“Let’s take a trip to Goa” is a phrase we’ve all been privy to. Year after year, we make these elaborate group plans that never go through. Don’t blame your friends, everybody has a different set of priorities. However, if you’re really keen on taking an adventure trip, you might want to consider going solo.
No, travelling alone is not for losers! It is a mark of independence. You could make new friends on the way and travel according to your own time, convenience and will. Most importantly, every solo journey is an important chapter in your book of ‘self-discovery’.
Convinced? Here are a few no-sweat pointers that could help you go on that adventurous solo trip-
Prepare, but with flexibility
Make a detailed plan and itinerary before you leave with a list of all important checkpoints to get there. Make hotel and travel reservations beforehand to save money and time.
However, on reaching a place, you might also learn of some interesting place you didn’t include in the itinerary. Try to have some buffer with respect to time and money, to make amends to your schedule and make the most of your trip. After all, you only have your own wishes to take care of.
When in Rome
Even if you’re travelling within the country itself, you may still encounter cultural, language and dialect differences, especially in India. If you’re planning to venture into smaller towns, know that not everyone might know Hindi or be willing to speak it. Learn a few words you think you’ll have to use, in the local language before you go. Some of these include courtesy words like ‘Hello’, ‘Bye’, ‘Thank you’, etc., ‘directions to xyz place’, ‘how much does this cost’ among others. Then, actually make a physical list and keep it handy.
It also helps to learn the important dos and don’ts of the local culture and be respectful towards them. Blend in like no one’s watching.
The primary reason to take a solo trip is to indulge yourself and not make stops or speed up according to the whims of others. Keep that in mind and make or modify your itinerary as you please. Do everything that your travel companions may pass off as ‘too boring’ or ‘weird’. Remember- Nobody is judging you.
Steer clear of mental barriers that might expect you to behave the way your friends want you to. Miss a train or take an earlier one.Go crazy! Your. Choice.
Confidence is key
There is an element of risk to almost every choice you make, including going on a solo trip. To avoid any unwanted advances, try your best to not look like a damsel in distress (there’s no gender-neutral term for this one). Instead of standing in the middle of a road or a highway with a map, looking distressed, plan your route mentally beforehand.
If you’re lost, go into a shop or restaurant and ask someone, preferably a tour guide. Then walk off confidently.
Keeping important documents within reach is important whether you travel solo or in a group. Create an elaborate packing list of every silly thing you might need, ask for others’ contributions to it. Double, triple and quadruple check before you leave. Have your entire itinerary documented, along with details of your hotel reservations, and train or bus bookings.
Carry a copy of your passport and other identity proof, with the originals safely in another bag.
Instead of carrying all your money in the form of liquid cash, plan the amount of cash you might need for different legs of the journey, depending on when you might reach a city or larger town. Keep that plus some buffer and the rest safely with your bank or carry traveller’s card.
Also, if visiting a foreign country, keep sufficient amounts converted to foreign currency. It’s easier to come back home and exchange any spare cash back to your country’s denomination than to fall short in a foreign land and go through the hassle of procuring currency.
Avoid Social Media
Just polished off some crazy food? Caught the perfect waves today at the beach today? You can wait to tell your friends all about it, just like they can wait to see the pictures, with you giving them a live account of what went down. Make sure you simply enjoy where you are at the moment, leave the Twitterati and ‘Igers’ behind.
This could be your safety guide back home as well. Oversharing on social media could expose you to potential security threats, hence be extra weary of it while on a trip.
However, there is a right way to connect. One word? Locals! They know secrets that are never mentioned in travelogues or such books. Understanding their culture and history is important to fully discovering a place. Taste local food and steer clear of high profile restaurants, so you also save big.
You could also find like-minded travel companions on the way and spend time with them until you hit a fork in the road.
Another connection you want to make is to the internet’s important tips- any warnings by weather or safety departments, top tips for the region, etc.
Keep all emergency contacts at hand and let at least one or two trusted persons stay updated about your whereabouts, activities, plans and everyone you meet. Learn the helpline numbers of local first-responders by-heart. Again, it might be helpful to blend in and not look like a tourist with dangling fanny packs.
Speak a few white lies- if someone asks, never admit to being alone, and rather say you’re waiting for someone. Don’t venture into places or go with people you know would mean deliberately inviting trouble. Safety is the first rule of any adventure. Stay alert and observant.
Let’s just address the elephant in the room. If you’ve never take an adventure before, going solo on your very first trip might not be the best idea. It’s not like the movies where some sort of an epiphany happens, you realize how awesome you are by yourself, take off and become a traveller. The success stories are just that- the good parts.
You might instead want to be smart and start off with a small experienced group so you can learn the ropes first hand. Then, whenever you’re ready, you can take off all by yourself! The world is yours!
Think you’re prepared to leave the world behind? Indulging yourself in a local adventure activity of your choice only multiplies the thrill of solo travel. You might want to check out a few options here.