I hope everyone had a great last year and ready to achieve new goals with new year of 2016.
Today i am so glade to introduce Tamshuk Saha as my guest blogger. He is solo traveler so lets check out his story for pros and cons of Solo traveler.
I am from India, presently spending my last two months as an IT professional in Singapore. Last month I quit my decent-paying job to get out of a routine and safe life. More than the satisfaction of leaving my job, it is the excitement of my upcoming experiences that keeps me on my toes.In 2015, I have been on 6 trips across Thailand, Cambodia, Hong Kong and Indonesia. I plan to travel and live in the entire south-east Asia over the next one year and taking up volunteering gigs at every opportunity. I started my blog in June 2015 to share my travel experiences with folks out there. Travel, food, marine life, mountains, ocean and beaches - the six elements that define my passion for life. You can check my blog tamz explores
A few lines of this article might stand out like a sore thumb, especially when it is coming from an ardent solo traveler himself. I have been traveling alone, been on several trips by myself for over a year now and I personally have felt an entire range of emotions during each and every trip of mine. There are several blog posts out there that highlight the beautiful myriad that is Solo Traveling. However, very few of them say things about the other side – the not-so-rosy part of solo travel and there is good reason for it which you will find in the concluding parts of this post. For now, let me start with the difficult aspects of traveling by yourself.
You are alone out there
This is probably the most telling drawback of traveling solo. You go out there to places, see people around - couples, group of friends and families - and you miss a company. To be honest, quite a few times on my trips, I have felt the absence of a companion - be it a friend, girlfriend or family - and it is not a nice feeling to have when you are on your travels. The wish to have friends around when you take that jump off a cliff into the sea or explore the beautiful life underwater with a beloved is truly very compelling.
You feel self-conscious
For people like me who are quite introvert by nature and have probably lived a life within a cocoon of a self-designed safety net, going out there just by yourself and opening yourself to new experiences can be quite unnerving. You feel too much self-conscious thinking that people are watching or even worse - judging you for traveling alone. You feel apprehensive to sit at a restaurant and eat alone. I’ve been asked “just you?” several times by waiters at restaurants when I said “table for one”. You feel awkward going on a island hopping trip where you know you will be surrounded by traveling couples/groups/families.
This is a far more significant aspect which even seasoned solo travelers are always wary of. When you are traveling alone in an entirely different country/city, walking among strangers and different cultures, there is always a risk of running into troubled waters. Mishaps, accidents, sickness strike you in a foreign land and there you are fending for yourself. I’ve been robbed in Jakarta once in broad daylight in a part of the city that I later found out was shady. In times like these, a companion is so much welcome.
Now to speak of the better parts of traveling solo, I am just going to turn around the above three points and portray a completely different picture.
We are NOT alone out there
No you are NOT alone at all. As Bob Dylan once sang “The times they are A-Changin”, the times have changed and people are moving over the conventional travel norms. Scores of folks all over the world are traveling around and going places by themselves. The freedom to just walk/run/drive/ride/swim wherever you want and whenever you want is something most people crave for. The thrill of having an endless journey on the road or the sea, without complying to the entirely different needs/wishes of a companion is what drives people like me to travel on our own. On the road, I have met so many solo travelers, made wonderful friends and created some of the most unforgettable moments. It just needs a smile and “where are you from?” to break the ice and get things going.
We are NOT self-conscious
Not anymore. After my first travel, I realized a few things. Most people are curious about you. They look at you and wonder what’s your story. They don’t judge you as much as we used to assume. Nobody is going to throw you off the boat if you take a snorkeling trip by yourself. Nobody will throw their food at you if you are eating alone at a restaurant. On the contrary, people love to hear your stories and they love to share theirs with you. And if I am hungry, I am going to eat -alone or not. So to the guy who asked me “Oh, just you??”, I would say “Nah, I have an invisible girlfriend who is right now showing you one certain finger”.
We are never safe
This is the eternal truth. Doesn’t matter wherever we go, whenever we go and with whom we go, we are never safe enough. If something bad is meant to happen, it will happen and there is no stopping it. Traveling solo or not, there is always a risk of an unfortunate moment when you are in a new place or different surroundings. However, on our part, like every normal and sensible human being, we need to take precautions to AVOID getting into sticky situations. The rocks on the shore look slippery? Don’t step on them. Poking a snake or a jellyfish? Not a good idea. Disrespecting and mocking local culture or people? A big NO. Pack basic medical aids, travel insurance, share your itinerary with at least one trusted person and the list goes on.
So, traveling solo - Yay or Nay? Yay of course. Solo travel is amazing. It has given me some of the most memorable moments of my life - night long conversation with Scottish doll Sascha (who is a friend now of course) sitting at a bar in Sihanoukville, bonding with a group of friends from Australia and Hong Kong on a snorkeling trip in Gili Islands or making new friends while dancing the night away and gazing at fireworks on the beach at New Years Eve - this is what I have got. People travel on their own for many reasons - rediscover oneself, take a break from routine life, get over a painful heartbreak, start a new journey or to just see the world. That is why there are so many few articles on the internet that speak of the drawbacks of solo traveling because the magnitude of those drawbacks are nowhere near to the sheer joy and ecstasy we experience on our journey. So,to all the solo travelers out there who are exploring the world on their own, we are exactly what Barney Stinson said - “Awesome”.