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“Where is your boyfriend?”; “No boyfriend, not even a friend?” “Without your family, are you?” These were some of the questions, and also many varieties that I was asked while on my recent solo vacation in Goa.

My first step into taking solo vacations was at the age of 31 to Tirthan Valley in Himachal Pradesh. Since that trip five years back and a few adventures since I have been in love with travelling all by myself. So much so that I have even antagonised a particular friend who wants to be my travel companion but who knows about my preference for solo vacations.

Every time I have vacationed on my own, I have had people ask me the reason for doing so. I have no answer to give except that there are times I enjoy my own company rather than surrounding myself with people.  Being on my own in places where one is supposed to be with family, friends and significant others, has led random strangers (in the bus, on the beach, while taking a stroll,) to ask me questions, like those above. On earlier trips it was just one kind and over-protective lady or gentleman asking me this question but this time around in Goa,   I was asked this question by all and sundry.

For someone who immensely enjoys her own company and solitude, these short trips are yet another opportunity to spend time with myself.  For me “partnership” in all its variations (parents/ siblings/ friends/ significant others) is a very important part of a person’s life. All these relationships only seek to augment one’s life but in no way is solely responsible for it.  The undue stress on companionship and partnership (of a non- platonic nature) sometimes makes me believe that I’m from a different planet for simply wanting to lead my life the way I want to. I am often told by good intentioned people around me ( both family and friends) to think of the time I would be 80 and would need someone to take care of me both in terms of my frail health and emotional needs. To me this reasoning is fraught with an air of selfishness. One seeks partnership not because of frail health but because you can see yourself spending the rest of your life with that person.

But let me not digress from the main issue that of travelling solo. Travelling solo can be immensely rewarding in many ways. For me, it provides an immense sense of independence and empowerment. For solo vacations from the planning to the execution, everything is done by me. I choose what I want to do and where I go. It definitely reduces your dependency on the preferences of others (If you are with someone else).

Being with a partner/ friends and family members reduces your circle of interaction with that intimate group. When on your own, one tends to talk to people around them and expand the circle.  A hotel owner, the waiter who served my iced- teas, the young shopkeeper and the elderly gentleman whom I struck an amazing fifteen minute conversation in the night market at Goa. All this might not have been possible if I was with someone.

I have felt that there is an inherit trust and approachableness between lone travellers, and between the natives and lone travellers. Be it the streets of Bangkok, the beach in Goa or the restaurant in Mexico City, the natives have come up to me on their own accord and have struck a conversation. While the others travelling with companions and groups are busy planning the course of their day or running after the toddler who refuses to eat breakfast, I chat with the natives and get to see their culture from their eyes.

 Being on your own also gives you time to be yourself. I have experienced that I tend to change and hide my true self when I’m around people I know. I am free to be me when I’m with me.  It also gives you time to know yourself better as a person. With people around most of the time we spend our energies in knowing them, instead of ourselves.  

If you are travelling with your own company, the pace and the agenda of the holiday is not dictated by the other members of the group. The diversity of the group you are travelling with is directly proportionate with the diversity of activities each member of the group would want to do.  On your own travel is so much stress free in this regard you do not have to get up at 5 AM to witness the sunrise because your family wants the same. A religious place where your 80 yr. old grandmother wants to pay to visit may be given a miss in favour of a long leisurely walk by the beach. You can get up when you want and go to sleep as you please. No one would hold you responsible for altering the plans for the worse.

When you have no one else for company but you alone, greater attention is paid to the surroundings. The changing colour of water, the crab  scurrying around, the lone coconut waiting to be picked from the tree, i.e. things that would generally go unnoticed grab our attention making the experience richer my many folds.  

Enjoying one’s own company, being your own best friend is not a bad idea. Even if it is for a shorter duration.  Take that trip to Nagarkot, Bhaktpur, Paris or Kerala that you always wanted to. Go alone and see the magic of falling in love with yourself. 


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