Solo travel

I’ve gotten many reactions when I tell people that I roam the globe alone.

But there is resistance all around. I’ve been called all the adjectives that lie between brave and foolish and there is of course, the constant nagging from the family that safety is of utmost importance. Not forgetting cost, because single travellers pay much more, for room, food and transport.

Going solo isn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. I had a taste of it while spending some study time in Germany many years ago and found that being alone gave me a freedom that I couldn’t explore outside the quotidian confines of daily life. It also suits my introverted yet suspicious nature and for someone who can get socially-anxious in big groups after a while. It was never fear that prevented me from doing it solo; I’d wanted to venture out on my own long before I wanted to be shackled by other travellers whose interests didn’t match mine; neither did I want to feel obligated to those who wanted to meet for meals all the time.

I managed somehow, without hitchhiking and with some strict penny pinching.

For the longest time, I’ve travelled alone. I still do, although not always resolutely so. The excitement of it is always countered by the intensity of emotions that can assail you in the chaotic mess of an airport or even the sudden bouts of loneliness that can hit after going without company for a while.

The addition of several travel companions came much later, years after I’d been on my own for years. To say the adjustment was disconcerting is to put it mildly. Then again, costs are shared, meals are far more interesting (now you can order a spread of the local fare and share) and car rental is thankfully not too daunting especially when a second driver is absolutely necessary.

Yet what keeps me going alone is the anticipation of encounters that I know I would never get had I gone with travel companions. I’ve gotten into talks with restaurant owners and other strangers who’d shown me acts of kindness, all incidentally so, I’ve had help rendered to me when I thought I only had myself to rely on and the list goes on. Each one of them had been in itself, a life lesson that taught me more about people than I ever could had I been cocooned in a group of friends.

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