A while back I was frantically reading everything I could find on the internet about solo unplanned travel and I constantly encountered the same kind of safety advice everywhere.
Things you need to keep in mind as a solo traveler. How to be safe etc. Not that it wasn’t useful – here’s one that really made sense, but I needed information beyond that.
Like, how to make the most of your time, how to interact with strangers better, how to avoid becoming an isolated recluse alone on the road and millions of other such things. But it all just boiled down to safety concerns; as though that’s the primary preoccupation of those who are setting out to travel on their own.
Solo travel might still be catching up if the Google search results are any indication but unplanned travel? Well, there’s almost nothing substantial on it.
I’m only six months old into this and I can sense that such kind of travel has endless possibilities. And I’m still figuring out many of the answers for myself. However, I have definitely unraveled the tip of the ice-berg.
Here’s sharing that with you. What to expect from unplanned travel – learnt first-hand through trial and error(s).
Expect Impromptu Plans
Travelling without plans is marvelous because it offers you the flexibility of saying yes to anything that comes your way. The uncertainty might seem scary and even unsafe to some but it’s not. You’ll quite often find yourself with new friends, eating local delights and chilling at places you would never have been to if you had stuck to a plan that originated in your head.
Expect To Learn How To Take Care Of The Basics
Stay, food, water, hygiene and stray bugs – these are things you learn to manage without losing sleep. The most basic elements to travel. If you are messing up here then this won’t last long. Also throw in health. You’ll learn to truly take care of yourself.
Expect Lonely Chaotic Days
When you can’t find a place to stay for the longest time. When you eat serious nonsense and pay more than you want to. When your stomach is acting up. And you miss home and there’s no one to talk to. The only respite is a hotel bed and view of the road outside. If you are travelling with someone then these are probably the days where you’ll fight.
Expect To Find The Boundaries Of Life And Travel Blurring
Unplanned travel is the same as life. You’ll muse about this more and more on your walks, as you sit by the beach and every morning you wake up. Soon travel won’t be about vacationing. It’ll become a way of life. The way you think and live. Ultimately, you will realize how powerful you are in the scheme of things. It doesn’t matter if you are in a resort in Mauritius or are cleaning your apartment in Bangalore – you will experience only what you let yourself experience.
Expect to Laugh At The Idea Of ‘Perfection’
Traveling without plan is the same as drifting. Destinations and agendas aren’t so crucial anymore. Arrivals and departures don’t matter anymore. The only thing that matters is you have a good time wherever you are despite whatever is happening around you.
A few years ago, when I was working in a kind of enjoyable kind of traumatic digital media office, a certain October brought a very welcome chunk of holidays – Gandhi Jayanti, Dusshera all clubbed together. I had managed to secure a total of 10 days to get away to the hills north of Delhi.
I remember spending the first 4 days fussing and highly uncomfortable. Amidst the hills, in the perfect set up, but so unhappy. After appropriate amount of sulking I realized it was because I felt the need to make the most of my time. But all I seemed to be doing was watching it slip by with absolutely no control over it.
Of course, the only waste of time was the frustration in my head. I felt if I did more, my limited period of freedom would be more meaningful. It would last longer in my memory and would be truly befitting of claiming that 10 day vacation I had fought for so dearly at work.
Lesson Learnt: Time does what it’s supposed to do – tick away. The Earth does what it’s supposed to do – rotate on its axis. You do what you need to do instead of worrying about what’s slipping away. There is no ‘perfect’ vacation. We experience different realities and one isn’t more meaningful than the other. It’s just different. So stop expecting things from your travel. Stop expecting that your vacation will bring answers to all your problems. Instead, it’s the lack of answers that help you make peace.