Traveling is a stress buster. It is also a good way to get to know different cultures, people and food. I often go on short trips to different parts of India whenever I am too stressed out of the fast paced city life. It not only bring you relief, but also acts as a reminder of how diverse and wonderful the world and human race is. But when it comes to exploring an unknown place, should you be doing it alone, or is the company of friends a better option?
There is no straight (pun intended) answer to this question. Many people prefer traveling in groups, while some like me prefer to go solo. Traveling to a far away land can be intimidating for some, plus being alone at an unfamiliar place can be boring as well. That is why many people prefer to travel with friends or family in larger groups. It also gives you more bargaining power with the travel companies, and a bigger group can bring down your travel cost as well. It also gives you a sense of security. Additionally, if you are traveling to some remote place or hill station where hiring a vehicle is the only way to travel around, being in a larger group really brings down the individual price for the trip as the cost gets divided amongst the members.
However, if you are someone who enjoys solitude and the thrill of being in an unknown place all alone by himself/herself, solo travel is the thing for you. When you are traveling solo, your survival instincts kick in. You no longer have the luxury of someone else taking care of your needs. You actually talk to the local people and get to explore the local culture because that is the only option for you to find out about things. When you are traveling in a group, you often restrict yourself to your guide, or remain confined among your group.
I have traveled to some of the remotest parts of India alone, with little knowledge of the language that is spoken there, and have been helped by the locals in various ways, be it with directions or getting accommodation, or with transport, and bowled over by their hospitality. I have hopped on to local taxi or buses, been helped by strangers when I got stranded, and made friends with a lot of them as well. These are experiences that you will often miss out when you are traveling in a group.
So how you should travel depends a lot on the kind of person you are and the kind of adventures that you are seeking. But even if you have always traveled with friends, solo travel is something you must explore, at least once in your lifetime.
Sukhdeep Singh is the Founding Editor of Gaylaxy magazine which is India’s largest English language LGBT magazine. He grew up in Kolkata, in a Sikh family and in a liberal atmosphere. While studying in college he launched Gaylaxy magazine in 2010, which is now also available as an App. His message to the world is: “Treat everyone equally, with love and dignity.”