Travelling was always on the bucket-list, ever since I was a child, actually. I love the idea of seeing and understanding different cultures and towns. But, like most people, I quickly understood that getting your crew to go on that long-overdue-trip is as easy as cutting through a rock with a butter knife.
But by the time I realized that I didn’t need a friend or any company to travel with, the people around me began reminding me “It isn’t safe for women to travel all by themselves.” It’s as if every time women awaken to their independence, the world decides to plant seeds of doubt in our minds and tell us that we can’t possibly do all the things we dream of doing.
So, I did what any desi girl would do, I pleaded, I convinced and I assured my parents that I’ll be smart and keep in constant touch while I am away. I bought pepper sprays, a solid power bank, made sure that I understood the locations and cafes I wanted to visit, before I stepped into them.
But despite having these things, I realized that none if it matters if you don’t have your wits about. Especially as a woman, who’s travelling solo in India. The first time I travelled, I made a trip to a hill-town called Bhimtal.
I’d rarely travelled to the hills before this, so I underestimated how long it takes to cover 2 Kms on foot. Which is why, when I decided to go see a cute café 7 Kms away from my homestay, I read 24 minutes on Google Maps and was immediately possessed by over-confidence. But as I left my location, it began getting dark very quickly.
I realised that I was in an unfamiliar territory, walking down the winding roads of a hill-town is honestly, a little scary. You can’t see how many cars are coming towards you from behind the sharp turns, and there are no footpaths to keep yourself out of vehicles’ ways. So, I did something I was initially very embarrassed to do, I turned around half way through and walked back to my place of accommodation.
I was scared, so I listened to my body on that, and decided that I may not be equipped to handle the environment I was in. The truth is, while travelling is the perfect kind of adventure, it doesn’t mean you’ve to live on the edge the entire time you’re travelling. Especially if you’re travelling alone, for the first time (as an Indian woman)!
So always listen to your gut instinct, even if means you look like an idiot or someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing. As for my second solo trip, to Jaipur; one piece of advice for women travelling by themselves – try to take the phone number of a nice/safe auto waale bhaiya as soon as you reach the city.
In many towns, cab services aren’t as efficient, so as a woman, you need to have absolute clarity on transportation. Make sure you save numbers in your contact list of anyone who’d be willing to (and once again, is safe) pick you up or drop you to a location. Speaking of location, make sure you share your live location with family members or loved ones while you’re commuting in the city you’re exploring.
But here’s the most important thing I’ve learnt about travelling alone; soak up each and every thing about the city/town you’re in. The culture, the local street markets, the food, people’s quirks and behaviours, the monuments, take everything in.
Learn from it like it’s a field trip. Because it kinda is! It’s a field trip you’ll never be graded on, something you can enjoy learning from. Sure, travelling is for pleasure and enjoyment – but it’s a great thing to do to build your character.
Travelling solo is an act of self-love, it’s something you’re doing just for yourself. So, make sure you juice the heck out of it. Us desi girls have to rebel and earn our freedom to travel and do many other things alone. So, make it a truly memorable experience. Whether that’s by relaxing or by being a sight-seeing maniac – seize the moment.
Checkout – India’s Contribution to The World