You Need You as Your Best Friend
“…Let’s face it, your longest relationship in life won’t be with a sister or brother, partner or friend. It will be with yourself.”
Janice Waugh the Canadian traveler and entrepreneur could not be more right about their perspective of life. While the stress, pace, expectations and competitiveness of the twenty-first-century world have taken us to a new height, it has also made certain basic aspects of life scarce, like the time to be alone – to be with one’s own self. And what can be a better way of spending time with yourself than going on a solo trip? Although, the need to travel and align with nature are equally important for both genders, for women in today’s society, perhaps, it is all the more important and challenging than their men counterparts. The proximity of nature or a new and unfamiliar environment with no one but yourself to care about or a few days ‘ me –time’ at a luxurious resort in a mountain or sea-side – often prove to be the best medicine of refreshment and a way to reenergize your soul. Goa, Ladakh, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Coorg and Ooty are a few of the popular domestic destinations, while international ones like Thailand, Prague, Budapest, Vietnam, and Austria are also gaining in popularity
This Women’s Day we share with you a few words of wisdom and experience from a few women solo travelers from different parts of India:
Although I don’t remember actually when did I start my solo trips, it must be around 6-7 years that I have been travelling alone. I have always loved travelling. But then, there were those times when I was not finding anyone to go with me. So, instead of changing my plan or postponing it I decided to pack my bag and leave all by myself.
Personally, I believe being a woman solo traveler u need to be careful about where you are going and how you are going. Every place has a basic aesthetic. If we respect that there is nothing else that bothers the locals. We as a traveler should try to understand and follow their culture and custom as much as possible instead of portraying superiority or dominance. Once we start living the life of the locals things become much easier and happier.
I love to visit and write about the custom, rituals, culture, food, etc. about places that are lesser-known and remote. I feel a sense of content writing about these people and their unique lifestyles.
( Ayandrali Dutta)
It all started with my business tours. Due to the nature of my work, I started travelling to different rural areas in West Bengal by local trains in the year 2016. It was only in 2017 that I set off for my real solo travel far from home, all the way to Bangalore. I still remember the excitement and thrill as my flight took off from Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Airport.
Considering the fact that a reticent and introvert person, as I am, I always thought I could never actually make it to be a solo traveler. And that made this particular trip very special for me.
Since then I have been traveling solo to many places – mostly official and sometimes for those little long cherished breaks as well. Yes, there are challenges that one should be prepared for while traveling solo in India.
1. You need to be cautious and careful about your surroundings, people and luggage.
2. Extra Careful about health… What to eat and where to eat.
3. I avoid public transport outside Bengal, but if I need to I should hire a private car with a properly reviewed car agency. I also make sure to share all details with close ones. (I faced a very bad experience in Bangalore with Uber, and since then I always try listening to my mind/gut feeling).
4. Lastly, I don’t talk with anyone. If some nosey co-traveller starts talking, I try to ignore or politely respond and move on.
However, the sense of freedom is unparallel and with the slightest opportunity, I make sure to hit the road.
( Moumita Dasgupta )
Well, I guess none of my travels are actually ‘solo’ …as during the period of your journey you get to meet so many people I could never call myself a solo traveler.
Jokes apart, I totally agree that one should always keep in mind travelling solo in India has its own challenges.
We all know the disturbing number of crime cases against women do not make it any easier for us or our parents and near ones to feel much more confident about a girl traveling alone.
My first solo trip was to Goa. And it could not be more eventful from every perspective. Firstly, it was a last-minute decision. After a major emotional set back I decided to make this trip and book my ticket just two days prior to my departure from Delhi. I had reached Mumbai by flight and only when I managed to settle in my train from Mumbai to Goa that I realized that my train is reaching North Goa at 3 Am the morning, while my hotel is in South Goa.
I was lucky to meet this couple from Germany in the same train. It took no time to become friends with them and not only they accompanied me the entire journey from North to South, but the three days I was in Goa we three were together and enjoyed ourselves a lot. So, only because I travel solo I could meet such nice souls like this couple from Germany I met in Goa.
My suggestion to all the girls who want to start their solo trips would be to check and decide on your hotels very carefully. Whether it is a hotel, resort or homestay it is always better to either take feedback from someone who had been there or from the reviews. For your local transport always opt for authorized travel agency-owned cars with a proper GPRS system.
I feel the best part of travelling alone is you are always free to take your own decision and not dependent on the others or group’s opinions. Also, the next best thing is to know and meet people from so many different places with varied cultures, and traditions and share stories with them. These days there are hosts who organize parties musical or otherwise for travelers. These are beautiful opportunities to know people and their culture.
Last but not the least; my suggestion would be to always carry enough cash with you, no matter what!
( Lucky Pegu )
I have been traveling solo since I was 26. Even though I have traveled to a few places in India, most of my solo travel destinations were outside the country. I always found travelling abroad is much safer compared to India where there are many safety concerns. In my experience, except a very few places like Goa, it is indeed difficult to venture out even after 8:30 pm, unless you have a close group or a trusted cab driver arranged by a registered agency.
The next crucial thing is ofcourse the selection of hotels. It is another thing if you are booking a five or four-star hotel, but I find it difficult to blindly trust others at face value (even though I have a few unpleasant experiences with otherwise trusted brands like Airbnb in India). I really hope to see the budget travel options in India get better in the future for a woman traveler to feel completely safe and free.
Another challenge of traveling solo in our country is if, unfortunately, u fall sick. I experienced it on my Sikkim trip while coming back from Nathula pass. You have no one to take care of you and in smaller towns, the health facilities are rather pathetic. While my trips outside in Istanbul, Australia, Greece, etc. I felt much more confident and things are much more manageable. The hotel people would take extra care of you and are always be ready to support and make you feel comfortable.
My suggestion is it’s better to travel in a group of girls in India.
( Priya Dhar )
I have been extremely privileged when it comes to travel. Being an army wife security has never been an issue.
I have taken many solo trips while in Ladakh. I find that one of the safest places, specially for women.
Although I did try to do a solo to Pushkar in Rajasthan once, it could never work out as I did not want to go with a group of men. Doing solo photography projects are not comfortable with accommodations on shoestring budgets, lack of restrooms etc. Unfortunately, I found a girl traveling solo in our country become an object of curiosity for people, not to talk about trying to take advantage of it. I have had an unpleasant experience doing street photography and that made me not venture into it much.
Security of self and gadgets is always a primary concern and challenge for a woman traveling alone. To be a Bohemian and enjoy and soak up a place is very bookish and good to impart knowledge but for a woman any age to do it is tough.
I do admire a lot of women breaking the shackles and going ahead all alone but I haven’t been able to make it to that league as yet. For new girls, I think the leap of faith is easier than women my age… maybe. I have a mental block but hope I can be free soon. Being a people person I prefer to be surrounded by people and that is perhaps one more reason I have not made it to solo travel much except, ofcourse my favorite land – Ladakh.
( Kalpana Chatterjee)
It is true that our society in general has a long way to go to make our country a safe haven for women solo travelers, but the trend of women traveling across destinations whether in group or solo is going to grow from here. As they rightly said travel is not only exploring new things, travel is not only knowledge and wisdom but travel is also freedom.