I often come across this question - "Why do I travel solo". Solo traveling for me is not a style-statement. I started traveling solo after various failed attempts in planning trips with friends. And more importantly failed executions on trips because each one had a different purpose to travel. Some friends wanted to get drunk and high on trips, some friends wanted attention from the opposite sex in the group, some friends wanted to enjoy swimming pool in a resort and some wanted to spend hours in the room dressing up before venturing out. When I realised that my purpose was not aligned to any of these, I was forced to travel solo. I have an unmatchable level of energy on my travels. Solo traveling eventually became a way of life for me.
1. I realised I’m responsible for my own happiness
With lot of importance given to codependent relationships in our society, most of us fail to understand that nobody else is responsible for your happiness except you. Being forced to believe in codependency, I too had a hard time learning this through my solo travels. Being constantly surrounded by people in my regular life - friends, colleagues, family, I never got a chance to realise this. When I started traveling solo surrounded with strangers everywhere, when I had some travels gone wrong, when I had to take charge of everything around me, in strange lands, I learnt taking responsibility for my own happiness.
2. I started respecting every individual
Earlier, the only people I used to connect with were the ones who shared similar interests as me (sports, dance, outdoors) and would talk a similar language (sarcasm, logic) as I did. I completely ignored the rest of the world. I’m glad that traveling taught me the importance of every individual on planet. Because I traveled solo, I had to rely on the locals a lot to understand their region. They neither spoke my language (sarcasm) neither did they dance salsa and bachata, but I had so much to learn from them. On my travels I discovered that simplest of the people won my heart the most.
3. I learnt to handle failures, I learnt to let go
I had grown up as an achiever, topping the school every year, winning almost all the competitions in my town, getting degree of my choice, cracking interviews of the companies I desired to join. If ever I fail in achieving my target, I would find faults with myself and come back with my improved self to “Achieve” it. I was always in competition with myself if not with anyone else. I had never learnt to handle failures until I started trekking. Time and again I had to give in to the mighty mountains, powerful nature and failed expeditions with reasons beyond anyone’s control. I also landed up with few misadventures on my travels, where the only option was to be happy with the available alternatives. I learnt to let go of my plans and make the most of what I have. Life was easy when I stopped craving to control everything around me. Learning to handle failures was actually a win for me, I learnt to win over my ego.
4. I became humble
So used to excelling at most of the things I took up, I had an arrogant side to my personality which I had overlooked for years. Mountains humbled me with its majesty and so did the great people I met on the road. The skilled locals on the mountains who helped me achieve my “dreams” of climbing the peaks, the ones who saved my life when I had risked myself to near-death situations, the crazy travelers who had traveled across the globe and had so much knowledge to share, the achievers who had scaled so many heights in various walks of life - each one who really impressed me had one thing in common - humility. I was far from being humble compared to them, but I learnt how important it is. Today, when people appreciate my humility, I feel evolved.
5. I learnt to go with the flow
When I planned my travels and wanted to execute the plan in the most efficient way, many a times I lost the fun of enjoying the moment. There were times when I would uncover something really interesting about some place and would have loved to spend more time there, but to be on the plan, I had to miss out on enjoying that moment. That’s when I started backpacking, with absolutely no plan, no bookings, so that I had the flexibility of spending time the way I felt then. I even stopped researching much about any new destination I wanted to visit, apart from the local transportation. And I realised I actually loved being in the moment. I started enjoying my life even more when I could implement this to my life in general. It takes away a lot of burden and lets me cherish every moment. I have no plans for my life, the only aim in life is to evolve!
My travels have opened up my mind in many different directions and I know I’ve a lot more to learn. I kept evolving with my travels and this is a serious addiction!