While it may seem intimidating at first, travelling solo is a rewarding and unique experience. I have been travelling to many places mostly for the business purpose and attending business conferences around the world. Few trips were strategically planed solo and others were tragedically (my team members or family members couldn’t get the necessary visa to travel along with me ) thus I ended up making a bunch of solo trips in past few years.
“Traveling Alone” is not a common, easy and comfortable to think of because it is still kind of Taboo for many. If you will share an idea of “travelling alone” with your friends, family or spouse, I am sure most of the time they will give you solid dramatic reactions and will end the discussion assuming there is something wrong with “you” :-). So my point is “Solo Trips” are not common and that easy to plan but if you are one of those brave or different who did or want to then I have something interesting to share with you.
I have explored and encountered many new things which I think I would have not done or experienced if I was with my family or friends. Here are some of my personal experiences on solo travelling.
Learn to Survive – Yes, it’s true. Travelling alone teaches you how to survive the odds and getting out of your comfort zone? You got to learn and execute everything yourself that means nobody you know is with you to help or support. I have washed my clothes and dishes, learn to make coffee (the horrible one), made my breakfast and learned different ways to live and survive alone in an environment where it’s just you on your own. I didn’t have anyone aside me to ask for opinions or options on something – right or wrong, I have to take a call myself, and in the end either I have learned some great lessons from my wrong decisions or had conquered over my confidence. One such incident that I had while I have decided to take a coach (Bus) from Manchester to London. The bus stopped for a break, I stepped out of the bus to eat something. The driver announced, “we will leave in 15 mins”. I was regularly checking the time and at 12 mins, I saw the Bus was still there. I needed some water so I made a call to get a water bottle quickly which took 3-4 mins and when I came out the Bus was gone and it has my passport, money and luggage. Also the same day in the evening, I had to speak at a meetup in London. That means, I have missed my bus, have to catch the next one which was after 2 hours, have to find my things at the coach station, have to check-in to the hotel and prepare to speak at the meetup and everything has to be done within few hours. I have learned the very good lesson about the staying ahead of the deadline and how to plan and perform against all the odds and time-critical situation.
Your wish is your command – I have done many things like biking to mountains, reading books, early morning run, staying in a hostel with strangers, attending local events and meetup groups, participating in free guided walking tours, spending days seating and watching birds in the garden, having a cup of coffee and planning on business strategies at the beach or lake. Most of these things, I couldn’t have done if it was not a solo trip. Skateboarding is something that always thrills me and it constantly pushes me to stay young and cool like a boy. While I was in London, I found few young kids were skateboarding near London Eye. I felt a bit hesitant but then I gathered some courage to ask “Hey boys! Can you teach me the skateboarding?” Their appearance was of the typical street kids – tattoos all over the body, piercing and smoking. I thought myself they will either beat me or rob me or worst kill me. 🙂 But all of my surprise they smiled and said: “Of course – do you have an insurance?” Then, I tried a little bit of skateboarding with then, I didn’t learn well but it was a great start and experience. They have also helped me with suggestions of some cool places to check out in London.
When you are solo you are completely in control of your time, test and tasks which leads you to do what you really want and wish to do. Also sometimes you unleash yourself and find something or do something that you have never done in the past.
Find and feed the real adventure in you – I wanted to stay in Hostel and wanted to experience the hostel life and vibes. During one of my trip to San Francisco, I did that and it was truly an amazing experience. Staying in the dorm with strangers and sleeping in those bunk beds – its kind of an experience and adventure especially when you are a CEO of a million dollar company :-). When I am with my family, I am always concerned about their safety and comfort but when I am alone I challenge my comfort and ending up making some adventure. While I was in Romania, there was an uber/taxi from Brasov to Bucharest which costs 150 euro and I always prefer to use public transportation both for cost & experient purpose. So, I have talked to Hotel Reception for a train from Brasov to Bucharest to my surprise I found quite a large population in Romani doesn’t speak English. So the kind lady in the Reception wrote something on the paper and handed me. I ride a bus with my luggage and somehow managed to reach the railway station. There, I asked for a ticket to Bucharest the lady in the counter didn’t understand what said but she understands the word “Bucharest” (thank god I pronounced it correctly) and I had my ticket to Bucharest. Now, I needed to find the platform. Something was written on a ticket but it was not English so I took a help of someone and they guided me to a platform. I was waiting for my train at the platform and I suddenly realised, I am on the wrong platform when my train arrived at the opposite platform then I rushed to another platform with all my luggage and finally ended up boarding the train. And it didn’t stop there when the inspector came for the inspection and tried to explain to me that I am seating on wrong seat and coach but she was kind and figured out that I am a brave foreigner using public transportation without knowing their local language hence she saw a mercy to me and allowed me to travel otherwise I have already dreamed myself thrown out of the train. I have had many such great adventures on my solo trips.
I want to change the World – Have you ever thought about doing something big that has an impact to change the world for the good? Or you are already a part of something big but got stuck and can’t find a way? or you feel that your life is kind of hell and you don’t know what to do with it or next? There was one point in my life when I have been in all these three situations at the same time. Then, I have planned a solo trip to Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh and there I have spent 10 days doing meditation and vipassana in the middle of the forested mountain of the Himalayas. I have still treasured that experience as one of my life-changing experience. And it’s not just me but there are many famous people like Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerburg, Narendra Modi made few solo trips in this kind of situation and experienced the immense energy, peace and strength which helped them to do the big change in the world for the good.
For many such experiences and advantages watch this TEDx Talk by Ashok Karania!
We all are mostly surrounded by friends, family and colleagues most of the time. It’s very important and effective to spend some time alone with yourself and I didn’t mean that family and friends are not important. They are and they will but escaping yourself and trying few new things will give a lot of new energy and experience to make the best of your life. And when you do the right thing they will understand and support you.