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5 Advantages of Solo Travel


The man who goes alone can start today, but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready.” –Henry Thoreau. This is why for me the Advantages of Solo Travel are endless.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have any issues with group travelers or any other type of travelers but traveling solo is something I cherish a lot. I’m never bound to anyone’s schedule so I can stop in the middle of the road on a bike ride or simply get off the bus if I see scenery that enraptures me. I and only I can make changes to my travel plans, be it extending my stay in a city or skipping one destination just to spend extra time at another. I hold all the strings at all times.
When I can’t travel to my heart’s content I reminisce my last few trips, especially the ones when I traveled solo. Apart from the beautiful destinations and awe-inspiring beauty of nature that always enamors me, I miss meeting strangers and making friends with them almost instantly. I really cannot explain the fun I have after meeting people on my trips and just having a good time listening to accounts of their travels from across the world. Here are 5 advantages of traveling alone that I have experienced on my travels to which, many others concur.


1.     Solo Travel opens doors to new friendships

To be honest, I prefer to travel by myself so that I can enjoy each and every destination the way I see fit. I’m not bound to anyone else. But, whenever I meet someone while I’m traveling, it is a whole different story. I might be contradicting myself but that’s the way it is. Ask any solo traveler and they’ll agree with me (well I hope that most of them do). Instead of being a hindrance to my trip I usually find that traveling with strangers becomes more exciting.
While traveling, we tend to meet a lot of people, bond with them over drinks and stories, but it doesn’t happen often, that these strangers turn into actual friends you stay connected with. Being a young travel blogger who dropped out of engineering and set out to explore the world for himself, all these friends I’ve made are much older and some extremely well-travelled than me. We may or may not exchange numbers, but one thing I can say for certain is that I enjoy my day or two (or more) traveling with them.

Tim Cahill once said: A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles. That’s what I love most about Solo Travel, it gives you the liberty and freedom to make those friends.


Sharing an experience from my travels, on my solo bike ride to South India, I met two bikers Diwakar and Rajesh. I was 20, they were around 24-26, but I was a bit more experienced traveler and biker. They didn’t know what to do in Ooty, where to stay or to eat. So we decided that we’ll travel together and explore the town. After reaching Ooty, we chowed down on wholesome local delicacies and headed out to see the local attractions. They were a bit astonished to see me leave my luggage on the bike, unguarded and merrily go for sight-seeing (I’m literally cringing when I write this word. I hate it for some reason!). I helped them find the hotel they booked online, we had dinner together and bid adieu. Just like me, there are several other travelers who have had incredible experiences while traveling alone across the globe.

2.    You are bound to become multilingual

The best advantage of solo travel, for me, is learning new languages by interacting with the natives. I can understand around 10 Indian languages, I’m fluent in some while I’m still learning the others- English, Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Kachchi, Punjabi, Konkani, Bengali, Bhojpuri, Assamese, Sikkimese, Marwadi and Himachali.

The fact that I aspire to be a polyglot is an added advantage because when I meet people from other countries, the conversations they have among themselves pique my interest. I can comprehend a few foreign languages too like French, German, Spanish and Nepali, all because I have nothing to do but chat with people when I travel alone. Currently, I am trying to learn 5 languages – French, German, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian, all at the same time, many have called me crazy but it works for me!

On my backpacking trip to Nepal, I met a few fellow backpackers from Germany and Austria: Lars & Trixi, Chris & Cony, Lukas, Vincent and Carol. As I was practicing German on the train, in the bus or even at night in the hostel with my earphones in till 2 AM (yeah I know I’m crazy!), every day I would make an effort to speak some German with these wonderful people. They’d correct me if I made any mistakes and that according to me, is one of the best ways to learn a new language. I’ll give it a go:
Hallo Leute!
Was geht ab?
Wie geht es dir?
Ich hoffe, Sie genießen ihre Reisen!

A few French speakers: Samuel, Eimeil, Lenny, Eve and Ludo were my go-to people when it came to conversing in French. Every day I’d try to speak a couple of sentences or phrases (alright! Just a few words) in French. Might be a bit corny but I don’t care, I hope they read this:
Salut!
Comment ça va?
Je pratique le français tous les jours.
Merci beaucoup pour votre aide!

3.    Freedom and Independence – a wonderful Advantage of Solo Travel

This pair is paramount for me, no matter whether I’m traveling or I’m at home. Wars have been fought and brave people have been martyred so that others can have the freedom and independence to live as they deem fit. This logic is applicable to traveling as well, and if you’re dependent on someone else while you travel or are bound by another’s routine, then I ask you, are you really traveling for yourself?
When I travel solo, the independence and freedom that I have aren’t simply limited to the logistics of my trip or my way of traveling in any place. It extends far beyond all of that to my thought process, my world view as well as my perspective of seeing things.
I have written a haiku for this -
“I travel alone
Introspect and learn new things
What’s Shashwat what’s not?”

Slow and Solo Travel offers you the time and space you need to reflect back on life, maybe reminisce a few old memories, occasionally fret over some of your past decisions and ponder about the future. There’s nothing that will hold you back, you can contemplate with your greatest imagination, freely and peacefully.

The place I couch surfed in Varanasi - Ganges Nirvana is truly an humble abode.

My thoughts: Female Solo Travel

I have met female solo travelers from a few different countries and talking with them made me realize how misconstrued the opinion on solo travel for women is. Some say it’s unsafe, others say improbable and a fraction of people are even against women traveling alone. I think it is utter nonsense. If this way of travel offers a person, irrespective of their gender, the freedom & independence they desire in life, I am extremely happy for them! Yes, safety is a more concerning issue for women when they explore the world alone, but that shouldn’t and doesn’t mean they should never go on a solo trip backpacking & hitch-hiking. Women are equally tough if not tougher than men.
Shivya of the-shooting-star, Noraly from itchyboots, Ami who writes great articles about her thrilling adventures, Archana who urges you to travel, see and write, the nomad Swati with buoyant feet, Kristin asking you to be her travel muse and the blonde abroad Kiki are just a few amongst several well-traveled women who have shattered all misconceptions about solo female travel.

4.    You learn to navigate through life when you opt for Solo Travel

I always begin my journey alone, although I might join a small group to explore a place, but eventually, I prefer traveling solo. An essential lesson that is usually taught to us in our childhood is “your actions have consequences” but when we become adults and our mindset favors the materialistic aspects of life, we tend to forget this lesson. Traveling alone is filled with a plethora of reminders that draw our attention to that childhood teaching. When you are all alone in a random city or town or village, even the minutest of actions are a reflection on your character and decide whether you will be welcomed by the natives or will they prefer to keep you at arm’s length.

Yeah, I’m taking a rather sudden turn towards seriousness but this is a fact and I consider it one of the few advantages of solo travel that urge the traveler to introspect. Jack Kerouac’s books like “Lonesome Traveler”, “Big Sur”, and “On the Road” among others are written proof that Solo Travel gives insights into life that nothing else usually can. When I saw that the kids in North Sikkim climb an almost vertical slope and walk about 3-4 km to their school every day, my childhood memories flashed in front of me. The smile on the faces of those cute little kids racing uphill to school filled me with so much joy. I thought why doesn’t everybody boast a pure and happy smile like that? It’s so soothing. I got a different perspective on life by simply observing some kids in a village nestled in the mountains. Who would’ve thought that!


5.    Traveling alone is often cheap AF!

Maybe I should’ve mentioned this as the 1st or the 2nd advantage, but the ones in the middle are quite interesting too. Barring a few exceptions of those luxury travelers (I don’t know how you guys do it, but you’re amazing. Keep traveling!) most solo travelers are backpackers and hitchhikers who set out on at least a 2 month long adventure. So, they are well-versed in the tactics of budgeting and spending economically (*my blog on Frugal Traveling will tell you how to budget for any trip). For those who are wondering how it can be cheaper to travel alone instead of traveling as a couple or a group and splitting the costs, here’s my perspective:
·         If you carry a sleeping bag and a tent, you save ridiculously on accommodations.
·         Dorms/Hostels usually charge per bed occupied so applications like Hostelworld will always come handy.
·         When you’re alone at a restaurant or shop or café or bar, you order only what you need because you’re aware of your limits and of course, you keep an eye on the pricing when you go through the menu!
·         You can hitchhike or travel using local transportation because you don’t mind a little hassle, maybe like me, you enjoy the unique experience.
·         The pictures you take and the stories you share are enough to be memories that you can reminisce later. Physical paraphernalia isn’t your thing but even if it is, you are always aware of what you need to purchase and what is nothing but a temptation.

Enjoying the sunrise in Mumbai as a solo traveler is fun!

Usually, when a blogpost lists advantages of any particular thing, it is called a listicle and there isn’t much spoken about why they are advantages or why they should be considered as such. My approach is a bit different and I hope you guys reading this blog liked it.

I am dedicating this blogpost to a late friend of mine I met on one of my solo travel adventures– Shashwat (Shash). R.I.P Brother, We miss you a lot!
What are your thoughts on solo travel and do you/would you do it?


Comments

  1. Hey Aniket. Found your blog and thought to give it a read. Glad I did. You are doing some great writing and kudos to you for getting out of your comfort zone and traveling solo.

    It's fun. Good luck with your blog.

    ReplyDelete

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