When I started solo traveling in 2009, it all happened a bit impromptu. I had a basic plan in place, Mumbai – Goa – Bangalore (transit) – Mysore – Coimbatore (yoga ashram). I provided all accommodation details with contact numbers to my parents and that was pretty much it.
As I started doing this more often, the question arose about what to tell people – specifically relatives. Where do I keep disappearing sometimes for a whole month!? This was a time when solo traveling, especially women solo traveling hadn’t become the buzz word it is now. Many people close to me suggested that I tell people I am traveling with another girl friend, no one would really know the truth and it would look so much more normal.
On my first trip, I didn’t know whether I would be safe. I had read a few international-solo-woman traveler blogs and it seemed safe, but there was not a single girl in my circle of people who had done this. Over the years as I kept solo traveling it became one of the Super activities of my life. And I refused to lie about it! Pretty much from the beginning I always told relatives, friends & family that I am traveling solo.
Everyone found it surprising and a bit shocking but they got over it. They had to anyway, I don’t give people too much choice in such things. 😉
With existing friends the situation was a bit uncomfortable, because the girls thought solo travel is unsafe and impossible. No I don’t know why they think it is impossible, but every time a solo travel conversation happens then it is me being enthusiastic and yet reticent about my plans. While the girls are being very cautious-like and also probably mincing words because well, here I am – a woman who has traveled solo and safe – so they can’t tell me that I am just inviting trouble. Even with friends (mostly boys) who were supportive and thought I was doing something interesting and progressive, didn’t really know what it was like to actually do this. So the problem that I faced more than anything was that I didn’t have anyone to talk to who actually understood my experiences.
Over time, a lot of people were getting amazed with my solo adventures – because hey, you know what? It’s safe after all! (At least as safe as anything else)
Soon stories about other women solo traveling were also floating around. It was only after 3 years or so, that once while general banter was going on in the family whatsapp group, that a traditional cousin married and ‘settled’ said that even she wanted to go on a solo trip. My mom chimed in saying, yes, she too wanted to go. This was one of those small things that are big in my life. I realized that solo travel is going to be accepted well within society; others want to do this too. 🙂
By this time I started coming in touch with many other hard core travelers – solo or otherwise via social media. I kept thinking of meeting up with them but wasn’t too keen, so the meetup never took place. And then one day I was at a family place and some traditional relatives came to meet. One of the persons went on a monologue about how marriage is a must in life… it made me sad. That’s when I decided that I may as well create my traveler-friend circle so I can actually share my experiences with other people who get what I am saying.
That month my first traveler meetup happened, 4 women all single and raring to travel. 🙂
Since then I have come a long way. I have quite a few traveler friends, and especially after my solo cycling trip from Berlin to Copenhagen many folks are excited about my next travel adventures.
By now many other things have also changed in my life. Solo travel is just one uncommon thing I do, other such activities include accepting my spiritual lifestyle and living it. Depending on your social circle solo travel may now be a buzz word for you. Solo traveling is now ‘Cool’ in a lot of circles. Yet, the number of women who have actually traveled solo are few.
One of the challenges I have seen women face is the hesitation to do uncommon stuff. Hai la, no one around me travels solo then how can I? I wish I also had ‘solo traveler’ friends so then I could also travel solo. 😉
If you are looking to travel solo but finding it difficult due to social implications, I have written a longish post on why you should Open up about your Uncommon Interests, because otherwise you are Missing Out on a lot of Awesomeness.
It’s not worth just hesitating to do stuff you are interested in. Nor is it worth hiding your interests to fit in with the people around you. Go out there and live your life the way you want, because only that will give you the depth of experience necessary to Live a really good life.
Only thing to take care is that your actions don’t harm yourself or others in anyway. Also they should be at least somewhat productive for your life and society. I see a lot of youngsters getting into smoking, boozing, pot, sex and such. After a party where they had a lot of “fun” they will be in a state where sleeping on the dirty Indian roads seems fine and pleasurable. So good luck with that.
And in such an urban culture I have found that living spiritually satvic life is often a rebellion, and always an Uncommon activity. So here’s to Uncommon that provides something new to society, something to ponder on, something that uplifts and spreads awesomeness all around.
Let’s Be Awesome!