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Solo Traveling in India - A beginner's guide

Right off the bat, I want to clarify what we’re talking about today. Solo traveling isn’t going to a new location and staying with friends / family. Solo traveling is definitely not signing up alone for a group trip of other ‘solo’ travelers. Solo traveling is knowing you’re going to be alone for a finite amount of time, feeling scared, but going ahead anyway. It’s literally a journey you’ll have to do on your own. I already covered the reasons to say yes to solo travel in my previous blog, and now all that remains is to get you started! Don’t worry, solo traveling in India has picked up a lot and things are much easier than before. You’re also most likely to run into more people just like you! Step 1: The Destination When done right, picking where to head off is half the work. Choose beaches or mountains based on your personality or choose heritage sights and ancient cities if you’re a history bluff. Solo traveling in India is easier in this sense, there are so many diverse options. Find what calls to you, not what Insta parrots as the most sought-out destination and you’ll be okay. Step 2: The Groundwork Everything starts with some research, but I recommend this only after you’ve decided on a spot. Else, you tend to choose multiple destinations, spiral on possibilities, and loop over enough to abandon the trip altogether. Remember to factor in not just the destination, but the cost of doing a trip there, the flight tickets to such a spot, and transport within the destination. Planning is a huge component of any solo travel because you’re customizing everything about it to suit you. Not a travel agency, not a family member, not your friend. You.

Step 3: The Style Now, you can choose to be a solo backpacker straight away and I’ll only be proud of such a decision but it helps to start slow. You can try what I call the sandwich style - where you’re on your own for a bit, then you’re around known people, and then you go back to being on your own. Weddings and personal events are perfect for the sandwich style. You ease in and out of your solitude. You can also try the digital nomad - you’re alone but you’ve got your counterpart workself for company. There’s still familiarity to your routine, but a sense of newness around everything else. There are so many other kinds of solo travelers, but that’s for another blog when you’ve done a trip or two! Step 4: The Dates Often overlooked are the dates and duration when solo traveling in India. A week away from home is a good span of time, anything less than three days is going to get too hectic to even count. Find your dates in such a way that reduces your time off from work so that you won’t have piles to do before and after the trip. Try and count in lesser long holidays and weekends as you’ll have throngs of crowds that might leave you underwhelmed / overwhelmed. I prefer a 10-day stretch with a weekend thrown in so that my flights are cheaper and transport is more predictable. 

Step 5: The Accommodations Even if you’ve got the funds, start off with homestays and hostels when solo traveling in India. These bring like-minded people together and work out perfectly if you’re anxious of being alone. Head to your room when you want some quiet, lounge in communal spots when feeling social. It also helps with the expenses as transport to local spots can be clubbed, a ride can be shared here and there. Avoid Airbnbs where you self check-in and have the whole property to yourself as these can be in isolated areas.     Step 6: The Itinerary I always go gaga at this step and the to-visit lists run long. You can always sift through my blog for recommendations if our destinations match, but if not, enough research will cross off this step for you. Mapping spots from your accommodation and clubbing the nearby spots together is the go-to approach. However, depending on your destination (city or wilderness) and your duration of stay, you can get creative with your day-wise itinerary. I like to save the scenic landscapes for sunrises and sunsets and fill the day with the vibe I’m going for. You can do an artsy day of museums, cafes, libraries, galleries etc. You can do another day just for local eats, souvenir shopping, etc. That way you’re dressed for each place you’re visiting and can circle back to favorite places for a second time. Step 7: The Getting Around Bit Assuming that you’re only booking flights / trains / buses, being in a destination without local transport can be tricky when solo traveling in India. Check beforehand with your place of stay about bicycles, scooters and other modes of transport available through them. If not, they usually know an auto driver you can hire for the day / a bike rental agency outside the premises. I got comfortable early on with renting a bike, fueling up and whizzing away -- my accommodations and the itinerary took me to far-flung places. The advantages are plenty, but it isn’t recommended if you’re not comfortable in different traffic situations or if you don’t know the local language. The best way out? Make new friends and see if they can drop and pick you up from a common spot when they’re out and about too!

Step 8: The Safety Issue Everyone’s prime worry back home (and yours!) might be how safe all this is. Rest assured, solo traveling in India is better equipped to offer the best to anyone traveling alone. From better roads, well-lit neighborhoods, to tracking apps and safety tools -- you can personally take steps to ensure your safety. Make sure to always inform someone of what you’re up to for the day and share numbers of the local contacts you’ve made. Apart from these, a few rules that must be reinforced: a) always get home before dusk and stay within a 2-3 km radius of your stay for the night. b) if consuming alcohol, do so on the premises with known travelers or buy and bring back to your room. c) do not consume anything from strangers, share details of your identity, or stop to sort out a local dispute. Ready to move on to the next stage? Stay Tuned for: Pro-planning tips when Solo Traveling!


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