Travelling was instilled in me as a child when my mother would take me along on her backpacking trips. It was the early 90s and internet access was not the same as it is today. We would just backpack and leave and wander as we discovered new places.
As I grew up, my passion to travel intensified. I started to travel and backpack solo when I was 21. It was mainly because everyone else has got busy with their life. And getting leaves from their respective offices became a task. I had a long list of places to visit. Well, I still do, so many places, so little time. I realised that I kept postponing destinations because I didn’t have company. The whole thought of backpacking alone led to many doubts in my mind. Won’t I feel lonely? Will it be safe?
I am a beach lover and although I had been to Goa before, I decided to go there in the off-season which is the monsoon month of July. My experience was mind-blowing. I did not book anything beforehand. Got into a Janshatabdi train from Dadar and reached Thivim by afternoon. Rented a bike, found a homestay and explored the beaches of Goa. It was this first time, that made me love the freedom and independence that came with solo travelling.
My second trip was a 10 day trip to God’s Own Country, Kerala. Being a Malayali shamefully I had never been to Kerala. Every time someone spoke about Kerala I would start visualising about the landscape. So I booked my hotel stay beforehand this time and also a one-way flight from Kochi to Mumbai. It would be my first time travelling by flight and on a weeklong solo trip.
Those 10 days were the marking of my first backpacking trip where I learned to trust my gut, had lots of adventure, interacted with locals and gorged on delicious Malayali food. Most importantly I survived for 10 days without feeling lonely, lost. I enjoyed the unpredictable, imperfect and impulsive charm of being on the road. I took local bumpy bus rides and covered Trivandrum, Kanyakumari, Alleppey, Thekkady, Munnar and Cochin.
After this, I have forgotten the number of solo backpacking trips I have embarked on. After I quit my boring desk job as an analyst, I backpacked for two and a half months and covered 15 states in India. During that time, I met tons of people, made friends loved the diversity in culture, food and geography.
I have learnt innumerable lessons while being on the road and realise that travel is the best teacher.
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