TRAVEL

The romance of solo travel

MY FIRST SOLO trip was in Australia. I was 17. I told my uncle who lived in

60-shenaz Broadening horizons: Shenaz at Santorini in Greece.

MY FIRST SOLO trip was in Australia. I was 17. I told my uncle who lived in Sydney that I was taking off on my own. He almost had a heart attack. “Don’t go to Byron Bay, promise me,” he yelled as he put me on the bus, wondering how my parents had agreed to this.

I was a little nervous, very excited. Thirty days in Australia by myself. I stayed in hostels, with my purse tied to my foot. Once, a couple had sex in the bunk bed under mine; I was wobbling on the top, holding on for dear life.

I was still a virgin and a little shocked and disturbed at first. But then I laughed, thinking about what my uncle’s face would be like if he knew this.

I was free. I was by myself. Alone in the world.

I went for a swim in the Gold Coast, which has some of the biggest waves in the world. Almost drowned, and had nobody to talk about that experience with after. But, I was still okay.

I was taking care of myself. I was an adult, finding my way in the world on my own with no social safety net. And, this exploration through unknown terrain is what turned me from a shy girl from Bandra (Mumbai) into a global adult who can speak to anybody and do anything I set my mind to. They call it confidence.

For Christmas, I was on Bondi beach by myself. I met Renaud from Amsterdam. We walked around Sydney together. He told me about his girlfriend, we shared our stories and then parted ways.

I spent New Year’s Eve in Sydney by myself, watching the fireworks seated on a little mat with a picnic basket that I made myself.

No, I did not go to Byron Bay. I still have not. Why did I listen to uncle!

My next solo trip was a couple of years later. With my first cheque from MTV, I flew to Koh Samui, Thailand, got myself a little hut and explored. I met tonnes of other travellers my age, rode pillion on different people’s motorbikes, learnt how to dance the samba from Brazilians, went suntanning with some hot, topless French women and discussed politics with Israelis. I even scuba dived for the first time and went alone to a rave. I was alive!

And this is how my adventure started. Since then, I have been to every continent by myself. I would actually rather travel by myself than be tied down to a group.

When I eventually went to Amsterdam, I met Renaud. He showed me around his city and drove me around his country, with another traveller I had met in Dubai. We even went to France after that, the three of us, drinking wine and eating bread. This magic of three people from different worlds together would never have happened if I was travelling with people or a husband or a boyfriend.

Travelling solo has helped me get out of my comfort zone and made me self-reliant. I now have friends all over the world. I get to choose my own route, be my own guide and enjoy my own fabulous company. I have learned how to amuse myself and make myself laugh.

Yes, sometimes I do get lonely, especially if I am in a romantic place like the Maldives. I open my gorgeous suite and there is a champagne bottle with chocolate and strawberries, and I have just gone through a rough breakup. But then I weigh my choices—I can mope around or I can shake it off, jump into the ocean and remind myself this is my choice and have the best party ever, by myself.

I have chosen this life. Nature is my partner of choice, and being in the mountains or the ocean or in paddy fields or in the desert is where I am authentic.

I am with my favourite companion—this version of me is happy and in peace discovering the world, leading an unconventional life, which is how I promised myself my life would be.

I now make travel videos, and you can find them on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. But, this journey started long before social media, and has groomed me to be who I am.

Treasury is an actor, TV host and India’s top travel vlogger.

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