Traveling solo for the very first time can be extremely intimidating. As a female solo traveler from India, I always had my apprehensions about hitting the road on my own.
I can blame it to social norms or my upbringing, I could blame it to my comfort zone or my close knit friends circle, I could give a hundred reasons why I didn’t start travelling alone sooner. The idea is to stop the blame game, if you are still on the sidelines and just go – wander off to unknown lands on your own.
Things changed after my first solo escapade and now I would not hesitate to head off in any direction by myself… In fact, I prefer that.
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Solo Travel Deterrents
I often get asked questions about my solo travels and if its safe to be on your own in a new land. Coming from India, my answer to fellow Indians is always the same – Is India safe? Is any place safe? Is your house 100% secure?
Nothing is “safe” and everything is safe if you are street smart and aware of your surroundings. That being said, I am the queen of travel fails, so misadventures are part and parcel of my solo escapades. I have now learnt to take them in my stride and learn from each fail. After all, what doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger.
Other factors that hold people off from travelling on their own is the feeling of being alone.
Well, let me tell you a secret – you are NEVER alone when you travel solo!
Sounds strange? It’s not.
I make friends instantly and often find myself surrounded by awesome fellow solo travellers which makes my travels that much more interesting. Meeting people and making friends on the road is the BEST part about travelling alone.
You don’t have to be overly social – just a smile and a hello can go a long way in making life long friendships on the go. You can even choose to travel along with your newly found mates or choose to drop them at any point if you think you need your space or find new friends.
As an Indian, I also felt too pampered. I mean India has cheap help so at home I don’t really have to lift a finger, unless I want to. Coming from a cocooned place and going abroad where you need to do everything yourself from cooking, cleaning, washing dishes and all chores (long term travels entail all of that) – It can be a lot. However, after the first few times, you feel more independent.
Well and lets not get started on Indian society or parents. The most common question from older folks would be “Akeli kaise jayegi” (How will you go alone?). It takes a while and a few “successful” solo trips to have them believe in you but like every other parent, they will always worry. Its normal and one should appreciate their concerns and address them. It would make your life that much more simpler and secure more happy future solo travels for you.
How to Choose the Perfect Destination?
Solo travel Asia Or Beyond?
If you are convinced you need to try solo travel at least once in your life, then the next important part is choosing the right solo travel destination.
A destination can make or break your first solo adventure – trust me on that.
I would suggest an international destination within Asia (So you are still somewhat close to home, yet out of your comfort zone).
I could be biased but Asia always felt like second home and solo travel Asia seemed closer to my comfort zone versus backpacking Europe for the very first time.
After years of solo travel, I would highly recommend South East Asia as your first solo travel stop. For Indians, Thailand makes MOST sense as an excellent solo destination.
Well, its simple – flight prices are sometimes cheaper than travelling within India. If I check rates from Delhi to South India vs to Bangkok, I often find cheaper deals on Air Asia to Thailand. So, why should I travel within India when I go visit new , existing, lands at the same price? My decision would easily be made right here.
Thailand also has a buzzing backpacker community. So not only can you travel to Thailand cost effectively but also make new friends easily as you will find tons of other people who are travelling on their own. It’s way easier to make friends with other solo travellers vs those vacationing with their buddies.
There is also a lot to see and do in Thailand and you can spend months exploring the exotic islands (Like Koh Tao, Koh Samui, Krabi, Phi Phi, Koh Lipe etc) or jungles (Khao sok etc). If you are a city person, Bangkok itself can keep you engrossed for weeks or head off to the much quieter Chiang Mai after spending a few days in Chiang Rai. With so much to see and do , there is never a dull moment.
I have already been to Thailand ten times and I still have so many items to knock off my bucket list – its a never ending adventure, which makes for the BEST first solo travel destination you could ever ask for!
Tips for First time solo travel to Thailand
Okay so if you have zeroed in on Thailand as your stop, here’s what you can do to make the most of your solo travel and ensure you have a BLAST!
Note – These tips are not just for solo travel to Thailand but literally anywhere in the world.
Stay in a Hostel – I make it a point to ALWAYS stay in a hostel if I am travelling all alone. It’s so easy to make friends in a hostel. Usually, it takes me less than 5 minutes to make a friend whom I know I will be travelling around with for next few days/ weeks. It’s THAT easy.
If you don’t like sharing, opt for a private room instead of a dorm but DON’T be holed up in your room all day. Always sit out in the common areas and talk to passer by’s. I usually book dorm for atleast ONE night before moving into privates so I can socialize easily.
Join group tours – Joining a fun adventure with new people can be a great way to break the ice. During my first solo trip to Laos, I joined a fun adventure tour which involved tubing, caving, hiking and kayaking. Not only did our group have a kick ass day, we all ended up in a bar later drinking tequila shots.
This is also a better way if you are shy and not always keen on saying hello to a stranger. During a full/half day tour, you learn more about other people and there would most certainly be fellow solo travellers who would come up to you and talk. Win- Win!
Go to backpacker friendly spots – If you are staying in a hotel, go grab a beer in a lively hostel bar in the evenings or check out the local pubs. Bars are a great place to meet like minded people but if that’s not your thing, fret not! Try finding them online. How? Jump to the next point.
Try Travel Apps – Ever heard of Couchsurfing or Meetups? These , among several others, are few apps that make meeting fellow travellers that much easier. Also ideal for those who aren’t very confident in person and much rather talk online first.
Basically through these apps, you can join meetups happening in the city or connect with people who are travelling in your area that very day/time. You can even choose what activities you want to opt for.
Let’s say if you want to go hiking in xyz place and looking for someone to join, just post on these apps or region specific Facebook groups – You are sure to find someone to tag along with.
Of course with online platforms, it’s advisable to hop on a call before hand or do your due diligence before meeting – or join a couchsurfing event where several others have RSVP’d. That rules out the risk of being alone with a weirdo!
All tips in order and ready for your first solo travel to Asia? Book your flights to Thailand NOW!