Nothing is quite as great as finding the perfect travel companion. Someone who shares similar interests, likes experiencing things both new and old, is extremely accommodating, who basically is the Yin to your yang, and vice versa. But what if you don’t find that perfect travel mate? Do you simply put off exploring new destinations? Or do you wait around until that one pre-destined moment where everything miraculously falls into place where the spotlight suddenly shines out of the azure sky onto a casually dressed individual in the middle of a crowded street, and a speech bubble appears reading “I am the one”? Sorry to rain on your parade, and no offence to Neo, but this happens only in the movies.
Have you ever wondered that sometimes, the travel companion that you so yearn for…that perfect travel mate for whom the unending search ensues, could be yourself? Travelling solo is a truly enriching experience that everyone must savor at least once in their lives. If you are looking to get away from a hectic work schedule, looking to find a fitting career, looking to give mommy hood a break, looking to fill in a gap year or simply looking to find a fresh new perspective on life, Solo travel is the answer. Traveling solo can be slightly unnerving for the rookie traveler, but the pros soon outweigh the cons.
- Freedom: No nagging group tours, no sticking to the must-see tourist attraction, no fixed group dining menu, no frenetic pace. You are free to do what you want, how you want and can set the pace as you choose.
- Spontaneity: The best part about solo travel is that there are no schedules. Choose to be spontaneous and take the day as it comes, without having to cater to the needs (or whims) of a fellow traveler.
- Easy to mingle: Traveling alone forces you to meet new people. And you are bound to make a few friends along the way. It is easier to mingle when traveling solo, than in a close knit group.
- Local flavor: Localites tend to get watchful of groups of tourists. They are much more welcoming of the solo traveler, since the latter evokes more trust. So, experience a whole new local perspective when going it alone.
- Personal Growth: That blog post you never wrote. That half-finished musical composition. That unread sonnet. That long due introspection. Solo travel is the perfect platform to achieve clarity and completion.
Top destinations for solo travel
Grand Canyon – It really is a spiritual pilgrimage. Alone in the grand expanse of Grand Canyon, one can not help but get in touch with your inner self. It’s a great place to contemplate your place in the universe and what you want to do in it.
New York City – This is a city that has something for everyone. From Art galleries, museums, theatres and tourist attractions to pubs, restaurants and side shows. The Big Apple is like tumbling through the rabbit hole.
Amsterdam – Think Amsterdam and you immediately think of freedom. This is where history, and architecture collide with the contemporary and promiscuous. And as the tagline spells IAMsterdam, it can’t get more solo than this.
San Francisco – The city of the Golden Gate is where art, kitsch and the colliquial collide with strict professionalism, resulting in a rare blend of culture.
Tips to take along
- Stay in a hostel. You are guaranteed to meet new people and get some fresh perspective.
- Keep a journal handy. You never know when inspiration strikes.
- Avoid romantic destinations. Now, we don’t want too many things remind us of l’amour while going solo, do we?
- Avoid walking alone at night. If you do, try to learn about notorious neighborhoods (every city has one), in advance and stay a good 5 miles away from them.
- Develop a confident gait. It wins trust and wards away the undesirables.
- Invest in a travel safety wallet and keep your passport on you at all times.
- Trust everyone and no one. Pretty much the same attitude you have at the workplace.
- Read up on culture and customs much in advance, so you leave the least room for faux pas.
- Take up a short workshop – Cook, paint, weave, write. The world is your bubble.