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Written by Bhairavi Jaiswal
07 Jun, 2021
Never have I feel more alive, other than while traveling. A solo woman traveler or whatever you would like to call me, this is my life now and I am looking forward to living every minute of it.
Well, it’s almost been a decade since I went on my first solo trip. That too to a non-English speaking country! And I must say, I have come a long way from where I had started.
That is the beauty of travel; it builds you and you grow from your learnings. It teaches you the challenges in life, and how to prepare yourself for them.
You find an avenue to look for your true self. Learn how to manage yourself and your belongings. Understand the way of life and how to deal with all kinds of situations.
Are you on the cross roads of contemplating your first solo trip? You feel that you are ready, however, unable to believe so.
Is there a knot in your stomach when you think of unknown places with unknown people around you?
Having traveled over the years, I have culminated an abundance of memorable and learning experiences.
There are a set of unwritten rules that you need to be aware of, if you are a solo woman traveler. Or, aspire to be one. Here’s an insight in to the life of a solo woman traveler. A guide to embark you on your journey of becoming one.
The only question you need to ask yourself while packing is, “Will you be needing this?” Traveling light is imperative. It’s bare essentials and clothing that we can sustain with.
Depending on your length of travel, you make your pick. Remember, comfort supersedes your ‘different looks’ while traveling.
The weather conditions of where you are traveling matters the most. The amenities also differ place to place. For example, water limitations in the hills makes you limit your laundry and showering efforts.
Here’s a suggestion from my own travels. Traveling in a city is easy, however, rural places come with an unsaid handbook. If you decide to travel through villages, your attire is important.
While I am most comfortable in shorts and loose tees, I am mindful of carrying comfortable cargos, tracks and cotton t-shirts. Not to miss a pullover, a scarf or hoodie.
A toiletries kit, a torch, a pair of flats, flip flops and your sports shoes (trekking boots – if you are hiking). A tip – keep a separate zip up for your undergarments and socks. Always carry an additional bag in your backpack (rolled up), you will need it at some point of time.
Situations, people, locations, belongings and your personal state of mind. These play an important role in defining your safety. Yes, no one can teach you how to remain safe throughout. As no two people come across the same paradigms.
But, if you care for a few things and remain aware, you are bound to be safe.
Always take care of your belongings, just like how our elders always told us to! Avoid traveling after sunsets, especially if you are in an unknown location. If you are commuting via overnight buses, ensure at least one person close to you is aware of the details.
Having traveled in both private tour and state transport buses, I’d recommend choosing a semi-sleeper or a single sleeper bed – if you must.
Never open up to strangers about your personal details. A generic conversation can never hurt! Until you are confident about the other person, you must never trust openly. Make friends all along the way, but trust your gut.
You might be the wild party person in your day-to-day life! But if you’re a solo woman traveler, you need to keep a watch on those party actions and repercussions. Especially, to avoid the hangover if traveling the next day.
Always keep a small pouch with regular medicines that you might need. A pocket knife and pepper spray can be variable, however, do remember to keep it in your check-in baggage.
India is a beautiful country to explore. With prevalent diversity throughout, you pick what it is that you want to discover first.
If it is your first solo trip, try not to choose an extremely offbeat destination. Make your decision based on the person that you are. The mountains, the beaches, architecture rich, history laden locations, the adventurer within – what do you want to explore?
As long as you are careful about yourself and take the necessary precautions, you are good to be by yourself. The best part about traveling solo is that you will come across tons of people who are by themselves as well. You’ll get to hear about so many travel experiences.
Nowadays, most of the destinations that you choose from, have hostels that you can stay at. Depending on how comfortable you are, you can choose to share your dorm room with the number and gender of people. It is also budget friendly!
If you aren’t ready yet, you can choose a private room for yourself. The common areas allow you to socialize amply. And once you do talk to fellow travelers, you often tend to build your travel plans further. Always have an open mindset, it’ll help you in your travels and explore more.
If there is one joy that I feel. It is the feeling of satiation whilst traveling, when I know I have earned this trip. What it means is, many tend to ask me how is it that I work sincerely and also make time to travel amply?
Having worked in different industries with variable workload and people around, I have learnt over a period of time. But if there is one thing which is common, it is how earnest you are. If you give your work your one hundred percent, your travels will feel even more worthy.
Figuring your long weekends, looking forward to airfare discounts! Saving posts with new locations on Instagram that you come across. When you fall in love with travel, this is all that you long for.
If you’re traveling while doing a WFH job. Always remember to prioritize your work first. Reason being, you can enjoy guilt free once you’ve done your work!
Here’s a trick to balancing both. If you are traveling in the mountains, try working through the night. Since you won’t be able to travel due to the weather conditions. If you are near beaches, the peak hours when the sun is up, you can balance it out.
With good internet connectivity in the majority of destinations, you wouldn’t have a problem working and traveling. Until you decide to travel to glaciers or extremely remote locations.
“Always remember one thing, you need to be financially independent. Irrespective of whether you are with someone or by yourself.” I must have been fourteen years old when my friend’s mother told me this.
Till date, this has been my mantra. And more than anything, it has helped me in my travel funding.
It might be difficult initially, if you’re a fresher or a recent graduate. I too took money from my parents for my initial solo trips and then worked towards returning the amount. It took a while, but when I got a job, I ensured I had done it. Not only did it help me attain more confidence, it ensured I was independent.
And when you can finally travel with your own money, the feeling is different and one you cherish. It makes your travels even more worthwhile and memorable.
A good practice to work on your expenditures while traveling is noting down how much you spend each day. And, on what it is. You might not understand the value of it now, but it will help you in planning your finances in the future. It will also make you comprehend your actual needs and what you could have done without.
As mentioned earlier, you will come across all kinds of people while traveling. More than you could have imagined.
The reason why travel is the best teacher, is because of the experiences you learn on the road. The travelers you interact with will range from all sorts of individuals. Some may even be extreme; it varies person to person.
I have always relied on my gut feeling and the vibe I get from the other person I meet. There could be times that out of a group of eight people, you might vibe with one or sometimes even none. And it’s completely fine. It’s happened to all of us.
However, you should make the most of interacting with as many travelers as possible. Since, this is what you take back with you, these stories. And believe me, you might feel shy or wonder what the other person might think of you?
But, trust me. Everyone’s just a mere human being. Be it people from our own country or foreigners that we come across! And sometimes, you make friendships that last your entire lifetime.
A woman has to undergo a lot on the health front and it’s no secret either. While there are some women who plan their travels based on their period cycles. There are some who wouldn’t let that be a hindrance in any manner.
Albeit, certain effects are inevitable. The unnerving cramps which you cannot help. Each woman has a different way of dealing with these. What do I do when I am traveling, since I cannot let anything create a hindrance in my exploration?
There’s always a Meftal in my bag, along with a Nua Cramp Comfort box. A heating stick on and you can travel as if there was no cramp ever. It’s worked for me!
In this segment, it’s to each their own. Be it your sanitary napkins, tampons, menstrual cups – keep them readily available on a safe side! You never know when a situation might arise.
Do keep in mind while traveling, you are responsible for your own hygiene. There are also times you might not find the most hygienic washrooms, while traveling locally! You could have a PeeSafe Spray, Tissue Rolls, etc. what you deem necessary. Have a kit and keep it handy.
If there’s one thing that precedes the rest on my list, it’s how to safekeep the cash I carry. Yes, nowadays it’s easier with our cards and online payment methods. But not every village you travel to, might accept these. And you might need to rely on cash.
In order to travel without worrying all the time. Always have a backpack with all your belongings – clothes, shoes and other kits. It’s easier in comparison to pulling a suitcase all around!
Always stash cash away in two – three places. Never keep all of it in one place. Especially, if you are handling a different currency!
Keep a smaller backpack, with probably your laptop (if you definitely need to carry it along) and other electronics that you might need. Along with an extra pair of clothing. You never know if the airlines might misplace your bag, always be prepared for the worst-case scenario.
Keep aside 30 per cent in your bigger backpack. If you are even more particular, carry a small sling for your phone, ID cards and your wallet and ensure it is on you at all times. Personally, it works for me and is convenient as well.
We have progressed and depend heavily on technology today. There are some old school techniques that we should still abide by.
Do you remember those days when our parents had a pocket diary with important phone numbers? It’s never old school to keep it on you while traveling. The most important phone numbers, write them down. Yes, using a pen and paper!
You never know when your phone might conk off. This will always help you. Especially if you have a slightly weak memory with remembering numbers! Keep this pocket diary or important paper in your wallet or the sling bag.
You may be as bold as you are and want to experience the thrill that the unknown holds.
But, one untold rule is to keep at least one person who you bank on, informed about all your travels.
There are a lot of things that a solo woman traveller undergoes. There are some that might concern you, there are many that might encourage you. Take it as a journey and experience all that travel beckons to you.
If you feel scared, it is completely normal. It is healthy even! You’re only human and you are bound to feel emotions. Slowly overcoming them is what you will achieve eventually. Be a proud solo woman traveler! The world has so much to explore; no book or movie can do justice to it.
Get yourself out there and embrace all that destiny has in store for you. Just take the first step in confidence, you are not alone.
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