Remember the Hero Honda advertisement we grew up watching ‘Why should boys have all the fun’?
Well, most of my life I have asked myself the same question. Being born and brought up in Delhi, the city whose safety issues have been the front-page headline of every newspaper in India, having freedom and independence was never really an option. Whether it was to participate in extra-curricular outside school or to go out with friends and party, we all have grown up hearing ‘No, No, and No’. Even for those of us, whose parents weren’t as strict, looking around at the multitude of safety threats, we were ourselves not comfortable in taking any unwanted risks.
While fighting, struggling, conquering, and being independent in life are certainly some topics that I would like to discuss and talk about someday, today’s blog is about the questions/hurdles most females face while traveling and my guidelines/suggestions/experiences to deal with the same.
Is it safe for girls to travel solo?
Well, the answer is a big No and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. But the question here is, are unforeseen circumstances in your control? No. But can you do something to mitigate those circumstances and take the necessary precautions? Yes.
To be fair, a lot of things are not safe for us. Is going out late at night entirely safe? No. Do we still go? Yes. So, what do we do to make sure we are safe? We try not to go out alone, and if we are alone, we continuously use google maps, we share our location with friends and family, we travel with women-driven cab services, if possible, we talk on call or pretend to and the list goes on. The same goes for traveling. If you are not entirely confident or feel safe, go with a travel company first to have an experience before going out all solo, this would help you to vanquish your fears and inhibitions. While going out all solo, if the problem is safety, go thoroughly through the list of traveling tips mentioned at the end of this blog and if the problem is confidence, read one of my previous blogs ‘Why you should travel solo at least once in your lifetime.’
How to convince parents for traveling?
I can never put enough emphasis on how important it is to live your own life, make your own mistakes and take your own decisions. While I am laying down the list of ways you can convince your parents, I would still like to mention that as much as I love my parents, I love my life too and I don’t want to be on my death bed blaming them or someone else for something I did or didn’t do. So, irrespective of whether they get convinced or not, find your way, make your own path, and gain some life experiences.
- Make your friends meet your parents especially the ones you travel frequently with, this will establish trust for your initial travel trips
- Share the contact numbers of your travel companions/company, you can even make your parents talk to a few before the trip
- Share your location on google maps and itinerary details
- Show them in your day-to-day life that you are independent, responsible, and mature, and can make your own decisions and travel safely
How to travel on a budget?
The easiest way is to save on your transportation and accommodation.
India is vastly connected through buses and trains. They are safe, hygienic, and easily accessible so use them instead of airplanes when traveling short distances. The overnight buses are so convenient, they are my forever go-to means of transport especially to go to mountains.
Homestays/hostels over luxury hotels/resorts are an equally budget-friendly option. The best part about hostels is that you get to meet a lot of new people but even if you want privacy, hostels have private rooms too, go for that instead of hotels.
How to manage hygiene on treks?
Lack of cleanliness and hygiene is something you will witness a lot during treks. You can even face situations where washrooms are not available for a fine long-distance and girls, this can make you uncomfortable.
When it comes to hygiene, I like to plan things in advance and carry a lot of things that might come in handy especially because I trek a lot in all boys’ groups, so I usually have to deal with these issues on my own. Few things which you must carry: pee-safe, sanitizer, wet tissue wipes, tissue papers, toilet rolls, and pads/tampons. If unpleasant odors make you nauseous, please learn to hold your breath. While the situations might not be entirely comfortable or pleasing, by carrying the above-mentioned things you can definitely ensure your hygiene and I can assure the people you meet out there are very understanding and friendly, feel free to ask them in case of any issue and they will definitely help you out.
A very important step to managing your own travel is to make sure you can handle your luggage. That is precisely why I always prefer a backpack over a suitcase. Packing light does not mean to let go of the essentials or depend on borrowing as the means. It does not mean to not carry those medicines, or the extra pair of socks or those warm mufflers when it’s cold, what it means is being organized about it.
- Firstly, pick an optimal size bag that you know you can easily carry.
- Make a checklist and before putting something in your bag ask yourself if you really need it.
- Never do it at the last minute
- If you are traveling for more than a week or even a month, it does not mean you have to pack that many clothes, a laundry facility is available at every hotel/hostel/homestay
- Do not pack things that you know will be available at the place you stay
- Even if you wish to wear a different look daily, style it differently, don’t go around packing 4-5 pairs of jeans for a 10-day long trip.
- Packing light does not mean compromising on hygiene
Taking calculated risks
I have always been a risk-taker. I feel taking risks is very important for growth and experiences. But it is very important to make sure to take calculated risks only. What are calculated risks?
Going on a solo trip is a risk, but making sure you follow all precautions for your safety makes it a calculated risk. Carrying cash is a risk, but keeping the cash at 3-4 different places instead of stacking it at one place is a calculated risk. Traveling without telling your parents is a risk, but informing your close friends and sharing your location and updates with them all the time makes it a calculated risk. Thus, mitigating the problems/threats that can arise from that risk is called taking a calculated risk. So next time you decide to go reckless or on an adventure, make sure it is a calculated risk.
Ultimate traveling tips for girls
- Always carry a pepper spray/pocket knife (I know you hear it all the time, but do you actually apply it?)
- Share your location with your friends/family (I always share my location on google maps with my friends when I travel solo and even when I am out late at night alone)
- Carry a power bank/always keep your phone charged (Google maps, emergency numbers, torchlight, everything is in your phone)
- Never get too drunk to handle yourself especially on a solo trip (Recklessness is not preferred while traveling solo)
- Pre-book your transportation, accommodation, etc. to avoid last-minute problems that can cause a threat to your safety (You do not want to be stranded at night)
- Carry wet tissues, wipes, pee-safe, tissue paper, sanitizer, and toilet paper to stay hygienic (No matter how unhygienic the conditions are, they are a lifesaver)
As I travel more and more, I learn and come back to write and share my experiences with you all. I am still a work-in-progress so if you feel I missed out on something, please add it in the comments section below, and in case something turns out to be useful for you, do share it with more and more people.