An 18-year-old Indian Girl, stepping out of the nation for the first time and that too alone?
You might laugh at the sound of that. While very few upper-middle-class girls might have the privilege to go on such a trip, there are even lesser who have the guts!
And if you know Sanyukta, she has the damn guts. If it was for her, she would go around the world in less than eighty days. (Abducting her partner, Aakanksha of course.)
I am not sure why I am writing about myself in the third person. Nevertheless, it looks so much fun to flatter me, myself. Hah! So here I am, the co-partner of Photo Bombaying, bringing you the special inside glance from my one of a kind experimental trip.
As I write this, at the age of twenty (I bet you expected me to be a forty-something lady? Or at least a thirty?) Ok, no more bracket-fun talks. As I write this, I feel so damn nostalgic. In fact, all of us, sitting at home for the last few months have indulged in emotional nostalgia. Thinking of all the trips we have ever taken, with friends, family or even alone.
But what makes travelling alone so unique?
When I arrived on the first day in Paris, I couldn’t sleep for 48 hours. Eyes wide awake, wondering why the sun hasn’t set at 10 pm, I wandered around the streets like this, was it. This was the best life could ever get. And truly, for an eighteen-year-old on her first trip abroad, It was everything. There is a certain amount of freedom you sense when travelling alone. Nobody expects anything from you. You have every liberty to walk the roads you want to, drink the wine you wish, smoke the air away and no one judges. That freedom lets you introspect. It lets you think clearly. It makes you look at yourself in a new shade.
While I totally recommend you to travel alone, there are definitely a few things you will have to keep in mind. These are as follows.
Things to remember: 1. Plan everything beforehand. Pack very little. Roll your clothes. Carry a first aid. Definitely, carry a pill to help you digest food. As much as Indian spices train our stomachs, there is no or little immunity to Foreign bread and cheese. (I used Pudinhara tablets. Going Herbal haha!) I carried my diaries and my marker pen. I planned my own itinerary and booked my own tours, to museums and cruises. Why pay for an agency when everything is available online? Yes, it is time-consuming to find the authentic sites and all that jazz! Nonetheless, the satisfaction of planning the minute things of your trip might leave you in utter bliss.
2. Travel Locally.
It was super hard to find the correct entrance to the same station because there are like 10 entrances for the same platform! No kidding. I was lost on the first day. A stranger, a young french woman helped me buy my ticket and guided me to the metro stations through Google Maps. Once I had the hang of it, I was travelling like a pro. To and fro the Eiffel Tower at 11 AM as if I was a born Parisien. Oh yeah, the confidence, that's a shade you must learn to wear!
3. Eat local.
I made a list of places I wanted to eat at and the specific dish I wanted to try. Trust me, you will not know much about the local food at all. It was a shocker to me when I first started reading online blogs. But they all guided me to the perfect tiny food places with the best owners and waitresses. I fell for the food and wine more than I did for Paris. From Baguettes and crepes to Bourguignon, I practised pronouncing these names in French way before my travel. It might sound a little too much. But tell that to an excited young adult preparing for her first trip abroad!
4. Know the local lingos.
Look local, speak local, eat local. The only true way to enjoy any travel abroad is to explore the local part of the place you are visiting. There is no true joy. Trust me on this. Local makes it easier to come in close contact with the genuine culture of the place. This once, I was sitting on the banks of River Seine and this French couple near me kept asking me for a light. (The French and their thing with cigarettes, I tell you). After a while, they just started speaking to me and an hour passed before I knew we were all sipping wine in plastic cups on the river banks as the sun set!
5. Be whoever you want to be.
Right, I am not suggesting that you become a con artist and steal identities. However appealing that idea sounds to me, I am a scared puppy. Unless, of course, I have a partner in crime, I might give this crime a thought :p But, what I truly want to convey is, break all the bounds that you have caged yourself in. When you travel, you get a fresh slate to paint your picture on. So do it with all you might have. Your likes, dislikes, your true self. Let it out. Breathe in your true shades. The air might love the trail of fresh breath you leave behind :)
What about you? Have you travelled solo? How was your experience, share some tips and tricks in the comments below!