“Some journeys can be only traveled alone.” – Ken Poirot.
About 7 years back, in the year 2014, when I had just moved out of college and was brimming with enthusiasm & wanderlust, I started traveling solo. I moved out of Kolkata – the city where I was born and lived until then – and signed up for a Rural Development Program in Udaipur, Rajasthan. In between work, I ventured out to explore the gorgeous nooks & corners of Udaipur, soaking in the royal heritage of the place which once used to be the hub of the Rajput rulers. Slowly, I got used to traveling by local transport and explored the nearby towns like Baneshwar, Kumbhalgarh, Chittor, etc. Later, as I gathered a little more courage, I took overnight buses to Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, and other parts of Rajasthan.
Away from the thoughts of other people, I was finally able to tap into my heart, to find out who I really was. I was able to listen to all the ideas and desires swirling around inside me and start piecing them together. It gave me a new-found confidence and faith in myself, as I wandered solo.
I lived in Udaipur for a year and made sure to see as much of Rajasthan as possible. Honestly, that year and all the journeys I took, helped me see myself in better lights. Realizing my fears, and overcoming them one by one gave me the courage to fly like a free bird! I relished the sense of independence, self-reliance, and freedom like never before.
And ever since then, there was no looking back!
Afterward, once the program finished, I planned to travel for 6 months – all by myself. I won’t lie, I was a little scared in the beginning – but the urge to explore new places kept me going. I decided to explore the whole of South India, starting from Pondicherry where I met my best friend from school and stayed with her for a couple of weeks. During that time, I did my first scuba dive – an experience I’d cherish all my life. Days just passed by the wink of an eye! I took the right bus to the wrong destination, befriended auto wallahs and tourist guides, managed to grab free food at fancy restaurants, and started believing in myself, more than ever.
From wandering around the hippie lanes of Hampi to walking through the coffee plantations in Coorg, admiring the beauty of the Mysore Palace to pub hopping in Bangalore, soaking in the sunshine at Varkala to gorging on Malabari cuisine at Thekkady – those 6 months turned out to be the best learning journey I could have ever asked for!
From left to right/ top to bottom: Photos from my solo trip in Pondicherry; tea gardens of Coonoor; ruins of Hampi.
TRAVELING SOLO GAVE ME THE FREEDOM TO GO AT MY OWN PACE.
There was no rush, no itinerary to follow, no pre-bookings made – I moved at my own pace. I stayed at places that I loved, otherwise just picked up my rucksack and boarded the bus for the next stop. I indulged in doing new things, talked to strangers (mostly locals) to know about the place, and would just walk around, observing how the day unfolded in that particular place.
While I was traveling solo in Sydney, I used to just sit at the beach for hours and watch the ocean and the people lazing around. To be honest, I enjoyed my own company and cherished the slow life.
TRAVELING SOLO HELPED IN NURTURING MY SELF-CONFIDENCE.
Being born in an urban middle-class family, I have grown up in a protected environment and all my wants & needs were taken care of. When I was stepping out alone for the first time, my mother was skeptical and she nudged me to keep her updated all the time. She would call to check if I’m fine, whether I’ve eaten, so on and so forth. Slowly, as I traveled more by myself, she realized that I was capable enough to look after myself and was well-aware of how to be safe while on the roads. The more I traveled, the more confident I felt. I knew that no matter what may come, I’ll surely find a way out of it. I learned to manage my finances, indulged in doing things that I had never tried before, and realized my passion to write. As I mentioned earlier, my journeys made me rediscover my strengths and helped me to believe in myself.
TRAVELING SOLO HELPED ME TO MAKE FRIENDS OUT OF STRANGERS.
Well, that’s one of the biggest blessings, I may say! More so, ‘coz I met my partner on the road, as a stranger and over a course of 9 days, as we trekked and talked, we grew fond of each other. Not just him, but I met some wonderful people while traveling alone, and most of them turned out to be amazing friends later. I believe that it’s because of all the people we meet on the roads, our journeys turn out to be even more beautiful.
Since I enjoyed my own company to the fullest and relished wandering alone, I always felt that solo traveling isn’t a bad idea – though there were times when I felt like sharing a meal with someone or having a conversation while traveling on a bus. But the pleasure of the journey kept me saturated, all the time.
In 2016, I met RD during the Goechala Trek and as we shared our mutual love for adventures, mountains, and food – we decided to travel together since then!
From left to right/ top to bottom: Our first trip together, Bhutan 2016; exploring Spiti Valley in winter, 2020 (Photo by Sambit Dattachaudhuri).
“In life, it’s not where you go, it’s who you travel with” – Charles Schulz.
Our first trip was to Bhutan, where we ended up staying for a month. We hitchhiked from Thimphu to Paro, watched the Tshechu Festival, trekked to Tiger’s Nest, walked around Wangdu Phodrang, savored Ema Datchi, and soaked in every single moment.
Over the last few years, we have gone for numerous high-altitude treks and drove down the frozen Spiti Valley to get a glimpse of the mysterious snow leopards. We’ve traveled around Cambodia, Thailand & Vietnam together, and spend a month volunteering at a children’s home in Kenya, other than witnessing the BIG 5. We’ve camped under the stars and lived in gorgeous resorts, we’ve had meals at Michelin star restaurants as well as roadside shacks.
TRAVELING TOGETHER STRENGTHENED OUR BOND.
When you travel together as a couple, it surely will strengthen your bond and get you closer to your partner.
Considering the fact that we’ve been in a long-distance relationship over the last 5 years, going for coffee or dinner and a movie seemed romantic, but we didn’t get to spend much time with each other during those times. Traveling together, on the other hand, gave us enough scope to be with each other in a much more open environment, indulging in doing things that we love.
TRAVELING TOGETHER HELPED US IN SHARING NEW EXPERIENCES TOGETHER.
What can be more beautiful than sharing experiences together and creating timeless memories with the person you love.
Going for the game drives in Africa has been on our wishlist since forever, and finally, when we were there at Maasai Mara in Kenya, our happiness knew no bounds. We took the Mountain Flight in Nepal and gazed at the beauty of Mt. Everest together. Having seen numerous sunsets in different parts of the world got us closer. The list would go on and on, and I know that having lived those moments with him makes them all the more beautiful.
TRAVELING TOGETHER HELPED US TO KNOW MORE ABOUT EACH OTHER’S CHOICES AND PREFERENCES.
As you’ll set out on a journey to a distant land with your partner, both of you will get several chances to know about the other person’s likings and disliking.
Before I started dating, I was never really attracted to exploring ancient architectures like temples, etc., but with RD, I traveled to Angkor Wat in Cambodia and fell in love with the beauty of the ruins. His knack of knowing the history tickled my interests as well, and slowly, I grew fond of walking around the alleys of temples, museums, and all places that hold on to some historical tales.
When you are traveling with your partner, it’s important to understand whether you are on the same page or not, when it comes to making decisions about where to go, where to stay, how much to spend, etc. If you are a mountain lover and your partner prefers to be on a beachside, then you’ll have to plan efficiently, in order to accommodate the choices of both. There might be situations when either of you will have to agree and go with the other one’s chosen destination. And who knows? — You might start liking the sea as well!
To quote Mark Twain — “I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.”
These words are absolutely true, especially when it comes to traveling with your partner, the one with whom you wish to spend the rest of your life. Having someone to share everything with is fantastic, and I probably wouldn’t have relished certain things if RD wasn’t accompanying me.
Needless to say, traveling together tends to bring out the best and the worst in the person you love the most. As we traveled together and stepped outside our comfort zones, we walked through the highs and lows with each other, which helped in discovering the deepest aspects of one another.
Solo Trips vs Couple Traveling!
So, which one is better? Would I rather travel solo or travel as a couple?
It’s a difficult choice, to be honest.
I think each one is incredibly valuable at different times of our life. When I was young and trying to figure my life out, traveling solo was the only way I could work through it all and found the space, clarity, and perspective I needed.
When I was confident in what I wanted from my life and was living that out, it was perfect having RD by my side, to share all the adventures.
And at the current situation, when everything seems so uncertain, I would rather choose to travel more with him – so that we can make more memories together and experience the goodness that lies ahead, on the roads. I’d still love to take some time out and do some more solo travel here and there, but I wouldn’t plan anything big without him – ‘coz now, having traveled with him, I know that it’s always more fun to share a midnight snack with him, or to watch the sunsets, together.
But if you have always traveled with your partner, make sure to travel solo at least for once – you’d surely end up seeing yourself in better lights. And in case you’ve always been a solo tripper, drag your partner the next time you sign up for an adventure – it’ll be more fun for sure!
No matter what you choose to do, let the journey continue…