Guest post & photos by Ishita Sood
It is not easy being a solo female traveler in India. There are two reasons for this: 1) there are women who want to travel alone, but can’t find the courage to actually do it and 2) there are people who do not get approval from their families. Not falling into either of these two categories (thankfully coming from a very supportive family), I faced the concern of safety more than the concern of approval. When I traveled alone for the first time, it was a question more of “how” will I travel alone rather than “why” will I want to travel alone.
Traveling solo for the past 3 years and most of that time to Italy, I am always asked questions such as: “What do you do when you travel solo?” “How do you pass the time?” “Don’t you ever get bored?” “How do you eat alone in a restaurant?” “Don’t you feel lonely?” and the list goes on…
And for all those questions my only answer is “If you don’t try, how will you ever know??”
For me, traveling solo is about first finding the courage and inner strength to do it. If you are not convinced, you can never convince your family. Being decisive about it is important so stop listening to that voice in your head that tells you not to do it. Just take the plunge!
Traveling to Italy several times has helped me learn to be vigilant and aware of my surroundings. Once during a train ride from Orvieto to Perugia I felt two men staring at my bag. I immediately knew that they were aiming to take it and slowly went to the waiting room where I found a group of Italian women sitting together. I explained in my broken Italian what I felt and they helped me. One of them stayed with me on the train to Perugia and made sure I arrived at the station without trouble. Bless her and her husband! Incidents like these always make me appreciate the kindness of strangers.
Here are some tips for staying safe and hope these are useful to anyone who is questioning being alone on the road.
- Try to take a flight that lands either in the morning or afternoon. Since you are in a foreign land where you possibly don’t speak the language it is best to reach your accommodation before nightfall.
- Stay vigilant around train stations and always keep your belongings together. Never ever have all cash and cards in one place.
- Keep in touch with family or friends to let them know where you are. It also helps drive loneliness away.
- Save numbers of the Embassy of your country in your phone and make sure you have copies of your Passport and Visa with you.
- Strike conversations with locals – the gelato shop owner or someone sitting right across from you at a restaurant. It always leads to interesting times.
- Look confident and try not to panic. Stay friendly, but be aware of your overall surroundings.
- Don’t judge people before you even talk to them. There are all kinds of people that make the world and most of them are usually nice. 🙂
It is a bit strange to be on your own the very first time, but after a few days you start to enjoy it. Happy Traveling!
Ishita is an Indian Travel Blogger who is very passionate about Italy and feels deeply connected to its language, culture and history. She writes about her Italian travels on her blog Italophilia and plans to start trips to Sicily this fall. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and can be found on Facebook and Instagram as @Italophilia