One of the common questions I get when I talk about solo traveling is ‘Do you feel lonely?’ or something on similar lines ‘how do you pass the whole day on your own?’. Here is my experience…
I don’t just Enjoy & Love Solitude. I NEED it!
I have always been someone who loves spending time alone. Solitude lets me be with my thoughts and lets me live the way I want to. In India people want to do things ‘together’ All the Time & it can be a very hard experience when you are different. Everyone – friends, family, colleagues – keep loading you with advice. When you choose to ignore the advice and do things your own way, they may even take offense. I don’t want to generalize international culture but specifically in the western world the culture tends to be more individualistic – where people often at young age strike out on their own. This is why you would notice that there is a lot of diversity there in terms of peoples lives – in education fields, social relations and so on.
When I started solo traveling 6 years back, it was not a trend. No woman around me was interested in solo traveling. Now things have changed and every other girl I meet wants to solo travel.
Given my need for solitude, Solo travel is an absolute treat for me. And I cherish all the moments I have on my own.
At times however, one may want to talk to someone or share some experiences with others. And for that there are many avenues,
Make Friends with People Around You
I have become quite adept at striking conversations with strangers around me. From taxi drivers to people in the lift to co-passengers in train. Anyway they are curious as to what I am doing solo so that is always one topic to talk about. Making friends lets you explore the place and people further.
Solo Travel does not always mean Alone
The accommodation you chose makes a lot of difference. Female dorms can be a great place to meet other travelers and you can join them to explore the city. Staying at Home Stays lets you be part of a local family. Living at a commune or staying at ashrams add to your experiences in their own special way.
Make Group trips a Part of your Solo Travel
On a longer solo travel journey you can take up a few days of cycling or hiking trip with a group. This will break the solo monotony. Also in countries like India, roaming around alone in the countryside is often not feasible so these groups allow you to leave the urban areas and explore the wilderness.
Here are some groups I have been looking to go traveling with. Ideally it would be part of a longer solo travel trip.
Activities to Meet Locals
You can also include heritage walks, workshops and such different activities in a place to meet the local people and just well – talk and socialize! Meeting friends of friends or far off relatives or Twitter/Facebook friends etc.. is another way to socialize in a way that really adds to your travels.
Sounds tough to be working at some exciting travel place but if you want to travel for a longer time, you will need to think about how to fund it. Working while traveling lets you do both. This is one of the reasons I hardly even notice solo travel – lot of my time goes into working.
My solo cycling & camping adventure in Europe was a trip where I wasn’t working. I hardly felt it because considering this was the first time I went long distance cycling, camping, visited Europe – the newness of the trip totally made it intense enough to not miss anybody. It was such an unique and rare experience. A large part of the cycling trip I was just overwhelmed by the beauty and solitude.
So if you plan a trip that is intense enough. A trip where you really want to experience/explore specific facets then it hardly matters that you are solo.
At the end of this post, I must tell you this,
I have never been bothered about the feeling of loneliness because solo-travel augments my love for this big, wide world we live on. This beautiful blue-with-specks-of-white planet we are living on. Solo travel lets me cut through all our smaller groups and affiliations in life and just be part of this whole cosmos.
It gives me THE strong realization that we are all living and breathing on this planet together.
So while at times I include activities that let me socialize and talk with people, I never really feel alone. I just enjoy my solitude while being a part of the Whole Wide World.