In 2013, Aditi decided to pack her bags and start travelling around the world – solo. She is from India where solo travel for women is a rare concept and so is volunteer touriscm. Two years later, she has traveled extensively within India and is volunteering with children in a couple of schools in Chiang Mai, Thailand. She likes slow travelling and spends most of her travel time exploring cultures and blending with people and community of the places she travels to. To read more about her travel stories, visit her blog My Dream Travels.
- When did you first get the urge to travel? How young where you when you went on you first trip?
I was born into a family who loved to travel and take vacations at every possible chance. I remember going to our relatives’ in Kolkata (India) for summer vacations. I grew up in New Delhi (India) which is surrounded by hill stations and weekend destinations, and we often took short trips there. So, I would say the excitement and urge to travel is something which was instilled into me during my childhood. I must have been really young when I took my first trip as such but my first solo trip was in December 2013 to Goa.
- Where have you been to so far? What has been your favorite place?
I started travelling in 2013 and since then have been to many parts of India. Thailand, however, is my first international trip (I am here now). It is extremely difficult for me to pick a favorite place because I love all of them, even the ones I haven’t been to. But, if I had to pick a place I would want to go back to sometime in the near future, it will definitely be Varanasi.
- Do you prefer travelling solo or with a partner?
Ha ha. This happens to be one of my favorite questions of all time. Well, I don’t have a partner to travel with but even if I did, I think I would still like to take some solo trips every now and then. Or maybe, travel with a partner for a while and then go our separate ways and then meet up again somewhere. Both are good I guess in their own ways. Solo travel gives me the freedom to do whatever I want and be wherever I want to be, but travelling with a partner may give me the joy of sharing crazy memories with my beloved.
- What is your favorite aspect about travel?
All of it! Right from deciding where to go next, to booking my tickets, getting the visa, packing, unpacking, re-packing, the sleepless nights, the anxiety of sustaining in a new country/place on my own, the joy of finally arriving, meeting new people, learning the language, food, culture, the good, the bad, the ugly – I love every bit of my travels. They make me wiser, more confident, stronger, and of course happier.
- How do you sustain your travels?
This is a common question I have come across, especially because I travel for long at a stretch so obviously I do not have a permanent 9 to 5 job to get back to. I freelance as a Travel Writer. I started freelancing as a content writer with no specific stream of writing to be honest and was okay with any work that came my way, as far as they kept coming. Once I had enough experience and knew what I liked most about writing, I focused on Travel writing. At present, I work with a few travel websites.
Also, I try to minimize the cost of travel by volunteering at places I like to travel to. Most volunteering hosts take care of meals and accommodation which ideally are the major expenses to consider while travelling. This helps me not only to save the major chunk of my money, which otherwise I would be spending on food and stay, but also lets me be a part of the people and community and know a country better.
- Has being an Indian girl ever challenged your dreams of solo travelling? Have you ever been advised against it? How do you deal with people from your society who isn’t so open about solo female travel?
Yes, it definitely has in the past. When I decided or knew that I wanted to travel around the world, it took me days to create a script to give to my mother to convince her to let me go. Phew! But, I would say I am blessed to have a very supportive and understanding family. It took my mother 1/10th of the time to say “yes” than it took me to think of what I am going to tell her. The relatives and society on the other hand, still, time and again, try to divert me from it by telling me how unsafe it can be and how I should focus on getting married and raising a family like any other Indian girl. To be honest, I listen. I smile. I turn my back and walk away.
- What are your travel plans for the near future?
I am volunteering at a school in Thailand until September after which I plan to visit my family in India for a week. In October, My mother and I, along with a few other friends most likely, are planning to go to Bhutan for 10 days. In November, I start volunteering in Indonesia where I will be spending the rest of this year.
- When did you start blogging and why?
I started blogging almost as soon as I decided to start travelling solo. I wanted to meet new people, learn about their culture and write about them. I also wanted to write about the amazing friends I make. Above all, I wanted to write to show to my fellow Indians that to travel is not a western dream, and it doesn’t take much – just a little bit of initial planning and a love for travel. I mainly travel about travel tips for solo travelers (women especially), and volunteer tourism. Both are a rare topic in my country.
- What advice can you share for those who want to travel full time but are scared to take the leap?
Stop worrying. Just do it. Save up a bit, make a plan, decide on a place, and just go. The first step is always the most difficult one but once you take it, it will all be fine. Getting out of your comfort zone is definitely tougher than it looks but there is a whole new world out there out of your comfort zone and it is waiting for you. Of course there are other things that need your attention – money, career, family, boyfriend, girlfriend, and friends – but all of this will still be here when you return. Take a chance. Don’t let people convince you that it is unsafe, unreal, and that you are delusional. Start by taking short trip somewhere closer to home, maybe even spend a weekend just exploring your own backyard. When you are ready, take a longer trip, and then decide whether you are ready for full time travel or is it just not for you.
- What’s your advice for aspiring travelers?
Go travel. This is the best thing that will ever happen to you. Prepare yourself. Decide on a place and research about it. You definitely want to know the basic information to avoid being perceived as a naive tourist. If you don’t have on-the-go job then make sure you have enough money to get you through your travels. Buy travel insurance. No matter how silly it sounds, you never know when it comes in handy. And, always, always, let at least one person know of your whereabouts.