Monday, 4 August 2014

The Benefits of Travelling Solo.

I am a diehard traveller at heart. It is one of my favourite passionate hobbies. I have travelled extensively across India and Europe. Over the past few years, I have been travelling solo. It has its own unique advantages. You are the master of your time, and you can make your own plans to visit at your own pace. Europe is one of the best places to travel solo on a budget. It has a mix of historical cities, dazzling architecture, a kaleidoscope of cultures, mountains, offering something for everyone.

Finding an accomodation is not that difficult if you are willing to experiment a bit. Every major city in Europe has plenty of youth hostels. However, the quality of accomodation and service varies across countries. Contrary to popular perception, cheaper places could sometimes have comfy rooms compared to more expensive places. I had been on a trip to Vienna 3 years ago. The youth hostel resembled a posh hotel. I had stayed there just for a single night and was quite satisfied with the quality-to-price ratio. However, the experience during my last trip in Prague was a complete contrast. I was shunted from one youth hostel to another late at night. It had stuffed people like sardines and was dirty. To make matters worse, they had overcharged me.

While backpacking, I try the most not to look like a tourist. The first step in doing this is not to follow tour operators on 3 nights/4 days packages. Their schedule is very hectic and if you miss the travel group, you feel completely lost. They do not give the opportunity to taste the local cuisine or visit places that are off the beaten path. I feel stifled that I cannot make my own travel plans. So I get acquainted with the public transport, which is very easy in Europe. Especially Germany has an enviable rail transport system of S-Bahn and U-Bahn and intercity transport which makes travelling hassle-free.

I never leave for a trip without printing a Wikitravel and a language phrasebook. This was very useful while I was backpacking across Russia, where I expected no one to speak English. In other European countries where English is spoken and understood, a few words of the local tongue go a long way in interacting with the local populace. Wikitravel also contains interesting information about “must-have” dishes, and travel advisories in its section “Stay Safe”. I follow these quite meticulously.

Thus, to summarize, my definition of a successful tourist trip should contain a combination of :
  • Relaxed inter-city Train Travel,
  • Interesting cities/ Mountains,
  • Tasting the local Food and drink,
  • Heritage and History,
  • Nightlife

to name a few. This strategy has really worked well for me, and I have travelled solo across France, Switzerland, Austria, Norway, the Baltics, Germany, and Russia, to name a few.

I would like to conclude this blog article by putting up a select photo collection of my latest trip to Central Europe, i.e Germany and Prague. Prague is a must-see for a diehard travel bug ! My future travel plans include visiting the Balkans, Caucasus, and Central Asia. Hoping for greater travels ahead !