How to travel India alone
When we hear the word alone, it automatically brings a sense of negativity for most of us. I think It’s only a natural response as we are social creatures after all. In reality, time by ourselves can be a wonderful thing, and in this post How to travel India alone, I want to talk about how you can use this time in your favour. I will also be addressing a few extra considerations you will have to make as a solo traveller. Plus I will share a few tricks and tips with you on how to save a bit of money.
It can seem daunting to travel anywhere by yourself, let alone somewhere as intense as India. I won’t even bother trying to deceive my readers the countries’ reputation exceeds itself. Big Indian cities are a riot of chaos and colour. Arriving in a city such as New Delhi will be an assault on the senses no matter where you have come from in the world. India is a loud, brash and intense place to be.
However, that intensity is sure to bring a rich and wonderful experience. One thing you can count on is that any travel on the Indian subcontinent is sure to be a life-changing experience for the better and will surely leave you memories that will last a lifetime. So let us take a look at everything you need to know about making your dream trip a reality. We will start with what most people fear the most, feeling alone.
Feeling alone and isolated.
Many people worry about this and quite frankly it is wholly Unjust. We worry that because we got on an aeroplane alone, that is how it will stay. That is not how it is at all. Unless you plan to go very far off the well-worn tourist track, you will undoubtedly meet lots of your fellow travellers as India is a top-rated tourist destination by so many, and for a very good reason. Hotels, guesthouses and tourist restaurants buzz with backpackers, and many of them will be doing it solo as well. I often find it testing when I want my own space, but so many other tourists just want to talk.
The benefits of travelling solo are many. You get to socialise as much as you want and you get to withdraw when you have had enough. Another point that is well worth noting is that groups of tourists tend to get so wrapped up in each other that they often miss what we all came to experience. I dont mean the Taj Mahal we can all see that. I mean the culture and the wonderful Indian people themselves.
Here is my video for this post. I like to create one for those of my followers who would rather watch something as opposed to reading a blog.
Huge groups of tourists often only interact with other travellers. What’s the point of that? There are loads of British people in Britain. Why would I fly to the other side of the planet to experience that? Of course, it is comforting to have a little familiarity, but there are lots of your fellow backpackers to share your experience with if you wish it to be so. Or you may choose to have a private and intimate experience by yourself.
The best thing about being alone while backpacking is you have a chance to stand back from your life and have a little self-reflection time. That’s something that rarely happens in your busy working lives, right? I use it as a time to reflect on past, present and future. If I am lucky, I may be able to work something out I can do in my life that would make it that much better upon my return. However, that is only from my personal philosophical approach.
Solo travel costs.
With no one else to rely on, it’s important to keep an eye of your daily budget when considering How to travel India alone. It is easy to lose track of where you are with your finances without keeping a daily record of your spending. Make allowances for any additional costs like diving, safaris or organised hikes. It is impractical to presume you will be able to afford these things from your daily budget unless that number is high enough, to begin with.
It is better to see any financial bullets coming as no one wants to go home early and that is why it is important to have some idea what you will be doing before you turn up or you will inevitably leak money. Build a plan and stick to it as far as possible. To get an insight into how to structure your money head on over to my in-depth post. You will find some useful ideas from my tried and tested system that definitely works. Of course, you dont need to adopt all my ideas as everyone’s journey is different, but it will provide you with a useful framework.
I also have a blog that realistically breaks down what your money will get you based on how much you invest. Let us take a quick look at some of the considerations you will need to make regarding spending.
Hotels in India.
Unfortunately, there is not much between the cost of a double room and a single. If you find someone you trust enough to split that bill with it would be a big help. In the bigger cities such as Delhi or Mumbai where there is frequent backpacker traffic, you will find budget hostels. This kind of hostel is new to the country and reflects the changing pace of the economy as the prices of just about everything increases. They tend not to be overly clean, but they will do nicely if you would like to stay on budget.
If you are going off the beaten track, then budget rooms for single travellers are hard to find. However, if you are in the really remote parts of the country where homestays are frequent, the cost is always per person.
Transport in India.
It is not just hotels that are a problem for a solo backpacker. The cost of a rickshaw is the cost of a rickshaw, and if you always have to pay for one by yourself, it will add up quickly. I would recommend downloading the Uber or Ola apps for the lowest prices for transport. That service is available in most large towns and cities across the whole subcontinent. Although sometimes there is not much you can do about it, but suck it up.
Getting around India is a perplexing thing to get your head around if I am honest. I wholeheartedly recommend reading my in-depth blog on that. It is packed with tricks and tips you could use to make your trip that much less stressful and maybe save yourself a few rupees. It is always better to arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible before going anywhere in my humble opinion and even more so when doing it alone.
National parks in India.
If you plan on visiting one of India’s premier national parks, the odds are you will think they cost a small fortune. Well, they do within reason. The cost of even the most expensive national parks in India pales in compassion to the extortionate costs of some of the parks in Africa. However, when you are travelling for months at a time, the bill can bring tears to your eyes. Indias wild spaces are so beautiful you wouldn’t want to miss out on them though.
So let’s take a look take a look at what we can do about that. The first thing I recommend you consider when planning a visit is to budget plenty of time. Especially if you plan to visit in the offseason when you may have to wait for the jeeps to fill up. You pay for a safari by the seat, and it is incredibly costly to hire the whole jeep.
The unfortunate part of sharing a jeep is often its a lottery who you get to share with. Many travellers are noisy and just want a selfie with a tiger. In fact, I have been on more than one safari with people who want to play loud music on their phones? Are you freakin kidding? Wildlife watching is a major passion of mine so I would suggest waiting around to see If you can find people who actually want to watch the wildlife with you.
This can take time, but if you come in the peak season, it should be ok. The point is you are spending your hard-earned money on a Safari or two so surely you would want it to be the best experience as it can be. If you are not fussed, it shouldn’t take long if you arrive in the busy season.
Restricted area permits.
Here is a problem that’s hard to get around. The minimum requirement to get many of the restricted area permits is to be in a group of two. This is not the case for all of them, however. If you think you may need one then check online for the requirements. For example, if you want to go to the pictures perfect beaches of the Andamans it is just fine you turn up at the airport by yourself.
In the event, you do need one all you can do is go to the nearest town where they are handed out and try and meet other travellers heading out that way. For example, if you wanted to get to the Spiti Valley in Himachal Pradesh, you would go to a tourist haunt in Shimla, and it would not take you very long for that problem to be solved as there is a truckload of backpackers heading that way.
However, this is not always practical as there is sometimes no travellers what so ever are heading to certain parts of the country. For example, if you wanted to go to the Millam Glacier in Uttarakhand, your permit will be made in New Dehli. Despite the sheer volume of tourists in the nation’s capital, I have never met a single person heading that way in all my years. So you could be waiting a very long time indeed.
Solo female travellers to India.
Well, here is a subject that needs a section all to itself. India has an ominous reputation for being a questionable place for a solo woman to travel in. Well, is it safe for lone females? In a word, yes, but there are some considerations to make. Most of it is simply common sense. Stuff you wouldn’t do in your own country like dont walk down dark alleys in strange places in the middle of the night. You hopefully wouldn’t do that where ever you are from so dont do it as a traveller. Dont do that anywhere!
There are also cultural considerations to make. Indian culture is a lot more conservative than many of ours. I have seen a tourist walking through a rural Indian village in nothing but a pair of hot pants and a crop top?
You will get stared at the best of times, so I have no idea what kind of holiday that woman had. Staring at a woman is just a fact of life in India, and unless you really like lots of attention, I strongly recommend not doing that. Please dress appropriately for where ever it is you are. If you are on a beach in Goa then of cause wear whatever you want but if you are backpacking in Utter Pradesh then act appropriately.
Lone females tend to band together in small groups anyway, but like anything, in life, nothing is ever as hard as you think it is going to be. The truth is most journeys to India go without incident and you are left with nothing but memories that last a lifetime.
While I am clearly not a girl, I have however travelled with enough of them to be in a position to hand out some pretty solid advise. To find out more, feel free to look at my blog on safety for lone female travellers to India. There are many more blogs out there on this topic, and I think Hippy In Heels is the best I have seen. By all means, check out both as you can never know too much right?
In Summary of my post on how to travel India alone.
How to Travel Solo is probably my most frequently asked question about India. Should I travel solo? Is it safe? What if I am a girl and I want to visit India by myself? I hope I have answered all of your questions and if I have missed any or you would like any more advice, please do not hesitate to ask.
I have travelled both Solo and In a group many times. So I can tell you they both have their ups and downs. However, solo travel is just for you. It is so deliciously indulgent because you literally have the chance to do exactly what you want to do when you want to do it. There is nothing to be ashamed or worried about. Quite frankly, that time getting to know yourself is nothing short of life-changing.
I hope you enjoyed my post and found it of value, but I think that’s about all I need to say for now. It has been a no-nonsense realistic approach to how things will be for a solo traveller. Is it for you? Well, you decide but for now its time for my bedtime. So until the next episode, my fellow intrepid travellers, happy planning.
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