This week’s my best adventure yet is about Medna Bhatt’s first trip abroad to Greenwich, England and the lessons she learned from it. Enjoy, Jamie
I had the adventure of a lifetime when I began travelling solo in 2016. My first solo trip was to London. As a girl from India, it also happened to be my first international trip! The horror stories of being deported or detained at immigration were already giving me nightmares. Add to that, I was doing a budget trip, so luxury was off the cards. But I wanted to do this trip so badly that failure was not even an option.
I still remember when I said goodbye to my family. It was a teary separation. I was happy as this trip was a dream come true, but at the same time, frightened and sad to be doing it all alone. As I reached the airport, my sadness disappeared, and when I got my boarding pass I was excited and looking forward to the trip. In no time, my flight touched down at the London Heathrow Airport. I was soon out of the airport and headed to my hostel, which was my home for the next five days. I don’t want to narrate the entire five days that I spent exploring London, but would like to talk about one particular incident that left me helpless and taught me the biggest lesson of my life.
The Precious Life Lesson
A lot of people who visit London, generally also go to Greenwich. I was no exception. Greenwich is around 10 km from London, and I wanted to do Cutty Sark and The Royal Observatory. I took the DLR to reach my first destination, Cutty Sark – the world’s sole surviving tea clipper. Things were going as planned, but not for long. After taking several selfies and pictures of the place, my phone battery died. Without accessible maps to help me navigate and very few people that morning, life did not seem as romantic as the setting of the place. I felt lost and helpless, but something had to be done. I decided to follow the next set of people I saw. Boy, I was so wrong! Trying not to look like a stalker, I ended up in a neighbourhood that was quiet and desolated. Realizing I was heading nowhere, I decided to retrace my steps.
I am very bad with directions, and I realized this when I could not even trace my steps back! The feeling of helplessness in a foreign land was something I didn’t plan. I never thought something like this would ever come up! Luckily, I had my phone charger. Now all I needed was a place where I could charge my phone. I was also scared that I might not be able to make it to the Royal Observatory on time. I was on a tight schedule and could not afford to miss doing the observatory that day. I got my act together and decided to ask for directions from the next person I met. But I still had to choose between asking for directions to the observatory and asking for the nearest café. God bless my presence of mind: I decided to ask for latter and it paid off. After walking for around 2 miles, I finally entered a café and charged my phone. It took me at least an hour to have enough charge that could last for 30 minutes at least.
During my wait at the café, I learnt three important mistakes I made while travelling solo. These life lessons were necessary and could not have been learnt in any other way. I guess, whatever happens, happens for good. I resumed my trip to the Royal Observatory and soon life was back to normal!
3 Important Tips For Solo Travelers
Always have a back-up for everything – be it your phone, your plans or your budget. I regretted not having a power-bank to charge my phone (I remember, the first thing I bought when I came back home was a power bank!)
Do not panic – the best ideas come to you when you are relaxed. Panicking only worsens the situation.
Ask for help – in a foreign land, it may be difficult to trust people, but sometimes asking for help is the only way out.
Medha Bhatt is a storyteller by heart and wants to tell her travel tales in every way possible. She believes that every place has a story. She dreams of creating a community where people can share their travel experiences. www.Neotravellers.com