Solo Travel : Tips & Guide to solo Traveling #learnings
So, you’ve been dreaming about solo travel, traveling on your own, in your preferred time, weekdays, weekend. Every one of us must have gone through the feeling when we plan out trips and at the end time our friends ditch and we are left alone (or maybe just 2) in the trip plan and then we totally drop the idea of traveling alone. You are the one who made the plan only to see your friends back out at the last instant. When you actually travel with your friends, you want to do things differently and nobody agrees to see life your way.
Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.-Bruce Lee.But trust me, nothing seems so exciting as the lure of the road. The feeling of being free among unknown lands. Dreaming about travel destinations and how it would be in person.
A fleeting thought of travelling all by yourself has already crossed your mind. You are afraid, scared. What if you don’t find accommodation? What if you don’t find tickets, fall sick, something goes wrong ? What if somebody steals your bags? What if and all those infinite thoughts !
You have contemplated and thought of all the unforeseen circumstances, yet just need a final push to leave and head out to the journey.Solo travelling for the first time? The hardest part is leaving from home and not listening to bothering parents (They will bother, right?!). You have taken care of the biggest hurdle. What next?
I’ll give you a dose of motivation. The First solo trip I took, made me won 15K cash prize (one of my photograph won a contest) and rest is history.
Tried and tested tips for travelling solo
- 1. First things right : At-least get the tickets booked and make sure you keep 2 copies of the same (and one in the phone). A good start is surely confidence booster.
- 2. Safety first : It’s good to keep your bags and belongings safe. Lock your bags and if possible keep it near you ( you can also keep them near your legs or below your seat). Locks ensure more safety in my view.
- 3.Research & gather basis information : Do a proper research on the trip. How to spend the days / what all places to visit/ how much transit times it will take from one location to another/ bus timings/train timings as backup (in case you miss one , you can rely on the other). It always helps to know basic details about the places and destinations you are visiting and have a rough idea about the food, culture, mode of transport, mobile networks, places to stay and expenses involved. If the destination is remote and not easily accessible, you must know beforehand about the means and ways of getting there.
- 4.Pack light and right : Since you are travelling alone, it is highly likely that you will have to cover some distances by walking. It is very important that the bags you carry not be the reason to slow you down. Carry a big backpack and carry an empty daypack small bag inside it. Then you can establish a base and go for small exploratory trips. Carrying a briefcase or suitcase is not a very good idea if you are solo travelling (Unless it is a luxury trip).
I carried a suitcase on one of my journeys and had a terrible time carrying it everywhere. Wash and wear the same clothes again, works best.
- 5.Be calm & have a smile on the face : However tumultuous your heart might be on your first solo travel experience, it is always a good idea to be confident. Not forceful or submitting, just your normal self. Its always not wise to judge people on their appearances. Take your own sweet time talking to them, knowing their stories; you will realise that mostly everyone is friendly. Do not be afraid of anything, let positive things come to you. Smiling is free, so might as well keep it on.
- 6.Flashing your expensive phone or dslr or a watch : It does mean missing out on some pictures that you dearly want to click, but it is imperative that you keep your dslr inside until you know the people around. For them, a dslr or a costly phone is a thing associated with the rich. Also keeping expensise things aside helps you in bargaining and getting the best price of the rooms, more better suggestions from people around (which can otherwise get jacked up if costly accessories are seen)
Pack and keep your camera inside the bag before you arrive at your destination. That way you can click pictures from a moving vehicle.
- 7. Think on your feet : Safety first ! Do on a solo sojourn as you would do in life. It is already evening and your originally planned destination is still three-four hours away. What do you do? Talk to the locals and find out the best possible solution. Looking for a place to stay in the evening is not a very good idea. You must have a faint idea about your end of day destination at the beginning of the day. Thats the rule of thumb in solo travelling. If you are in trouble and a situation turns uncomfortable, scream and shout and let the locals know. They are most likely to help.
- 8. Clothes : Fashion, style or comfort : Want to look all stylish and jazzy? Remember “ When in Rome be like Roamnas”. You are most likely to be in a state transport bus travelling with the locals, and wearing sunglasses is a no no. They make you seem unapproachable and haughty. Simple and comfortable dressing sense is more important than fashion when you are solo travelling. Mind you, nobody cares how you look. It makes sense to be one among the locals than an outsider.
- 9.Language : No English, please : Hindi is what makes “Hindustan” and us “Hindustani”. Real real India still speaks hindi (or other regional languages). Leave your fancy accents at home and try and be as down to earth as possible. Politeness is a good habit to have generally, and even more so on solo journeys. Some locals can cling to you and prove to be a nuisance, know where to draw the line. The hotel/homestay owner is likely to be your best friend.
In remote villages, where Hindi or English is not understood, sign language works best!
- 10. When in Rome, do as the Romans do : As a traveller we should always absorb the local culture where we visit. Watch the locals,observe and ask the activities in the destination that you are in. It is fascinating to listen to stories that very few know about. You can ask for recommendations of local delicacies and where to eat them. You can buy clothes, crafts, art based on talks with locals. Keep asking about specific things and they will be the best guidebook you never had. Who knows, you might stumble upon lost treasures!
- 11. Slippers & a sturdy pair of walking and running shoes : Solo travelling means time for aimless walks and introspection. Ensure your shoes are properly broken in and are not a new pair, walking on snow can get tricky otherwise. Socks that you wear should be comfortable for walking long distances. Flip-flips are useful for water crossings and should be carried along too.
- 12. Personal information : If you are not comfortable giving out personal information, be vague in your replies. Very few people you meet actually take the trouble of asking you many questions, be prepared and know how to respond. Refrain in saying that you are a businessman. A monday to friday job is a good answer for what do you do. There is no point divulging important information when you are all alone in an unknown location.
Avoid saying you are from Delhi. (I don’t know why, but it seems to have acquired a bad name). I always say I’m from “Dehradun”
- 13. Cash in your pocket : It is necessary to have cash at all given times when you are solo travelling. Normally, three to four thousand rupees is a good amount to have. Once you reach a place do identify the ATM’s and keep a buffer of money in case ATM’s don’t’ work. Its good to keep your money in 2 places while traveling.
- 14. Identity papers at all times : Nobody knows when an unforeseen situation can arise. It is best to keep your identity papers in the pocket of your jacket even when you are sleeping, in case you need to make a quick escape. Do not show or leave your documents with anyone, tourists are easy prey for forged documents. Keep copies of papers that need to be given upon checking into a hotel. Its easy for them to pretend that they just lost your originals while copying them.
Let people know that your family knows. Keep someone informed of your whereabouts when you are travelling solo.
Go, conquer the world. Life is meant to be lived. And come back and tell the world your fabulous stories.
Hope everyone loved this post. Please do comment if you have questions, suggestions or feedbacks.Happy to respond.