People envy you because your travel plans don’t depend on their schedule. People get jealous because you have travel tales that they can only dream about. People fail to understand how you maintain a steady balance of work and life. People aspire to travel like you but don’t have the guts to take the plunge. People will always say “You are lucky to live your dream” but will never try their luck.
As they say, grass is always greener on the other side. So is the case of a SOLO TRAVELER, especially, if you are a female solo traveler. Though there are many perks of being a female solo traveler like people generally treat you nicely, are happy to help and give you more attention than others. But there is an Ugly Truth Of Traveling Solo. So if you are aspiring to travel solo then read this post before embarking on your journey.
- Solo traveler is a bigger threat than ISIS: Whichever part of the world you might be traveling in, being single will raise eyebrows. Men will hit upon you. I consider myself below average looking but still I haven’t been to a single place (in India and abroad) where people have not tried their luck. In a developed country like Singapore I was asked questions like, “Why are you still Single? Why don’t you have a boyfriend? What is your age? Are you there on FB?” Etcetera etcetera. Back home in the Tamil quarter of Pondicherry I was refused a room because I was traveling solo. I couldn't take a stroll on the beach without the sight of a middle-aged uncle’s neck moving at a 180-degree angle synced with my movement.
- Lesser bargaining power: Everybody wants to earn more with less effort so you’ll be refused for a ride or asked to pay double. You can’t order too many dishes at a time because you’ll always have the looming fear of not to waste food. You can’t split your accommodation or travel bills with others. Even when you are traveling solo, your plan will still depend on others’ plan. During my recent visit to Pichavaram, I wanted to take a longer boat ride to not just see the mangrove forest but to see the Pichavaram beach as well, which is usually not explored by the tourists. After a long wait I had to convince random strangers to come along with me as no boat would take me alone or else I had to shell out lot of money.
- Dress not as you like but to avoid the creepy eyes: When you are in a group nobody looks at you with vulture eyes and microscopic lens. But when you are alone, all eyes are fixated on you. A creepy look makes you feel as if you are completely naked. A short dress is considered to be an invitation. You have to keep a low profile. You can’t hang out late at nights. You can’t get drunk. You have to pretend at restaurants as if you are waiting for someone to join you.
- Be prepared to get scammed: People will take you for a ride when you are riding solo. You will encounter many touts that would want to scam you by luring you to take you to beautiful places at very economical prices. One of my friends got mugged by one such group in the land of Gods – Uttarakhand. I too had a horrific experience. On my first day of Ladakh trip and in Manali, I was told because the group backed out therefore I am on my own and I should forgo my 50% advance.
- Experience awkwardness due to language barriers: Though language barriers can spoil anyone’s trip – a group or an individual, it impacts individuals more because they are literally on their own at all times and have no comforting shoulder to empathise. I was in Pulau Ubin, a remote island on the outskirts of Singapore, where no one understood English. First I got dropped at a wrong station and then while sight seeing I had to spend couple of hours waiting for the driver to pick me from the pickup point because he couldn't tell me that I don’t require a full day to explore that tiny place.
There are countless more reasons that I can elucidate with examples, which would deter any new solo traveler. However, in spite of horrific travel tales the goodness has overshadowed the negatives. While solo traveling, the experiences which you will accumulate are unparalleled and worth gold. And I wouldn't exchange that gold for petty bad incidents.
So don't be scared. Be little more cautious and Travel See Write.