For someone who had never taken a proper solo trip before, taking one was exhilarating and a little bit scary.

Last week, I took my first solo trip to Manali in Himachal Pradesh. Prior to this, my only other solo trip that I had taken was a 3-day bike trip from Bangalore-Pune-Mumbai-Goa-Bangalore in a span of 3 days. I don’t count it as a proper solo trip since I was driving for the most part and made brief stops in each place, with an overnight stop in Mumbai.

My plan to travel to Manali was at a whim. I decided to travel on a Monday, booked my bus ticket for Wednesday and set off with a basic understanding of the place and no return plan. In hindsight, researching before is always a good idea but that’s a lesson I’ll keep in mind for the next time.

Anyway, once I reached Manali and checked into a hostel, I had no idea about the city. So, 2 hours after I reached the city, I set off on a walk around the city with no clue as to where I was going. When you are alone, you have so much independence of what you want to do. In a group or with friends, one cannot just decide something as everything has to be a group decision. But alone, I could stop at a little roadside cafe for 2 hours, trek through dubious hilly terrains and was free to do whatever I want.

I cannot describe the trip in details since that will be long and arduous but the trip, however small, helped me learn to be social a bit more. I used to be an extroverted person but over the last few months, I became rather confined to myself and less interactive towards people. On the road, however, I had to interact to learn. I ended up making new friends and acquaintances, be it the friendly Nepali brothers of Sunshine Cafe, the very hippie couple at Drifters Cafe, the very smart and wonderful German Shephard I befriended on Mall road or the Punjabi group of friends I drank beer with on Shivratri.

Something else I take away from this trip was overcoming fear. I was afraid to travel alone, to an unknown place where I would be for the next few days, with no one I know. Even on the metro ride to the bus stand in Delhi, I had a moment where I thought of heading back to my apartment. I didn’t and I am so glad I didn’t.

Travel solo, at least once. You might not love it but you will learn from it.

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