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Do you have a solo travel resolution in 2020? So, what is solo travelling in real sense? Well, when a person truly plan their travels completely alone, loves to travel alone so that they can explore in their own free style. They actually avoids company and enjoy being free and despise co-travellers.

They may bump into many like minded travelers during the course of his journey, spend few days with them but this is not what they had planned at the first place. And when they return back home from such self planned, self undertaken trips, they feel accomplished, confidant and determined. That is true solo travel. A solo traveler loves their own company and wants to see this world in their own capacity without any help from others.

Does your New Year resolution is to exercise more seriously? Then it fits perfectly to go for hiking and trekking trips which are increasing in popularity. Concept hotels have everything from tennis, healthy food and yoga. The modern, urbane traveler always looking for new adventures that enrich the mind. Train journey through Canada, tiger safari in India or drive through California?

Cold shock, interrailing, buddymoon and DNA tourism. Travel Trends for 2020 is environmentally friendly and active where we prefer to return home as a better version of ourselves. What trend does the best for you? Have you thought about replacing the journey to the sun against a DNA-trip that takes you to your roots? Or go on a retreat where neither Internet or books are present?

The prime mover behind this year's trends are self development, greener choices and unique experiences - we want to be inspired, learn more while traveling more sustainably. Here is what you should know.

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, Sail away from the safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails, Explore, Dream and Discover."

- H. Jackson Brown

Understand what solo travel means:

When someone talks about solo travel, it doesn't mean that you need to set a fixed departure itinerary with a travel agency, go around tourist spots and come back. I really don't know what to expect from that type of a trip. Of course, you'll have fun visiting a new place and experiencing their culture, But will the trip change something within you?

Will its impact stay with you forever? I'm not sure. So first, you need to understand the difference between a vacation and a solo expedition. A vacation is just what I described above, Book tickets with a travel agency, set a fixed itinerary, staying at a luxurious hotel, go around and see places with tourist guides and relax away your worries.

See what solo travel is about? It's about traveling to not only a place but traveling to the people of the place, traveling to the stories of the place, traveling to the culture of the place. I couldn't agree more with Mr. Brown when he says, sail away from the safe harbor.

So, go for it, Be it a place which is at an hour's distance from your city or somewhere which is countries apart! Try being on your own, interact with locals, understand their lifestyle, take public transport to navigate, try local delicacies and find inspiration that motivates you to take a step closer to your dream.

Of course, you need to do proper research about the place you are going to. Maybe get a hold of a few important phrases in the local language or a few important customs and gestures, And yes, do make an itinerary But don't saturate it with tourist spots and famous destinations, Take time to research. Find places that have stories to tell, Find people who can connect with you.

Get inspired by the differences you will find in the daily lives of people in a new place, And learn to get familiar with a strange new place. So yes, do get that cliched selfie at the Taj Mahal. But don't forget to have a chat with many locals who see the Taj every day and find out how Taj looks through their eyes! Voila, you have your solo travel basics sorted!

solo travel tips for traveling alone

What to Expect from Solo travel?

1. Do the prep work

Preparation is the key to safe traveling when you’re a solo female. Write up a long itinerary of where you’re going and do your research as to what you’ll need. Will you need visas? The last thing you want to do is get stranded at customs somewhere. Have you sorted out insurance? Is your passport up to date and ready to go?

Some countries ask that you have a passport valid for longer than you’re planning on staying. Preparing everything in advance will help put your mind at ease before you jet off.

Ticket booking is an essential move for any and every trip. To avoid a last-minute chaos, ensure that you have booked for each and every amenity that you are bound to require when you are in India. These also help save time and get great and feasible deals. Check for positive reviews before booking anywhere.

Forewarned is forearmed: DO read up about your destination and its particular features – social norms, peculiarities, is it OK to change money on the street? Yes and you get a better rate than ATMs’ in some countries, goods and services for which foreigners are always charged more than locals – museums and transport are quite common, tipping/gratuities, etc. And any areas that shouldn’t be visited alone or when it’s dark.

2. Book in advance

Some travelers like to go where the wind takes them – and this is fine if you’re in a group! However, if you’re traveling as a solo female, then you might want to be a bit more organized. You don’t want to end up stuck in a country with nowhere to stay! Make sure you book as much as you can in advance, through reputable companies.

This doesn’t just include flights and accommodation; I’m talking about transfers, tours, and even meal reservations too depending on your level of comfort! Use somewhere like TripAdvisor to research the best places to eat, drink and check out while you’re away. That way you can avoid anywhere unsavory!

3. The right destination

Not everywhere in the world is going to be safe for a solo female traveler, so you have to pick your destination carefully. I have visited a whole heap of different places over the years, where I traveled to Europe for 3 months,[1] volunteered in Italy, got certified in scuba diving in Sri Lanka while traveling solo.

And I have found the majority of destinations would be safe for solo travelers. Destinations like The Maldives, which I found can be done on a budget[2], are little slices of heaven. Perfect for getting some ‘me time,’ learning yoga, adventures like scuba diving, and feeling safe. Do your research before you pick a destination, so you know it’s going to be okay as a female traveling on your own.

4. Trust your gut

When you’re traveling alone, one of the best pieces of advice I can give you is to trust your gut instinct. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t right. Humans are born with a really keen intuition, and we tend to know if something is too good to be true. If someone is offering you cheap drinks in a rundown looking bar, there’s probably a reason for that.

If you meet a stranger and they seem a bit too friendly, perhaps there’s a reason for that too. Not everyone is out to get you, but definitely keep your wits about you and trust your gut.

5. Stay connected

Finally, another crucial tip is to stay connected with friends and family while you’re away. Let them know your plans, give them the details of where you’re staying, and check-in with them once in a while. If you keep your loved ones in the loop, then everyone will feel more at ease. They will feel more comfortable knowing you’re safe and how you’re getting on. And you’ll feel more comfortable knowing that someone is there to check in with, just in case.

6. Freedom

Growing up, freedom is something we look forward to and traveling unescorted is an obvious key to achieving that. It's like the perfect ticket to independence. Traveling on your own lets you create your own schedule and live by your own rules. The obligation of the following someone is off your shoulders and without the restrictions imposed by another person's presence, you can do things at your own comfortable pace.

If this doesn't sound like heaven, then I don't know what does! So Isn't this the freedom you longed for? Then go get it by taking your first flight off!

Interesting Reads: How to Travel the World

7. Breaking through the stereotypes

They said, "It's dangerous, you'll be bombed if you go there." Yet I met the kindest, most humble people there. They said "Are you crazy? You'd be robbed or even worse, you'd be harassed if you travel to that place." Instead, I got the best hospitality, met some wonderful people who treated me with the utmost respect and with them I found a home away from home.

They said, "Solo travel is unsafe." Yet all the credits for the person I am today are because of my solo travels, it made me kinder, stronger, braver and generous person. Today we live in a world ruled by the internet, with news filled with hate and social media filled with visual content.

I travel to give my soul the liberation of finding a non media defined perspective of the world and to be inspired by it's different cultures, people and the local lifestyle. I try not to listen to the negative voices around me instead I sail away from the safer lands and away from the influence of people I know to re-discover myself. Every time.

Interesting Reads: 15 Reasons to Travel While You're Young

8. Self-discovery is the Solo traveler Jargon

When I move away from the comfortable grounds and get away from the influence of people I know, I re-discovered something new about myself. That's simply because when you have a friend, family or anybody you know around you, you start to behave similar to them and even your thoughts get aligned with theirs. I personally give this to the fear of judgment.

So when you don't know anybody and start fresh connections you will be 'you' and that's when you truly understand who "you" really are.

Interesting Reads: How to Start A Journey Of Self-discovery

9. Learnings

From learning to navigating in an unknown place and cracking hacks, to understanding basic words of a new language and organizing skills you will grasp a lot. Self-acceptance and making peace with yourself is one of the most important insights you will receive. You will also learn to take great pictures of yourself using timers, tripods, GoPro, taking help from strangers and what not.

10. Become a Better Person

You may ask how. And the answer is so simple that you already know it. When you see that people across every nation are just like you, they are humans and nationalities, religions, race, cast creed, you will realize that there is no place for hate.

When you encounter acts of kindness from strangers when you share a meal with a family that you don't belong to that's when you will realize how wrong you were when you judge someone by their appearance or what they wear and when you feel compassionate for a community which is not in your hometown. You regain immense faith in Humanity and you become a better person. You become more empathetic and less judgmental.

And yes in between all this you will have a lot of fun.

11. How about safety during solo travel?

Firstly let us accept the reality that bad things can happen anywhere. I've had incidents where I got cheated by locals in Europe but that happened to me in my own country as well. I had to take harassment in the form of abusive catcalls while I was traveling in North India, but that also happened in my own city right next to the street I live in.

So especially If you are a female, whether you are at your own city or elsewhere you cannot afford to take off in protecting/guarding yourself. For any female traveling alone being safe is very important.

One of the things you can do little about is lower safety standards. Largely it’s just a feature of your destination …. Internal travel by plane or train will be safer than bus or taxi; try to insist on a taxi with functioning seatbelts especially for longer trips.

DO take a torch (flashlight) with you for walking about at night, especially in cities where street lighting may be sporadic and the pavement dodgy (manhole covers missing or worse). Think about taking some basic medical kit with you – from Imodium to plasters to antiseptic cream and more; if you’re in a larger group then it makes sense to carry more items than you will want to carry as an individual traveller.

If you hire a car expect a lower quality vehicle and a lower quality road surface and lower quality adherence to traffic rules from your fellow road users so consider paying for a driver too if your budget is up to it.

12. Have strong belief in your instincts

The worst things happen when we ignore the hints that our guts tell us. If you think it's getting darker or the streets are getting deserted, time to go back. If a cab driver seems to be creepy then skip taking it. If you think someone is talking to you or behaving in a way you are not comfortable with then think of immediate escape plans. Staying safe while traveling is better than being sorry.

13. Be Responsible

Always be in your senses, Do not leave hints to strangers that you are vulnerable. Not Trusting strangers is not an option when you are traveling alone, but have control over what you talk and tell them about yourself at least at first. Never tell a stranger that you don't know anyone in that place and that you are traveling alone. Play it maturely and let them have a feeling that if they try to harm you they will be in trouble.

Understand local cultures and traditions, dress up and behave accordingly. DON’T go telling the locals how much better things are where you come from (even if you think they are). DO compliment them on.

14. Money

Always let your family or friends know your whereabouts. Unless you are looking for deep solitude, always carry a phone with a local SIM card. It not only comes to help in panic situations but it's also very important to let our loved ones know that we are safe. Keep the numbers of you host/hostel front desk saved on your phone (keeping a written note also helps just in case).

Always distribute money and copies of your passport and visa in multiple places. Keep half money and cards in pocket or handbag. The rest in the backpack and some if you have a luggage bag. There is nothing wrong with preparing for the worst. Keep pepper spray or a taser handy.

Yes, you’re rich so there will be people who want your money. You’ll be charged more for goods and services (negotiate gracefully but DON’T get worked up about this fact – if the price is still too high just walk away). People will be tempted to relieve you of precious pieces of paper (banknotes) and objects (mobile phones, cameras) if you handle them blatantly and carelessly.

Some may try violence on you as individuals or in groups. The last is always the most unpleasant – and advice can only be the same as at home: Learn in advance what risky areas to avoid, leave anything you don’t need in your hotel, keep cash on your person in several places so you can hand over only a small part of what you have on you, if there’s a real threat of violence and you’re not a marine then DO give them something.

DO make sure you know the price before you buy - especially for things you can’t hand back. If there’s no meter in the taxi agree the fare up front. That tea ceremony in a side alley in Beijing – check the price before you drink a sip. Well, actually, don’t go in in the first place as it’s guaranteed to be a scam, but in case you didn’t know that check the price before you take a sip.

15. Food hygiene

Research very well about the place you are going to. Do's and Don'ts. Speak with local hosts or local people before you go there. On day one, try to reach during the daylight. Take toilet paper, soap (flakes or liquid), wet wipes etc. with you for visiting establishments which may (or may not) have water but nothing else.

Never eat anything that has not been recently cooked (fried street food is fine) or that you have peeled yourself with clean hands. Eat unpeeled fruit and salads only if prepared in environments where you trust the hygiene standards – upmarket hotels and restaurants should be OK.

DON’T drink cold drinks except from bottles or cans. DO make sure the seal on bottled water is not broken though fake seals are now increasingly common in some countries – if that worries you go for glass water bottles with a crown top whenever they’re on offer!

DON’T drink the tap water. DON’T accept ice in your drinks (unless you’re sure it comes from pure water).

These are just a few must safety precautions to keep in mind. But there will be permutations and combinations of situations which you will have to handle on your own. But it's worthwhile:)
Kalyan Panja Kalyan Panja Author

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