The answer is quite straight forward, “Since at some point no one was there to join me in my travel plans – relatives were busy in their own family life, friends were getting married or were extremely occupied in their jobs. Delaying my travel plans only led to their cancellation, and thus one day I decided – let’s try a solo trip”.
Usually, When someone says I’m traveling in India, people will give us either of the two reactions:
- Oh, so you are going with your family/friends for a 5-7 day vacation, all planned in advance, to some exotic touristic location!! That’s good, enjoy your time…
- Great, your company is awesome, who keeps on sending you to its different locations. You are a lucky man…
People in India are still not used to visiting places with lesser number of tourist, to a place less explored. Exploring travel as a passion is a relatively new concept and there’s a big taboo around it. And above all, for foreign location if I’m spending my hard-earned money, I’m an extravagant who doesn’t know how to save for his future.
I always thought it’s the Indian society which has lots of predicament around exploring continents. But, later on when I actually travelled, I realized it’s not India but it’s the human nature which by default want to be settled in life.
Journey from a student to a group traveler!!
Usually things happen gradually and same has been the case with me. Till graduation what I saw was what had been shown to me by the society. Tasks were already defined, and I was supposed to move as if I’m a “Tight-Rope walker”. After every achieved goal, there is another goal set and I was supposed to excel in it. Else my life would be a big failure. But living this way certainly helped me in reaching to a position where I started getting good returns on my years invested.
I always had that fondness towards exploring different things. Nothing could be more contrasting than the places all around the world. And eventually I developed this habit of exploring places. There were 30+ fresher who joined together in the company including me. A group of young enthusiastic people, and many of them shared similar passion towards traveling. We had amazing destinations nearby our city and most of us started roaming together in a big group. We hiked many mountains in Western Ghats region of India, conquered many old forts and visited numerous unexplored areas around. But, as all good things last sooner, everything stopped in just a few months. Though, this resulted in making several sub-groups based on more nuanced common interests. I got my group too – a group of three individuals with a common interest in traveling round the world. We started with a small one week trip. Amazingly we were the very first to travel out of the country on a planned tour from our company. We had amazing time there, did lots of stuff which we might never have done in India.
This was just a start!!
But, just a week trip for me was not enough. I could see my level of excitement increasing with every trip I have had. Another turnabout/push for me has been – India has so much potential to attract tourist, has many better touristic and serene destinations that I have seen or read about. But the number of foreign tourists or even locals visiting in India is very low as compared to other tourist friendly destinations viz. Dubai, Thailand, Malaysia.
I decided to start exploring India; find out what the problem is, and why there is so less tourist inflow in my country. It started with unplanned weekend tours to nearby destinations, using public transport to reach to any of these sites. Thus, these were the beginning of my solo travel.
So, why do I travel solo?
Frankly, I never wanted to do that. Over the time, traveling started to excite me. And later on it became solo. Usually I asked many of my friends to join me in my endeavour. But, some didn’t have time, some were quite lazy over the weekends. It is very disheartening to abandon your dream tour, as no one is ready to join you. So, after such repeated instances, I suddenly made up my mind to try solo trips. It gave me ultimate sense of freedom. I decided my own destination, my own way of traveling, arranged money and then just made an announcement, “Guys, I’m leaving. Anybody would like to join?” If the answer is yes!! Then it’s great, but if there is no one, I already have nice arrangements as per that. Only when I started doing this, I realized there are hundreds of other travel companions along the road – different but like-minded people. And, once it started, I started enjoying this much more than the planned tours. There was a sense of excitement, a sense of adventure even for a simple city travel.
Do I like it now “being a nomad”?
Of course, I do!! Though I’m not a nomad per se. It’s a big term in itself. But, yes I enjoy my time being nomad twice or thrice in a year. It has not very long when I started traveling like a nomad, but there is a lot that I have already explored. There are so many different experiences that I have had, so many great and useful learnings. And it is my travel experience only which has made me to write this first blog post (of my life as well).
My first solo trip outside India was to Egypt. It was planned at the time when there was big unrest going on due to Islamic State (IS). I was sceptical, but I wanted to push myself and give it a try. Eventually it turned out to be a trip which made me to redefine myself. I met some of the finest human beings there who were equally excited about my visit to their country.
One of the most recent trip of mine was to Java Island of Indonesia. It showed me the true meaning of humanity where an awesome Indonesian Family rescued me from a situation when I got stuck in a small village with no transport whatsoever and no place to stay in the middle of the night. This was an actual “Atithi Devo Bhawah“( guest is god or treat guest likewise God!!) gesture. I was totally overwhelmed by their gesture towards myself.
Not just this, solo travels gave me the freedom to test my inherent skills, my ability to manage things affordably not just for myself but for many of my fellow travellers. I got the chance to organize a last-minute tour for 7 persons from 5 different nations, bringing all of them together and won their trust for my lifetime.
I think traveling helps me realize the deep meaning of one famous quote from one of Indian religious books “Srimad Bhagwad Gita” which goes like this:
“Simply know that there is so much more, infinitely more, beyond what can be seen, felt, heard by your physical senses”
Which now corresponds to me to one very famous travel quote
“The world is like a book. Those who don’t travel read only one page”.