Me: hey! I am planning to go to Italy after my training would you be interested to join?
My friend: Yeah! Why not!? Sounds like a great plan. Even I was planning a sort of euro trip. It would be good to have a company. Let me know the itinerary and we will have a rocking trip.
Me: Wow!! Let’s freeze the plan then 🙂
A month before the trip:
Me: Hey! Do you remember me asking you about the Italy trip? Its only one month left. I am planning to visit Venice, Florence and Rome. What say?
Friend: Hey! I would have loved to. However, my manager cancelled my vacations. I am so sorry won’t be able to make it. 😦 My manager is on my head and wants everything to be delivered before the clients meeting which is next month.
Me: Oh! that’s really sad. I do understand this. This has happened to me as well, so many times.
Don’t we all face these situations several times? It’s so difficult to manage everyone’s vacations at the same time. We all decide to go somewhere, ask our friends, make plans but sometimes the plan just doesn’t work out. At the end some urgent thing springs up (like office work, health issues, family issues) and our plans get cancelled. I was also about to cancel my plan, thought I won’t be able to manage a trip all alone that too outside India. I have travelled for several official and personal trips alone, but they all were in India. In our own country we know the locals, the language, the safe places and the shopping places. So, I was a little scared to visit a different continent by myself.
However, this time I thought what the heck!! Let’s go alone. I have been traveling alone since I was 16 years old so this time the only thig is a different continent. Let’s take the challenge, let’s spread the wings and take that leap!! So, I decided to go alone 🙂
After I booked the ticket and announced that I was visiting Italy everyone including my boss asked me, “with whom?” when I replied, by myself. Which was followed by a series of questions , will it be safe? Aren’t you scared? Alone, really!? You are really brave! Girl get a boyfriend! I could have never done that by myself.. It was not only people back home but also people whom I met while traveling were surprised. One of my roommates in a hostel was from Hungary and she had some Indian friends. I remember her saying that for an Indian girl this is really an achievement, as per her knowledge Indian parents are over protective for their daughters unlike the parents in west. When I told my mom about my Italy plans and told her that I am a little scared she recollected the memories of my first international trip to Bahrain, where I went as an undergrad.
Though, I had some friends who did encourage me to take this trip alone even when I lost all my money in France (this story in another blog). They not only encouraged me but also made sure that they had my itinerary with them so that I could contact them whenever required.
We are in 2015, women have done so many things in so many fields on their own. Moreover, I was traveling to Europe which is considered to be a safer place as compared to India.
The only difficulty I faced was to survive the romance in Italy. People in Italy flaunt their affection for their loved ones. I guess Italy is the most romantic country in the world and when one travels alone one can feel romance in the air. Though it’s hard to avoid the kissing young couples everywhere (in front of the colosseum, at the Spanish steps, in front of the traveri fountain) but it’s not impossible. I used to talk to my fellow travellers. They were from all over the worlds and it was so much fun to know about their country and culture. As it was summer time in Europe there were so many people visitors and most of them were very friendly, they were open to share their experiences. As I was traveling alone and had lost my money in Paris, I was a little scared to go to the local pubs and even to join the pub crawls. Also, I was staying at places away from the area famous for the night life. I guess befriending with hostel mates/roommates would help, and one can hang out with them with ease.
This experience has definitely taught me one thing if I wait for others to join me, I would never be able to travel. I would suggest we all should break those mental boundaries and all our reservations. There would be surprises (good or bad), we should just embrace them and move ahead. Personally, I felt safe everywhere I went because I trusted my instincts. Overall, for me it was a liberating experience as I learnt the art of manoeuvring those places myself.