Today we take most things for granted in life and along with that is the technology. The internet era has helped us immensely with information and facts. Most of us plan and book tickets, hotels, tourist attractions, insurance etc on the internet and confirmations are instant. If we get lost in a new city, some of us turn to our smartphones so we can access the location where we are and where we want to go rather looking at a map or asking a local for directions. In this age of globalisation, we visit the fast food chains in a foreign country such as Mc Donalds, international cafe such as Starbucks as we don’t want to take risks dining in a local restaurant or cafe or support the locals. Today travelling has become easier and comfortable compared to the first time I travelled solo.
I have been lucky to witness both the eras before and after globalisation, internet, smartphones and the jet age. Planning was especially important before the era of internet as there were limited modes of transport especially in India. The air network in India was still in its infancy and there were only dozen domestic airports and four international airports. The rail network was well established and expanding as it was one of the cheapest modes of transport in India especially for inter-state travel.
I was 21 years old, a recent commerce graduate and running a successful cement franchise in my hometown Koppal and some hefty savings up my sleeve and started planning a solo trip. There was no access to travel books nor information was readily available. I spent few months enquiring with few family friends who had travelled to north India and getting their advice and the places I should be visiting. I meticulously noted down all the details in my new little note pad and started planning my first solo trip. It was time to book my railway tickets and so travelled to a nearest city Hubli which was 120 km from Koppal even though there was a railway network in my town but there was no facility to book and reserve long distance trains. The computerised reservation system was still a decade away so the reservation system was manual and each station had a limited seats available. I anxiously waited in the queue for almost 5 hours and when my turn came and to my surprise the seats were all booked for the next 3 months. The only option was travelling to Madras, now Chennai, which is located south of Koppal around 600 km which took more than 2 days to travel by bus and then I started my journey by train to Delhi located in the north of India which took more than 3 days from Chennai in peak summer and with no air-conditioning. Yes, it was a long detour.
I was excited but at the same time nervous to go solo on this big adventure. I wasn’t sure if I had made the right decision to travel solo but the first step was taken and there was no looking back. The journey had started and slowly the contentment overtook anxiety and satisfaction overtook my nerves. The first step was hardest but as soon I started taking more steps I felt comfortable and slowly started winning the battles to overcome shyness, anxiety and the fear of travelling alone.
After my first solo trip the exhilaration to travel kicked in and I took the opportunity to travel to other parts of India and covered most of the northern, southern and western part of India. I overcame my anxiety to travel solo and never looked back. I conquered my fear of travelling solo by taking the plunge to travel in my early 20s.
When was the last time you travelled solo or how did you conquer your fear to do anything?