No fans in Belgium.

I arrived in Brussels around 11:30 am on 19th June.  With my unprepared French and some screenshots of Google maps, I finally reached Brussels Central.  Coming straight from Iceland where the average temperature was 9-10 Celsius and landing in 33 Degrees wasn’t pleasant at first.  With 15 kgs on my back and 7 kgs on my front, I was walking in the streets of a French-speaking, Arab colony hoping to find my hostel. With some half an hour of struggle, mapping, interacting in sign-language, I finally reached my shelter did my formalities and relaxed. BTW, in all the hostels I have seen in Europe the check out time is 11 am and the check-in time is 3 pm, why? Anyway, finally after some wait I was allocated my dorm. All I wanted was a good sleep in probably in an Air-conditioned room. Then the horror began.

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Forget ACs there were even no fans. Now, I know the concept of fans is alien in most of the world. Especially in Europe and North America but a country with freaking 33 C temperature this was utterly preposterous. Without shame, I quickly undressed and hit the bed. I was alone in the dormitory anyway, but I realized it after a while. TBH it felt inhuman.

What could be the possible reason for this? Energy? Budgets? Awareness? Using feedback forms to wipe asses? Sensitivity to climate change and insensitivity for comfort? I couldn’t comprehend, and I had to spend 3 nights in this country. With dedication in my heart, and beer in my system. I survived those four days. Nights were sweaty and the mornings were quiet, showers were hot, and post-shower trauma was worse. It gave me an essential lesson of life that how we take some little things for granted they might not even be a concept in some part of the world.

More ‘power’ to you Belgium, and more patience to your guests.

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Reach solo, travel together.

It was 9:00 pm on 6th June, I wanted to cancel my plan to my ‘dream solo trip’ to Iceland, Belgium, and Amsterdam. I was not prepared to be uncomfortable. Although there were multiple times, I traveled solo in India, but this one was different. The thought of living in a remote country like Iceland with no company really scared me.

11:30 pm, 13th June 2017. I finally land in Iceland and the most amazing 15 days of my life began.

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People often misunderstand traveling solo as being lonely. I suggest them to look with an open mind. Before I begin, let me reiterate what the idea behind traveling solo is.

Solo traveling is for someone who is comfortable with their own company, who doesn’t want to be tied to the whims and wishes of others and who wants to spend a quality time. Is it a soul-searching journey? Yes and No. I didn’t found myself all over again in my solo trip neither that was the agenda but if you think you want to do some rediscovering the environment and time can support you to do that.

With every solo experience, I have more insights and I receive more questions.

‘What do you do alone?’, ‘Don’t you get bored?’ and I have a simple answer to that.

Neither I get bored, nor I am alone.

‘But, if you are with someone it’s not exactly solo traveling.’

LOL, then what is? Solo traveling is about going to an unknown place without any baggage of a group. The whole idea of solo traveling is to spend time with yourself and travel the way you want. At the same time meet new people from other cultures and have some interesting conversations.

I spent 5 nights in Iceland, and there wasn’t an evening which I spent alone. I met some fantastic people of all age groups from the world, traveling alone, traveling with their partners, visiting and working or just enjoying. You just easily connect with them because you don’t have an agenda but to genuinely know the other person. There came the point in my journey that by the end of Day 2 I had to choose between spending time at a concert with a group of people from Germany, Australia, US or go to Hard-Rock Cafe, Reykjavik where a Brit invited me for a drink and to see the Live concert of his girlfriend.

I met the following individuals during my time in Iceland and Belgium. We had some fantastic conversations, we traveled together, formed bonds shared some astounding moments, openly spoke about diverse topics and most importantly left a mark in each other’s journey. Some of them are connected with me on Facebook and Instagram.

The friends I made. (In chronological order)

  1. Christopher @ The Blue Lagoon. 14th June, 10:00 am.

The same Brit I mentioned, he was the official photographer at the Blue Lagoon. Always smiling and accommodating to the weird wishes of customers who wanted to save a moment in the lagoon. Christopher and I instantly connected. Since I was alone and Chris was also relatively free we ended up chatting a lot. He was living with his girlfriend in Iceland and was going to be a father in a few months. I could see his excitement. That’s when he invited me to HRC for a beer. I couldn’t make it, but I will remember Chris distinctly for the sheer charm and generosity that he showed. Also for the wondrous click, he took of me. 🙂

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2. Lee from the US. 6:30 pm, 14th June. I met Lee in my hostel when I was contemplating about my inability to drive a left-hand car. Lee coming from the US was helpful, he quickly helped me learn some basics, took me to a ride and made me understand some essential traffic rules and signs of the west. Lee was a Liberal like me, we connected over politics in our countries, and we spent some 3 hours talking and exploring. He was also solo traveling in Iceland, and it was his last few days. As a parting gift, I gave him a Patanjali biscuit packet. 🙂

3. Agatha and Kasia. The Polish girls. 12:00 pm, 15th June. As I was leaving the Geyser, I saw these two asking for a lift. Their eyes were full of the request. Clearly, they were waiting for long. I had to stop for them. They were working in Iceland in a Hotel and in their free time they were exploring Iceland by camping and hitchhiking. We ended up spending the rest of the day together. Kasia was a great help, she drove the car when I was tired. They helped me know some unknown places in Iceland, and we made plans to catch up again although that didn’t happen they were some marvelous traveling companions.

4. Chris, Kim, Lars, and Marc. Our Gang. 9:00 pm, 15th June. For some reason, I bought tickets to the Summer Solicite festival’s opening ceremony. I couldn’t understand the language, I didn’t even know the American artists, the Genre wasn’t of my interest and by 8:30 pm I was determined to go HRC and meet Christopher and his girlfriend. I was just about to leave and just when I was convincing myself a girl standing near me asked ‘Do you understand what they are saying?’ and I left that place around 1:30 am. After finishing the concert, drinking some beers and Vodka and laughing my ass off for hours.

Kim and her husband Lars were from Germany they were on a world tour. They met Chris while entering the concert who was on a solo trip from Australia and 3 of them met Marc from the US who was also solo traveling to Europe and finally the 4 of them met me.

Long story short, I made some lifetime memories with them. They were actually the highlight of my trip. 5 of us around 12:00 am went to the parking lot, had drinks, met some locals, had some more drinks, played some loud music and finally went our separate ways. 🙂

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5.  Lu and her staff. 12:00 pm, 15th June. Lu is a beautiful individual. When you meet pure and genuine people you remember them. She was taking care of the hostel at Vik where I spent 2 nights. She spent some quality time with me to help me discover some beautiful spots nearby. It was because of her I got see some of the hidden marvels of Iceland. She made a map for me, wrote down the names of the places, she practically built my itinerary for 2 days, and that wasn’t a part of her job role. I could only meet her twice in 2 days, but that was enough for her to leave an impact on me.

I spent the evening on 16th June with Lu’s staff. We spent hours talking about the environment and how we humans are not responsible enough. It was a powerful conversation trust me.

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  6. Ben, from England. The evening of 18th June. This guy was playing saxophone on the streets of Reykjavik on a rainy evening. I admired his dedication and paid a few cents. There wasn’t any crowd, so we started chatting casually, and we ended up spending the next 3 hours in an English Pub drinking German beer. This guy was pro BREXIT and gave me a unique perspective on immigration. Although, the highlight of our conversation was ‘arrange marriages’ and how even for Indians living in London face the same pressure. Haha you can take Indians out of India but not India out of Indians.

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7. Sushrut, Indian studying in the US. Evening on 19th June. Brussels. I was randomly chilling outside one of the famous bars in Belgium, Dellerium. Being of the same color skins our eyes locked and we started chatting. We spent the evening together, and the next day we went Bruge, spent the half day and parted ways. I think the Indian in me annoyed him after a point, haha. There were a lot of conversations we had, the ones I remember revolved about an Indian’s life in the US.

8. Jasseem El dro, the US. The evening of 20th June @ Bruges. While sipping my beer alone, enjoying the live music, I met this gentleman who was clearly in a position similar to mine. He was also solo traveling to Europe. We spoke at length about life in the US vs. living in Europe. We were two people lost in a forest who became buddies till the time we reached our destination. He was also going to Amsterdam we decided to catch up again but couldn’t.

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Apart from these people, I had a lot of conversations with people in the bar, restaurant, cafes, hostel, on the road which helped me during my journey,

All in all, if lack of people is your reason to not go solo, I will suggest it is more of a reason to go solo. You will find some marvelous individuals who are ready to share their own stories with you and listen to yours.

#EzcapeIt

The discomfort of solo-traveling.

23 Sept 2015, Govindghat, Chamoli Dist., Uttarakhand, INDIA.

First night stay while going to the Valley of flowers.

An abstract from my travel journal.

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I’ll be honest, solo traveling needs a lot of doing to master it. It is the 3rd time I am solo traveling and I am feeling the same discomfort like I felt the first time I solo-traveled. Fear of unknown, being worrisome of how it will be/can be, not living in the moment etc. After all this time I felt I have mastered the art of comfortable solo traveling, you know the one which is feels very regular but the thing is it takes time. Also, I believe the first day is generally like that, you are new to the environment and people, secondly if you choose a place like VOF in late September, it is going to be a bit empty here. Lastly, with all the travel your mind needs to relax. So, what I am doing to relax my mind? Well, I am writing. It is helping me release the tension, there is good music in the background (please carry good stock of music) and lastly you need to accept what’s happening to you and believe what will happen it will be for the best and you will find a way out. The first day is generally spent in uneasiness. One more reason is that there is no network in my mobile so maybe that’s bothering me more. :P. After writing all this I suddenly feel more relaxed, I am here to enjoy and live an experience very few get a chance to live.

#travel-solo

#Ezcapethatfear

#EZCAPEIT.

Vandit

Suggestions for first time young solo-travelers.

Recently I was approached by a 19 year old student who was inspired by my blog on solo-traveling and wanted some tips. I was really happy that the blog was serving its purpose and inspiring more and more people for solo-traveling. It’s a very liberating experience and once should definitely experience it once in order to look into their lives closely. 🙂

“I meet a lot of youngsters of your age traveling alone.
Traveling the world is really ambitious even I want to do so but the thing about traveling the world is you need to start by traveling to the next city or next hill station to you or a next tourist destination and when traveling becomes a habit slowly you find you own ways to travel the world.”

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Here are some tips for end for anyone who is looking to go for a solo travel.
1) You don’t need to be independent to travel alone. Infact to be independent you need to travel alone.
2) If you are living with your parents right now find a way to convince them to start with a small destination which is not more than 500–600 kms apart so that they feel safe about you.
3) Use Stay With Locals & Make Travel Friends to find some home stays.
4) Stay in Temples/ Dharamshala (Reasonable living stays provided by a particular regional community) if you have to. To save money. I learned this after my 3 solo travels. My first solo travel costed me around INR10–12K, I was stupid and my last solo travel costed me around INR 5K and it was almost of the same time duration. We are travelers, bag-packers we need to find ways to save money.
5) Don’t go for a big solo travel as of now. 2–3 nights should be fine. Don’t lie to your parents/family/friends.
6) Research about the destination well enough on Quora and google if it’s an unknown destination.
7) Carry a pen and a personal journal.
8) Don’t be in a rush to do things when you travel solo. Just sit in some cafe and enjoy the view.
9) No bookings are required just to go there and explore and find the place to stay, you will be fine. Trust your luck. 🙂
10) Lastly, donate some amount. God is helping you in some way, have gratitude and do more than just thanks for anyone who helps you in your travel expedition. 🙂

Enjoy,
Go-Solo 🙂
Please reach me if you need any help or suggestion in solo-traveling, or if you want me to showcase your solo traveling story on my blog/you-tube channel.

Mathur and his happy life!

Let me tell you a small story,
In June of 2015, I was solo traveling to Rishikesh. Where I met Mathur, he was from Kolkata. He was a servant cum manager of this popular cafe called The Beatles cafe. As I was alone obviously it always feels good to talk to any person. I started talking to Mathur casually because I spent around 4-5 hours in the cafe that day, turns out Mathur was an athlete, 10th Pass, got supplementary in 12th, wanted to do, Hotel Management somehow could not then wanted to join the Police force but didn’t have the money for admission so he started with being a waiter. As times went by he met the owner of The Beatles Cafe in Kolkata, started working for him and he gave him an offer to come to Rishikesh for their new venture i.e. The Beatles cafe.
When I asked they give him 7000/- rupees and takes care of his food and accommodation.
So, what is so exciting about this?
When Mathur was telling me his story for almost half an hour, there was a sparkle in his eyes, a small smile, these are the key points he mentioned in our conversation
1) I never thought I would go this far in life. I am very thankful to God and my boss.
2) I learn so many things every day. I was not good in English, but talking to Foreigners had helped me.
3) I live in such a peaceful location, in front of Ganges that every morning is bliss.
4) They give me good money, that’s only 7000 we are talking about.
5) I love my work.

Mathur was happy. In 7000 rupees I could see the sparkle, the happiness, the feeling of being content, looking forward for everyday with an excitement. That was present in Mathur and not in me and I earn quite more than Mathur. So yes, Fuck with the money, I am happy being Mathur if given a chance with that happiness.

Advice to women travelling alone.

Recently, I connected with Ellen vrana on Quora and discovered that she has some amazing solo traveling experience. She is a former management consultant, now writer. and publishes fiction and non-fiction weekly mostly about the human condition and the writing process. 

Talking about her experience in Solo traveling she says “I’ve budget-traveled alone throughout Europe, South America, Central America, Russia, Japan, wrote for a travel guide in Mexico, have done road trips through all 48 states plus 2,000+ solo hike of the Appalachian Trail.”  That’s like some dream for me, honestly. 

When I mentioned her about my blog and my initiative to inspire solo travelers and more over inspiring some female solo travelers, she really liked the idea and she very generously gave me permission to publish a tiny article from her experience.

You can read more about her and follow her blog here : http://therunciblegoose.com/

I’ve been accosted and threatened, but never hurt (except by goddam dogs). I’m careful. I’d recommend women to travel alone in any of the places I’ve been –  IF they are careful.

The most important thing is never forget you are a female. It is hard to get used to. I don’t walk around thinking “I’m a female!!” – ever. I just don’t. I’ve the luxury of growing up in a place where it didn’t matter.

When you travel alone, you have to think;

I’m a female. Other people might see me as vulnerable. It is not the culture, it is the individuals within that culture. There are things I can do to mitigate it, including;

  • Walk with purpose. Walk at a good pace, walk with a direction of where you are going. If you linger, do so near a wall, near other women or someone who looks older.
  • Don’t hitch-hike. Ever. Ride on public transportation if there are other women/children on it.
  • Don’t show all of your money in public.
  • Don’t stay in dodgy hostels. Many times, other travelers are the biggest threat and hostels are notorious for non-secure rooms.
  • If you need to ask directions, ask other women, people over 60, or merchants.
  • Don’t show cleavage or upper thighs. Just don’t, its disrespectful in many cultures and not appropriate.
  • Bring luggage that is easy to carry and move.
  • Wear shoes that are comfortable and in which you can move. I always wear sneakers when traveling, always.
  • Perfect and use the confident, polite, emphatic “No thank you.” Be rude if you have to, always walk away if uncomfortable.
  • Don’t get drunk around people you do not know.
  • Don’t tell anyone where you are staying or let someone walk you home unless you are 100% sure they are safe.
  • If you’re going out at night, tell your hotelier where you are going. They are usually very protective, I’ve found. Ask them to call taxis and get the card of the taxi to pick you up.
  • Always ALWAYS choose safety over saving money. It’s not even a question.

This all seems very prim and Victorian. To some, it might “ruin the experience.” No. Being groped, molested, accosted, or threatened ruins the experience.

There are malicious people everywhere and you are vulnerable because you are female and an outsider. These precautions help you get to a place where you can judge dangerous situations/people and then relax and enjoy those that are safe.

And don’t forget to ask someone to take a photo of you!

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia.

Some other tips that follow as well, this can instantly help you in the middle of some situations.

-If you stop walking, lean against a wall – don’t stand in the middle of the sidewalk trying to take pictures of everything.
– Don’t wear t-shirts of the place you’re in when you’re there
– Pay attention to and even imitate the body language and gestures of locals
– Learn key phrases in the local language, and learn to roll your R’s (which helps in many local languages).
– Smile/eye contact with women around you
– If somewhere where no one speaks your language, look for a 20-year-old who is more likely to speak English, at least.

Hope you take that leap after reading this,

Love,

Ellen vrana

What is it like to Travel alone?

1) It’s scary, but worth it.
To be without company for 5 days, I remember I was convincing my close friend to join me in someway or the other. When I accidentally met 2 of my old friends at the top, after spending 5 hours talking with them, I just didn’t want them to leave, but the feeling of overcoming that fear of being/left alone is magical. You suddenly feel more confident about yourself by the end of it.

2) You get to see life closely.
There were a lot of moments when I was just sitting near a cliff, having tea and I spent a good amount of time just living in the moment, introspection, no trouble.


3) Because no one is around, you can behave the way you want.
By the second last day of my trip, I never cared what clothes I was wearing, I was not carrying the portable mobile charger, left my bag at the hotel, just money, a phone and a dairy pen. I probably would have left the wallet and the phone if I would have stayed even for a week more.

4) You feel like you are the master of your own life.
On day 3, I rented a bike, went 25 Kms down from Mcleodgunj, visited Tea Garden, Norbulinga temple, Dharamshala Stadium and some things here and there. Came back up to Mcleodgunj, went 10 Kms up to Triund Road, spent 2 hours in peace, came back, returned my bike started walking to my way back to the hotel. I was random, but I was happy. I was doing what I like and no one was stopping me.

5) Some random people that you meet, listen to their stories and you realize there much more to life than having a career and settling down.

I met this girl when I was going to a cafe around midnight as it was dark and the cafe was somewhere up the mountain and you have to climb to reach there, I was just feeling unsure and she came up randomly going to the same cafe. She had a torch but no company, I asked her for the help in return of my company.

It took us 20-25 mins. To find our way up to the cafe, the cafe was bullshit, but that the journey to it was awesome. We went for dinner later.

She was from France, she was teaching to children in an NGO in Kerala, India. She even changed her name to ‘Kalyayini’ an Indian name, she became vegetarian , left drinks. The only purpose in her life was to do something for the Indian society.

6) Things/Places we find ourself are much more fascinating that been told about.

I enjoyed much more on a random cliff than at Dal Lake.

Some tips to make your journey better

1) Travel without purpose. That only difference between a tourist and a traveler is the purpose. A tourist is searching for a destination for a traveler every place is a destination.

Be happy where ever you are, even if you missing the most beautiful monument in the world be content with it. Be in the moment.

2) Don’t burden yourself. Let it go.

3) Whenever you feel insecure try to overcome it. Don’t let it dominate you and your actions.

Whatever you are searching it is lying inside you somewhere, you will find it 🙂

EzcapeIt to Rishikesh!!!

“Rishikesh”

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God’s own country!

The thrill, the feeling of being unsure, the feeling of cynicism, endless questioning of what next to yourself & overcoming all those emotions and finally landing below the mountain, in front of Ganges, on the sand, with the wind. This is what solo-traveling to Rishikesh offers you.

Exactly after a solo trip to Mcleodgunj, I decided to take this thrilling ride once again and this time Rishikesh treated me with open arms and a mysterious smile.

It was something about this place; as if it has an own soul, a character, an identity and as if Rishikesh itself is watching you through chirping of birds, high mountains, the flow of ganga. It was mesmerizing and heart touching.

Initially you will feel this destination does not belongs to solo-travelers, but don’t underestimate Rishikesh, it offers you with a lot of freedom. A freedom to choose your own life, away from home, near the ganges, maybe river rafting, maybe practicing yoga, or taking a lesson on Ayurveda massage or just relaxing @ The Beatles cafe. You need to feel Rishikesh, pulse by pulse, sink in the aura, realize the purity, the beauty, start the expedition because Rishikesh has it all. A road from a small valley slowly expanding into multiple horizons of camping and group activities. Rishikesh will never disappoint you if you choose to explore it in the right manner.

There are 2 versions of Rishikesh and third one cannot be talked about 😉

  1. a) The adventurous Rishikesh.
  2. b) The spiritual Rishikesh.

Both of the two versions have different level of community of people to serve. While the former is for the families and friends to enjoy a weekend full of life, the latter is for the regular people full of life enjoying for some time. It is important to understand that both of these two versions have different characters and souls and both offers peace in the form of fun and adventure in its own way. You can choose to solo-travel for either versions or both as both of these versions offers a sufficient liberation from your worries in its own magical way.

Things to do

1) Solo Camping. YES! That’s the big step you would want to take. My solo camping experience was so breathtaking it just pulled me out of any possible denial left in me. It gives you an opportunity to meet some similar people and when asked ‘why do you travel solo?’ you actually get answers. 🙂

2) River Rafting: I don’t even have to explain this. Find a group and get along. Pro tip: – Get out of the raft during high rapids 😉

3) Meet other solo travelers . That is where the true magic of solo traveling comes alive, when you meet someone living the same story in a different reality. Someone is also running only to be found, someone is answering the call by escaping it. Someone is searching for you like you are searching for them.

4) Take Meditation/yoga classes: – Something that is on my bucket list. Is to stay in Rishikesh for a week and take the right classes and purify my mind and refresh my thought process.

5) Take a dip in the Ganges: – A fellow solo traveler mentioned ‘I don’t know what is it like to be in a womb, but when I took that dip I guess that’s the closest I can get to that.’. Enough said.

Some tips for ensuring an amazing solo traveling

1) Research for right Camps, do not stay in ‘camp colony’ as they call it, where there are 100s of tents. It won’t give you peace plus it won’t be worth it. Neither go to a forest camp. Personalized camps with 30-40 tents is what you should be looking into it. 1200/- maximum to pay for a night.

2) River Rafting is not risky. So relax.

3) Go to the other end of Laxman jhula and go and search for cafes you will get a chance to meet actual travelers there.

4) Visit places like Vashisht Gufa and hear stories of legends and ancient history.

5) Don’t forget to journal. 🙂

And last

Without fear

EzcapeIt 🙂

V