In September 2016, I backpacked through India solo. My one month across India was an adventure. It had such highs and lows that it is almost hard to put into words. Make sure to check out the Lonely Planet guide to India, I couldn’t have managed my solo journey without it.
But, I’ll give it my best shot.
As it turns out, I haven’t taken a trip thus far that has had a bigger influence on the way I see I the world. There is no doubt about it. India is a transformative destination to travel in.
Here are some of the lessons I learned in India.
Lessons Learned In India
It is possible to thrive in chaos.
India is chaotic, dirty, and yet- still intoxicating. India takes no prisoners. Either you love it, or you hate it. There is no middle ground. I quickly learned that in order to survive in India, you have to be able to find peace in the midst of absolute insanity. Meditation helps, as does Xanax. Try and let the need to control go and trust in this wild process we call life.
You should be grateful for the things you typically take for granted.
In India, poverty is at it’s most brutal. There are mansions positioned next door to slums, and government corruption is at its finest. India doesn’t let you look away from the sights you would rather not see. It teaches you-in the most painful way possible- to be grateful for the life you lead.
If you take a photo with one person, ten more will be waiting.
As the only foreign woman at a desert market in Rajasthan, I learned this lesson the hard way. After one brave woman approached me to ask for a selfie, I soon had a line to the back of the market. And- group photos aren’t good enough! Be prepared to be handed random babies and to be asked to pose with many, many people if you are traveling alone in India.
Personal space is not an issue.
Indian people don’t seem to have an issue with getting really, really close to you. While standing in line I’ve had random women touch my face and skin. I even had one lady start braiding my hair. There is no concept of a personal bubble, or an idea that staring is rude. Being stared at is just par for the course in India.
Patience really is a virtue.
The travelers who hate India are sometimes the ones who never really learned to adjust. The wi-fi will be slow, the power will go out, and the littlest tasks will turn into all day affairs. Learn to deal with it.
People are people, no matter where they are from.
As humans, the best thing we can give in this world is our love and compassion to others. Everyone deserves kindness. When you open up your heart and trust in the goodness of other people, you will be rewarded. Indian people are some of the most generous and welcoming people I have ever met, and that’s part of why I had such a positive experience there.
Yoga is not about how flexible you are.
I’ve been practicing yoga for about 6 years now, but only recently began to get into the more spiritual side of my practice. True yogis in India don’t care about if they can put their legs behind their heads. True yoga is the practice of knowing and accepting the core of your being.
Few countries in the world carve such deep, long-lasting impressions on travelers the way that India does. It overloads your senses with it’s vibrant colors, extreme contradictions, and never ending chaos. India isn’t always the most pleasant place to travel in, or the most comfortable. However, it can be truly life-changing if you let yourself be open to new experiences.
One thing is for certain- if you visit India you will most certainly not return the same.