Ready for my first international solo backpacking trip!
Solo Travel

How to prepare yourself for Solo Travel – Part 1

“Just go. Getting out the door is always the hardest part” – I have this quote framed just beside the main door of my house. In fact, it was one of the many things that gave me the courage to do solo travel.

Often little things like these set you on a course of doing something bigger. In retrospect, I can see so many little things that I did, intentionally or unintentionally that actually prepared me for my solo travel adventures.

Although solo travel sounds exciting and adventurous, it is equally daunting; but what’s the fun if there are no challenges after all.

So, worry not!! Here I am sharing 11 ways (in two parts – Part 1 and Part 2) through which you could actually prepare yourself for your much-awaited solo trip. This is Part -1 of the blog and contains 5 ways to get used to solo travel.

Solo travel to Dholkal Ganesh trek in Dantewada, Chhattisgarh
Exploring the forests of Dantewada, Chhattisgarh, while doing the famous Dholkal Ganesh
1. Have some general travel experience before your first solo travel

I know this is pretty basic, but you can’t run until you know how to walk first!! Same goes with travel.

The annual ritual of visiting my relatives at village during summer vacation was the only travel I did while growing up. Those annual village trips were always road trips and I learnt a lot about travel and road trips.

That’s why, it is important to have some kind of prior travel experience before embarking upon a solo trip. In fact, any prior experience, where you had planned any family trip or where you traveled as a couple, is very important. Such trips lay foundation and prepare you for solo travel.

Traveled with husband to Doodhpathri, Kashmir, before embarking on my solo travel journey
Traveled with husband to Doodhpathri, Kashmir, before embarking on my solo travel journey
2. Join a group tour

A good way to start is by joining a group tour. There are many travel agencies which organize group tours like all-women group tour, trekking tour, camping tour, heritage tour, etc. Such group tours are a good way of learning how to travel with like-minded strangers, without feeling lonely.

Initially, you may join the group tours with your family members/friends; later, once you get comfortable, you may join the group tours alone, where you are only surrounded by strangers.

Although many people consider such group tour as solo trip by itself (since they go alone initially and meet new people during the tour), however, when I refer to solo travel, I am talking about a solo trip which is self-supported. A tour where the logistics have already been taken care of by the organizer and you are always travelling with a group, doesn’t really seem a solo trip to me.

Although I did solo trip to Ladakh, I joined a small group from Leh for two-days trip to Pangong Lake
Although I did solo trip to Ladakh, I joined a small group from Leh for two-days trip to Pangong Lake
3. Be a tourist in your own city

It’s actually funny that most of us crave for traveling far, without even realizing that there is so much to see in our own city. Your own city provides a perfect opportunity to get the experience of solo travel.

Imagine yourself as a tourist in your own city, pick a location you want to see, and start exploring by yourself, without your family or friends. Make a solo visit to any tourist destination, like a museum, in your city. Even if you have been to such places with your family/friends before, you will realize that traveling on your own will give you altogether a different perspective and feel of the same location.

Spending some time at the Marine Drive a.k.a. Necklace Road at Mumbai
Spending some time at the Marine Drive a.k.a. Necklace Road at Mumbai
4. Go out alone

My own solo travel experiences started when I used to live in Noida. Corporate and legal work drained me so much that even going out with friends seemed too much of an effort. Ultimately, I started going for shopping and movies alone and quite loved it. Little did I know that I would be traveling to countries all by myself.

We are conditioned to believe that eating alone or going out for shopping or a movie alone is a sign of loneliness; there is a kind of stigma attached to it, and we initially dread to do it. Although there is nothing wrong in being social, an outing with friends and a solo sojourn are two different things and you cannot say one is better than the other.

So, start going out alone. It could be as small as going alone for a movie or shopping. Go out to a café or restaurant and sit there for some time having snacks or lunch/dinner. Such small solo outings will give you the idea and feel of what you are actually getting into!

Roaming and enjoying the local culture at Turtuk, Nubra Valley
Roaming and enjoying the local culture at Turtuk, Nubra Valley
5. Explore a new city and culture

Once you get comfortable with traveling alone in your own city, do a solo trip to a new city. Various cities across many states in India have their own identity, and you don’t really need to go out of India to see different cultures.

If you are not yet comfortable to do a solo trip to a new city, explore a city where you already have relatives/friends.

Do solo trip in a metro city as well as a small town. Solo trip to a city where people do not speak your language is also an important experience.

You may also extend your office/work trip and explore the city alone. My own first solo experience in another city was actually an extended office trip to Ahmedabad, where after finishing the official training at IIM, I stayed back another day, which I spent touring the city and gorging on the variety of local food.

Ready for my first international solo backpacking trip!
Ready for my first international solo backpacking trip!

Check out How to prepare yourself for Solo Travel – Part 2 for remaining 6 ways to prepare yourself to travel alone for the first time.

Are you planning your solo trip? What is that one thing holding you back? If you have already traveled solo, how did you prepare yourself? Is there anything else which helped you in preparing yourself for your first solo trip? Share in the comments section below.

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