iGoSolo: Planning and embarking (Part 1)

They call it a traveller’s bug. 

I call it being nomadic in the physical sense; given how the mind is never in one place at any given time. 
And being nomadic is somewhat genetic. It’s been one of those rare few quirks I’m more than happy to have inherited from my parents. 

To think of how limiting a worldview I’d be left with if not for my sojourns.

To have the nerve to travel solo – book myself a return ticket – was not a pathway I’d planned on embarking upon. It just happened. Like most beautiful things. 

My first solo holiday was to this quaint little beach in Karnataka in the last quarter of 2012. Since then not only have my own perspectives undergone a complete overhaul but so have those of the people around me – and I mean this in the best way possible. Well, for most part of it traveling by yourself didn’t attract any brownie points – the bravado was totally discounted for. Instead the endless list of annoying questions never seemed to fade away. It was as a response to all those initial reactions that I penned my first solo travel-related blogpost. That I didn’t stop traveling nor writing after that seems to have made the kind of difference that I felt was required.

More than answering the question, ‘Why did you choose to travel solo?’ I find myself answering the question, ‘How did traveling solo come about for you?’ 
My answer: I don’t think you can start by traveling solo. And as strange as this sounds to me you definitely need to be a lot more comfortable with yourself, by yourself – watch a movie or eat a meal or take a lil’ tour of your own city by yourself. Overcome that initial awkwardness. More than that enjoy your own company!

[Image source: http://www.lifestyle.com.au/travel/top-tips-for-travelling-solo.aspx]

Planning (and more importantly, executing) your own trip doesn’t require as much coordination with friends or whoever else. And that has been my biggest reason for traveling solo – but if someone really wants to tag along I’ll be more than grateful for the (extra) company.

Zeroing in on the destination is pure guesswork for me – anywhere is perfectly okay, just as long as I am going! Tripadvisor has been a real boon when it comes to identifying accommodation (particularly for a solo female traveller). A few emails and a couple of telephone calls later the deal is sealed, advance payments are made if required and all energy is invested in figuring out mode of transportation. I recommend nailing down transport before even thinking about accommodation because if flight prices flare up or train/bus tickets are not available (for whatever reason), your stay arrangements are rather useless!

The getaway for Coorg was planned because I was going to ring in 2014 with friends in Goa. So in every sense this holiday was going to be a blend of solo and non-solo holidaying with the former at a hill-station and the latter at a beach. Perfect balance!

A day before I was meant to set foot out I got a lil’ apprehensive – one of those things that never ceases to happen no matter how many trips I undertake or how many destinations I explore. I guess one always requires a healthy dosage of fear to even out the knowledge of the known with that of what’s unknown. However the next morning with my 60L Quechua lugged on my bag and a smaller backpack pitched in front I was all set for my holiday – it’s only a matter of your first step out of your door, then you’re unstoppable. It’s another matter that while packing I had to resolve this inner dilemma on what is a reasonable number of books that one can carry when travelling! 

Once I was at the railway station I found my way to the coach and relieved my somewhat petite frame of my luggage, found my seat and took a deep breath – conversations with friends who knew I was taking off came to mind, “…Wow! You’re off travelling on your own? You’re one damn cool chick…” The more those lines played out in my head, the more I found myself smiling. My co-passengers were a senior citizen couple and another middle aged guy – pretty soon we were on first name basis. 
Ever since I’ve travelled by train I’ve noticed that there is this sense of community that exists between all passengers. It’s simply beautiful. There’s always food that keeps getting circulated… as also conversations (more on this in the next post).

All along the route I stared out of the window with the wide-eyed wonderment of an 8 year old watching as we passed different stations (including Khandala and Lonavala). When the train halted at Pune, I was more than amused to find a train that had ‘Bhagat Ki Kothi as its destination!

Continues here...

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