Being a woman, I play various roles everyday such as a wife, a daughter, a daughter in law, a sister, a friend and the list goes on. Many a times I feel exhausted and I desperately long for some”me time”. There have been a lot of times when I felt I needed to be alone, to spend some time with myself and get some space, to think about my life, to realise I am an individual and I exist. For me this is only possible when I travel and I travel solo. Being on my own allows me to have time for myself, listen to myself and let go of all the worries of my everyday life.
I know many women who travel solo and of many who are planning to do so. Out of the ones I know, there are only few who traveled safely without facing any incidents. However, being lucky a few times doesn’t mean you will be every time. NO I don’t intend to discourage anyone here from travelling solo however having travelled solo so many times and having hitchhiked from one state to another I personally would like to share a few tips and tricks. It’s all about ” know before you go”.
I hitchhiked in 2007 when India was much safer place than what it is at present. Although I am proud of the fact that I lived the dreams I dreamt yet at times I do sit back and think “what a fool I was to have hitchhiked alone. It was such a risky thing to do. Anything could have happened to me. I was so immature and crazy.” Gone are the days when hitchhiking or travelling solo was considered adventurous and fun. Considering the fact that the crime rate has increased in India tremendously today, travelling has become a challenge for solo women.
Having said this I also believe that as long as one follows the basic safety precautions, one should be just fine and safe. Below are few good to know tips which might help you travel safe.
1. Spend extra for your safety. Ensure you book your stay well in advance. While checking in at your hotel ensure to do a thorough check for any hidden cameras or anything unusual
2. Avoid taking taxis off the street if you are not familiar with the region/language. Instead ask your hotel to book you one. It might cost you a little more but this should be a safer option
3. Don’t look confused when you are out and about. Pretend you are familiar with the city and know your way. Don’t try to flash paper maps that show that you are a tourist
4. It’s a good thing to let your friends and family know where you are heading by checking into the locations through Whatsapp or any channel that let’s you do 1-1 communication. DO NOT share your current locations on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc as anyone can see track location. Drop a message to your near ones with the address and contact number of the places you stay in
5. Apart from storing the important contacts on your phone, I suggest you note them down in a diary that you can carry. It is also a good idea to have the hotel address written down in local language so that in case you forget your way you can seek help from the locals
6. The way you dress plays an important role when it comes to being safe while travelling solo. Avoid showing skin and dress modestly. You don’t want unwanted attention
7. While taking public transport try sitting next to a women. Avoid jam-packed buses and taxis where there are chances of you getting squeezed and being trapped inside a confined space
8. It’s always good to avoid venturing out alone at night. Incase you still do, then try to walk close to a family or couple. It’s always a good idea to walk with people. A smile can make things comfortable and tend to let them know that you are not stalking them
9. Be aware of your surroundings. Be very observant and pay attention to every detail around you be it a person, a place, a drink anything. Don’t zone out or get lost looking at the beautiful places you visit. Avoid the temptation to plug-in your earphones and listening to music while you are travelling
10. It’s absolutely ok to be little stern with people you don’t feel comfortable with. Creating boundaries is very important
11. It’s ok to have a couple of drinks during the day or night but getting drunk in an unknown place can get you into some serious trouble. Avoid over drinking
12. Carry a pepper spray with you all the time. Every time I travel solo I carry mine along with a small knife just in case 🙂
13. Ensure you have a postpaid connection and a reliable service provider with good connectivity. You can’t afford to run out of balance or connectivity
14. Store your cash in different places which are secure. I usually roll them up tightly and push them inside a ball pen.
For me travelling solo is almost like a religious experience. Travelling alone means not relying on anyone but rather getting the most out of your trips. The above tips I have mentioned are something which I follow personally. However, I am sure every girl has their own strategy when travelling solo. If you have some, then do share with me by leaving your comments.