Though people have started to step out of the confinement, for many of us it still hasn’t happened as yet. But come on, we aren’t going to be under Corona arrest all our lives. Soon this physical distancing will be relaxed, and gradually the world will start spinning exactly the way it was before this chaos ensued. And we need something to look forward to anyway, don’t we? Exactly! So I thought why not to keep you guys excited and in a planning mode for your next travel. I meant your FIRST SOLO INTERNATIONAL travel and why not!
I got lucky to go on my first solo international trip to “Vietnam” right before the lockdown was initiated in India and other parts of the world. I am talking about Feb 2020, my birthday month! The virus was still in its infancy and I was a little skeptical about my plan, however in the end, I took the decision to push off anyway and boy, it turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life.
It won’t be an exaggeration to say that I spent months planning for this trip. Though I have travelled solo within India, it was my first international travel and I had no idea where to start from. I researched like crazy, read blogs, tried to connect with women who might have had some experience, and it did help, but not everything can be told, somethings are lived and learnt.
I am sharing a few of my learnings here, to help you plan better, if you have an international travel on your mind.
1. It’s Safe To Travel Solo:
First things first – I know for a woman traveling solo, the biggest downer is the fear she’d have for her safety, and it’s a genuine concern. So, if you want to ask me about my experience wandering on foreign roads, among people who looked different and spoke a language I didn’t understand, my answer is – Fairly Safe!
Needless to say, there isn’t any place in the world that guarantees 100% security, so assuring you that nothing would ever happen on a trip will be a lie! Gawking or ogling is very rare unless we are wearing something way out of place. I did experience a dash of catcalling at one occasion, but it wasn’t something I would worry about. Just pretend they don’t exist and carry on.
I’d like to put it this way – just because you are travelling to a foreign country, doesn’t mean safety rules wouldn’t apply there. Women’s security is still a challenge everywhere – just avoid doing anything you wouldn’t do in your own country and you should be fine.
I can’t emphasize on this point enough and that’s why this comes second on the list. We know every airline has a certain Baggage Policy, well at least for the indigenous travels, we always have some idea of what it entails. However when you travel internationally, a basic understanding may not be enough.
International travel encompasses more stringent and cumbersome baggage rules, and that’s why it becomes absolutely critical for us to thoroughly read the policy to avoid any last-minute goof- ups. Carefully read the protocols for both carry-on and checked-in luggage. Check for anything from the type of items allowed to the size, weight, and packing rules. Call the airlines if you need to.
I have seen security personnel, at security check-in, dropping the toiletries and cosmetics from a woman’s cabin-luggage straight to the trash as they didn’t meet the baggage policy requisites. And she was near to tears.
3. Ready Your Stomach Too:
This I realized when I came back from my travel with a Stomach infection that is still healing.
Ladies, Traveler’s diarrhea is a real thing! It is a digestive disorder that is caused by contaminated food and water. Though what I experienced was more severe and led to long lasting symptoms, people who travel internationally, often complain about stomach issues during and after their trip.
Dealing with stomach cramps and nausea on a solo travel is the last thing you would want. Although we can always take precautions by eating properly cooked food, drinking only bottled water (and drinking enough water), avoiding unhygienic street food, and eating as much fiber as possible, I’d still suggest you fix an appointment with your doctor to get some expert advice before you push off for your travel.
4.Don’t Keep All Your Money At One Place:
Never, I repeat, never keep all your money at one place. The smartest thing to do is to keep a certain amount on you (I would prefer the front pocket of my pants over the back pocket) and the rest in your cabin luggage.
You could use small money pouches and hide them at multiple places – BE CREATIVE!
P.S. This goes without saying: Don’t keep your money and valuables in checked-in bags.
5. Keep An Extra Set Of Clothes In Your Cabin Luggage:
Flights do get delayed, baggage does get lost and you may miss your connecting flight (in fact, it can happen during your domestic travels too, something similar happened to me on one of my trips to Goa, and was a horrid experience). Now, I am not scaring you, it’s better to be prepared for the unanticipated circumstances and plan accordingly.
Always carry a spare change of clothes, and other must-haves in your cabin luggage and fly unruffled.
Traveling means different things to different people. It has a subjective essence to it. I see Traveling as an intimate experience, whether you do it alone or with someone.
So, I am not going to talk the cliched talk – telling you how travel teaches you about life or makes you more adaptable, for I want you to have your own experiences and stories to share.
Don’t listen to me – Just Travel!
P.S. By the way, that’s me in the picture above– Cycling along the coastline at “Cat Ba Island” in Vietnam.
The helmet, though, looks a tad bigger for my head. What do you think?