What Travelling Solo Has Taught Me
On 03 August, 2018
Travel, wellness and lifestyle blogger Damini Passi shares why travelling solo has been good for her soul.
When I was asked to write about my experience travelling solo, I said ‘oh yeah’ but then went blank. So let’s start with my background and what led me to travel alone, and what it taught me. I graduated from England in 2012 and moved back to Delhi. I was applying for jobs and had a bunch of interviews lined up.
During that week, I had a car accident and was bedridden for two months. Multiple bone fractures on my left arm with metal plates, twelve stitches, internal injuries, bruises, scabs and scars, wires and a fixator.
I was unable to move my body or fingers, unable to sit up without help , unable to eat or bathe by myself. It took me three years to recover from that accident - physically and mentally. My body was physically weak and my mind was drained. I didn’t have the option to move out of Delhi, so I made most of my situation. It sucked. It was bad. I bounced from job to job not realising how weak my body had become and I needed to rest. But because I had become so irritated with the same bullshit, I kept going. It became so awful to the point where I wanted to lock myself up in a room and cry for hours. I didn’t want to meet anyone nor did I want to get out.Feb 2013 to January 2016 was a blur. It was also during this period that I finally realised how toxic this city was, and I saw no growth, no future.I've never liked Delhi, ever, for various reasons.
Once I recovered, I started working as an unpaid intern, because no one would hire an injured graduate without work experience. I made my way up whilst doing physiotherapy (for 6 months everyday) on the side and eventually got a job. From there, it was job after job after job.
I learned that due to the accident my body wasn’t able to cope physically. I ignored it for as long as I could because I was so desperate for change; change of scenery, people, place etc. I knew travelling made me happy- so I applied for a ‘Teach English’ program in Thailand, went through the interview process and made my way to Koh Samui on the second day of 2016. It was paradise; sun, sand, beaches, clean air and great food!
The decision to travel was out of love and passion, but it also made me encounter racism in a South Asian nation, as I realised “white skin” gets paid more to teach. I was rejected at jobs straight away. Once I found a job that paid equally to native speakers, it took me 4 months and 2 trips to India to get the visa. This entire process was extremely draining, but it also taught me to keep pushing myself and to never give up.
It was only in October 2016 that I finally settled in and made friends. Quiet, clean air, not much to do but exercise and eat- it was exactly what I needed after living in Delhi. The bonus was that all the other famous islands were close by. All I had to do was take a minivan or a ferry to Samui, Krabi, Ko Tao, Phi Phi islands (so many other places as well). I didn’t even have to plan in advance.
I taught English from Monday to Friday and travelled on weekends/ holidays or chilled with my friends with a bottle (or two) of wine and Game of Thrones. There were so many things that excited me and scared me. But traveling solo teaches you a lot about yourself. As cliché as it sounds, it’s true.
Passi at Montmartre, Paris, a place well-known for its musicians and local artists.
Here are just some of the things I discovered:
Do what you want to do in life: Having space and time to yourself makes you think about what you want to do and what makes you happy.
Hearing your inner voice: I was putting too much emphasis on other people’s opinion.
Be Patient; with yourself and others: Different countries have different rules and cultures and things are not always in our control.
Overcoming hurdles: When I had my second accident, I was afraid I might lose my job a month after settling in and I was dreading moving back to Delhi. I was afraid that I’ll get fired but on the contrary, my principal loved me and gave me all the time I needed to recover. Six weeks and daily physiotherapy later, I was back and ready to move on with my life! As Jon Huntsman says, “Never quit believing that you can develop in life. Never give up. Don’t deny the inward spirit that provides the drive to accomplish things in life.” John- You are my hero.
Doing something completely for myself without any guilt: You have to step out of your comfort zone at some point. I went for yoga, relaxed on beaches, snorkelled, dived, went for long walks, learned how to ride a scooter and forced myself to make new friends. “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”- Neale Donald Walsch. It surely does.
New Friendships: I was always a shy person, but being on my own pushed me to open up to others. I ended up making life-long friends whom I’m still very much in touch with! It also made me realise what kind of people I want in my life, how friends should have your back and those friends who I definitely need to eliminate from my life.
Being Independent: I could do what I wanted, when I wanted, how I wanted without anyone questioning me. But being independent also brings about responsibility. From multi-tasking to taking important decisions, you are own your own.
Enjoying a relaxed evening with her ‘Farang Family’ in Krabi, Thailand.
Enjoying a relaxed evening with her ‘Farang Family’ in Krabi, Thailand.
Re-invent or trust yourself: Being on my own made me realise how responsible and strong I was. I pushed myself to try new things, and I felt so confident as a teacher. I was always afraid of public speaking, but being in a new environment helped me open up and test myself. Teaching made me happy as well, and I learned a lot from the kids, to keep smiling, be curious, keep learning and growing, and most importantly to not to give up.
Reassessing my life: This helped me let go of things that didn't serve any purpose in my life anymore. Also, encouraged me to pursue things that I believed in.
Refocusing on my health: I spent a lot of time focusing on my health, relaxing, distressing, doing yoga, changing my eating habits. It was a big wake up call to push myself to strengthen my body. There’s absolutely no point ignoring it, unless you want to be a weak a** soul and have zero ability to do anything in life.
Experience memories that only you know about: It’s like a friendship between you and yourself that no one understands; experiences only you feel.
Going with the flow: From job rejections, two accidents, visa complications and worrying whether I’ll get my complete salary for the month or not, you just have to stop worrying. Some things aren’t in your control and that’s OK. I seriously got a big dose of what it feels like to go with the flow. Every time I felt fear or stress creeping in, I looked back at these times. It had become a reference point and reminder of how letting go and being open to newer experiences, can do wonders to your life. It also reminded me how many obstacles I’ve crossed and how far I’ve come.
Travel light: I always travel solo and light- one small backpack. Less dependence, fewer worries = more happiness. But I still need money and my phone. Fortunately, they pack well!
It makes you more observant: Ironically, you’re less focussed on yourself and more in tune with the strange and wonderful things happening around you. When you’re with another person or group, your attention can often be monopolised by that person or that group. But without that stimulus, you start to really look around and take things in.