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HOW AND WHY I STARTED SOLO TRAVEL IN 2010:
This blog is the part of my series on Solo Travel Across India. Links of related blogs on Solo Travel are at the end.
Disclaimer: Disclaimer: The pictures of me which I have shared here are from my group travels because I hardly take any self portraits on solo travel.
In 2010, I started my Solo Travels in India with a memorable trip to Chennai, Pondicherry and Mahabalipuram during the Indian festival Holi (Festival of Colors). I was working in Navi Mumbai at that time. I wanted to escape the Holi celebrations in Mumbai and use my vacations well. In South India, Holi celebrations are limited to North Indians celebrating in small groups. I was the person who would be apprehensive of traveling from Lucknow to Kanpur alone (1 hour plus on train) before this. I will soon complete 10 years of traveling solo across India. And its time I speak about it.
However, my first actual solo trip was from Lucknow to Bangalore and back, in a sleeper class train in 2006. Though it was not a real ‘travel’. I was appearing for interview calls of the many M.B.A. colleges of Bangalore. I was selected in none. (Thank God!) but it did sow a dream in me. A dream to travel alone and see the world! I forgot about it. After surviving many life changing catastrophes in my life (2007 onwards), the 2010 solo trip to Chennai, Pondicherry and Mahabalipuram instilled in me a new found confidence and self belief. After all the hardships and personal loss I endured in this period, I had become more fearless and adventurous in life. I had become a person I never thought I would. To add, unlike 2006, I had a job in 2010 which meant I had financial independence. This life changing trip started a life-long affair with solo travel and travel in general.
FORGET SOLO TRAVEL. I ENJOY WATCHING FILMS & HOGGING SEV PURI ALONE TOO.
I was doing it at a time when it was unheard of at least in India (Perhaps the term was not even coined) In fact people ridiculed me and made fun of me when I told them I enjoy travelling alone. But then I was always like this. In fact even before I started traveling, I enjoyed doing things alone. For Example: I watched many French movies in a film festival in Fun Republic Mall in Lucknow for 7 consecutive days in 2007 sans any company. I would go to theatre in Mumbai before 2010 all alone and enjoy the plays. I would even go to restaurant alone. All this not because I am a social outcast or an aspiring social outcast! I love doing things alone because of many reasons which I have explained in another blog. (Link at the end of this blog)
SOLO TRAVEL IS DEEP, NOT A CLOWNISH SELFIE CRAZED EXERCISE:
From being perceived as weird and eccentric, solo travel these days has been catapulted to trendy and cool status. However I enjoy solo travel not to sound cool but for its practicality and low stress nature. I didn’t even know it was ‘cool’ when I was traveling across India solo. To me it’s rather a selfish and self indulgent mode of travel. It pains me to see Travel Bloggers, Travel Companies and even reputed magazines and newspapers encashing and over glorifying the term Solo Travel. Solo Travel is much deeper than the frivolous selfie crazed trip which it is sadly evolving into. In fact, before travel blogging happened to me in 2014, I didn’t even take any selfies of mine. Most of my albums from my solo travels (between 2010-2014) are bereft of even a single picture of mine. I never posted live from the destination in those days. And I was more focused on clicking the destination than hiding it behind my massive body frame in selfies. These days, however, I have started taken selfies on solo travel but those are still limited. Nothing is wrong; nothing is right. Moderation is the key.
THE SUPERIORITY COMPLEX OF SOLO TRAVELERS AIN’T COOL:
The solo travelers, off late are also looking down upon those who travel in groups or with friends. I don’t know what makes Solo Travelers a superior being. I was sick of seeing an Indian travel blogger making fun of people who travel with suitcase (and not a backpack). He also made fun of people who travel with families and not solo. And Oh, he also made fun of people who stayed in luxury property and not a $6 tiny room. I tried to show him the point many times on social media and I was rewarded with a block. I am delighted to not see his posts anymore in my feed. I am happy to see that more and more people are traveling solo. But I am equally aghast at seeing the ugly one up-manship and superiority complex amongst solo travelers. After I became a professional Travel Blogger, my travel style has changed. I now do a mix of group travel (FAMs/Press Trips/MediaTrips), solo travels and travel with friends and family. My priority from now onwards is to show beautiful places to my parents, who have sacrificed all their life to raise me and in the process not traveled enough themselves. I am ready to sacrifice solo travels. Even if traveling with parents makes me a little less cool. Because, I travel for myself and not to impress others! That said, I would still keep traveling solo as and when I have an opportunity. Solo Travel is my favourite style but I will never claim that it is the best style, ugh!
WHY LIE ABOUT SOLO TRAVEL?
I couldn’t believe when I discovered that some social media influencers and travel bloggers lie about their solo travels. As a naïve newbie in the world of travel blogging (but a much experienced solo traveler), I was amused at this tomfoolery. Why on Earth would anyone go to a trip with friends/family/journalists and show it as a solo trip? A careful look at their well coiffed hair (Solo Travel hair is different,eh! 😛 ), posed photographs (I can tell it’s not self timer) and facial expressions which are a product of a familiar company will reveal the truth behind their solo travel. I still do not understand why people lie about solo travels and even give tips to people on solo travel when in reality they have hardly traveled solo.
One more cute lie I have observed- Parents posting about their kids’ first solo travel to foreign shores. The kid of course is traveling with a group of 50 other students. I understand they are talking about the kid’s first trip without parents. Perhaps they do not know how to articulate it. I spare them my wrath. 😛
OBSESSION WITH DISCUSSION AROUND FEMALE SOLO TRAVEL:
It has also become trendy to over-discuss female solo travelling. It’s a good sign that more and more Indian women are traveling. Many of them travel solo as well. While I have hardly ever faced a threatening situation on my solo travels. But I can’t even begin to understand how safe or unsafe it would be for a woman to travel solo. Perhaps the more we discuss solo travel, the more it will benefit solo female travellers. But what irks me is an unjustified obsession with female solo travels. These days, I go to any travel talk event, the topic will veer off to women safety on solo travel after 15 minutes of its start. Even if the topic of the event was say, ‘Food Trail In India’, ‘Beaches or Mountain?’, ‘Offbeat Travel’ sooner or later, it will digress into the above mentioned. It is important to discuss that but ………..
Disclaimer: This is a male, Indian solo traveler’s perspective. A female perspective will be much different.
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