What is the meaning of Solo Traveler ??
Boy, am I going to get in trouble for writing this? Already I got into some rough waters when I came out of closet and informed to the world that I am an MBBS MD traveler.
Irrespective of what you label your travel as my only point is that travel for the joy of it, for the discoveries that you will made both to the lands you travel and the person you are when you are on the road whether alone or with friends.
Those who travel are already awesome in my book as the travelers make this world a better place. So keep traveling no matter what you like to call yourself. But just be true to yourself and don’t label yourself just because a particular type of travel is in fashion, be it solo travel or slow travel. But before you go for my jugular let me add that this post does not intend to make fun of one traveler over other, but only wants to start a debate so that we can all scream in a chorus ” Let us travel, no matter where, no matter how, because journey is the destination. And we may not know the question but we know the answer is Travel”
So let us continue our intellectual discussions about types of travelers. But before that let us meet two cyclists one from 100 % desi from my dear city of pearls, that has slowly turned from the laid back capital of Nizams to the bustling IT and BPO destination – Hyderabad that was built as one of the first planned city by Qutub Shahi Emperors in South India.
The other is an old French man whom I met near Trivandrum at the former palace of the rulers of the Travancore state now part of Kerala or God’s Own Country.
First about the French cyclist. I met him more than a year ago briefly at the palace gates and was surprised to see his cycle loaded with all kinds of bags and camping gear.
Now we travelers instantly develop a bond and meet as if long-lost brothers in Kumbh Mela meet after Bees Saal Baad. So we exchanged smiles and I asked him a simple question
“So where are you coming from, and where are you going to?”
Mitchell (I think that is his name but I am not sure of the spellings), took a deep breath and explained to me that he is from a suburb of Paris, that eternal maiden in the heart of France and he loves cycling. So he started from France on his cycle, covered most of the Europe, and then entered Asia traveled all the way to India. With all his belongings that he needs on his cycle. He has traveled most of the India on his cycle and was now in Kerala. He has huffed and puffed in Higher Himalayas, Golden Fields of Punjab, desert of Rajasthan, crossed western Ghats and was planning now to go to the East cost of India and then the north-east and then may be enter Myanmar and continue in South East Asia into Thailand and further. I am not sure if his plan materialized or not as he does not maintain a blog or Facebook page. I am sure wherever he is now paddling to his next destination he is happy and enjoying his journey.
His age you may wonder? Well around 65 plus.
Before we meet the next Solo Traveler may I request you to Google for the word “Solo“?
Here is something I found and added to one of my pictures I clicked in Varanasi
So by dictionary definition you need to be “ ALONE” unaccompanied to be “ SOLO” but like many things we love to create our own, self-styled way of defining Solo Traveler
Some examples I have come across are:
Travel with friends but are still solo as only the “SOLO traveler has a blog; twitter etc. where you broadcast your SOLO adventures.
Travel with boyfriend / girlfriend/ husband / Wife who is designated photographer but never comes in frame, hence you are still a SOLO Traveler.
Travel all around the country on invitation from hotels and tourism boards surrounded by 10 other bloggers / journalists / photographers but are still SOLO traveler because mummy jee / papa jee / Hubby dear / Wife jee did not travel with you.
Went on a hiking trip with 20 other hikers but are a SOLO traveler because mummy jee / papa jee / dear Hubby / Wife jee did not travel with you ( like first bullet point above )
May be I am too much of a purist, maybe I have nothing better to do, maybe I need to get a life and stop worrying about how others are traveling. I mean who am I to question somebody’s solo travel from VT to Ghatkopar fast local, or the last metro to Gurgaon if they want to call themselves SOLO Traveler? And I am not making all this up, you read any blog of our solo travelers, join a tweeter chat on Solo Travel and you will discover this theme appearing again and again.
Our Solo Travel is our solo travel it has got nothing to do with how the world looks at solo travel. But we are like that only jee
Now a lot of you may say the kind of solo travel Mitchell is doing is not possible by Indians because of various reasons like – Log, kya kahenge, Mummy Nahin Manegee, etc. etc.
So basically in India, Solo traveler is when you are not traveling with your family, rest of the billion people may be with you but you are a solo traveler if you are not with your immediate blood relations. This is my understanding of the solo travel in India.
Any ways let us meet our next REAL SOLO traveler, an enthusiastic young man Akram Feroze who cycles around India and a few other countries all alone accompanied by none other than his cycle. I met him a few years ago at a SOCH event in Hyderabad, where he spoke about his cycling expeditions in India.
Akram has been to more places on his cycle than most of us ever will be. He does not bother booking hotels, staying with relatives. When night falls he just knocks on a village school and request a Chowkidar to let him spend night, or he will sleep under a tree in a village square, where the village elders gather during the day. He is the extreme SOLO Traveler. He never has fixed itinerary except when he is busy doing his Cycle Natak. ( Natak = Play or theater )
Now if you are wondering what is this Cycle Natak then read on as I copied it from Facebook of Cycle Natak
“The Cycle Natak, A journey of a man and a journey of a cycle and that makes the journey of the theater with The Cycle Natak.! Most importantly it’s a journey of life to discover and understand self, nature and nation..!! “
Akram works with village folks and creates, on the spot skits, nukkad natak or street plays in which the local kids, villagers etc. too participate. His skits are about simple day to day problems like Alcohol abuse, child marriage, child labor etc. His audience immediately connects with him and love to host him in their homes.
Not all Akram’s trips have been breeze, a lot of times he had to explain a lot to the locals as well as authorities. Recently he was detained for questioning by police in Rajasthan and released only after a few days once they have completed their investigation and interrogation. I am not aware of the complete story but read this on his Cycle Natak Facebook page, when I was researching for this post. You can read the details on here on Facebook where Akram has posted some sketchy details of his ordeal.
A quick update: Akram recently got featured on BBC News.
So I guess SOLO travel is not all that glamorous as it is made out to be, if you are a SOLO traveler in true sense.
Frankly my dear I don’t give a damn, but next time anybody tells me that they are a SOLO Traveler, I will share this post with them and tell them Mitchell and Akram are my bench mark of solo travel, rest is up to them as we all have our own benchmarks that we live up to.
What do you say ? Do you know any SOLO Traveler like Akram and Mitchell ? Please do share their contacts and I would love to meet them and perhaps feature them here on my little blog.
I promise that I will not sell, rent, or donate your email to anybody
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