There is no other place I’d be than exploring an unknown turn or spending hours of idleness staring at landscapes. It has grown on me like a warm childhood memory. Travelling alone has become a part of my life.
The first steps are always important. Even though they shouldn’t be definitive, they are crucial in foundation building. So whether you’re a debutant solo traveller or someone who is still toying with the idea, there are always certain tips that can help you make your decision.
1.Start with short trips
It’s not mandatory that your solo trip has to be a two week getaway in nowhere-land. India is blessed with beautiful and varied weekend destinations from any city and town.
Find a destination closer to home, preferably which has phone connectivity and buy your tickets. Whether your trip is to a popular state like Goa or a heritage hotel like Neemrana Fort Palace, make sure you are comfortable with the destination.
Once your two or three day trips have made you feel confident, you can safely indulge in the more adventurous longer weeks or even months.
2. Keep people informed
Travelling solo is not a herculean task. The only opposition you should care about is the voice you hear from within. And one of the many ways to keep that positive is to keep your loved ones informed.
Once your plans have been finalised, share the same with them and confidently answer any questions they may have and address their doubts. If you are unsure of your travel, it is most likely that your family and friends will feel the same way too.
3. Stay connected
Thanks to technology, we are never too far away from civilisation. In a situation where you may be travelling off-limits, the point above of keeping everyone necessary informed will suffice.
However, if you intend on travelling to well-connected destinations, don’t hesitate from sharing regular updates of Social Media or Instant Messengers.
It helps giving you a sense of staying connected and interacting with others while you’re still actually away, while instilling your confidence.
4. Live like a local
Whether you’re travelling within India or abroad, choosing and living like a local is always a good way to feel secure and explore the area completely.
AirBnb and homestays have introduced us to travel experience like never before and we must consider these options every time we travel.
Apart from the nuances and the cultures we get acquainted with, I have always experienced a personal support from my homestay hosts. It is truly a magical familiarity.
5. Travel with an open mind
Perhaps the second most important criteria is to travel with a heart and mind open to all possibilities. There are chances that unfavourable things may happen in your trip just as much as there are probabilities of everything going smoothly.
Either way, you should not be overwhelmed or disheartened. No matter where you travel you will most likely come across some cultures and practices that you didn’t know existed.
Be aware, ask questions but don’t be disrespectful. Try and empathise and associate. I have always returned knowing that something in me has changed and that is only possible when I am open to change
6. Trust your instincts
Your instincts are always telling you something and you should be listening. No matter the decision, if something feels against it, don’t go ahead with it.
There will be times when you will wonder if the cab driver is taking the longer route to fleece you, if you shouldn’t accept the drink from a stranger or even if you should change your room because of those sleazy neighbours go with what your gut tells you. Don’t contest or question it.
It is equally important to voice your discomfort. Don’t be shy or quiet about it. No matter where in the world you travel, always carry a confident body language and keep your tone polite but tactful.
It’ll help people to understand that they’re not free to take certain liberties with you.
Basic tips like keeping a utility tool (like a Swiss Army knife) or an electric taser always help. In all probabilities, you will never have to use them. But then again, if I didn’t have my utility knife, I couldn’t have taken out that small piece of glass from my finger on a trek!
Also keep all important numbers (police station, hospital, your hotel) handy. It is a good idea to keep a handwritten note with these contacts.
Travelling alone is a liberating experience. It is not a popular choice which is why it attracts the apprehensive questions. I know my life has changed since my first solo trip in the Himalayan highlands.
Chances are you’ll never be as alive and as free. Pack your bag, take your curious mind and travel out. You will never regret it.
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