Guide to Aspiring Female Solo Travelers in India
If you are an aspiring female solo traveler or if your friend or someone around you is, this blog is for you.
Yay! I am already too excited that you are interested in Solo Traveling because trust me I can't even begin to explain what an amazing experience it is! You are going to make a lifetime's worth of memories.
Also Congratulations! You have already taken one step towards your first solo travel. Why do I say this? I strongly believe that intensive research and in the right direction is a very important step towards building your confidence and comfort for traveling solo. In this blog, I have made an attempt to tell you the steps to begin planning your travel. I have also shared a few safety tips from my personal experience. Once you follow those steps you will have much more clarity.
First I want to tell you why I felt that I could write this blog. I am a female solo traveler and I have been traveling solo in India for the past 3 years now, I have had my share of experience as a part-time and full-time female solo traveler. I quite actively post about my travels on Instagram and often my female friends tell me that they want to travel solo, but they have several questions on their minds. That gave me the motivation to write this blog.
If I am honest, when I decided to travel solo I was too scared, so scared that I kept postponing it for some time until I gathered enough courage. I then applied a few steps, and I was good to go. I want to talk about those initial steps and the steps/precautions that I later implemented.
It is obvious that you will have to get a little out of your comfort zone than you are at present but not too much. Make it a point to get comfortable about as many steps as possible before you travel. Hence I am discussing the steps I took before traveling to the place to be a little comfortable about it rather than just jumping ahead. Try not to skip any line to have a complete understanding.
Initial research is very crucial to build your confidence. Interact with as many people in the industry, reach out. These three research steps will build a base for you to begin with. Don't just read, execute them going forward.
STEP 1: Research The Destination
Decide a place you would like to travel solo for the first time.
Now, that you already are excited by the idea of solo travel, trust me and skip all other concerns just for this step and decide a place. To decide a place, it would help if you already know a place you feel comfortable about or if you can find places where you observe a lot of female solo travelers visiting and try to choose one among them, you may avoid places which are too remote and with no or very less connectivity for the first time so that you don’t lose your sense of comfort on your first journey itself.
What I did: I actively read blogs, saw vlogs of female solo travelers, talked to a few travelers, and narrowed down my option to Dharamkot, Himachal Pradesh. Well, as of now I have lived in that place for more than 9 months so well it did work out for me.
STEP 2: Research and Decide the Accommodation
Search for a place to stay research about it and the activities around the place
There are apps like booking.com and hostelworld which have many options listed on them along with ratings and reviews. I personally preferred to stay in a hostel than a hotel as it feels so much safer, and you find so many like-minded people around but you can decide according to your comfort. Also, find activities you will find comfortable doing, maybe you can start with group activities.
What I did: I narrowed it down to two hostels after reading reviews and overall ratings. Also, asked a few friends who had already visited the place for their hostel recommendations. After that, I called their managers/owners and talked to them about its environment, if it was safe for solo female travelers, asked them what the most convenient way for me was to reach the stay, what timing would be safe for me to reach there, asked them what all activities I could do around and if they arrange any of them.
STEP 3: Know the Routes and Mode of Transport
Research all modes of transport and figure out the safe and comfortable one for you.
Once you have decided the place, you should also know the ways you can reach the place. Let’s say there is a bus, train, cab or a flight that goes there. Figure out what will be the most comfortable and easy-going mode for you (safety-wise as well). Like I do not prefer a cab for long journeys, I go by bus or train because I am surrounded by a lot of other people and that gives me a sense of comfort. In buses, I often choose government-operated buses. If daytime travel feels more comfortable to you, go for it and reach your stay before it gets too dark on your first day, till you are comfortable with that place. Ask people around you for help too. Make sure you reach your destination in time.
What I did: I decided to take an overnight government bus from Delhi to Mcleodganj. I discussed it with my mentor and boss about my travel and she took the responsibility to drop me off till bus and make sure if the bus was full and if it felt safe. Thank God it was otherwise she would have made me travel the next morning and I hate long journeys during the day
Well, once you have gone through steps 1, 2, and 3 you will possibly feel so much excited about the travel already. Now, apart from transportation various safety concern arises being a female in a patriarchal society where since birth everyone has been concerned about our safety including us, also we come across so many news which makes it so difficult to feel safe. It is not something that should stop us at all, in fact, we need to be courageous and get out there and fight such elements. It is also important to follow one’s intuitions and safety rules which you anyway apply at present. Here are few points I suggest based on my experience:
1. Carry your safety and important tools, keep these things in your go-to bag
You can carry pepper spray with you. Keep it in your go-to bag.
Always have a phone diary with your emergency contacts and details.
Try to have two different mobile networks or research beforehand which network works the best around your destination. Initially, I used to carry a small keypad mobile phone with me but now just a power bank is enough, I try to always keep my phone on.
Don’t forget to carry your IDs with you all the time. You should also carry basic meds with you, since you have to take care of yourself, so pack light but mindfully.
2. Do not share the exact location at the same time you are there with strangers
Whenever I am in a particular place or a café I do not post about it then and there, I try to post it on social media after I leave the place. There is an added advantage to this step, you enjoy and stay in the moment than be distracted by social media.
3. It’s best to keep family or friends updated about your travel
I will be honest here and tell that on my first solo trip I did not tell my family about it, hence I was super uneasy and scared about it throughout the journey. I told my best friends about it so that I have at least someone to update and ask for help if needed.
Convincing one's parents is not easy and sometimes impossible at times. I am sorry to say but you may have to become a rebel or be really good at convincing them. I had to be a rebel and simultaneously tried convincing them.
Now, I try to keep my family informed of my travels, and every now and then give them a video call to share with them about my safe travels, my excitement, and the amazing view I experience at the moment. It gives them also a sense of relief.
4. Gel with people around you and ask for help when required
It’s so much fun to gel with people around while traveling but be mindful, you are allowed to be a little judgemental for your safety. If you find the right set of people you can create a lifetime of memories and make great friends. Do not hesitate to ask for their help if needed.
5. Party but limit it to a point till you are completely conscious.
Do not let yourself get to a position where you are not able to handle yourself alone.
6. Follow your intuition and learn to say No
Immediately remove yourself from a situation or place where you don’t feel comfortable. Also, understand that you don’t have to say Yes to every plan, if you don’t feel safe just say No to it. Listen to your Intuition.
Now that you execute the steps and remember the tips, go on and do your booking! If you still have any questions, do let me know I will try to help as much as I can. Maybe write part 2 as well out of those.
I have realized in all this time that basic safety rules are the same everywhere and some of them apply for all genders irrespective.
I have tried to be as precise as possible, did not want to make it too long. If you still have any questions please do reach out, and if I can help I will happily because once I was at your place seeking help.
I would not lie if I said that I have had some of the best times of my life while traveling solo and I don’t think that we women should miss out on such great experiences. Remember to research about the place, accommodations, transport, and try to keep in mind all the points mentioned above.
All the very best and Safe Travels!