Solo trips are the talk of the town. So many people are embarking on solo trips for various purposes – to take a break, explore the ‘other side’ of their personalities, to meet people – the list is endless. Cheryl Strayed, the protagonist in the film ‘Wild’, found her sanity and purpose on her solo hiking trip. Having done a solo trip myself, I drew a few parallels between life and solo trips.
1. Life is going to throw some real curveballs – You have to think on your feet sometimes
When I did my solo trip to London, i had generally covered all the bases I could before leaving from India. I had done a lot of research to make sure I don’t miss out on anything crucial which I would need to know beforehand. But then, you are certain to encounter some things which you are not prepared for, or are unaware. So what happened was, I was nicely waiting at a bus stop, near Lords and was looking to go to Victoria. I was under the impression that I can hop into a bus and get the ticket – I probably would have to throw in some coins and get it from a machine, rather than a conductor giving me one, like in India. I observed, however, that there doesn’t seem to be any machine and people don’t seem to be taking out money. Then I figured with help from another woman waiting there, that I will need to buy a certain travel card for a few pounds. Then all you got to do is just hop in and scan the card. The best part is that I got it in a jiffy from a grocery/general store right around the corner from the bus stop. So thanks to my proper observation and thinking quickly, I got the card and then merrily traveled around London with it.
2. It is not a bad idea to ask for help
We all need help in life about a lot of things and at different stages. I was kind of lost after a whole day tour of London along with a trip to Greenwich – as a part of the Thames cruise. I was halfway to my hostel, on a bus stop, a little tired and had almost no clue as to which bus to board. People there are very helpful, courteous and friendly when you ask them, even though they wouldn’t necessarily poke their nose into your affairs. So I asked a couple of women standing at the bus stop about which bus would take me to the destination. I hesitated a bit and was initially hell bent on figuring it out myself. But I guess asking for help made it easier and saved me some time as well. And don’t they say god helps those who help themselves?
3. Life happens when you are busy planning for it
I had decided on a jam packed schedule for my trip, a day-wise itinerary. It so happened that on the day I was supposed to visit Globe Theatre, a play was scheduled at that time and day at the theatre. So my plans went for a toss. But hey, where else would I have learnt to deal with such inconsistencies in life overall as well, and accept the inevitable gracefully, if not for this hiccup?
4. Playing safe is a good thing – Sometimes
On solo trips, playing safe is a good idea, atleast probably for the first one. Of course it also depends on where you are going. I had this huge urge of going for a pub crawl in London. But I didn’t and played safe. I wasn’t sure of how it works and pub crawl meant late late late night. Further, my quintessential Indian upbringing kind of made me avoid it. So I dropped the idea. There is always a next time I thought.5. No one is going to take your decisions for you and you don’t have to wait for someone
I so wanted to go to London since the time, I can’t remember. I could not find anyone to go with me. I took a decision, researched extensively, booked my tickets and hostel and everything else. I did not wait for anyone or did not ask anyone. I simply took off and it was one of the best things I have done till date in my life. I am pretty damn sure that if I had waited, I would have surely missed out on an incredible experience. An experience which was absolutely liberating and rewarding.It has been two years since my trip and the memories still linger. It is like this warm fuzzy feeling, akin to the one when you have a chocolate mousse or a sizzling brownie. When I look back, I would not have traded this experience for anything else in the world. Or perhaps, may be, for another solo trip to another city!