On The Path Of Being A Solo Traveller – Tanvi DiwaneJuly 14, 2016
I fell in love with travelling at a very young age. I remember, when I was a kid, we, that’s me and my family would always go on a holiday during the summer vacations. I remember visiting many lovely places all over India every time the summer break came along. Visiting a new place after those stressful exams was such a relief. But as I grew older and started to understand things a bit better, I realised that it wasn’t just about visiting a new place or having those stress relieving sessions. What I really loved about travelling was the culture of that particular place. I would always be eager to know what is the staple food of those people, what kind of clothes do they wear, what language do they speak, what is the art or folk form over there, what is that place famous for and so on. Now obviously I would get all the information from the hotel’s front desk, but I would always think, wouldn’t it be great if I got a chance to meet the locals and get to know about that place from the locals itself. But you see, the vacations we took were limited to relaxing, sight seeing and shopping. So I never really got a chance to do what I wanted to do. I am not complaining or blaming anyone for it. We all would have one break together and everyone wanted to make the most out of it & by most I mean spending the time relaxing as this was the only time that we could drift away from the everyday schedule.
So since I wanted to get to know about the place from the locals, which was not possible do to during family vacations, I decided that I will start travelling solo and fulfill all my dreams related to travelling. No no no no no. It wasn’t as easy as you think. It wasn’t like today I decided to travel solo and tomorrow I pack my bags. I faced many struggles before I took my first ever solo trip. I am very sure that many people can relate to these struggles.
The first struggle that I faced was convincing myself. Yes I had to convince myself. When I decided that I want to spend my life travelling, I decided that I’ll make a career that will let me travel and also make money. So that way I won’t have to worry about what job should I do? Will I get an off to travel? and so on. So I decided to take up journalism and mass communication for my post graduate studies & thought of becoming a travel show host. I did take up and also completed the degree, but due to some unfortunate turns of events I couldn’t take up the career that I wanted to. I then started working in a school as an administrator. I know, journalism-administrator, there’s no connection at all, but that’s a different part of the story. I was doing my job well, but I wasn’t happy with it. Everyday I would think that this is not what I want to do. Then instead of losing hope I started looking for careers that will let me do my thing in my pace and time & I stumbled upon travel bloggers or vloggers.
Yes!!! This is it, I thought. This is the best option for me & this is what I want to do. But there isn’t always success in it. I read an article of a couple who left their high profile jobs to travel the world and how they ran out of money and had to do everything and anything like cleaning public toilets to earn for their daily bread. There were even success stories, but that involved years of hard work. There was no, is no & will never be a legal path to earn quick money. After reading all the unsuccessful stories I became a bit negative and thought what if I end up here? I got scared of taking up travel blogger or vlogger as a career. But, I sat down and spoke to myself. I convinced myself that how would I know if I don’t try. I had read a saying, ‘Its better to die trying than to live without doing it’. So I convinced myself to do it. I even believe if you have passion for something, you do it with all your heart and soul & when you put your heart and soul in it, success definitely finds the path towards you. So I left my six months old job and started writing travel blogs. For that I visit different places in my city and write my views about that place. I didn’t just want to stick to my city, I want to explore the country, I want to explore the world & for that I need to take permission from my parents, because I’ll have to travel alone.
This is where I faced my second struggle. Convincing my parents. Now I belong to a typical marathi middle class family. A family where my dad wishes that I start earning now so that he can retire from his work. A family where my over protective mother keeps on giving me examples of the crimes that we see in ‘Savdhan India’. A family where relatives keep on asking what so I do for a living & when I answer them they tell me I have a younger brother & I should set a good example before him instead of doing all this shit. A family where people ask me why don’t I work as a journalist and whether they should refer my name to a person who is on a senior post in so and so newspaper. Now I don’t worry about the relatives, but I definitely had to convince my parents. When I first told my parents that I want to be a travel blogger & vlogger, the first thing my father asked my was, how much will I earn from it. I had to explain the whole thing to him. I had to explain all the things related to earning money. I told him that I will make money that will let me live a good life & then I had to tell him the bitter truth and it takes many years of hardwork, it is not like a 9 to 5 job where I can get started with 20k as my basic pay. He didn’t directly say anything, but he would always taunt me for leaving my job and sitting at home. That somehow would crush my willpower. Now my father is that kind of a person who is not very fond of discussions. So instead discussing the issue with him, I discussed it with my mother & she explained it to him. He then understood that he should let me do what I am passionate for instead of just forcing me to earn money.
Well I had convinced my father and it was now time to convince my mother. My mother watches a lot of these crime series, so every time we ask her something, she gives us an example from the crime show. Don’t talk much with the other gender, don’t exchange phone numbers with them, don’t stay out late, always be friends with good people, etc., were the instructions that I and my brother would receive when we were younger. Those instructions have stopped now, but my mother is still the same. When I told her that I want to travel solo, she said, why solo? We go on a vacation almost every year then why do I need to travel solo. I then explained it to her that we travel as tourists and I want to travel as a traveller. I then explained the difference between a tourist and a traveller and told her that everyone will not enjoy doing what I want to do. She agreed to it, but my mother, never gives up. She had a second option. She said that I should get married and travel with my husband. I found it funny, because I never thought that this will be an option in her list. Then I asked her whether she was able to do the things that she wanted to do after getting married. Her answer was ‘no’. So I asked her what are the chances that I’ll get to fulfill my dreams? What if my future husband isn’t at all interested in travelling? or even if he is, his work schedule doesn’t let him travel often? Will I be able to do what I want to? Will he let me travel alone? Her answer to all my questions was ‘no’.
So then let me travel solo, I said. She then said that I’m a girl and she is worried about me. She said we see the crimes that take place all over the country, what if something bad happens to me. I told her that she is a mother and it is completely fine to get worried about her young daughter, but, how fine is it to let your daughter crush her dreams due to fear. I explained it to her that if something bad has to happen, it will happen, no matter what. Then I told her a short story, ‘once a mother gets to know that water will be the reason behind her son’s death. So she doesn’t allow him to go on a school picnic to a water park. But, the same day when the school is off for the picnic, the boy dies in his house. The reason for his death, while drinking water, it goes in his respiratory pipe and chokes him to death’. So I told her that no matter where I am, if something bad has to happen with me it will happen. I know that taking precautions is much better than to regret later, but, what if nothing bad is in my destiny? Then I’ll regret for not trying the whole time. I told her to think about it. She did & finally agreed upon me travelling solo.
This all wasn’t as easy as it sounds. It took me almost seven months to convince both my parents. Now that my parents were convinced I had to face my third struggle. Choosing a place for my first solo trip. Now since I was going to travel solo for the first time, I thought I should choose a place which is nearby and which won’t cost me much. After looking up for it, I finalised Silvassa, the capital of Dadra and Nagar Haveli. Silvassa is a mixture of tribes and Portuguese culture and is even developing now. So I thought that I’ll get to see all the sides of it and hence thought of choosing Silvassa as my first solo travel destination.
After that I faced a struggle to manage the funds for my travel. I had resigned from my job almost eight months ago. Moreover, I had worked only for six months, so I only had a few thousand rupees with me. So obviously I had to work a budget for my trip. I not only had to spend money for the trip but also had to use the money for my day to day expenses. I took this up as a challenge. I thought what if in the long run I can’t earn a lot of money, I then will have to manage all my travel and other expenses in the money available. & being a traveller doesn’t mean living in luxury, so I will have to manage in the money that I have. But this was my first time travelling solo, all my life I had lived in 3* hotels. So I had to look for a hotel that was cheap but clean and good. I spent almost 10 days looking up for such hotels on the travel portals. Reading reviews, looking at pictures shared by fellow travellers, seeing whether the picture is recent or old, because obviously an old photo will show a nice image if the hotel was new, whereas, a recent photo will show the recent status of the hotel. I then even saw which portals were giving heavy discounts and cashbacks. Then after looking for all these things I finally finalised a hotel. Then I calculated the other things and booked my train tickets. I said to myself that I will spend only ₹5000 for the entire trip. I ended up spending ₹4460 for four days to be exact for my first ever solo trip.
Finally, I took my first successful solo trip on 10th June, 2016. These were the struggles that I faced before I became a solo traveller. Now that I have taken my first solo trip, there are very little chances of facing the same struggles again. But, life isn’t a piece of cake with tasty icing. I know I will have to face many struggles in the future, but, I know, now that I have jumped into the sea, I have the ability to cross it too.