Mariellen publishes BreathDreamGo, a blog about travel in India.
This is the first in a series of four monthly posts in which she will share
the highlights of her upcoming trip to India.
I am just about to embark on my fourth solo trip to India in about as many years. This time, of course, feels very different than the first time I left, in December 2005. Back then, I had almost never traveled by myself and had never been anywhere like India (is there anywhere like India?).
But of course everything worked out, I learned a lot about myself, traveling and India, and I’ve put my knowledge to good use by returning several times. Here are the four most important things I’ve learned about traveling solo:
1. Courage is its own reward. The amount you gain by leaving your comfort zone, facing fears and taking risks is immeasurable. Just the massive increase in self-confidence alone was worth all the time, money and energy I spent getting ready to go and seeing that first six-month trip to India through to the end.
2. Preparation is key. Preparation will soothe your anxiety and smooth your trip. Find out about the customs and culture of your destination. For example, dressing modestly is important in India. Plan your itinerary and research transportation and accommodation options. There are lots of resources on the Internet and great advice, too, on sites such as TripAdvisor.com and in forums such as Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree. Women should check out Journeywoman.com. And don’t forget to bring a guidebook with you: I like Lonely Planet and Rough Guides.
3. Watch your attitude. I often say that going to India is like that scene in Star Wars when Yoda sends Luke into the cave. “What will I find there?” Luke asks. “Only what you bring with you,” Yoda answers. The same is true for traveling. If you bring fear, you will be scared. My advice is to be as open and trusting as you can, while remaining cautious and using common sense, of course. Remember that traveling is just as much about learning about yourself as it is about your destination.
4. Blog! Even if you‘re not a writer, your blog can still be a very satisfying experience for you and your loved ones. Just keep it simple, tell it like it is, and add lots of pictures, even video. It will keep people back home informed and reassured while you’re away and, because it is interactive, it will keep you connected. It also provides you with an invaluable record of your trip after you get back. You can start on a travel blogging site like Travelblog.org, which automatically notifies your subscribers when you update your blog – freeing you of the need to manage email lists. The more technically inclined can set up a blog on WordPress.com or Blogger.com; or even design their own.
I started out four years ago on Travelblog. Blogging was just a sideline to my six-month trip to India. Now travel blogging is becoming my full-time job! I will be blogging as I travel in India for three months, from late January to early May 2010. I hope you will join me on BreatheDreamGo.com and get inspired to start your own travel blog. See you on the road!