Meet Jinal Gala: Solo Traveler from Mumbai, India

Meet Jinal Gala from Mumbai, India, who has been thriving in the UK for the last 3 years! While Jinal embarked on her solo travel journey relatively recently, it’s already proven to be a life-changing experience for her. Discover more about her story and why she strongly encourages everyone to take the plunge in her story below.

1. How long have you been solo traveling and what encouraged/inspired you to solo travel? Why should someone embark on their solo journey?

I started solo traveling not too long ago. Last year I found myself in an emotional dip and nothing made sense. The only 2 options were to feel sad for myself or enjoy espresso in Italy. Little did I know how addictive the latter option would be. Trust me the only regret I have about my first solo trip was not having it done earlier.

I have accomplished so many of my professional life goals but without disrespecting that, the empowerment I felt after taking that first solo trip was more fulfilling than I could have ever imagined or expressed.

Fun fact – I had never been to an airport alone before until last year! And when I did, I felt my heart pounding but when I landed; I felt the peace I had never felt before. Sounds quite philosophical, but it’s little things like these that made my trip so special.

I have this tickling sensation in my body wanting to shake someone and tell them to go on a solo trip!!! One can never know the truest version of themselves if they haven’t. It’s not the travel itself but everything in and around it that helps you understand what kind of person you are! Imagine just learning so many new things about yourself for the first time in your life. Like I did not know I enjoyed my morning coffee alone- not with my family/ friends/ boyfriend, just by myself! 

A solo trip is all about unlearning and learning everything about yourself. Being a main character in your life, finally!

2. Where would you recommend a first-time solo traveler to visit that isn’t on everyone’s radar?

I have a personal bias towards Italy! A solo traveler who does not like mainstream travel destinations should visit one of these 2 places:

1) Aosta, a small town in the northwest part of Italy. Close to the Swiss/ France/ Italy border. This place gives a stunning view of the Alps. This place is an absolute blend of all 3 countries. Something I noticed while I was there- they still have a billboard to share news like death with people around. Strolling around this place is quite like going back in time in a way! 

2) South of Italy- Puglia is a Gem! Getting over the high of Salerno, one should visit Apulia which is far cheaper, less crowded & stunning. Bari, Polignano a Mare, Alberobello, Ostuni, & Matera (though it’s not a part of Apulia, it’s closest from there. No good reason to miss it).

3. Since our platform thrives on uplifting minorities, we want to know how has your identity as a person of color influenced the way you approach and experience solo travel.

I am an Indian woman, extending that- a single Indian woman in her late twenties who has lived in Indian society where travel is saved for retirement or the rich and frowned upon if attempted by a solo female. Despite growing up in a big city, with fairly open-minded parents, and being well-educated, most women including me struggle with a sense of security and safety. I guess growing up feeling fearful to be out there, is a trauma response to only think about the worst-case scenario!

There was this one day I was traveling with this other solo female traveler from Europe and with it being late in the night & seeing some guys walking on the same street I made a joke- oh if someone tries to rape or murder us, I have my whistle in the bag! & her response which later made sense was- how is that the first thing crossing your mind? What about being robbed? Somehow robbery rarely crossed my mind! It’s funny how my brains are wired this way despite being in a relatively safer country! Gives me goosebumps thinking about it! 

Personally, solo trips challenge me mentally and I only feel stronger from that.

4. As a solo traveler, how has solo travel contributed to your spiritual journey, and have you encountered any transformative moments or insights along the way?

Talking about my spiritual journey. I don’t think I have embarked on that part of my life yet. I know that solo traveling is helping me calm down differently and helps me heal the way it can. I know in my gut that I am on the path guided by my conscious mind. The day I get comfortable giving this control over to the subconscious mind, that day maybe I can say I am on my spiritual journey.

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