Solo travel in India -All you Need to know
This post is a must-read for anyone who is planning solo travel in India. Here you will find important information that will equip you with what you need to travel effectively in this incredible country. Deciding to travel anywhere alone can seem daunting but deciding to travel to a country as notoriously intense as India can seem just plain overwhelming. I am writing my post on solo travel India to try and make everything a little more clear on the considerations you will have to make.
Every time I write a post, I check what my competition is talking about. That’s just good sense if you want to make blogging your carrier and I would imagine most bloggers do the same. Interestingly I discovered most blogs I have read on solo travel in India are only for female foreign backpackers.
That is indeed a pressing issue in my experience, and it deserves a whole post all to itself. I will be touching on that subject as it is a very relevant aspect , but it does not constitute the contents of a post on solo travel? If you would like to check out my in-depth article on only that matter, then click the link provided. It contains lots of tricks and tips for a woman staying safe on the road.
However, there are several problems travellers will face regardless if you are a woman or not and regardless of where you come from. These issues include costs, permits, safety while engaging in activities and the worry of feeling isolated in a foreign place. This Post is geared towards all backpackers even if India is your own country. We face the same issues universally, so I feel these problems should be addressed as there does not seem to be much talk on these matters, and they are very relevant to us all.
Cost of solo travel in India.
Your first question may be how the hell does that differ from being in a group? Well, in quite a few ways to be fair. Having someone to split the costs with would alleviate a lot of strain on your wallet. Let us take a look at three ways travelling solo will affect your daily spend and what can you do about it.
Considerations for booking accommodation for solo travellers in India.
For a start, the cost of a single room is for some reason, not really a lot different to the cost of a double. So If you can find someone you trust enough to split the costs with on the road, then my advice is to do so as your room will probably be your biggest spend.
In some of the more popular states like Rajasthan, there are single rooms that are significantly cheaper. In a state that sees few backpackers, the chances of you finding a cheap single room is very low. So it is incumbent on you to research into your chosen states to check what the tourist infrastructure is like. If there is no traffic from budget travellers, there will be little chance of saving money on a room, and you will have to factor this into your daily spend.
Considerations regarding transport and solo travel in India.
That leads me to my next point. The cost of just about everything varies from state to state, and it is far from equal. In some states this can become problematic when public transport becomes limited such as in Nagaland. Here you will need a lot of private transport to get to many of the villages. This can cost an arm and a leg when you are by yourself. What’s more, you are relatively unlikely to find many tourists to split the costs with, especially in the north.
However, in some parts of the Himalayas, shared jeeps will be your only transport, and you won’t have to wait long for them to fill up. Even in the far north of the country, there will be many jeeps leaving daily in the peak season to your chosen destinations. The aim of the game is research, research, research and then research some more. It is always best to be able to see any hidden costs you may encounter along the way and estimate how much you should set aside.
Rickshaws around town will be another pain if you are alone. In some cities, you may be lucky and be able to get shared autos or the public bus services, but most of the time you will require a rickshaw to get from your hotel to the train station for exsample.
Even if you can smooth talk and industrious auto driver down to a more sane cost, you will still have to foot the bill all by yourself, and this can be quite a sizable handicap when working out your daily budget. Look for an alternative solution such as public transport. Alternatively, use the Ola and Uber apps as they are more likely to give you a better price around the big cities.
The last thing I will say on that is if any driver gives you a super sweet deal on the price of your cab you can count on there being a catch. Normally it comes in the form of a trip to there friends businesses where they have a commission scheme set up with them. The sales can be long and hard so unless you wanted to go on an unplanned shopping spree use your common sense. If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
Solo travellers visiting India’s national parks.
The next consideration is the cost to visit a premier national park in India. India is blessed with a wealth of biological treasures, and the sheer number of species continually enthrals me. This country is by far your best bet to marvel at the planet’s megafauna outside of Africa.
The problem is that it is not cheap to see it. The premier national parks involve organising a jeep and driver, and this can set you back a lot of money if you have to hire the whole jeep.
So what can you do about that? Well, you can visit these places in the peak seasons for a start. There will be plenty of travel agents ready to take a commission for organising your seats. I will have to mention the peak seasons in national parks is ironically a poor season to view the wildlife as everything will be green and full of trees. The conundrum being the best season is in the high summer when all the foliage is dead, but that leaves the problem of finding someone to split the costs with. Few people want to visit in the baking heat even though you will see far more of the good stuff.
It is possible, but you will have to factor in extra waiting time. In some parks it is easier than others to get around this problem such as Ranthambhore. Check out my separate post on that as it contains information you will find hard to come by elsewhere, and it will probably save you some money.
If you are a real nature lover and you are not just there for the stars of the Indian wildlife show, there are plenty of smaller parks where you dont need a jeep. Here is an obvious way to save money. Even if you are a genuine nature nut, the odds of you also wanting to see the big hitters is till understandably high.
So my advise is factor waiting time into your itinerary. Remember the hotter it is, the longer the waiting time you will have to include. Oh and whats my closing statement? No matter how long you wait, the chance to absorb yourself in these incredible natural spaces is well worth the effort, so do not be discouraged.
Restricted area permits for solo travellers in India.
Now here is a problem that is hard to get around. Many of the areas that require a permit also require a minimum of two people to apply. Some places like in the Spiti Valley you won’t be waiting around very long to find someone. Particularly if you are in Shimla in the peak season as there are loads of people making there way along the Indo Tibet highway.
Suppose you are planning to go to a state like Arunachal Pradesh that is quite another story. You could try going to Intrinsgar and using travel agents for any takers you can book with, but you are probably in for a long wait. Some destinations such as the Millam Glacier is simply not worth including. There is no chance of just stumbling across a fellow backpacker in Dehli that just happens to be heading that way. It is in nobodies Itinerary. It is far better to simply leave it out of your plans altogether.
All the places that need restricted area permits are pretty remote so you would be heading way off the beaten tourist path. My advice is to check to see if you will need one and try and gauge if there is any place you can go to wait around for someone to get around these pesky permit problems. Use travel agents if that is an option, and remember how long you have to wait is very open-ended. If you are absolutely set on getting to these places, account for this time the best you can in your plan.
Extra considerations on safety for solo travel in India.
This part of my post is geared towards those who want to engage in outdoor pursuits such as trekking or wildlife watching. Dont do it alone! It is just not worth it. I have seen things go terribly wrong, and if you are alone and no one knows you are there then that is a risk that didn’t need to exist.
If you are trekking in the more popular parts of the country like Sikkim or Ladakh, it will not take you long to find someone to trek with. Go to popular cafes and restaurants to meet fellow trekkers. Strike up a conversation and always go with someone. It may take a little time, but the alternative in the event of an accident does not bear thinking about. In the peak seasons, the main trekking routes can get busy, so you won’t have to wait long.
If you lack the confidence to simply spark up a conversation in a restaurant with a complete stranger, go to a travel agency and enrol on an organised walk. Either way will take time, but that is a penalty of solo travel, unfortunately.
This rule applies to any of the countries wild places. Even if you are visiting one of the national parks for the day that does not require a guide, such as Kheladeo Ghana in Rajasthan. It is still plenty big enough to get lost in the dark in. So at the very least tell someone where you are going. Use your common sense, and dont put yourself at unnecessary risk. I understand that sucks, but that is just the nature of the beast I’m afraid. It is better safe than sorry right?
Felling isolated while travelling solo.
This is a fear that most of us will have unless you really like your own company. We are social creatures, after all. So how do you cope with this prospect?
In truth, this problem doesn’t exist if you dont want it to. Your time is your own, and particularly on the busy tourist paths, there are scores of other backpackers you can chat too. Solo travel is a beautiful thing if you let it. You get all the social interaction you need and can withdraw when you require a little headspace.
Indian people are fantastically social and extremely welcoming so dont just gear your time towards other backpackers. You are there to experience the culture, and if you are a solo traveller, I believe you will be more inclined to absorb yourself in what is going on. I want to meet the local people. It is all too easy to miss if you are in a clicky group.
The last point I will highlight is what I mentioned briefly above. The time you get alone can be so valuable for self-reflection and growth. It is a commodity that’s in short supply in your regular life back home. It is a chance for you to absorb yourselves in your passions, such as writing or photography. Your time is as uninterrupted as you wish it to be. I would encourage you to see your time as a positive thing rather than a lonely experience because it is not.
Female travelling solo in India.
According to the Thompson Reuters Foundation in 2018, India ranked as the most dangerous country on the planet to travel in as a woman. It topped Afganisthan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Syria for the sheer number of reported sexual crimes. While that sounds scary on the face of it, the truth is most travels to this incredible country go without incident.
I’m sure you have noticed I am not a woman by any stretch of the imagination so you may be wondering what do I know about what it is like to experience solo travel as a woman. However, I have travelled extensively with girls through the country and I have learned what works. I have travelled more than enough to get an understanding of good practices and it comes from years of experience. So yes I think I am in a position to write a well-sourced post on the issue. Any female readers here, please put me to the test. Check it out and let me know if you found it of value.
There are many measures you can take to minimise potential problems and they are covered in my post. I will say in all the years I have travelled through the country I have not experienced anything as wild as that statistic may suggest.
I dont think there is any need to be spending all of your time on the edge. Because with a little know-how and a healthy dose of common sense your trip to the subcontinent is likely to one of the most memorable and positive experiences of your life. My best advice is to educate yourself with what to expect. Read my post and a couple of dozen more and you will see a pattern emerging.
Summary of my post on Solo travel in India.
As you can see, I have tried to cover a variety of angles that others have not. I know it is has been a big read and I hope you all enjoyed my work. I have travelled as a group in a couple and completely solo in this glorious country. There are pros and cons to each, and I have to say I really enjoy my solo travel. As it is in life, nothing is ever as hard as you think it is going to be anyway.
If you have any questions on this or any other topics that you think I can help you with then, do not hesitate to ask. I am always happy to help. Trust me when I say you can not plan these things too much. Besides fueling our dreams, keep us motivated in harder times.
So with that said, you know what time it is. I hope you have all learned a little something and found it to be of value. So until the next time my fellow intrepid traveller’s happy planning.
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