While every one of us are looking to channel ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ in our lives, reality often kicks in. Whether it is the somewhat tedious planning or budget constraints, the fear of venturing out alone, or the recent command of COVID-19 plaguing (quite literally) our dream bucket list destinations, the reality of solo travel is not always synonymous to the glamour associated with the ideal. However, the recent upsurge in people opting to venture out alone is inspiration enough to recheck our calendars and book flights. The best part? Women are leading the charge.
In India, the idea of women travelling alone still raises eyebrows, serving as a rude reality check of the path still left to achieve both equality and freedom. Despite that, several Indian women have been shunning their internal fears, as well as societal taboos, to seek adventure on their own terms. The momentary disconnect from reality paves the way for us to reconnect with ourselves. In a broader context, the idea of women travelling solo is a symbolic nod to the need for independence and empowerment. To warm up to the idea of a trip for one, we at Le Mill asked three female brave-hearts to share their experiences, debunk the myths and explicate the realities of travelling alone.
Planning and Logistics Matter
While the idea of travelling solo certainly invokes dreams of cross-country backpacking, sipping a glass of wine with a view, or relishing in the luxuries of moving at your own pace – it is not devoid of logistical pre-planning. Take it from seasoned travelers, Chandni and Simone – two best friends who have garnered a swarm of envious followers under the Instagram banner of @grabyourglobe. They affirm that “while solo travel is undoubtedly one of the most empowering things anyone can do, it is best to consider all the pros and cons.” Whilst showing full support to female travelers longing for adventure, they remind us, “it is necessary to do ample research to gauge the environment of a place. . . logistically, one must keep multiple copies of important IDs (passport etc.) to access in the case of any emergency.” Seconded by Medhavi Davda - another adventure-seeker who has dotted her Instagram feed @ravenouslegs with envy-invoking experiences and travels. She rightly reminds us, “There is a lot that goes behind the scenes when you travel solo. The ‘Expectation vs. Reality’ situations do happen when you miss a bus, get duped, or get stranded in the dark.” While this is part and parcel of shaping memories and lessons on a trip, it is necessary to give into sensible planning in advance.
The trend of solo travel for women is certainly a step in the right direction for freedom and self-reliance. However they, as underlined by our travel experts, should not come at the cost of ensuring personal safety. Medhavi says, “While on solo trips, follow your instincts, read the signs, and don’t get complacent about staying alert.” The need for safety is echoed by Chandni and Simone - “It is crucial to keep yourself safe - so carry pepper spray, have a chat with your local hosts for your well-being, and stay connected with a reliable contact at all times.”
While planning your first solo trip, it would be wise to choose well-known destinations and recommendations over entirely remote locations to grapple with the realities of venturing out alone.
Champion Your Independence, at Your Own Pace
Reality checks aside, the beauty of travelling solo is still not lost whatsoever. Medhavi’s experiences certainly reflect the fantasies that occupy our daydreams about such a journey. “It is more than possible to romance with yourself in the most beautiful corners of the globe”, reminiscing that she “had started out with a strong desire to explore the heights and depths of our planet and in turn I ended up discovering myself.”
Once planning and precautions are in place, one is ready to go on relish in the much-needed independence and experience of setting out on your own terms. As said by Chandni and Simone, “It is an opportunity to network with people and make new friends from all over the world.” And that too through unique opportunities that help push boundaries of familiarity. “Go for guided tours, local pub crawls, and day-long excursions where you’re guaranteed to meet new people.”
Beyond the excitement of diving into the new and initially uncomfortable possibilities, a solo trip manifests a unique journey of self-discovery. The hesitance of being alone is replaced by a love for solitude. The fear of losing your way is overpowered by the ability to make independent decisions. Medhavi’s experience confirms this ideal – “The journey of self-discovery has been the most valuable and beautiful gift I could give myself. Solo travelling brought in a feeling of liberation with a completely different high. They say solitude is dangerous, it is addictive, as once you see how peaceful it is, you don’t want to deal with people who drain your energy anymore.” In the midst of standard chaos, a trip by yourself is not just a luxury but also a lesson in learning to realize the beauty of your own needs.
It is never too late to strip away the anxieties and take the plunge into exploring the world at your own pace. With women having been on the receiving end of having their lives laid out for them, travelling solo is more than a simple trip. It is a symbol and call for individuality, responsibility and empowerment. With the current lockdowns being lifted, and new opportunities resurfacing - it is time to take a note of these tips, book that flight, and embrace the journey of self-indulgence and fulfillment.