Random Thoughts From A First Time Solo Indian Female Traveller

So how was it traveling as a first-time solo Indian female traveller? Did I like it? Will I do it again? These are the many questions I have been asked ever since I returned from my first solo trip. So let me try my best to answer them.

Why did I decide to go as a Solo Indian Female Traveller?

So before I start, let me tell you the factors that made me decide to go solo this time. Even though I did some roaming around in the USA by myself, I have never been on a solo trip. I never had to do it till now. Being from a traveling family, I always had company whenever I wanted to go anywhere. I was born as one of a twin. So that meant I was always stuck with someone (just kidding, Ramya) for the rest of my life. Since I live in India, there never has been a shortage of friends. I have always been amused by the fact that some of my friends need company to go to the bathroom even when they are in office. Even at the office, if I decide to have a quiet meal in the pantry, I am surrounded by at least 5 people who just can’t bear the thought of me eating alone.
So you got the gist, right? I was never encouraged and never had an opportunity till now to travel solo. 
Then what changed this time? Ever since I started reading multiple travel blogs over the past year, I have always wanted to travel solo. I wanted to see what was it like to be traveling solo. Was it as liberating as they all claimed it to be? It was weird coming to this decision since I am in my early thirties and I was traveling alone for the first time in my life. 
Another factor was the time I had. I wanted to take a break between my two jobs and no-one I knew had the convenience to take such a huge break. So then it was decided and I booked my tickets to Europe.
So how did my family take it? Surprisingly well. At least in front of me. I am pretty sure that my mom would have had some high BP issues when I announced it to them after booking the tickets. They did have a hint but they had no clue that I was going to do something this extreme. In the process I ditched my sister and brother in law. I was supposed to go to Tanzania with them to meet our friends (including the wildlife) but when I decided to go solo, they went ahead without me.
 
Random Thoughts From A First Time Solo Indian Female Traveller
Colmar, France
 

So now that the context is set. Let us see how the experience went.

I loved it. There is no doubt about that. In spite of the many hurdles I faced, I fell in love with traveling solo. Will I do it again? Well, that you would have to ask my mom. After this trip, she has already told my dad to look the other way if I ever talk about going alone again. But like my sister tells me, “As if you are going to listen to her? You will end up convincing dad and make him lobby to mom on your behalf”. Since I have a dad who travels more than anyone else I know, we still cannot rule out the possibility. 
Now let us try to answer some of the queries people had:

Weren’t you scared of traveling alone?

I am not going to lie about that. I was shit scared. But isn’t that what life is all about? Trying to embrace your fears and overcoming them? We have all been there once. Moving to a new city. Setting your life in a new city. Making new friends in a new city. Traveling solo is very much like that. You are in charge of the entire trip and If anything goes wrong, you have only yourself to blame. But once you get past all that, you will realize how traveling solo can be an enriching experience.

Weren’t you bored traveling all by yourself?

I find this question strange. I went to see new places, meet new people, have new experiences and eat delicious food. How can I be bored? I did something new every day and how can I be bored when I do that?

Weren’t you lonely?

Let me tell you something about solo travel. You are more likely to make new friends when you travel alone. When we go as a group, we tend to stick to our friend circle and then there is no way you are going to make friends. I did so many exciting things with my new friends and every time I think of all the fun times I had, I would remember them. Even age didn’t matter. I hit it off with twenty-somethings and I even became friends with someone who was older than my parents. Nothing matters when you are one of the many travelers in this world. You realize the importance of fellow travelers and they sometimes can be the best source of information after the locals of course. Unless you want to be alone, there is no way you will feel lonely when you are traveling solo. However, goodbyes are the hardest part of traveling. You never know when you will meet them next. Even for an ambivert like me, it was not that hard to make friends once I allowed them.
Random Thoughts From A First Time Solo Indian Female Traveller
Prague, Czech Republic

What about all the bad things happening in Europe at this time? 

If it is your destiny to die tomorrow, you will die. I have more chances of getting killed, abducted or raped if I stayed back at home. No one can protect you any better if you are sitting at home. As a global citizen, I refuse to give in to the bad people of this world. And from all my travel experiences, I have learned one thing. For every bad person in the world, there are hundred good people who are willing to help you when you are in trouble. How can you judge all these people if you have never left your shell? Also, stick to your gut and in most of the cases, your gut will never be wrong. As a solo female traveler, it is important to always keep your wits around you. There are some stupid things you won’t do back at home. If you are alone, then don’t do it in Europe too. To all the people who thought I couldn’t make it in Europe alone, look at me now. I managed to vanquish all the naysayers. Didn’t I? Ya ya I know I am a drama queen.

Did you make any mistakes while traveling solo?

Of course, I did. It is me, after all. I think you will never learn unless you make any mistakes. Even though I had kept money tucked in three different places, I did not have a backup card tucked somewhere else. Actually, I did have a backup card but I kept it in my purse which was robbed. Which is ironic, since usually on all my other travels with friends and family, I always kept the backup card separate. I wish there were other things I should not have done. I wish I had calculated my finances properly so that I did not go almost flat broke in Prague. When you are alone, all these little mistakes can cost you heavily. Also, I realized something. Even if you had planned A-Z of your trip, something will definitely go wrong. But those are the stories worth telling. Never give people the impression that you are single and easy to mingle if you don’t want to. I wish I hadn’t and it was difficult telling some guys off. That is the first assumption everyone makes when you say you are traveling alone.

Was traveling solo a liberating experience?

Of course, it was. It was a high I have never experienced before in my life. I had so many experiences and I wouldn’t have had them if I had gone with others. There was no one to tie me down and I could go wherever I wanted to. At the end of every day, I was amazed at the number of things I had managed to do by myself that day. Being intentionally lost in the streets of Europe was something I enjoyed. I did nothing but eat, sleep and walk around in the rain in Paris. I realized early on that the sun sets only after 9:30 PM. That meant I could get up whenever I wanted and I used to mostly start roaming only after 10:30 every day. Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a morning person. Unless I had to catch a train, bus or a sunrise, I never got up early in the morning. I went and wept alone at the Anne Frank house and I know that if I had gone with friends, I would have never gotten the chance. I went and saw an Opera at the Vienna Opera house. Even though I realized I was too young for opera, I would never have gone if I had gone with someone else. Learning how to navigate the public transportation, learning how to sign to someone who doesn’t speak English, exploring new cuisines all by myself, making new friends and just soaking in the beauty of the place were things I cherished. The first time I filled up petrol by myself when I drove all around Algarve by myself when I went salsa dancing in Madrid with my new friends. The list is endless. When you are lost in your own thoughts, you are better equipped to see the beauty of this world.

What didn’t I like about solo travel?

The luggage. When you are traveling all around Europe, then that means you would be catching multiple buses, trains or flights. Every time, lugging the luggage all by myself around European cities was not a fun task. Especially after I fell in Lisbon, it was not an easy task lifting the heavy luggage. Even if you had to pee, you could not leave your baggage unattended for more than 2 minutes in the restroom. Also when I was sitting alone in a Spanish police station at 2 in the morning, I wished there was someone there with me. It was one of the very few times I wished there was someone with me.
Random Thoughts From A First Time Solo Indian Female Traveller
Algarve, Portugal

Would I recommend solo travel for Indian female travelers?

Yes, I would. As long as you are sensible and do not do anything utterly foolish, you will be fine. Be open to change and you will have a gala time. Just don’t wait until your thirties like me to start traveling alone. Yes as an Indian, I know we are conditioned to think that we cannot travel on our own. Why don’t you try it and see what I am talking about? After all, we prove our worths every day fighting the gender inequality in this country.

Parting thoughts.

I know I couldn’t have done it without the support of my crazy family. I know I gave my mom many sleepless nights but that she would have had that even if I was traveling with someone else. So thank you for being ‘My crazy family’.
I wish I could travel solo in India. I have still not found the courage to travel solo in India. I think it will take me some more time to venture out into the unknown parts of India all by myself. Till then, I will just keep following others who are traveling India solo.
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Random Thoughts From A First Time Solo Indian Female Traveller
 

14 Comments

  1. So liberating, isn't it! I totally agree with the luggage though – normally with someone else you can leave your suitcase or backpack with them while you nip into the toilets, but being solo you have to be so careful about leaving stuff unattended and drag it into the cubicle with you!! Glad you had a wonderful time – onwards and upwards. I find that being an ethnic solo female traveller always gets more positivity than negativity and I hope it remains the same for you. Cheers to your next solo trip!

    Mel xox
    illumelation.com

  2. Solo travelling is empowering. It is a way to push yourself out of your comfort zone and really experience life through your most authentic self. You get to do what YOU want to do, eat what YOU want to eat, and interact with others on YOUR terms. I truly believe that there is no better way to really immerse yourself in other cultures.

  3. So glad you enjoyed your solo travel experience. I totally agree with all your points here. Especially about meeting people, when I am by myself I talk to strangers but with others I really only pay attention to the people I am with.

  4. Europe is still pretty much the safest place in the world to travel in and around. Despite the late high profile news, which are only in the news because it's so rare event around here. Normal precautions are enough and there's no particular problem for families with young children or female solo travelers.

    Out of curiosity, did you learn the lesson of "pack less"? 🙂

  5. Yes that is one of the reason why I chose Europe. My options were South East Asia or Europe.

    I just had one suitcase and one laptop bag and I lived off it for 6 weeks. Being a digital nomad for this period, there was too much blogging related gear for me to carry. Camera, Lens, laptop, iPad, chargers etc.

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