Sri Lanka
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I Took A Solo Trip to Sri Lanka For My 30th Birthday And Learned This

It was my third day in Sri Lanka, and I was staying on the outskirts of Sigiriya, hoping to go for a morning hike to Pidurangala to catch a glimpse of Lion Rock from the top.

I had everything prepared the night before, but waking up at 4 AM to head out for the hike alone gave me goosebumps. I had second thoughts—’Should I do this?’ There was a moment when I truly felt alone. But to my surprise, I didn’t hate it. In fact, the next minute, I thought—’Why shouldn’t I?’ After all, it was my choice to travel solo to celebrate my 30th birthday in a new country!

It felt overwhelming, but I knew that the decade ahead would be as thrilling as I wanted it to be.

So there I was, walking through the jungle with a torch in my hand, alongside a bunch of strangers I had met at the odd hours that morning. We finally made it to the top as the colors of dawn painted the sky, and it felt extremely satisfying. My happiness knew no bounds. By the time I was coming downhill, I had already made some friends with whom I had plans for the entire day!


A solo trip to Sri Lanka:

For many people, birthdays are just another day, but turning 30 was a big deal for me. To mark this milestone with the pomp I felt it deserved, I booked a solo trip to Sri Lanka, not knowing what awaited me. It was right after COVID in the year 2022, and considering the new virus (Omicron) had surfaced, I was pretty flexible and embarked on a journey with no fixed itinerary. Landing in Colombo with 16 days ahead of me, I decided to go with the flow.

It had been a long time since I had traveled solo—thanks to friends who always agreed to join my plans! As I decided to go alone, I thought there would be times when I’d feel lonely, spend my days cowering in a corner of my hotel room, or get bored of having meals by myself.

None of that happened.

solo trip to Sri Lanka

Instead, I fell in love with my own company. I found myself exploring centuries-old caves in Dambulla, letting the silence sink in. I hired a tuk-tuk to tick off all the touristy things in Kandy. I took the train from Nuwara Eliya to Ella, relishing every bit of the scenic ride. I went café hopping in Galle, sat by the beaches in Mirissa, and had random conversations with strangers over beer!

It didn’t take long for me to realize that being alone in a place where I didn’t know anyone was the best way to spend my birthday.

Trust me when I say this, going on a solo trip for your birthday would be amazing. Here’s why you should consider booking a solo trip for your next birthday:

You’ll realize you’re more adventurous than you thought.

I’ve been on several hikes and I’m always the one lagging behind. I walk slowly, often feeling guilty that my friends have to wait for me. I tend to give up in between as well. However, during my solo trip, I climbed two rocks on the same day! My body gave up a couple of times, but my spirits didn’t. I discovered that it’s easier to convince myself to keep going when no one else is around. Facing my fears felt more manageable when no one who knew me was watching.

You might not end up feeling lonely at all.

I’m someone who loves to be around people. So when I planned to travel alone, I knew it wouldn’t be easy dealing with my thoughts and anxieties all the time. I did call a friend back home while sitting at a restaurant in Kandy, struggling to finish a meal that was too much for me. But that was it. I ended up making friends at the hostels and took a road trip with them. I had conversations with my BnB hosts that lasted for hours. I stumbled upon my pen-friend and her husband and got to spend a day with them. Eventually, I realized that although I was traveling solo, I wasn’t really lonely!

bunch of monks in Kandy sri lanka

You’ll learn to be comfortable in the silence.

Sitting on a cliff overlooking the azure waters of the Indian Ocean, I listened to the waves crashing on the shores and watched the day unfold around me. Fishermen were wrapping their nets, surfers were walking down with their boards, ready to ride the waves, and coconut sellers gathered around the beach. I slowly walked down, dipped my feet in the water, and felt the soft sand beneath me.

It felt meditative and calm. Partly because of the soothing sound of the water—I was probably discovering my love for the ocean—but also because I was quiet for hours on end, loving the solace that came with just being in the moment. I realized how important it is to unplug at times and not let chaos take charge of our lives.

You’ll experience a place differently when there’s no one else to consult.

Every time I travel with someone, I feel obliged to consider their opinions as well. Often, it’s not possible to accommodate everything we want to do, and each of us has to compromise on something. But here, I was all by myself, doing everything my heart desired! Whether it was indulging in an expensive meal at a colonial restaurant or taking a tuk-tuk to cover a distance of 250 km—I did it all.

I talked to locals to discover their ‘go-to’ places, found some of the best hole-in-the-wall eateries, and shared meals with strangers. I spent hours at a monastery talking to young monks, watched a man paint postcards outside a temple, and befriended a young Sinhalese man who ran a restaurant in Germany and was visiting his family in his hometown, Habarana. He took me for a walk around his village in Habarana. All these experiences made my journey wholesome, and I realized that most of these moments wouldn’t have been possible if I had someone accompanying me.

As cliché as it sounds, you will learn that life is beautiful.

Well, I chose to travel solo to celebrate my 30th birthday, not expecting it to be a life-changing journey, but it did help me discover little things about myself. When you’re alone, you get to do what you want, have the experiences you desire, and be a little selfish. I learned that it’s easy to make friends out of strangers, knowing they’ll only be there for a while. I found comfort in the silence and beauty in connecting with people through emotions, even when they didn’t understand my language.

Best of all, I learned that our lives depend on the choices we make for ourselves.

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