I have been traveling around the world for the past two years. Sometimes with friends but then, mostly solo. So the question, “Is it safe traveling solo in India?” is asked a lot. And my answer every time remains the same – yes!
Back in the days when I used to read other travelers’ stories on how they are traveling all alone, the same question popped up in my head as well. But then I still went ahead to give it a shot and chose Sikkim as a place that I decided to explore alone. For a week I chose to face the demon – my fear, and till date, I count that trip as the best trip of my life. What I am trying to say here is that all you have to do is go out and things will fall into place.
I have met many kind people, who willingly go out to help me during my travel journeys. There was this one instance where a local in the Himalayas dropped me off from one village to another which was 20 KMs far, just because it got really dark and there were no buses.
1. Trust Your Instincts
This might be too vague of a statement. But trust me, it works the best. If I am not feeling too good about a particular street, or if I am getting weird vibes from a particular person during my trips, I walk away. Deep down in your heart, you will know what works the best for you and what is not working. You just have to listen, pick up those signs and act accordingly.
2. Plan Ahead
If it is your first solo, one way you can ease yourself is by planning your travel from the beginning. For instance, for Sikkim, I noted down a complete day to day itinerary, booked hotels at every place I was planning to go, and in fact, I also contacted the hotel staff to help me understand how to travel from one place to another.
I had everything in my notes section – where the permits are required, at what time shops at the mall road close, where to stay in Zuluk. Maybe this was the biggest reason why I had so much fun and did not think that I am doing this for the first time actually.
3. Research About the Place
I read a lot about the location and also read the reviews. Quora is a pool of knowledge for such questions. If you have any query regarding a place just post the question on Quora and people reply to everything under the sun.
I, for instance, research about even small places to understand how I can manage time so that it does not get late in the evening. I keep the busy streets for later and explore the secluded ones in the morning.
During treks, I check if a guide is needed to that place or many tourists go to the location and act accordingly.
4. Ask the Same Question to Many People
If you are at a place and have a doubt on, say, which mode will be the safest to transfer from one place to another – ask this doubt to more than one person to be sure.
I also go ahead and ask the tourism board of that particular place, as well as to my hotel manager. Find the best solution to the problem to sort my travel plans even better.
5. Follow the dress code
One of the most and essential things to do while traveling solo is to follow the dress code of the state. Feeling belonged in a place is the most important thing as a traveler. When you are not acting like a tourist, the local’s approach towards you will change.
If let’s say in a rural area a person is walking around in shorts, of course, heads will be turned by many. I usually wear something ethnic when I am traveling to places like Rajasthan. And then dress up in places like Mumbai or Goa.
This does not make me feel out of place and people from that particular place might also consider you a local.
6. Pack Smartly and be Punctual
One of the best things while traveling is having a light luggage to carry around. And when traveling solo, it is very important that you are at ease. Carrying a light luggage can help you ease your walk and the trouble with the shoulder pain.
Take whatever is necessary for the journey and do not forget to keep common medicines in case your health deteriorates.
Apart from all of this, being punctual is very important. For instance, in Spiti, there is only one bus that leaves from a particular place. Since apart from travelling solo, I also travel on a budget, missing buses would have cost a lot of hassle and problems. And if by chance you miss your trains or flights, then the problem increases even further.
Hope this helps you and you take the leap of faith and go out solo to a different state. Since I was able to do, believe me, you can do it too.