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Posted at: Jun 24, 2019, 7:33 AM; last updated: Jun 24, 2019, 7:33 AM (IST)

I walk alone by choice

Just because you are alone, doesn’t mean you are lonely, say the solo travellers from the region, who swear by the joys of exploring a place all by themselves

Gurnaaz Kaur

Going on a vacation all by yourself is not a new thing, but it’s not that popular either. If you are someone who has been considering ‘going solo’, you are not alone. While it may sound daunting for the first time, the outcome is far expansive and rather life-changing. There are many youngsters in the region who believe in discovering the joys of exploring the world as a solo traveller.  

As the aphorism goes, ‘While it is wise to learn from experience, it is wiser to learn from the experiences of others’, here we list down some dos and don’ts of solo travelling based on their adventures. All these lone travellers swear by the perks of travelling on your own terms. But there are things that one needs to keep in mind.

Don’t invite attention

Shivangi, an advocate by profession, had her first experience of travelling alone at the age of 25. Inspired by the movie, Queen, she landed in England to begin her solo sojourns. In three years, she has driven to 22 states in India and tried some adventure sports in Australia. According to her, some don’ts are more important than the dos. For instance, she tells, “Never book your stay only because the place is inexpensive; your safety is a priority.” She insists on never lying to your family about your trips because, “At the end of the day, they will be the ones who will take care of you if something goes wrong.”

Adding to this list of don’ts is life coach Sahar Gharachorlou. Travelling solo since the age of 17, she has checked off Turkey, Singapore, Iran, UAE, Canada, Netherlands, Germany, UK, Iceland, Finland and Belgium from her list. She says, “Don’t go to places where you feel uncomfortable. When travelling, don’t carry expensive stuff like jewellery and never exchange money on road sides.” 

Know the cultural nuances

Amardeep Singh, a social entrepreneur, has also had his share of experiences in Egypt, US and UK apart from many states in India to say, “People in other countries are very punctual. If you go by the Indian standard time concept (being too casual about the given time), you are sure to miss out on a lot. Especially if you are a part of group activities, be on time.”

Arshiya Khanna, who is an assistant brand manager, recently went to Sri Lanka and has her plans set for Europe this year. “I’ve been to Andaman, Dubai, Thailand, Kolkata and for me the biggest lesson has been that solo trips can be a great way to meet people, make friends, learn about different countries and cultures.” She adds, “Don’t focus on ticking off a lot of places. It can get exhausting and take away most of your time. Instead, focus on exploring and chilling.” Arshiya learnt it the hard way. “While being prepared is important, be flexible about the last few days of your trip. You discover so much about the place where you would want to spend more time than when you planned the itinerary.”

Do your homework well   

Manik Katyal, a lawyer, is another travel junky who swears by solo travelling.  Having covered China, New York, Italy, Portugal, Dhaka, his learning is, “I feel one shouldn’t overdo gestures with locals. Language can be a great hurdle in enjoying the local feel of a country, so make sure you learn basic greetings in the local language.”

If that was about the don’ts, these solo adventurers also have a good list of dos to fill you up with things that will make your experience an enriching one. 

Be open to new options

“Opt for a hostel instead of a hotel, it’s the best way to enjoy solitude and have company. But while booking it, make sure it is in the main area and check the rating and pictures online,” says Arshiya. Another must-do according to her is knowing how to use Google maps and browsing online before paying too much for anything. 

According to Manik, the dos include, “Proper due diligence of the area you shall be staying at can save you unnecessary expenses. Couch surfing is worth trying and full of adventure. Exploring new and local cuisines is the best way to know about a place and a must-do on my list.”

Explore with a local

If you plan on hiring a car, knowing the parking rules is a must, says Amardeep. He adds, “Explore the place with some locals. Showaround is an app that helps you connect with the locals who can help you explore hidden, historical gems.” Reading reviews about the place you book is on the top of dos’ list for Shivangi. She suggests, “Always keep your power bank charged and if your phone battery is about to die, call your dear ones from the number of a person who is staying there. Always keep pepper spray and a torch in your handbag.”

For Sahar, other than the basic research of the place, “Know the difference between places where you can shop vis-a-vis places where you can enjoy. Last but not the least, when you need to be clicked, look for another solo traveller who wants to be clicked too.”

gurnaaz@tribunemail.com

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