A friend once told me, ‘it is always good to be a little scared as that’s when we know we’re doing the right thing.’
The first time I travelled by myself, I was apprehensive and suffered immense cold-feet. After repetitively travelling solo, the degree of the apprehension may have reduced but I humbly endure the mild anxiety.
I have also realised that there is a thin line between being fearful and fearless. My first solo trip made me fearless at many levels. Fear, however, is very subjective in nature – what may have worked for me may not for you. Even so, I’d like to share some of the ideas that have helped me explore geographies while conquering the anxiety that comes with taking the first step:
Be Passionate About The Destination
We all have a place we desire to travel within our country. Identifying that one destination and going there is the first step. The sheer thrill of being there annuls a large percentage of our doubts. We have to be passionate enough about the first leap to see ourselves on the other side.
I love Himachal Pradesh and have travelled there seamlessly. When it came to choosing a destination for my first solo trip, I did not hesitate to pick an unmapped district in the state. The surreal highlands of Spiti were too influential for me to escape them. And Himachalis are just beautifully warm.
Hike Up Your Physical Fitness Level
Irrelevant of where you want to go or what you want to do, training your body for your first solo travel will help you train your mind. For instance: if you are going to a beach destination, try and prepare yourself for some adventure sports like surfing or Scuba diving. Even though you may not want to try any of them or adventure is not your expression, it is always an added incentive to physically train your body.
I have always felt more confident when I have stretched my body even for a weekend trek.
Carry A Swiss Knife
Often I have been advised to carry pepper spray for safety. However, I consider them cumbersome. On the other hand, a Swiss army knife has helped me feel secure and served as a utility device at many occasions. From peeling fruit, cutting ropes to opening food cans, this utility tool has always been on my side.
Read Up Just Enough
I don’t let my mind get too clouded with too much information about the place. Reading up is imperative but so is leaving scope for making our own discoveries once we are there. Every traveller has a unique experience.
As a solo woman traveller who is not a backpacker, I always find it helpful to decide my basics in advance, such as accommodation, course of journey and essential things to do. Once I am there, I discover further possibilities after soaking in the vibe of the place.
Share Travel Information
Always let someone else know the complete itinerary of your trip, perhaps a family member or a close friend. Pick your person and send them a detailed mail at least 5 days prior your journey. This allows enough time for you to answer any questions they may have.
Since I tend to travel to places where mobile connectivity is intermittent or none, an elaborate mail always goes out to my sisters at least a week before my date of journey. The mail includes my dates, my route, necessary tickets or mode of transport, accommodation links and the respective numbers.
Obediently, I also text my parents of my wellbeing and location every time I have connectivity. It always helps me relax knowing that people who care about me aren’t worried about my decisions.
While growing up, somewhere we are taught not to ask too many questions as it is a sign of ignorance. It is also a sign of a curious mind, a mind which wants to learn and understand more. One of the key things that travelling teaches us is understand the diversification across lives and cultures. If there is no curiosity or communication, how can such a mind grow?
My favourite questions always begin with a ‘what’, a ‘how’ and a ‘why’. I question everything because I don’t know many of arbitrary facts that exist in the world and would like to understand more about the people. It also helps me feel familiar in a new place.
I ask a myriad amount of questions; from the ingredients of the food, the stops in the bus journey, the inane cultural practices from yesteryear or the favourable farming techniques. And they have always helped me join the dots together and come back with a knowledge that is a prize in itself.
When you take to travel, you will be somewhere you have never been before and experience a life you have never lived. For me, stepping out the door was the most difficult part. But once you are on the other side, the fear disappears, slowly yet steadily.