As they say ‘That a man who goes alone can start today, but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready.”
While it may seem to be nerve-racking at first, traveling solo is a worthwhile and unique experience. It’s an opportunity to discover yourself and the world, without any expectations of family and friends. You get to just spread your wings and fly the way you want. Below, TA gathered some of the stories that will give you a glimpse into what it’s like to travel alone, ranging from personal experiences, brief encounters, life-altering and lasting memories from travelers who have struck out on their own.
Ruth Wyatt is a 24 years old Londoner trying to figure out what’s what. She has a zest for life, travelling, exploring and interacting with people. According to Ruth, ‘She allows herself to be influenced, moved and inspired by the people she meets, stories she hear, places she explore and experiences she endures.’ She is an active travel blogger and makes sure she share her escapades with the world.
Her motivation for travelling alone began in university, while she was studying. She signed up to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania for the Charity Meningitis Research foundation. That was her first experience of travelling alone/solo and she was just blown away by the experience. The feeling of how diverse, unique and eclectic the world is, boosted her spirits and she never looked back since then. She started wandering on her own. Initially she planned her trips from her savings, but in order to continue her passion and follow her dreams, she started working in London. And now that’s the place from where all her voyages begin.
Till date Ruth has visited Bali, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and India on her own. She is connected to solo travelling community in India and had an incredible experience of staying at two local rural places in South India, known as ‘Vanjur and Vellore.’ In Vellore, Ruth has stayed with the families of community members for which she was working as a volunteer. For her it was a very different experience, and she got a chance to observe and understand the culture and habits of local people. Ruth says, ‘I was in awe of the people, their generosity and kindness, particularly, the patience and op
timism women had even in the toughest of situations. It changed my viewpoint of life and the way I live, forever.’ She looks forward to visit India more often and discover more.
When asked about how beautiful is solo travel than group travel, she answers spontaneously, ‘It’s easily my preference.’ According to her it gives you the freedom to manage and explore things your way. ‘You can wake up when you want, visit places that you want to, choose to make friends and surround yourself with company (or not). There are absolutely no pressures. You can eat as minimally or lavishly as your budget allows, and stay in hostels/hotels as practical or elaborate as you wish!
She has just finished her most awaited and a fantastic trip to New York. It was her first time on American soil and she had a blast. Ruth has plans to travel Barcelona next and enjoy some exquisite time exploring Spain. She shares her travel stories, tips and experiences through her blog and wishes to write and make a living based on her blog writing and experiences (www.ramblewithru.blog). You can also catch up with her on instagram (@ruwyatt).
Vaibhav Bhatia, a student of M.Sc Zoology at Panjab University, Chandigarh, is a solo traveler following his passion. He loves to explore on his own and plan his journeys. The mundane, routine and robotic life full of lectures and long lab works never pleased Vaibhav and brought monotony and boredom into his life. However one thing, which always gave him a satisfactory escape from his dull life, was, travelling. He laughs and add, “Travel makes me happiest and you got to do what makes you happy, right?”
Initially, he travelled with his family and friends, but then he always had this fantasy of travelling alone. He stalked solo travelers on instagram, followed a dozen of travel pages on Facebook, personally got into conversations with lot of people backpacking solo and at last all of this motivated and helped him to switch to solo travel. For Vaibhav, travelling solo is way better, gratifying and thrilling than travelling with a group. And with time, I have progressed as a solo traveler. Initially it was difficult for him to manage finances as he was studying away from home and has to cope everything under a set budget. But when there’s a will, there’s a way!! He started cutting down on extra expenses and saved as much as possible for his solo quests.
Both solo and group travel has their own set of pros and cons. But Vaibhav finds his solace in solo travelling. According to him, ‘Sometimes the best partner you can have on a trip is yourself.’ Travelling on your own let you decide everything small and big about your trip. You don’t need to pre plan or pre book. Roam where you want to, eat what you like, and if not in mood to wander, just relax and enjoy the beautiful view, place offers with your favorite music and a book. You learn from strangers, share experiences, time, food and smiles with them. You get to do everything you relish, unlike travelling in a group where you have to consider everyone’s interest.
His first solo trip was to Manikaran, Kasol and Tosh. And since then he travels regularly and covered many places like Spiti Valley, Benaras, Mcleodganj, Dharamshala, Shimla, Kasauli, Amritsar, Prashar Lake, Patnitop and Manali. He is currently on a solo trip to Russia! Exciting, isn’t it!!
In his busy and chaotic life, travel helps him grow as a person. It helps him introspect the negative patterns in life and brings peace and bliss. He thinks it as a challenge, because you come out of your comfort zone, break new grounds and put yourself in diverse milieus and situations. But this challenge let you discover, acquire and evolve.
Right now, Vaibhav is not particularly connected to any solo travelling community in India, but he hopes to get allied soon in the near future. Till then, wandering is all what he wants to do, without any itineraries, without any strategies. ‘Wandering without purpose too has a purpose which you find when you don’t try to’, Vaibhav says. Solo travelling is more fun when random, without any plans, maps and compass.
Childhood passion of photography made Varun Namdev, an artist and traveller that he is now. His journey was backed by his curiosity for analyzing pictures from calendars, newspapers, posters and wallpapers. This turned him into a hobbyist photographer, which further took a professional form and acted as an upper hand in his traveling. He has successfully fed his unsaid childhood hunger of exploring places and capturing moments.
In last 3 years he has been traveling full-time, and have covered almost entire Bhutan and India, except Lakshadweep and Spiti Valley of Himachal Pradesh. But he is soon leaving for these two places in July and December 2017, respectively. ‘It’s all planned and I am ready to rock’, Varun laughs.
His longest backpacking exploration was of North East India, which he did last year (from June to August 2016). It started from Varanasi and ended at Bhopal covering many places like, Patna, Siligiuri, New Jalpaiguri, Darjeeling, Guwhati, Tezpur, Bomdilla, Tawang, Jorhat, Majuli riverine island, Dimapur, Kohima, Mao, Imphal, Loktak lake, Aizwal, Silcher, Agartala, Shillong, Cheerapunjee, Guwahati, Phuentsholling, and Thimpu-Paro. Well it’s a long travel covering fantastic places and he had an amazing time.
Before this his longest and adventurous travel was from Kanyakumari to Kerala. He covered various states in between like Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, Karanataka, Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Maharastra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajashthan, Delhi, Haryana, Chandigarh, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh. Another of his chain travelling includes Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and further to North East. Varun explored Orissa, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Uttrakhand, Jharkhand and Telangana separately.
As far as his financial status is considered, Varun is a commercial photographer. He does event shoots, party and pre wedding shoots, product shoots etc. But according to him, ‘these are my part time jobs. I am more of a full time traveler and I stick to tight and shoe string Budget.’ He makes use of his photography skills to reach various small vendors, and in return gets discounted accommodation and food (sometimes even free). At times he also guide other travellers and help them enjoy an incredible time.
Varun finds solo travelling extremely beautiful. He doesn’t take it as wandering alone because he thinks we are going to explore the world, which is vast and full of people, you meet, talk and learn new things. We learn more while travelling alone as we step out with a naked mind, but in-group we are surrounded by same kind of minds sometime, which lessen the scope of learning. Also while traveling alone ‘you are not bound to take any decision, which you don’t want to. You rule your own plans and are open to every challenge and opportunity, which comes your way. You just travel freely’, he adds.
Varun strongly connects his life with travelling. Initially his voyages were short without any long term goals, but with time he realized that there is no other thing which helps him learn and grow but travelling. He feels, ‘Wandering is a kind of therapy, which helps me rejuvenate, nourish my mind and grow my vision, the basic need for any photographer.’
When asked how well he is connected to solo travelling community in India, he replies, “Yes! I am connected to various like-minded people, budget travelers, travel photographers and solo traveller communities like, Nomadic Traveling, Backspacking and Solo Traveling, Digital Nomads, Budget Traveling etc. across the world. Also, there are many groups on social media of which I am a part of.”
His future plans include, exploring entire world. He is managing his funds to achieve his dream. He smile and says, ‘Across all the continents and countries I want to travel and experience more and more. I want to document and showcase various cultures and hidden landscapes in form of Photography and Short films.’
An engineer by profession in USA, and a traveller by passion, across the world. From the very beginning he loved visiting new places, clicking photographs and adding onto some adventure in his life. This urge of him to visit new places and explore, motivated him to do solo travel. He now travels frequently; it acts as a stress buster for me from my busy, hectic and scheduled life.
Ankush generally prefers travelling with friends and family but he doesn’t hesitate doing solo incase plan do not work out with others or if no one is interested. ‘I am always to ready to pack and set out on an adventure, even when I have no company. I fully enjoy my company as well.’ Till now he has visited California, Mexico, Canada all by himself and he has plans to visit Colorado.
His savings from job finances his quests. According to Ankush, both Solo and group travel have their own advantages. ‘In case of solo, you need not depend on other’s decision, it’s the way you want. You can live in hostels, meet people from different countries and mingle with them.’ While waiting in queues, you sometimes get priority as a solo traveller as u can b adjusted with anyone, he says and laugh.
As far as connection with the solo travelling community in India is concerned, he is not much in contact with them. As of now he is travelling mostly in North America, but he definitely has plans in future to explore more of India and connect with various solo traveller communities here. Ankush believes mostly in not planning anything lot before. He says ‘Just visit places when you get time and save money for more.’ Wandering is something I love and till my last breath I will continue to explore and travel.
Julia is basically born and brought up in Germany. After her high school she went to Ireland and worked as an au pair (child minder). She further pursued her career as a media designer, is now an entrepreneur and works as a digital marketer/ web designer. She mostly works from home and that’s one reason she wants to move to Chiang Mai soon, as she is in love with Thailand.
Travelling is something Julia absolutely loves to do. Though she thoroughly enjoys company of her friends and family, she prefers solo travelling. Her relocation from Germany to Ireland while studying made her explore Ireland all by alone. She felt great planning everything by herself and then enjoying her journeys. From that day she fell in love with solo travelling. It motivated her to plans such trips more often.
She feels travelling alone has lot of advantages. You have more time for yourself and it’s quite easy to get to know other people. You stay in hostels instead of apartments, meet people from every corner of the world and spend time with them. Sometimes you travel further with them, stay in contact and maybe meet again in theirs, yours country or any other lovely country. She giggles ‘I have friends all over the world, I could travel to Japan for two weeks and wont be alone any day.’ Apart from this, while travelling alone you tend to be more self-confident and witty and cautious. You learn how to deal with difficult situations on your own. She feels, that everyone should once travel alone. It’s totally normal to be a bit afraid if you’ve never traveled solo. But visit a neighbor country and choose a place a lot of backpackers are visiting. There it’s much easier to get to know other people. She adds, ‘Even I was really nervous before my first solo travel, but now I can travel across continents without any problems. You grow with your challenges!’
Julia has visited Ireland, England, Scotland and (of course) Germany as a solo traveller. However her most impressing journey was her trekking tour at the West Highland Way (a hiking trail) in Scotland. She met some amazing people there and had lots of fun. It was one of her best and most memorable experience of solo travelling. Unfortunately she has never been to India before, so she is not connected with any community. But she definitely has India in her bucket list soon. And once here, she will definitely connect with solo traveller groups and discover the best.
Julia believes in doing lot of research before she begins with her quest. Like how much money she will need, where she can save and where she has to splurge. She always book a hostel with a kitchen to cook for herself, because according to her it’s a good way to save some money. Being an experienced she also suggests that you should know how far the hostel is from the city center and how much a train ticket costs. Even if the hostel is expensive, but much closer to the city center, it’s mostly worth booking it. She grins and says, ‘When you’re traveling there are things happening you didn’t plan (like you miss the bus and have to buy a new ticket, there’s a special event in the town you want to visit), so trust me, it’s really good to have that extra money in your wallet.’
Her future plans include travelling and just travelling. In the past Julia was traveling mostly when she had holidays, but now she is one happy person. Her work from home (online) will help her travel and work at the same time and she is too much excited about it. ‘This means that I’ll travel a lot on my own, anywhere anytime, and I will get more chances to meet new people, make new friends and travel the world with them’, Julia smiles.
You do wonders when your passion turns into your profession. This holds true for Sanjay Madhup, who is the secretary of Youth Hostel Association of India, Bhopal unit, and also a solo traveller and explorer.
Since childhood Sanjay loved travelling and had this wanderlust within him. But the actual journey towards his passion started 26 years back when he joined the association, of which his friend told him about. Since that day he has been living his dreams and has developed a kinship with YHAI.
His first solo travel was a trekking adventure to Tiger Nest Trek in Bhutan, the memories of which are still afresh in his mind. Sanjay smile and says ‘I had the best time of his life while trekking in Bhutan and I thoroughly enjoyed the natural instincts of the place.’ The terrific and adventurous time he spent in the nature’s lap has left a deep impression on him. And he was inspired to travel & trek more often. And today while working for YHAI, Sanjay has completed more than a thousand local treks, many national treks and two international treks. Not only trekking but also he has enjoyed and experienced para-sailing, para-gliding, rock climbing, river rafting and what not. Well, the list goes on!!
But even after so many voyages and quests, his dream destination awaits him. Sanjay is eagerly waiting for the day when he will be able to complete the Everest Base Camp Trek, which he is currently holding back due to some financial ailments. But he is sure that soon he will be able to reach his target and feel that adrenaline rush he has been craving for. Apart from this, he also aspires to perform more international treks. He wants to discover and experience the diversity, a place, person, flora and fauna hold. According to Sanjay, ‘this will not only help me see places and meet people but also nurture my natural instincts being an avid nature lover.’
The story was made possible with the efforts of Rupal Shrivastava, Aradhana Bose and Sanya Acharya. Aradhana and Sanya are content writers with TA. Rupal serves as creative head of TA. She is also the travel and lifestyle blogger at Across Blue Waters.