I decided to travel solo, and everyone I knew lost their collective shit.
I’m this shy, introverted, reserved sort of person, and it takes me FOREVER to open up to anyone. Or even at all. So imagine when someone like this, someone no one expected would even go for a stayover at a friend’s place without parent permission, went ahead and decided to travel solo to Europe. No one saw that coming!
I live in Mumbai, which is one of India’s metro cities. My parents have always been very cool with me staying out late as long as I’m responsible enough to keep them informed of my whereabouts. They’ve knows about my boyfriends, my breakups, my adventures and misadventures (with what may or may not have involved alcohol), my good grades, my bad grades, you name it. But they weren’t okay with me taking off by myself. It’s a general concern, right? What if something happens? What if she’s mugged, or attacked, or molested? In Mumbai, they’re a phone call away. But what about when I’m in a different country? Who will help me then?
This is an understandable concern, one which is pretty much prevalent in all Indian families (not stereotyping, but this is what I’ve noticed). So my first, and only, step was to convince my mum and dad that this is what I really, really want to do! It took a lot of convincing. I let them pick the places. They weren’t too happy, but they love me too much to say no!
The real fun came after this. I couldn’t contain my excitement and blurted this out to anyone and everyone I met, and I got some EPIC reactions when I told folks that I was doing this. Here are some of the BEST ones –
1. Did you breakup with your boyfriend?
LOL. No. If I was looking for a cure for heartbreak, I’d crack open every bottle of wine I laid my eyes on and have an all-night drinkfest with my best friends.
2. No one wants to go with you!
But I wanted to travel solo, you guys! Didn’t really ask anyone if they wanted to join, so where’s the scope for people to refuse?
3. How did your parents agree to this?
My parents are awesome. It took a LOT of convincing, but I won them over eventually. This one’s a biggie. If your parents aren’t okay with it, chances are you won’t be happy about it, so it’s always worth the effort to have them on your side!
4. Never thought YOU would do this!
This one can easily offend some of us, lol.
Did I think I would ever do this? Nah. But look what happened!
Don’t be afraid of going out there even if you’re an introvert. I’m not saying we’re all shy, but the prospect of meeting new people and even initiating conversation can be so SCARY that we tend to avoid all such opportunities itself! From the second you decide to travel solo, you will learn so much about yourself as a person, because you step outside of your comfort zone. Sounds cliché, but it’s true!
5. Is it even safe?
Let’s define unsafe. Mugging, stalking, molestation are the most common issues we’ve all heard of. Now answer this – in your country, does none of this exist?
It’s there everywhere, and one needs to exercise similar caution. If you know how to take care of yourself in your country, you can take care of yourself in another one. It’s really that simple.
6. You’re a girl. You’ll get hit on.
Don’t say it like it’s a bad thing! Yep, I’m a girl. Sure, I may get hit on. Here’s the truth – you can get hit on whether you’re a girl or a guy, whether in your own country or another! It’s up to you to decide how you want to react. We’ve all heard those tales about finding your soulmate while traveling. Who knows, it could happen to you!
Folks have asked me how I respond to advances. Frankly speaking, I can get so awkward with meeting new people, it’s like an inbuilt defense mechanism!
7. Are you MAD?
“Mad Matter: “Have I gone mad?”
Alice: “I’m afraid so. You’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are.”
– Tim Burton, Alice in Wonderland (motion picture)
What’s life without a little madness? Mad, weird, different.. To be either or all of these is wonderful, so just go be it! If going solo is your mad thing, then yay!
On to my last, and favourite reaction. Of everything that I saw and heard, this one absolutely takes the cake!
8. You go, girl!
I was overwhelmed by everything I’d heard in response to my decision to travel alone. There were so many voices that questioned my decision, words of caution filling my ears and doubtful glances being thrown my way that there were times even I started questioning whether this was a smart move or not. But even among all of this, there were SO MANY of you who encouraged me, egged me on and congratulated me for doing this!
I absolutely LOVE my friends, some of whom told me they have always wanted to do travel solo, but can’t because of whatever reason. My best friend was on the phone with me when I booked my tickets (she is always on the phone with me when I book my tickets) and it’s AWESOME to have someone telling you you’re doing something kickass! Folks at work were surprised but so appreciative of the move. Even people I’d hardly exchanged a few words with at work before came up to me and volunteered their help with planning! It was heartwarming.
There will always be naysayers, but what matters is how much you want to do something! If you believe in it, then just do it!
Since I made the trip, I’ve been going on and on about how amazing it was, and I really want people who want to do this to get out there, let go of their fears and go for the kill. It’s no biggie! The entire world is doing it already, so you know it’s totally safe and totally doable. And TRUST me, it will be worth it.
Have you traveled solo? What was it like? Did you face anything like I did? Let me know in the comments below!
You can find a lil bit more about me right here – Who Am I?