Dare to live the life you always wanted??? Dare to chase your dreams alone??? Well I did ! That is why I travelled solo to Bhutan.
Solo travel means you are going somewhere alone. I was unaware of it until I went for Bali trip with my friends last year. At Bali, during my Mt. Batur hike I met a lady from California. During our conversation she told me that she was travelling solo. To be frank, I was shocked. A lady travelling all the way from California alone for a vacation was an unheard of experience for me. I asked myself if I would travel solo and my immediately response was a big NO. I can’t live without human companionship.
Toward the end of April this year I had this sudden and strong urge to travel. I wanted to go off to a far off place. First place that came to my mind was Europe. I thought of visiting my friends in Europe and have some fun. But then I realised that getting schengen visa within a short period of time was nearly impossible. If I was travelling I had to do it before my kids classes begin in June. I was frustrated and shared my woes with my good friend Anjali. It was she who suggested me to visit Bhutan. Immediately I started pouring on whatever literature was available on Bhutan. The more I read about Bhutan, the more I realised that Bhutan was the perfect place to visit in short notice. Tour to Bhutan didn’t require a visa, was not very expensive and was safe for female solo travel.
Since I was planning a budget trip, I would take nearly 7-9 days for the trip. My next search was for a suitable travel companion. I rang up many of my friends and none were free. I had only two options – abandon trip or go solo. That is when I took the bold decision to travel solo. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that someday I’d be travelling solo. I had a tough time convincing my husband to let me travel alone. After much begging he relented. Before he could change his mind I booked my flight tickets.
Next three weeks were spend on researching for the trip. I spend hours reading about Bhutan and travel experiences of seasoned travellers. I found that if I go through tour operators it was going to be very expensive. So I meticulously chalked out my own plan. I relied on AirBnb to book all my stay and accommodation. Finally, I set out to see Bhutan. Eventhough I was fully prepared for the trip, I felt scared at the prospect of travelling all alone in a foreign country. But then dying without exploring the world was scarier.
When I returned after the trip, I realised my decision to travel solo was one of the best decisions I made in life. It was a great liberating experience to move out of my comfort zone and explore unknown parts of world. Here are a few things that I learned through my solo travel.
Best travel companion is you – I love having fun with friends. During my solo trip I learned that travelling alone is a different experience. You start enjoying your own company. There is lot of quality time to be spend on yourself and on things that you like and value.
- Pursue your interests – I have keen interest to learn about the culture and life of people. So I love interacting with locals and spending a lot of time with them. This is not possible when you travel with others. Also I love attending cooking class when I visit new countries to understand the local cuisines. Your travel partners need not share your enthusiasm and when you travel in group you may have to overlook your interests.
- Learning to be in moment – Devoid of all kinds of distractions , you learn to live in the moment. You focus on the destination and surroundings. What you experience during a solo trip is more intense than when you travel with other people. When you travel with friends or family, you need to pay attention to their needs, spend time looking after and entertaining them etc. When you are travelling alone, you get quality time to observe the nature, enjoy the serenity, and enter into meaningful conversation with yourself.
Learning to survive – In solo trip, you are your own leader. You broaden your horizon by getting out of comfort zone and throwing yourself into a different culture. You decide where to go, when to go, what to see, what to do etc. You learn to decide when and what to trust, how to interact with strangers, how to find your way around. You assume full responsibility of life along with the decisions and choices that you make. You return back with confidence to face any and every adverse situation that life may come up with.
Fear of being lonely – People fear loneliness when they they think about going for solo trip. Solo trip doesn’t mean you shouldn’t interact with people. Along the way you meet lot of travellers, some solo, with whom you can share your experiences. You will see that , when you travel alone you make it easier for fellow travellers to approach you for a conversation or even a cup of tea. It helps to make new friends from different places and ethnicity.
Prospect of being in danger – This is one thing that discourages many from attempting solo trip. Danger is present everywhere . You don’t have to travel anywhere to put yourself in danger. You step out of house and you can be mugged right in front of your house. That remote possibility doesn’t prevent you from going out. Taking precautions so as not to put yourself in any dangerous situation is one way of remaining safe during solo trips. I never wandered outside after 6 pm. I was very careful about how much I revealed to strangers. Even when I had to take share taxi to my accommodation place, I used to get down half km ahead and walk back so as not to let anyone know where I was staying. Most importantly, I always tried to appear bold and strong and walked with head held high. People generally try to pester you when you appear timid.
Making awesome memories – When you do things solely by yourself like crossing borders, climbing mountains, going for adventure trek etc, you have an immense sense of achievement. You start falling in love with yourself and with life. Solo trip also gives you freedom to do all crazy things without having the constant fear of being judged by others.When I reached Hazimara share auto stand, the only seat left was next to auto driver and I took it.I had to hitchhike in a truck as I failed to find transportation from Takshang to Paro town
- Ease of arranging things – If you are an impulsive person like me, who makes spur of the moment decision to travel , then solo is your best option. It is easier to avail last minute tickets/ accommodation for one person. You also have a chance of getting cheap last minute deals.
‘We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us’. But if you wait for people to come along with you for travel, then you are going to wait forever. Solo trip is a very challenging decision to be made. But the rewards of setting off all alone for an adventure outweighs any fear that you may have. Travelling solo is truly an amazing experience. Moving out of your comfort zone and trusting strangers will change your perspective of life and people forever. Try it for atleast for a weekend if you don’t have the confidence to go for a long solo trip. I can assure you, it will change your life for ever. ‘He who returns from a journey is not the same as he who left’.