Indians find solace in solo trips

Arts & Culture India

As compared to the global average of 40 per cent, 62 per cent of Indians are planning to spend more on travel this year, American Express reports suggest.

The pandemic had just subsided. Shabnam was bored and exhausted after all those online classes. Her eyes stumbled upon an Instagram post about a two-day girls-only camping in Wayanad. “Interesting”, she thought. She was perturbed by the thought that she had to travel with strangers. But somehow she found the courage to do it. “That was one of the best things I have done till now,” Shabnam recalled.

Indian travelers are contributing to the Global travel market with 34 per cent of Indians planning to travel solo in 2024, compared to the global average of 18 per cent, American Express reported.

“The allure of exploring new cities, unwinding on relaxing beach getaways, and discovering domestic destinations,solo resonates strongly with Indian adults,” the report finds.

According to the survey conducted by American Express, for 84 per cent of Indians who are planning to travel solo in 2024, the reason behind the trip is related to self-love and healing themselves.

For 46 per cent of Indians, solo trips are for reconnecting with themselves. Thirty-nine per cent prefer to go solo to take a break from chaotic daily life, and 34 per cent travel solo to feel independent.

Many like Shabnam started solo traveling as a way to improve mental health and as an escape from their boring life. The Wayanad trip helped Shabnam in a lot of ways. It helped her stay calm and take some time away from the stress of life. “It was like stepping out of my comfort zone that helped me to be a better person and view life from a different perspective,” she said.

The best thing about solo traveling for Shabnam was freedom. “I had all the freedom in my hands and I didn’t want to ask anybody for an opinion, I could do whatever I like,” she added.

According to a study, “An investigation of factors affecting solo travel intention among marginalized groups: a case of Indian Muslim Women,” attitude, subjective norms, and motivation positively influence the solo travel intention of Indian Muslim Women.

The findings of another study , “The meanings of solo travel for Asian women,” shows that solo travel provides a means for self-discovery.

Sariga, a student from Delhi University started traveling solo in 2021 out of the “Fear of Missing Out” (FOMO), “I felt like I was missing on a lot of things, and had to immediately do something. It (traveling solo) felt like taking control of my life back,”she said.  

Traveling helped Sariga network and create new contacts countrywide. She met a lot of people and could listen to different ideas.“A break from the busy hustle of Delhi was much needed, travelling made breathing a lot easier for me. Also, I got the confidence that I can handle any situation,she said. For Sariga traveling solo was much more convenient, as she didn’t need to wait for anyone or schedule her day according to others.

Savitha, a sociology professor said that by taking breaks from routines and extra responsibilities, women are taking special care of themselves.“Manu Smruthi has quoted that in a woman’s entire life span, she should have a male as her protector. Now this has been redefined with the power of education.Women are slowly crossing these boundaries by empowering themselves,” she said.

Savitha added that positive factors like safety measures by the government, improved means of transport, and safe hotels to stay in add to the reason behind the increasing popularity of solo traveling.

However, for many, the downside of solo traveling is the expenses. “Not every time will you get hostel facilities and a group to travel with,” said Sariga.

However, security was never an issue for her, “I never had any security issues because I plan out everything before I go.”

Dr Surya Prasad, Consultant Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist, iBrains said that flexibility of plans, coping with the insecurity of strangers, overcoming the inability to gather like-minded friends, privacy, and love for impromptu trips are the reasons behind the increased interest in solo trips. “solo travel is better for reflection and soul searching,” he said. Surya added that more security conditions,  access to the right information,  self-confidence and independence of women in this country add fuel to the increasing number of women solo travelers.

However, solo traveling is not always ideal for coping with loneliness. Surya said that if one is not comfortable with themselves or finds it difficult to manage stress, solo traveling might increase mental distress.

A study, “Mental Health and the Need to Travel,” mentions the negative aspects of travelling on mental health . It also says that in modern times, for many people, traveling has become a common or stereotypical pattern of using free time and rest.