Solo Travel: To Go or Not To Go?

solo female travel india, solo travel tips

On my solo sojourns, Instagram has become my new companion; it is where I share the smaller, deeper joys of travel. I’ll be running a themed series every month, to inspire wanderlust and share practical travel tips. The first theme was “Solo Travel”, delving into the whys and hows, and exploring the notion of solitude.

Come with me, for if you never step out that door, you’ll never know how far you can walk.

What to expect when you travel alone?

“I made friends, not just with locals and fellow travellers, but with my own self.” 

solo travel, women traveling alone, solo travel ideas
On my first solo trip in Spiti.

My first solo trip took me to the high Himalayas of Spiti; I was on a sabbatical from my corporate job, and spent a month volunteer traveling, helping the local organisation Spiti Ecosphere set up a “monk for a month” program for travellers. I hiked and hitch-hiked to remote monasteries and nunneries, and spent my days talking to monks and nuns about their daily lives (Read: Traveling Alone in India: Am I Crazy?). It was the beginning of a long and evolving relationship, one that continues to urge me to travel alone, seek solitude and experience the world on my terms.

Why go solo?

“Because how else can you feel complete freedom – to shed the baggage of everyday life, make your own choices, and even simply be the person you always wanted to be?”

travelling alone, solo travel tips
Writing in my studio above Lake Atitlan, Guatemala.

Back in 2011, I decided to travel alone for a reason – I wanted to test the boundaries of my comfort zone and let my dreams fly, without anyone who had known me in my regular life, judging them. I wanted to be anonymous, build new relationships, experience a way of life different from mine, introspect in the mountains and well, just be…

That first solo trip was full of so many firsts – watching a lunar eclipse amid a million shooting stars, sleeping in a monastery, stopping cars for a ride with my thumb, riding a makeshift ropeway from one mountain to another, chugging chhang (a local brew) late in the night (Read: Spiti: 10 Experiences That’ll Take Your Breath Away). But it was a journey as much within – as every solo trip since has been – it made me realise that I can be solely responsible for myself, revel in my own company, learn as much from fleeting encounters as deep relationships, trust my gut yet put my faith in strangers, feel utterly free in my mind and soul. And for that feeling, I urge you to travel solo atleast once in your life.

why travel solo

Are you ready for your first solo trip?

  “The thing about solo travel is, whether it’s your first trip or tenth, you might never feel 100% ready.  There will always be a little voice at the back of your head asking, are you crazy? “

solo travel blog, solo female travel
Discovering my own backyard – the mountains of Kumaon and Garhwal.

I try to quieten that voice by pouring a lot of time into researching my destination. Having a fair idea of what I’m in for, while leaving enough space to be impulsive, is the right balance for me. You just have to experiment to see what works for you – some people prefer to plan to the t, some prefer to show up without any plans at all.

If you’re on the fence about traveling solo, start small (Read: How I Conquer My Solo Travel Fears). Take the coming weekend and explore your own town or city as though it’s your first time. Have a meal alone, speak to locals you’ve never had a conversation with, spend time with yourself in the kind of place that you’d love on your travels… or take a short trip out of your town to somewhere you’ve been before. It doesn’t have to be long or expensive. See how far you can stretch your comfort zone without getting bored or lonely.

Ultimately, solo travel is a leap of faith – you can jump into the deep end or slowly test the waters, floating there.

How to plan your solo adventures?

“You have to set your own criteria, do your research, and find a place that excites and engages you so much that you don’t crave the company of someone you know.” 

solo female traveller, solo female travel blog, solo female travel india
Solitude by Pawna Lake.

My criteria is no crowds, local interaction, natural beauty and a unique culture – that’s the way I like to immerse myself in a destination. Some simple planning tips:

  • Plan to arrive durning the day and book a place atleast for the first night. The first step out of the door is the hardest, so go easy on yourself even if you like to show up without any bookings.
  • Look for experiential accommodations and homestays. Take the time to read reviews and ask questions. It’s nice to have a host to look out for you and interact with you in an unknown place (Read: Practical Ways I’ve Learnt to Stay Safe While Travelling Alone).
  • Pack light and keep a self defence weapon (like pepper spray or a taser) at easy reach for your peace of mind.
  • Stay in touch with someone who inspires you to keep going when the road looks tough or lonely. In my case, that’s my social networks.
  • Be open to adventure and new friendships, but trust your gut (Read: Practical Tips to Plan Your First Solo Trip).

  How to convince your parents to let you go alone?

“Grow your parents into the idea of solo travel, just as you would grow yourself. Don’t ask them for money, and don’t treat it as just a holiday.” 

solo female travel india, indian travellers
Hiking along the Deodar forests of Kumaon.

Truth is, every trip comes with a mini battle for me, even after all these years! But I handle my own finances, make my own decisions and feel responsible for my own safety – as any adult should. When I am out having my adventures, it’s difficult for my parents to imagine what things on the ground are like; the media is forever propagating negativity. So I don’t tell them everything I’m getting upto, and keep in touch (via Skype / Whatsapp when I’m out of India) once every day. Sometimes you have to fight for your happiness when it comes to Indian families (travel or otherwise), and in my opinion, it’s a worthwhile battle (Read: Dealing with Travel-Wary Indian Parents).

solo travel advice, first solo trip

How to deal with loneliness on the road?

  “Many people associate solo travel with loneliness, but just like life, you can choose how lonely you want the road to be.” 

Shivya Nath, the shooting star, solo traveller, solo travel tips
Inspired to write at Lakshman Sagar, Rajasthan.

You could plan your trips around meeting fellow travellers or locals – I often do the latter by choosing homestays and local-run accommodations. But I also crave solitude often, in a remote village where no one knows me, seeking fleeting interactions over deeper relationships. When loneliness threatens to creep in, here’s what I do:

  • Get on my social networks and enjoy virtual company.
  • Write; words are like a balm for lonely nights.
  • Talk to the locals; everyone has a story and it’s not hard to find someone to swap yours with (Read: Traveling Alone? 8 Ways to Deal With Loneliness).

What are your thoughts, experiences and apprehensions about solo travel?

My next Instagram series begins in a few days, and will feature fellow Indians who have quit their regular jobs to travel, how they make a living on the road, and how you can do it too.

Join me on Instagram @shivya.

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      1. Yes now it is 🙂 Got an ‘oops’ message earlier when i’d tried a couple times. Great article!

    1. Thanks for sharing a beautifully written post Ankita. Reminded me of all the reasons I choose to go alone, and yet not alone at all.

  1. Solo travel is by far my favorite. So much things to see, so much things to learn. It’s not quite the same when you have companions. I love traveling with my husband, but once a year, I like to go somewhere by myself. Excellent post. I feel that as a traveler, I owe it to the world to inspire people to do the same. There’s just so much to discover–places, history, culture, and things about yourself.

  2. Hi Shivya,
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on solo travel. I especially liked the part regarding convincing your parents. I’m currently trying to talk to mine about a solo trip to Northern England – it’s a slow process.

    1. All the best Amanda! Hope they’ll be supportive of your adventures 🙂

  3. Puneet Goyal says:

    Nice! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  4. Hi Shooting Star,

    It seems our criteria matches to an extent – no crowds, local interaction (I am a bit introvert), culture, natural beauty, quite road and locality, sleepy town, local food, not-so touristy places well I can go on. But I haven’t been to lot many places, still exploring the state of Goa and every time it offers me something new. Sometimes I wonder there’s so much to see and learn in India why people go abroad – just a thought.
    My idea of travelling solo is with my better half. Once we went with friends and that was biggest mistake, not again, not at all!
    Travel is personal and that’s better
    Thank you and keep inspiring. Wish to meet you in person someday.

    1. There’s no doubt there’s so much to experience in India alone! But going out of the country gives you a whole new perspective to everything you take / don’t take for granted – that’s what I feel atleast, and try to mix the two up.

      It’s great that you’ve found your ideal travel style and partner. That’s all that matters!

  5. Absolutely – solo travel is full of the romance of travel. I really enjoy it and invariably find the experience to be much more intense and eye opening.

  6. Very nice and informative post.. I also prefer solo travelling, sometimes with others but alone in the crowd 😉

  7. Hi Traveler Girl.
    I found you on twitter and enjoyed your blog. I’m from iran and now a solo traveler in Tbilisi. I go back to Iran tomorrow. If you’re free this afternoon, this would an honor to accompany you.

  8. This literally answered every question that’s been nagging at me while planning my next trip!!

  9. I like travel with a friend instead of solo travel. Anyway, the first picture is unique one. I like it.

  10. Quit your job at 23!. OMG, you are crazy and mad, but above all inspiring 🙂 Keep up. You sound incredible 🙂

  11. Hi, I love your posts. My first solo trip was in 1986 and I totally loved it. But for a number of years, I felt the need to explain why: ‘Nobody has the time or money to travel with me right now…’ But the past few years I proudly tell people who ask that yes I travel solo and love it. (When they ask Are you alone? I teply, No, I’m in good company, with myself). I feel open to whatever comes, follow my instincts, my own path. Feel so connected to me, to my surroundings, to the universe… I meet so many wonderful people, laugh every day and live life more intensely when I’m away from home (Canada). This coming year I am selling my house and will be living and travelling solo 6 mths in Mexico. Can’t wait to get rid of all this stuff and be free and light as a bird. Happy travels, fellow wanderer!

  12. Pingback: Solo travel
  13. My first solo trip was a year back when i visited meghalaya without letting my parents know about it.

  14. jasmineamana says:

    Reblogged this on jasmineamana.

  15. travelling solo has always been a reading your blog I figured out pros and cons about it ,will keep them in mind always.

  16. I really liked your post. Thank you Shivya,
    I got a serious travel bug after my dream trip Leh. I want to travel more and more to see unexplored nature. I really excited to start my journey asap.

  17. Hey! I just stumbled into your blog. this is amazing. i am also a beginner in the travel arena and have traveled solo to only a few places. I just wanted to know if you use websites where you can stay at a host’s home eg. What are your thoughts on that? Does it enhances the experience or you recommend something else.

  18. Tomorrow I leave for my first solo trip. As you said, in back of mind there is a force that restrains you from taking the leap of faith. With fingers crossed I m leaving for tirthan Valley. Could you please suggest me some essentials to carry along?

    1. Hi Binny! All the best for your first solo adventure! I guess it must be cold there now, carry enough warm clothes. Books, a notebook to write, music you like, these things always tend to put me in my comfort zone in a new place 🙂

  19. Voler comme un aigle….. excellent post

    1. Unnikrishnan kallath says:

      Thank you

  20. Chandra mowli says:

    Just I can not understand what is inner meaning of solo travel

  21. Loved your blog and the thoughts you have written over it. Inspired by your solo travel post 🙂

  22. Hey I like the way u r pursuing ur dreams….its inspiring.. I used to travel alone once upon a time when I had all the reasons to fear the world as I was a young Dame that time…..lately I have been feeling fearful of venturing out alone in train or plane…dunno why…I am a mother of two sons an en an educator…may b living in a small place I have shut myself off from the reality bytes….pls pen down a few words of encouragement!!

  23. BE ALIVE! BE FREE! JUST BE! ………. I can’t make it outside at all most days and/or weeks! I can’t and simply don’t go out of my bedroom and have to keep the door shut too!

  24. Soumali Bhattacharjya says:

    Hi Shivya, I am from kolkata, your blog is really much inspiring and found interesting. For me, solo travelling is another way to discover myself.

  25. Hello Ma’am,

    From last few days, I’m planning to travel solo for the first time and probably I’ll be leaving soon. As you must know there are lots of ifs and buts going on in my mind. It’s difficult to deal with them but your blogs are coming to rescue. Re-reading them is gradually decreasing the volume of inner-me. The best part is you’ve written on the basic questions a first timer faces along with providing solutions.
    Thanks a lot.

  26. Prabhakar Dhage says:

    I read your travel blog. Its very inspiring for solo travelling. I am also travel crazy and thinking to quit job, but because of family responsibility still thinking is going on.

  27. rahul5111 says:

    I see these wonderful destinations,looks very awesome.i like these types of places.these are very different and beautiful from others.thanks for sharing these useful tips.

  28. rahul5111 says:

    These solo destinations looks very different and every person like these types of destinations . but i an confused please guide me some more tips of solo traveling.

  29. Hi Shivya, Always when I plan to travel with my friends/colleagues/family, they have some reason to postpone or cancel the exciting plan. I’m just fed up of planning and seeing the plan getting nowhere on to the roads. So I started to look at the group activities arranged by the travel companies say like a weekend trek/ explore a new place/ just a weekend getaway.. Do you think I’m on the right path?

    Savitha Siddaiah

  30. What a powerfull and beautifull article here. I can only imagine how it is in real life… the mixture of views, feelings and senses make it even more intense. The power of simplicity can be so complex!

  31. Hey Shivya! Awesome article 🙂
    It’s in my bucket list to travel solo, your article is so helpful and with full of suggestions for a girl..

  32. Solo travel is on my dream plate still .You are inspirable

  33. I love solo travel. Solo travel is much better than is group travel. Because In Solo Travel, there are things you want to do. No restriction, No arbitrary etc. Only enjoy.. Your blog is my way to desired information. Thanks a lot for this beauty Enjoying article with me. I appreciate it very much!

  34. Hey Shivya,
    Such an amazing post, beautifully written. Travelling solo is something I had been thinking about since long and finally I have taken the first step and it’s not just travelling solo, I have also decided to not to have a permanent address from now on. I am having mixed feelings about it but also I am extremely excited to lead a solo life. And your posts have been such an inspiration to me. Thank you 😊

  35. DDayDreamer says:

    Hi Shivya,
    Been reading your blogs for last two hours. The best trip of my life was my only solo trip till now to Pondicherry. It was in a sense liberating for me. Loved your post. Going to read hyperlinks now. Please write about solotrips to various locations in India.

  36. you set a new benchmark for solo travelers and a total inspiration. thanks for sharing your wonderful experiences with us.

  37. 4duckie2see says:

    Why would you advise people travel with (at least in the Netherlands forbidden) weapons? Weapons that could be easily used against you when you don’t know how to handle them…

  38. Pratyusha Sen says:

    “Take the coming weekend and explore your own town or city as though it’s your first time. Have a meal alone, speak to locals you’ve never had a conversation with, spend time with yourself in the kind of place that you’d love on your travels… or take a short trip out of your town to somewhere you’ve been before. It doesn’t have to be long or expensive. See how far you can stretch your comfort zone without getting bored or lonely.”

    This is the best tip of all. 😀

    Starting small is probably the best idea to conquer fears. More than the outside world, I fear myself. My stubborn introvert self who hesitates everywhere to open her mouth and speak to a stranger. I don’t know how to come out of that shell, or rather if I want to come out at all.

  39. Hello Shivya, I feel so privilaged to read the vast pleasentry suprise that you offers to you readers. It is through you that we explore the rampant beauty of the unknown world amongsts us and you thereby takes us to the fun filled adventerous nature passes as our dearest companion. Thank you Shivya ma’am for your utmost inspiration to us young readers and bloggers to persue our dreams- the special things that stands vivid for our passion to consume it. Yes, with the faith in your amiability and trusting your true nature that reveals us on your magnificient calliber on recreating every single second into an unforgetable piece of mind. Write endless n best of luck ahead.

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