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HindustanTimes Fri,25 Jul 2014
Tripping on solo
Salil Jayakar, Hindustan Times
February 01, 2013
First Published: 16:25 IST(1/2/2013)
Last Updated: 18:39 IST(2/2/2013)

Holidaying with parents has hardly ever been an option. But going on a vacation with friends can be quite daunting too.

TOPIC: Travelling with family vs Travelling with friends

Catching up with a friend at the gym last week, I confessed that I hadn’t seen too many of those weekend holiday places in and around Mumbai. An indicative list would include Khandala, Matheran, Mahabaleshwar, Panchgani, … right, you get the picture.

SalilGrowing up in a middle-class Maharashtrian family with no ancestral roots at all, most summer holidays were spent in good ol’ Bombay. If we, my brother and I, were lucky (and I don’t mean that in a good way), we’d get a two-week break in Pune. At other times, we’d be dragged along to temple towns across Maharashtra in the summer heat so that my parents could pay obeisance before yet another Indian deity. From Kolhapur and Tuljapur to Solapur, Sangli, Akkalkot and Satara, summer holidays in those early years were an endless swing between boring Pune (it wasn’t the hep and happening city it is today, as I’m told) and yet another long, hot and dusty road trip to a temple town in Maharashtra.

I  must add that I’m entirely to blame because I didn’t have friends I’d want to go on a holiday with. The ones I’d like to go with invariably went with their families to their hometowns and villages in Goa, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Delhi. Also, I was quite happy to spend the rest of my time sitting at home and reading. Yes, those early teen years were spent wishing you were in an Enid Blyton novel devouring crumpets and clotted cream scones along some sleepy beachside British village…

Oh well! Needless to say, holidaying with parents is hardly an option. It wasn’t then, it isn’t now. Holidaying with friends is an altogether different ball game. From matching holiday dates, to budgets and restricting the people who can tag along – boyfriends, girlfriends, random aunt’s kid you have to babysit – it’s all always such a challenge. It was an altogether different thing that I mostly travelled solo – academic trips that became mini-holidays, work trips that became extended holidays, or those long weekends coupled with cheap return airfare – which meant you could see a new place at short notice without burning a hole in your pockets! But I digress.

TravelMy first such holiday was a five-day trip to Goa with three or four friends and friends of friends who were joining us from Chennai. As far as holidays go, it wasn’t great but it wasn’t too bad either. Realisation dawned on me that Goa wasn’t for me the holiday paradise it was for most others. I couldn’t do the whole ‘drink all day and party all night’ scene. It wasn’t me!

Holidaying with friends can be quite daunting too. Is there a certain way to behave or not? What to say and what not? I always worry about offending someone. And it’s even tougher when you have to share rooms and a bathroom! As a traveller, I like to get an early start to the day. Imagine my irritation at being up from 7am while my a dear friend refuses to get up before 11am!

This March, I make a trip to Bangkok with a friend’s boyfriend and his sister. Lovely people both, but I’m already fretting about how it’ll turn out. It’s my first trip to Bangkok. I’m wondering if I’ll miss out on seeing and doing things because everyone else wants to see and do different things. I guess I’ll just know when I’m there.

Backpacking through east Europe in the winter of 2011, I realised some of us are meant to be solo travellers. Holidaying with friends is great but holidaying solo is something else – there’s a whole world out there waiting to be your friend!

Know the Writer
Name:
Salil, 31
Occupation: Media professional, who’d rather sweat it out in a gym than lose sleep over bad copy
Do you think the Readers’ Special is a good idea? Yes, definitely! Engaging readers is a great idea.
You have your own column in Brunch. What would you call it and what would you write about? ‘The Boy in Yellow Shoes’, after this pair of yellow shoes that I once owned and really liked. I’d write about anything and everything that caught my fancy!

From HT Brunch, February 3

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