Mar 7, 2014

When Two's a Crowd !

The normal, saner members of our society usually travel with family or friends. The more daring ones travel with strangers and then there are some wanderers like me, who at times prefer their own company over the company of others.

My first solo trip was out of necessity. I was in Japan and wanted to go to Kyoto to see the Shinto Shrines in their autumn splendor. None of my friends had any inclination to “spend our time shivering in the cold watching the leaves turn red” as they put it and so I just decided to go on my own.

That trip was a revelation. I was amazed to discover how much I enjoyed being by myself.

Perhaps out of anxiety because I was traveling alone, I had planned my Kyoto trip meticulously – right from where I wanted to stay to exactly what Shrines I wanted to see. But for some reason, as soon as I got off the train, I decided to throw caution to the winds and just follow my whim. I wandered all over the city on foot, stopping where I wanted for as long as I wanted. I whizzed past the more popular and crowded temples that were on my itinerary and instead spent hours walking through smaller lesser known temples deep in the woods where the beauty of the autumn colors had to be seen to be believed. I ate at odd times at the small kiosks selling traditional Japanese food without having to worry about the food choices of anyone else.

 It was an exhilarating experience.

Usually when we travel in a group we tend to fit ourselves into the company we keep. We mould ourselves to adjust to the likes and dislikes and wants of others. And I suppose this is how it should be when you travel in a group. But at times, I also like to “revel in my selfishness” .

Traveling alone gives you an incredible sense of freedom. Stay in a hotel or a quaint B&B. Walk when you want, or take the train. Skip a museum or spend your whole day wandering in them or simply sit in a café watching the world go by. Indulge in fine dining or eat the local food off the street. Get up at five in the morning to catch the sunrise or sleep till midday. It’s all up to You!

The biggest myth about traveling solo is that you will feel lonely and get bored. No you won’t. There is a great difference in being alone and being lonely. I have spent many perfect hours simply being with myself but not feeling lonely even for an instant. And no one who has a soul of a wanderer can ever get bored in a new place.

Traveling by yourself is a chance to step away from our daily life, away from the people we usually interact with. When you travel alone it is not just a journey to a new place, it is a journey within yourself. You will discover things about you, you never thought existed. Being on your own changes you, makes you a different and I dare say a better person. It gives you that sense of space so lacking in our lives.

You also become more aware of your surroundings, more observant. I really believe true appreciation of nature needs solitude. I have seen wonderful things while on holidays with others but the sights and sounds that have stayed with me the most are the ones I saw alone.

I went to Ladakh with a group of people but decided to steal a few hours to walk around Pangong Lake on my own. The time I spent there in utter solitude just watching the play of sun and clouds over the water will stay with me forever.



When you are on your own, you learn to savor the moments, discover your own piece of happiness. At the very crowded Toronto harbor, I found happiness by sitting on a bench eating fresh cherries and simply watching the boats.

I left behind the crowded Stonehenge and found a greater delight in walking through the woods alone, reveling in the sunny day that is as rare in UK as unicorns ! 


When you travel with others, it is not truly travel, It is simply a holiday. 
To wander about a new place with just your thoughts for company, with no compulsion to follow a plan, to conform or adapt to anything - Now that is travel!


Pic curtsy Indian Home Maker 

46 comments:

  1. Lovely lyrical post. You took me back to all my days of solo traveling. I traveled to so many parts of India, hated some and loved others. But overall, I love traveling with company I enjoy. Group travel is no no unless I am really comfortable with them all. More or less traveling with family is enjoyable. Though at time, the husband and I also steal early morning or late evening walks just on our own. That is a lot of fun too.

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    1. Like you I am not comfortable traveling with others unless I know them very very well. I like talking my walks alone too !

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  2. Lovely post. It was so liberating even to read. I have experienced being by myself only once in an ashram where I had gone to do social service. Those were the happiest 10 days in my life. I could completely connect with what you wrote about being alone with just your thoughts for company, not having to adjust for anyone .. Sheer bliss!!

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    1. Yes, sometimes it is nice to be selfish and not have to connect to anyone. Living in an ashram by yourself provides a very very unique experience.

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  3. Smooth and beautiful in its simplicity, like your other posts, I could not have imagined anyone else but you writing this - about solo travelling and how. I have never travelled alone (unless you call train journeys that, but you can't!). But I have taken in a place, its food, its people, its feel individually while yet being in a crowd. And then, a co-traveller who shares your idea/aim of travel may not really make you 'adjust'. He/she may give you a perspective you did not knew existed. However, package tours is something I have never done, and that really sounds like a crowd.
    I will travel solo one day. I believe you when you say "When you travel alone it is not just a journey to a new place, it is a journey within yourself." And I also want to believe, that if we had won those domestic air tickets together, we would have travelled together too. :)

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    1. Traveling with someone you know well is always fun because as you say they add to the experience and sometimes add a different perspective to things. But there is also something totally exhilarating in traveling alone. You should try it !

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  4. I agree with you totally! Although I have not stayed alone very often, I have travelled by myself, or been alone for long stretches in a 'foreign' country. The sense of freedom one has alone is indescribable. In general, I prefer my solitary walks at my own pace, though I have also had wonderful times walking with like minded friends......

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    1. You are so right Dipali. The sense of freedom is indescribable. I have lived alone in a foreign country for many years and the experience is very enriching.

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  5. I love travelling but have not got a chance to travel by myself except for with an assignment at work. I, however, find the time to be by myself on holidays and hence cherished every moment of the imagery painted in your post! Loved travelling with you to Kyoto : ))

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    1. One need not be alone for long stretches of time. Even snatching a day or a few hours for yourself while traveling with a group can give you a wonderful feeling. Welcome here Kriti and Thanks for reading !

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  6. This is so beautifully written... I have never traveled alone...just me ..but I know the solitude and peace of just being by yourself. On many of my trips I've woken up early and walked in the unknown lanes and spaces of my mind as the sun slowly spreads it's read. I will solo travel one day...soon...this post has made me want to so badly! :)

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    1. I am glad I have inspired you to do solo travel ! Not many people may enjoy the solitude but the sense of freedom is exhilarating !

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  7. I rarely travel. I did this once, when I was fed up with life. I opened the map, selected a place just because I did not know anyone there. Went and stayed for a weekend, wandered around markets, temples etc and came back. It was scary in the beginning and then became quite a refreshing change

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    1. Yes, it definitely is a refreshing change !

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  8. Beautiful Ruchira! I agree some of the best moments that I have had and have stayed with me during my travels have been moments spent with myself. And yes, doing so can truly make you realize about things about your own self, you become more aware of your own likes and dislikes.

    This is a wonderful post!

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    1. It is amazing how much traveling solo teaches you about yourself !

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  9. The anonymity is so liberating, isn't it? Lovely post.

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    1. Very liberating ! Thank you J !

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  10. Been there, done that and totally endorse it. In fact, I always take a trip by myself even in the city. It just is so liberating as you put it. Truly such lyrical symphony, this. Well done. :)

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  11. I always want to travel alone. I want to understand myself better. I so envy you. BTW who took the picture of yours if you were alone? :P

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    1. haaa haaa haa Janaki good question ! Honestly I always find people to take my pics even when I travel alone !

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  12. True..it does make us feel closer to ourselves. There is a sense of peace and contentment. This post has such calming effect. I was restless before I read this post, and now I am feeling so calm. Thanks Ruchira. :)

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    1. Thank you ! I am glad my posts make you feel calm !

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  13. How your excitement shows when you write about travel! We have already discussed our travel preferences with each other so no point in mentioning those again here except to say, what is the point of travel if it is not about self discovery and joy and inner peace? If travelling solo is what gives that to you, may you get an opportunity to do so often.
    Great post, even lovelier writing.

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    1. Thank you Rickie for truly understanding what this post was all about :-) I think I am happiest when I am traveling or writing about travel and I guess it shows !

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  14. Very inspiring and Now I wish to go on solo traveling...
    it feels so liberating... No worries at all of keeping with the company.. :)

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    1. Exactly no worries ! Try it Manjulika !

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  15. It's nice to travel solo to discover oneself. The latest movie Queen advocates it! We can let our hair down without trying to fit in... :)

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    1. Welcome here Anita. And you are right about letting your hair down !

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  16. There have been two occasions when I travelled alone,not out of choice but out of compulsion.
    At times it becomes necessary for some of to get time for ourselves to be on our own with our time at our own disposal?

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    1. Yes, I do believe it is very necessary !

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  17. Solitude is bliss is my Line for this post. Yep at times being just with u is much needed and what is better than exploring a place as per ur will !
    wud hav loved to see some Japan clicks too and that Ladakh clicks r good
    :) Hav fun

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    1. Solitude is Bliss - You said it Afshan !

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  18. Simple and beautiful, that what this post is for me. I love the idea of solo travel though haven't done it till now. May be one day I will but I have definitely stolen moments in holidays to be alone with myself and enjoy the world around me.

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    1. Thank you so much. Its great to steal moments when you are traveling in a group to do your own thing !

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  19. Spoken like a true traveler! :)

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  20. I am totally with you about enjoying reveling in selfishness!! It is often tiring or at least inconvenient to constantly give in to the majority opinion! I am sighing with envy at your description of going, eating and doing whatever you want whenever you want! :)
    I too truly cherish the moments when I am alone and traveling that way must truly be a joy!

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    1. Roshni, sometimes it is nice to be selfish :-P. I think all of us need time do do whatever we want !

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  21. Lovely post...Even I love travelling alone, it's kind of liberating. Get's you in touch with yourself and give you an experience of lifetime.

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    1. Happy to see you here Prats. True travelling alone does put you in touch with yourself.

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  22. very inspiring write up..:)
    there was a time when I used to be travelling alone to places 'coz of the various competitions held there. But after I gave up rifle shooting I haven't travelled out of goa much. Yet sometimes I go alone to the beach, earphones plugged in and walking toe dipped in water. I go to the children's park at times to simply sit on the bench to watch them play- not because I have no company but because it gives me some time to myself. After reading your post I think I should do it more often. You have listen down all the more reasons to do it..:)
    Great post..:)

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  23. you are tempting me to go for a solo travel.. may be sometimes in the future.. lovely write up as usual..

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  24. That's a lovely post! Yes, one has to adjust when travelling in a group. While I have experienced the joy of travelling with friends in true "mad gang" type, am yet to discover the joy of travelling in my own company. I remember having taken time off alone during a trek to go a particular stretch alone coz I was miffed at Mr. Hubby...and was talking to myself all the while!

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