I get it , like back at home, a family unit is very important to them. And they assume that when you travel alone you are “all alone” and “lonely” but if you explain that you love it, then they get it. And then you make friends this way. Like this lovely Indonesian lady I met at the sea side Warung in Balian, we became great friends despite these repeated queries from her and when I left she even got me a Balinese traditional dress as a parting gift. Isn’t that amazing?
4. Too shy to make new friends: Life begins at the end of your comfort zone, it may sound passé but its true. Ive been on both sides of the paradigm, happy with my book and coffee and alternatively living out of my comfort zone, going out speaking with people I hardly know. And trust me the kind of experiences the latter will bring your way will blow your mind.
I remember standing outside my hostel in Paris, and this other traveler came out and joined me. By then I had shed my initial shy phase so I said hello and we started speaking, his friends joined us in a bit, and we all sat up till 1am drinking Moet Chandon in our tiny hostel in the Marais.
Same thing happened at Balian where at a bar I got talking to some travelers from New Zealand. Post that we went to a peninsula that juts out into the sea with a birdseye view of the high tides on a full moon night . We laid out a picnic and listening to RHCP under the moon. It was beautiful and I would have never found that spot on my own, ever!
I met Fernanda on a bus to Gili. We were both traveling solo and got chatting as it was a long journey to the wharf. We hit it off instantly and ended up spending the rest of her time in Bali together. We went snorkeling together, went island exploring, went for swims, massages, tried food and bad massages together-I met such a great travel companion and friend , just on the basis of a lazy hello on a rickety bus.
5. Boredom: The fact is, if you are even considering taking a solo trip, you are sort of looking forward to that me-time and its important for you right then. But if you think your travels are going to be an endless experience of being on your own, think again. You will meet plenty of people on the way, your hosts, your receptionist, the girl who is seated next to you in a bus, friends of friends and so many more. And the rest of your trip will be just about the adventures that you have with them.Also Betty Francis from Mad Men said “ Only boring people are bored”, well that’s that . #MadMenforever
6. Safety: Yes this is a real concern. Though an accident can happen with anyone, when you are with or without anyone by your side. The only way to safeguard yourself is to follow a few basic rules. Map your city well, try to stay close to the heart of the city, check out your block and your neighborhood, see if it is safe to come back once its dark. Give your friends and family your stay locations at every city (if you are staying in more cities than one) and always tell one person about your day plans. It helps. Keep numbers of Police station in your city and the Indian Consulate in case of any emergencies. Also always, always have a health insurance for your stay.
Safety is personal responsibility, so one can work towards it, and a little bit of preplanning is all it takes to have a worry less travel experience.
7. Homesick: Homesickness is a default state you will arrive at post 10/15 days into your travel. It Is both if you are traveling with someone, or traveling solo. The pangs are stronger with the latter, but its easy to get over that with technology available these days. Also remember you will start having too much fun in a few days into your trip and you wont miss home too much, Im speaking from experience on this. You will automatically see the frequency of phone calls back home decrease and then the focus on just being in the present always is a big win!
My trip to Indonesia was amazing! I liked it so much that I even extended it by a week just to live in a town that I really liked. I met amazing people, had fantastic experiences, spent a lot of time on my own. It was life changing, and I say that even at the risk of sounding too dramatic. So if you are planning to go on a solo adventure, I would recommend it highly. And sometimes you get used to it and love it so much that you wonder if you would ever want to accommodate another person’s needs during your travels. That’s the point where you need to fold and call up your sibling and plan your next holiday with him. I’m not there yet, so am already looking forward to my next solo adventure.
Do you have any similar fears about solo travel? Write to me here , I would love to hear from you.