Travel Lesson #1: Break Free

I’m a girl with a mission. For over a year now, I have been traveling the globe in search of truth. Along the way I am discovering myself. Here is one tale from the road, of which there will be many forthcoming…

A few summers ago, I spent three weeks traveling in India with 20 fellow middle and high school teachers. Yes, 20 irritating, unfriendly colleagues. 20 people flying together from California around the globe. 20 teachers riding in one tour bus around India. You might already see the punch line coming…

On the first full day in Bangalore, our tour guide allowed us an hour to shop along Mahatma Gandhi Road. “Please report back to the bus at 3 o’clock,” she told us. I roamed the narrow side streets to get a feel for the place. This place was alive and buzzing with weekend shoppers. Young girls smiled at my western wear. I smiled back and said “Hello” in my best American accent. I passed a whole row of stores with colorful silk saris in the windows. Curry wafted from restaurants in the warm summer breeze. I snapped pictures of the little Indian boys playing on the street. I lost track of time. “Where were you?” the head of the school scolded me as I boarded the bus 10 minutes late. “We were all waiting for you.”

Traveling in groups — especially large ones — requires compromise and severely limits your enjoyment of travel itself. If you are spending your own time and money to go somewhere, then you will want to experience it for yourself — at your own pace. Vacation is all about having time for yourself, not having time dictated to you.

If you’ve already booked your group trip, be prepared to do things that aren’t on the top of your see-and-do list, and don’t be surprised if you never get to your top activity. If you don’t get to it, then you already have a great reason to go back to see and do things the right way.

Break free! It might sound scary at first, but traveling solo is easier than you think.

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