I am a very big supporter of solo travelling for women. But, this wasn’t the case always. A couple of years ago, I was working a regular 9 to 5 job and had come to terms with the fact that I am a woman – I am supposed to be born as a daughter, grow up as a sister, mature as a wife, age as a mother, and die as ‘just another girl’. So there I was – a daughter and a sister (thankfully I had my “realization” moment before I started with the latter two phases of my life). And, although I had a great job (a fat check I can’t deny), a great family ( a little crazy though but which family isn’t!) and a perfect dog (aww!), I weren’t happy. Initially, I thought I was unhappy because I had recently broken up with the most imperfect guy (for me) in the world who made me so crazy that if I weren’t dating him I would think of stabbing him with a butter knife or something (what was I thinking anyway). But, that took care of itself when my family and I moved to a different city a few months after the breakup. And even though everything started feeling normal again with a change of environment and new faces around, there was something that I missed in my life and it struck me at the oddest hour of a cold winter night that all this while I had been missing ME.
That same winter, I quit my job, bought a fancy backpack, a sturdy and expensive sports shoe, withdrew every penny I had saved and told my mother I wanted to travel the world alone and that I wanted to start from my own country. She agreed. I travelled within India for almost 8 months and while I write this, I am creating a packing checklist in my head for my year long trip to Thailand which I start next month. Those few months on the road taught me more about life than any book could ever have. It taught me the value of family so much better than the 26 years I had spent with my family before my travel decision. I learnt how to value my own thoughts and opinions and be able to say “No” if and when I wanted to. Above all, it taught me that every woman, mind you every single woman – a daughter/a sister/a wife/a mother, deserves a vacation, a holiday, not just to cherish life but to cherish her own self.
If everything that I said so far sounds superficial and very dreamy to you ladies, let me give you a list on why should you gift yourself (or even better, get your husbands to do it) a fantabulous holiday!!
- For once, you don’t have to bear the burden of anybody, no matter how much you love them: I love my family, my pet, and my friends but for once I just want to not have to care about them! No offence. My mother is 54. She married at the age of 24, had me at the age of 26, and my sister at the age of 30. My father, although very intelligent, was over-ambitious and wanted to rise to fame or something at rocket speed, which resulted in his frequent job changes, and mood swings and eventually a divorce. My mother has been the pillar for us. She was a working woman and even after retirement a couple of years ago, she works all day at home – feeding us, shopping for groceries, keeping account of bills, taking care of my grandmother. She loves us more than anything (almost every mother does) but I am sure if I go tell her once, that mom drop all of this and go take a break, she will be the happiest person on the planet. It doesn’t mean she doesn’t love us. It just means she needs rather deserves a break. All of us do. Our families and friends will still be there when we come back, hopefully with balloons, cards and cakes that say “welcome home”, but life doesn’t wait! It passes you by while you keep thinking ‘there is still time.
- Distance makes the heart grow fonder (or something like it): This is a saying and there is a reason why this is so famous. At times, you want to be able to miss someone and you want people to miss you. But, if you are always available at their beck and call, when do they get a chance to know how life is without you? How do you know that they are not dependent on you but they take your existence for granted? And, how do you know that you are not doing the same to your partner and family and others? Travelling alone to places you have never been to gives you a lot of time to think. It lets you peek into your own life. And, trust me you need that ‘peek’. Everybody does. I am sure your life is perfect. You have the perfect house, the perfect partner, the perfect kids, the perfect car, and even the perfect gardener! But, what about ‘your’ perfect life?
- The world is a book and those who don’t travel only read a page – St Augustine.Do I have to explain this? Okay, I will. Imagine a book. Imagine it has 500 pages. And, imagine you are just a word in that book. Do you realize how insignificant we are in this world which has millions and millions of human beings like us! And, in this gigantic and dynamic world, you have only seen the four walls of your home. The only faces you know are those of your families, your colleagues, and your friends. Don’t get me wrong, I am sure you are not a total bore and you have been to many exotic destinations and stayed at the best resorts on your family vacations. But, wouldn’t it be nice to take a rickety bus to a remote town in Vietnam and see those little half-naked adorable kids smiling and waving at you? Or for that matter, staying at a quiet beach hut all by yourself and watching the sunset from your porch while sipping a margarita and listening to Girl on fire on your iPod.
- You will start valuing your loved ones and relationships more than you ever have before: Most people think I am outrageously daring and stupid and that perhaps my family is the worst when it comes to installing Indian values and traditions in me. But it’s quite the opposite. During my travels, I have learnt a few things. Now, these things do not at all mean I am going against my traditions and cultural values, but I only think that we need to broaden our horizons. If there were no pressure of attachments or to form a relationship to hang out with someone, there will be lesser heartbreaks and more memories (good ones). Marriage and being in love are two very great gifts that humankind has. And, this is all the more a strong reason for none of us to rush into it unless we are sure. I am not, I don’t know if I ever will be. But that in no way means I can’t make friends, that I can’t date, or that I can’t hang out with someone I like for as long as we both are comfortable and within one place. This has also made me value my relationships (with family), and helped me filter people (those who are really my friends and those who are not even close). And, it will help you too. At times, we get into a relationship with the person we think we love the most and things get sour because of whatever reason but we are so used to being with each other that we get scared at the thought of breaking it up. So we compromise. But, compromising isn’t the same as wanting to be with someone. At times, love means having to let go. It could be your love towards the other person or it could simply be love towards your happiness. Travelling will give you that confidence and that transparency of thoughts which you may lack otherwise.
- This is your only chance at ME time: In your normal day-to-day life, this is what your schedule is most likely: Alarm rings > You put it to snooze> It rings again after 10 mins> You wake up >You brush your teeth, take a bath, eat breakfast and get ready for work > You leave for work in your car, public bus, metro> You reach office > You work> You take a lunch break> You work> You go home> You do your personal tasks (if any)> You eat dinner> You set your alarm> You go to bed. Also, when you are 3 you start with kindergarten and for the next 13-14 years you are in school, then for the next 3 years you are in college, then another 2 years you get your MBA, by 23 you have a well-paying cubicle job, by 26 you are married, by 27 you have kids, and before you know you are 60 and retired. So, where in all this did you live for YOUR self?
- Do it because you want to do it, no other reason: This is my favorite one. I travel because I want to, not because I am trying to prove something or not because I am trying to escape from responsibilities and definitely not because I have relationship issues (I did at the beginning of it though). I travel because that is what makes me happy. Now, this doesn’t mean in any way that I am asking you to leave your current life and take off (though you could)! Everybody’s life is different and so is our priorities but travel is something we all secretly want to do. So, let travel be the only reason for you to travel.
And always remember: It’s never too late to begin. I realized I wanted to travel all my life at 27 (two years ago). You could be 20 or you could be 40. If you want do it, don’t give yourself an excuse not to. In fact, give yourself a pat on the back and say “You go girl!!”
What is your deep dark travel wish? Share with us your reason to travel and the first place on your bucket list.