Monday, February 15, 2016

Get set, fly!

It was the last Saturday of January. I called my friend to confirm about our upcoming trip.
“Hey, I’m about to book the tickets.”
“Err, listen I don’t think I will be able to make it.”
“What? But we planned for this trip for months!”
“I know brother, but there’s this important office event I’ve to attend…”

Over the next few days, I called him frequently and requested him to reconsider, it was of no use. Every time I asked, he came up with a new reason why he can’t go. Every time I asked him, he suggested that I should go with others; someone must be willing to go. Thus, another one of my long planned trips was off. None of my friends had time. This is something that has repeated itself over the years. Then it came to me like a prophecy, if I wanted to travel, I would have to do that on my own. Everyone likes to talk about trips, trekking, jungle safaris and golden beaches, but when it comes to book the tickets, something always comes up. They are suddenly too busy or they get cold feet and change their minds. This made me realize that if I wait for others, I’m not going to visit anywhere. There are places I want to experience, people to meet, new cuisines to try – and there’s not much time left for it. So a small voice in my head started rebelling. I said to myself, I’m not going to let others putting me away from my dreams.

Yes, traveling alone is scary especially when you are doing it for the first time. But then again, getting old without visiting the places and experiencing the thrills is way scarier than sitting at home, planning for big trips and not going anywhere. If you have been postponing a trip because you are waiting for your friends to go together – don’t. Just leave. Don’t let others hold you back from the experiences you deserve. Trust me, along the way you will come across many others! Many solo travelers like you who thought – “Damn, if I don’t go now, I won’t go ever.” One thing I understood is that you are never alone when you travel. And traveling alone gives you ultimate freedom. You wake up with yourself. Do what you want. Go where you want. Return when you want. Amidst this vortex of infinite possibilities, you rediscover yourself. You spend time with yourself and push your limits. There’s no one to wait for hours while you want to see the sunrise. There’s no one to make you hurry while you want to sit under that large tree overlooking the mountains. There’s no one to ask you to pay for meals you don’t feel like eating. Want to run? Run! Want to leave? Leave. Want to hug a tree? Go ahead!

You’ll find your way around. You will learn to make friends. Talk to strangers. Push your limits. Deal with your fears. The best reward of traveling alone is you will never be the same once you come back. When you go alone, you learn what true freedom is. You become a little more confident and tune in with your dreams. But I have heard the opposite as well. Traveling alone is not for everyone. I have seen people returning home the day after departing. Others complain, nag and find faults in everything and some embrace it right away. If you don’t give it a try, you will never learn whether you can do it. Start with a weekend trip, test your limits and find out if you can rely on yourself alone while you travel. Try once. Don’t let others hold back from your experiences. You could be waiting forever before someone finally says ‘let’s go’. At the end you will regret it. If I would not have left for the trip, I would still be sitting at my office desk trying to convince my friend.

There will be times when you will panic and wish that you should not have come alone. You will feel like calling your friends and just talk to them for hours. You will panic but that won’t last long. When you come across the giant moon above your head and the phosphorescent waters touching your feet, you will spread your wings and run around like a baby bird that has just learnt to fly. Just leave because there will be days when your unfulfilled dreams will be your only company. To be honest, your friends and parents will never be convinced or comfortable with the idea of traveling solo. I don’t blame them, because it can ONLY be realized when you travel solo, experience the freedom, witness the kindness of absolute strangers, and feel that the world is not as bad as we think of it.

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