Friday, February 03, 2023 | Rajab 11, 1444 H
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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

Getting into the heart of solo travelling

For a lot of people, travelling is best spent with friends and family creating memories together. In a post-Covid world, solo travelling became an even bigger trend with people finding meaning in their lonesome journey. These solo travellers are not afraid to go out in the big, wild world navigating the complexities of travel relying solely on their skills and street smarts.


Oman Observer talked to a few jet-setters to understand better what the trend is all about and why they do it.


Isa Khan


Instagram: @khan.isa


Isa is a travel content creator from India who has been exploring the Himalayas for the last five years.


Being a travel content creator, my passion which turned into a profession demands as much travel as possible. I started as a solo traveller and had been to quite a few places.


In my opinion, solo travel can be considered one of the tools through which one can learn about life experiences. This isn't the only tool though. Depending upon the situation and requirement, I prefer to travel solo or in a small group and of course with my loved ones.


Travelling has made me a calm person and helped me understand that I can face even the most challenging situations. Compared to when I was younger, I have become much more focused and organized [I give solo travelling partial credit to that]. One has to be a meticulous planner and be better prepared before any solo travel.


It’s always advisable to learn/read about the place in detail. Being safe should be the first and foremost priority. Life itself is a journey but to prove yourself as an adventure lover, one must calculate the risk involved in it beforehand. One may easily get attracted to solo travelling after seeing the pictures on social media platforms, but being a content creator I can vouch reality is far from those fairy tale pictures. As I always prefer and suggest exploring unexplored places, here one needs to remember solo travel is comparatively pricy which is a big disadvantage unless one is open to hitchhiking options.


Anindita Chatterjee


Instagram: @travel.chatter


Anindita has already travelled to 76 countries. She left a secured leadership job to pursue her dream as a travel blogger. Recently, she has been travelling with her 9-month baby.


I believe that people have evolved and have become more focused on keeping themselves happy — a happy you is a happy family and a happy workplace.


I was genetically programmed to travel from birth. I started travelling at a fairly young age as both my parents were travel lovers. In present times, social media to an extent have so much information out there that it’s a lot easier to travel solo now than it was 15 years ago.


You learn so much more about yourself when you go solo. It's like meeting this whole new person every time. Travelling solo made me enjoy my own company like I never have before. It's very freeing and soulful. I get so much time to introspect about so many things.


Whenever I travel solo, I am filled with gratitude and it helps me to feel alive like never before. I come back home totally charged up ready to take on any challenge head-on.


I completely disagree that those who travel solo are loners. I believe they are those who love themselves enough to be able to take the extra step to make their dream come true.


As a female solo traveller, planning is important. You should also travel light and learn a few common words of the local languages. I usually go travel solo to places that I know my friends and family won’t enjoy as much. When I'm on my own, I also learn to value my friends/family a lot more.


Ali Mohammadi


Instagram: @omantripper


Omani blogger Ali Mohammadi has established himself as the go-to for memorable travel experiences in Oman. Known on social media as OmanTripper, his adventures and his blog offer some of the most authentic travel experiences when visiting Oman.


Over the past 10 years or so, I found that most of my travels have been done as a 'solo traveller', definitely more often than any group trips I would have done. This makes me think that perhaps"solo traveller" is an apt phrase to describe me.


I got my first experience travelling solo probably back in 2006 when I travelled to Japan alone, and gained an experience that I probably did not fully appreciate or realize until years later: that you don't actually need to wait on or rely on anyone but yourself to make a trip or a long-held dream of a travel destination happen - and visiting Japan had been a dream of mine ever since I was a kid.


This was a very liberating feeling, and ever since then, I have not thought twice about not travelling due to not having a group or friends to join me - and have used this experience to travel to destinations ranging from the Great Ocean Road in Australia to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone and Pripyat in Ukraine, and the stunningly gorgeous Caucasus mountains of Tusheti in Georgia. Despite all of these, I definitely do not consider myself a 'loner', on the contrary, I believe I am a sociable person who enjoys meeting people. To me, solo travelling allows me to have the freedom in making (as well as adjusting, and readjusting) plans and destinations, while also being able to meet some wonderfully fascinating people whether they are locals or fellow travellers in the destinations I visit.


I do not think it is very uncommon to see more and more people travelling solo, as I believe the trend is rising worldwide. I believe the biggest factor in this is the rise of Smart Phones which had a tremendous amount of information, tools and apps accessible in the palm of your hand. I should also not discount the impact of social media, especially Instagram.


For those who are considering a trip, my advice is 'have a plan' - a good plan doesn't have to be detailed and should be flexible to adjust or fill details as you travel - but have a big goal or thing you want to do (i.e. to visit a certain national park or visit a monument or museum) and fill the details around that. Plan a portion of your solo travel trip in a group activity - this could be visiting family/friends or booking a group activity such as a hike or group tour, for a first timer this will help make you more at ease and hey you combined a great experience with meeting your family or friends. Buy a local SIM card with data wherever you go. Have an open mind and don't stress if you don't make a plan or target!


Helmi-Riikka Olkinuora


Instagram: @1001teacher.tales


Helmi is an avid traveller and internationally-minded educator who loves documenting her adventures, preferably with a cup of coffee on hand, and sharing them on social media.


For me, solo travel can mean a variety of things. You can start with as little as a weekend adventure on a hiking path you have not explored before, a weekend trip to a new city in Europe, or backpacking for months in Southeast Asia to starting a whole new life as an expat in a new country. To me, it all started with the last one. I have moved to three different countries by myself, starting with moving to the United States as an 18-year-old and ending in Oman, where I have found my second home.


Solo travelling is not the cheapest option as you have no one to share a hotel or rental car expenses with. Luckily these days there are many options, from staying in a hostel or Couchsurfing to using a rail pass or other public transport or hitchhiking, all of which I have great experiences.


As a female solo traveller, my advice is to buy a prepaid phone plan from the airport and carry a power bank to make sure you can always reach out to someone if needed. Also, make sure to keep family or friends updated on your travel itinerary. On the other hand, try to disconnect too as much as possible from your everyday life. The photos and travel stories can always be posted later. The less time you spend connected to Wi-FI, the more time you have to connect with other travellers and locals. Who knows, you might even end up getting a ride on the back of a pick-up truck to the top of a volcano in Indonesia.


While on the move, enjoy the small moments and the big experiences as well as meet new people on the road to share your stories with since that is the best way to create new stories and memories that make solo travel experiences unforgettable. As for myself, I am always happy to relive my memories of driving cross-country from San Francisco to New York, interrailing through seven countries with 19 train rides, backpacking through six countries from Thailand to Malaysia to hitchhiking the ring road in Iceland!


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You can follow the author on Instagram: @rumpa_mitra


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