KARACHI: It’s always been a personal goal of mine to travel alone at least once in my lifetime. But because I didn’t grow up in a rich household, I needed to wait till I was earning enough to fund a trip myself. I got married in my early twenties so the financial independence came much after the ‘married woman’ label.
To be fair, for the first couple years of my marriage, I didn’t really want to travel anywhere without my husband because we have such a blast when we take vacations together. We’re both easygoing, enjoy similar food, have the same interests and love to get away from our fast-paced, responsibility-ridden lives for a while.
When I turned 27 this year, however, I suddenly had a gnawing urge to discover myself a little more. There were a bunch of reasons for this: nine months into therapy, I realised there were some traumas I needed to revisit; I was finally making enough money AND my two best friends, who were supposed to come with me, cancelled a few weeks before we were scheduled to leave. So, I though, “Fuck it, I’ll go on my own”.
I decided to take a trip to Sri Lanka and had a budget of Rs120,000 to last me seven days there. Btw, this is all the money I spent on my ticket, visa, accommodation, food and shopping. The visa process was ridiculously easy; one simply has to fill out a form online, pay $20 and receive the visa via email the next day. The ticket cost me Rs57,000; so, I had roughly Rs60,000 to spend on my trip.
And I lived lavishly. I stayed at all the best hostels, ate food at the highest rated restaurants on Trip Advisor, went whale-watching on a boat, took a Safari through a forest and saw elephants and crocodiles, went hiking – the list goes on. The best part: I made a ton of friends from all over the world as I backpacked my way through Sri Lanka.
Authentic Masala Dossa (although I think the one we get from Mirchili in Karachi is better)But what nobody tells you about solo trips is that the biggest thing you gain during them is an insight into your own mind. Making decisions without the help of anyone else that you encounter in your daily life (such as parents, spouse or friends) tells you a lot about who you really are outside of external influences.
I learnt that I am extremely impulsive and don’t like to make long term plans. This was proven with the way I didn’t book my rooms in hostels till I had reached a destination, or how I ended on top of Little Adam’s Peak, a 1,114-metre high mountain in Ella whereas I had simply stepped out for a stroll in the neighbourhood. I also learnt that I get terribly sea-sick on boats, as I spent five hours puking on a boat and was too sick to even notice the killer whales that were swimming and jumping around us in the ocean.
I also learnt that I’m too hard on myself, that people feel extremely comfortable opening up to me and that I don’t get stressed out very easily anymore (thanks to all those months of therapy clearly!).
Another important lesson to take away: Our society simply hates independent women who can think for themselves. Upon my return, whenever I mentioned that I took the trip without my husband, I saw eyes rolling, tongues clicking and heads shaking in shock, disappointment and myriad of other negative emotions. I was asked the following questions: How could I have left my husband alone? (Even though he was travelling on his own in Switzerland and Amsterdam right before I left) and what must I have done there without him around? (Nothing that I wouldn’t have done with him, honestly).
So ladies, I guess I’m proposing a rebellion – if you’re married and you can afford to travel without pissing off too many people, PLEASE do it. You need to take a break, make new friends and figure out who you really are. And if you do manage to go, find me on social media and tell me all about your trip!
This story is part of a series, Young Love, which is updated weekly. Read the previous entry here