Tips For Solo Women Travellers: What To Expect When You’re Travelling Alone The First Time

There are a lot of women out there who often travel alone and are living their best life. However, if you’re planning a solo trip in India as a woman, the plethora of news articles and rumours give you pause. It is very important for every woman to travel alone, even if it is only once. Travelling without constant talking, group planning, and taking others’ wishes into consideration while journeying can be extremely liberating. It is a study in strength and perseverance, because without a doubt, you are going to be facing pitfalls and problems. The good thing is, once you are home, and back under your comforter, all those difficulties are going to become warm memories. 

India has a myriad of beautiful locales and scenic destinations that are best explored alone, but it is always prudent to be ready for all possibilities. If you see a problem coming from a mile away, it is easier to dodge.

Here are some handy tips and tricks that will help first-time solo travellers make the best of their trip.

Make a budget

Most people are fundamentally different from each other and react to situations differently. For some travelling alone might be fulfilling, but others might find it to be a burden on their bodies, minds, and wallets. About your body and mind you will only find out about after you come back home, but you can save your wallet by being smart. 

Making a budget is one of the most important steps to a successful trip—solo or otherwise. Take stock of your savings and draw up tentative budget way before you plan your actual trip. How much you can spend and how much you’re willing to spend are two very different things. Once you make that distinction, planning a trip becomes infinitely easier. After you make sure that your tentative budget can handle your plans, you draw up your final budget. Make sure you leave some room for error, so that you’re not stranded in a remote bus stop somewhere. 

Making a budget dictates some very important parts of your journey, including the journey itself vis a vis the mode of travel, your accommodations (hotels vs. hostels), and most importantly, your itinerary.

Book Ahead

If you’re a seasoned traveller, it makes sense to have your plans up in the air and go where your heart takes you, but as a woman traveling alone for the first time, it is always good to have a solid plan. Once you have set a budget and have decided where you’re heading off to, it is imperative that you do your research. 

A lot of people scoff at the idea of researching before heading off for travel, but it makes your life much easier. If you’re thinking that you would like to be surprised when you reach your destination, you should remember that surprises come in various flavours. Don’t wait till you reach the bus station to but the ticket. All of India has shifted online, and you can book your tickets on the internet as well. Air and train tickets must be pre-booked most of the times, but even if you are travelling locally, try to see if online ticketing is an option. Not only does it give you peace of mind on the day of, a lot of bus services have pretty sweet deals when you book online as well. 

When it comes to accommodation, make sure you take out time to investigate the place before settling for it. Safety is a big concern in parts of the country, so look into the localities and safety standards of hostels and hotels before you choose one.  Go through their social media and look at the reviews—don’t just choose the cheapest option. 

Another perk of planning ahead is that you might find out about local events that you might have missed if you had just winged it. Many places have a lot of secret gems that you can find out about if you read through other travellers’ posts and blogs. You will definitely find places to explore by yourself, but it is good to have some concrete venues to jot down in the planner.

Pack Smart

Packing for your trip could be the making or breaking of the success of the whole venture. A lot of people advocate packing light, but packing smart is more beneficial in the long run. You should take into consideration your destination before you begin dismantling your wardrobe. 

If you’re going to a cold place, you might not need more than one jacket and a couple of sweaters, but make sure you take enough socks, and gloves if required. Hats and cold cream come in handy and taking your own means that you do not have to buy new ones after shivering through the night. While hot places might not need too many clothes, remember your sunblock and other essentials. A lot of people think heading to a beach requires minimal thinking, but you should take into account the clothing changes that will be required as well as the reality of sunburns. Take loose flowing cottons that will shield you from the tropical sun but will allow free movement for you as well as any breeze that might come by. 

Look up the place you’re going to head to, check the weather on the dates of your travel, and think about the fabrics you want to take with you. If you are planning on trekking or walking a lot, make sure you don’t overpack because you will have to carry your luggage yourself. The kind of luggage you decide on is also important. Depending on what you are comfortable with as well as the terrain you are going to sightsee, pick trolley type suitcases or backpacks. Take mode of travel into account as well before choosing luggage type. Don’t forget your cosmetics and electronics! It’s always good to have a spare power bank and moisturiser in your bag. 

As a woman travelling alone, safety becomes an issue while spending nights on local transportation in a strange place. Cover up. Not only will it keep inquisitive eyes away, it will also keep you safe from the dust and debris of travel. Always keep a stole or dupatta with you, in case you have to deal with rogue dust storms or lecherous men. 

Look at YouTube videos about efficient packing, take time out to read some articles, and as much as it sucks, learn to fold your clothes.

Download a Map

We live in a digital age and everything is truly online, but it is always good to have a contingency plan. Make sure you look at a map of the place you’re heading to, and if possible, take a corporeal map with you as well. Google has the option of offline maps, and you should think about downloading one of your destination, but offline maps will not help in case your phone runs out of juice. Many buses and trains have ports for charging your electronics, but it is good to be prepared for a (very possible) situation where none of those work. 

If you look at food and beverage options before you head off, you won’t have to rely on online maps all the time. You won’t be able to get much sightseeing done with your nose stuck to your phone after all.  

Having a map downloaded/ on paper will also help in case the area has bad internet. A lot of places in the hills have spotty signal at best, and you should always have your phone charged up and ready in case you need help. Once you reach your destination, take some time out to talk to the locals, as well. Even if you are not great at conversation, take out time to chat. This will help you find out about local events as well as local sights that you might have missed out on otherwise.

Give yourself Free Time

When planning an itinerary, one of the most important things you must do is to give yourself free time. If you fill up your planner with museum visits, heritage sights, tours, etc., you miss out on the most important aspect of solo travel. Chilling.

If you are travelling for a longer period of time, give yourself a day off to just stroll around. As you go through the city, you might find some intriguing things which were not a part of your plan. Make sure you give yourself time to go poking around the corners of the city you end up in. Even if you have planned a weekend trip, make sure to keep one afternoon or evening open for spontaneous plans. Impromptu agendas can be just as fulfilling as rigorously planned ones. 

Your first solo trip can change you in intrinsic ways. You might catch the wanderbug or you might hide in your room for the next year, but solo travel will reveal the true you. Solo travelling not only gives you a sense of freedom that a lot of women find lacking in their ordinary lives, but it also makes you aware of your shortcomings and helps you become a better planner. Now only will you learn how to pack and plan, you will also learn a lot about communication. 

Solo travel will give you the tools you need to learn how to explore; not only the gorgeous landscapes that India has to offer, but also the landscape of your own psyche.

Happy travels!

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