Woman to woman, travelling solo in India is no small feat.
It was a regular night at my girl’s hostel when I and my wanderlust-ed friend Avilasha were just hanging out, being random. But what we interestingly ended up talking about was her solo-trip to Manali.
Believe me, for an average Indian girl of 22, it’s huge.
I have not known many women venture for solo trips, despite desiring so. I immensely admire her guts and enjoyed reliving the trip through her stories.
She keeps insisting I go for a solo trip, she promises me that it’s like nothing I have experienced on my other travels. I may consider that, but yes, among her many details I found a horde of useful tips I would totally use as my guide.
So as from an Indian woman, this is what she wants every woman wishing/planning for a solo trip to/within India to remember:
1. Plan Ahead
As much as showing up at a place and exploring it sounds amazing, as a solo woman traveler, it is not a good idea. Know where you are travelling to, map out your routes and transportation, make all necessary bookings ahead.
2. Follow Instincts. Listen To Your Gut.
When I ask my friend what encouraged her, she credits herself. Listening to want your heart wants is very important.
But also, when navigating yourself around alone, be vigilant and follow whichever leads work for you.
If your instinct red-flags something/someone not innocuous, heed to it. More than often you will be rewarded.
3. Be open-minded.
Be flexible; be open to alternatives about everything: food, people, and circumstances.
4. Talk to Strangers. Be communicative.
Strangers are not always dangerous, many are helpful and friendly. You will meet a whole range of people, both fellow travelers and locals, who will transform your world. Some may stay friends for life.
You can never know ‘who’ happens to you.
5. Be courteous but don’t get too involved.
Which reminds me, talk to strangers but do it wisely. You don’t have to talk to everyone you meet. Trust your judgment and be polite, yet assertive, when interacting.
Don’t give away personal details, but do make relevant conversation.
6. Understand that you alone are responsible for your safety.
As a solo female traveler, get ready to draw a lot of unwanted attention and staring (even if you are not a foreigner). But don’t let that discourage you.
Don’t depend on anyone for protection, when you are travelling alone never forget that you are alone. Self-defense lessons, vigilance and street smartness always helps.
And yes, in deep trouble if you raise an alarm, chances are that there will be a helping hand nearby.
7. Be calm. Keep your cool.
Keep your cool. It will help you make better decisions.
8. Get ready to explore. Scout the locality well.
Indulge in activities your heart delights in, it’s your time have fun!
9. Embrace the culture around you.
When in Rome, try to be a Roman. The point of travelling solo is to experience newness. Cultures within India are not that homogenous, they radically differ. It’s a cultural shock for native people from different parts too.
Interacting with fresh cultures different from your own will broaden your horizons.
10. Know your limits.
Try to understand how much is too much for you, your safety is more important than any surreal feeling you may miss out on.
11. Prepare for things to go wrong. Very wrong. Have Backup.
And yes, backup is a MUST. Tell your friends and family where you are going. Prepare mentally for the worst case scenarios, like being stranded or being stalked. Be aware of your solutions as much as you can.
Unpredictability trumps everything mundane, so don’t be shocked if something didn’t go the way you anticipated. Instead, face it boldly.
At the end of it all, don’t let anything scare you away. It’s your life and your choices. If you want to travel alone, go for it. I know that one day, I will.
It’s nothing like you can ever know within the comforts of your regular life.
(Thank you Google for all the beautiful women traveler images. It was pretty inspiring to just look at them!)