Solo Travel In India: A Helpful Guide For Beginners (+10 Tips)
She is a 50-year-old professor from Delhi University who loves to hike the mountains occasionally to keep herself fit and take a break from life. She has been trekking the remotest regions in the Himalayas since the 1990s, even before it became a cool activity in India.
He is a professional poker player who has been making money online and backpacking across India since 2012. He never documents his experiences because he loves to keep them private. Solo travel in India is a way of life for him.
She had just quit her job and come to Goa to volunteer and travel. She recently finished her certification as a yoga instructor in Mysore, and now teaches yoga through Instagram to make a living online and travel the world.
These are some inspiring people I’ve met ever since I started travelling solo in India in 2017.
It wasn’t very comforting initially when I got started with travelling solo in India. But I did it anyway because my friends were either busy with their lives or backed off at the last moment while making travel plans together. And I didn’t want them to come between me and my travel dreams.
I’ll be honest here. I was anxious during my first few solo travels in India.
I had never spent time with myself before. I wasn’t sure about the safety aspects if I explored places on my own. Most importantly, I was never comfortable meeting new people and talking to them as I was an introvert.
Cut to the present day, I’ve not only become more outgoing, but I’ve also met some amazing people like the ones I mentioned in the beginning. It eventually inspired me to quit my 9–5 job, become a digital nomad and travel the world.
If you do it right, travelling solo in India has the potential to change you as a person as it did for me. The benefits that come along and the experiences you have will add greater meaning to your life.
I started Framedventures as a solo travel blog in India and hence, it was only a matter of time before I talked about this topic at great length.
So in this article, I want to tell you everything I know about solo travel in India based on my 3+ years of experience so that you, too, can take a leap of faith like I did and have life-changing experiences along the way.
This blog post will be especially useful for male and female solo travellers looking forward to travelling solo in India for the first time.
- What is solo travel (and what it isn’t)?
- Why you should travel solo?
- What are the benefits of solo travel in India?
- Why you shouldn’t travel solo?
- How do you plan solo travel in India?
- 1. Choose your travel destination
- 2. Get an idea about the places to visit/the experiences to have
- 3. Check out the best places to eat at your destination
- 4. Book your flight/train/bus
- 5. Book your accommodation, preferably a homestay or a hostel
- 6. Pack your bags and make a move for your destination
- 7. Check in to your accommodation and figure out local transport
- How do you travel solo with a group in India?
- 10 tips to keep in mind while travelling solo in India
- 1. Be respectful of the religious and cultural traditions
- 2. Be extra careful of your belongings and money
- 3. Never roam around in India late at night
- 4. Bargain with cab drivers and shopkeepers
- 5. Keep your friends and family informed about your whereabouts
- 6. Use public transport whenever you can
- 7. A ‘Hi’ or a smile is all it takes
- 8. Use Couchsurfing apart from hostels
- 9. Carry a power bank and keep your phone charged always
- 10. Pack light
- Which are the best places for solo travel in India?
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is solo travel (and what it isn’t)?
As the name suggests, solo travel is a form of travel in which you travel alone and explore the world on your own. Rather than relying on your friends and family, you depend on your own company to tour the globe.
But more importantly, you should know what solo travel isn’t because there seem to be a lot of misconceptions about solo travel in India.
Let’s go through the top 5 misconceptions about solo travel:
1. You’ll be alone and bored during your travels
‘Don’t you get bored travelling alone?’
It is one of the most common questions I’ve faced as a solo traveller.
Let me tell you one thing.
Solo travel is not just about travelling on your own, but also about meeting people on the road. While you can choose to be alone on your solo travels, meeting new people and having unique experiences with them are the essence of travelling alone.
The best part is that you can decide who you want to meet, how much time you want to spend with them and when you like to be alone.
2. Travelling alone is scary
I have to confess.
As someone accustomed to being around friends and family, I wasn’t very sure about the idea of travelling solo. The same is the case with everyone who goes out there for the first time.
However, as you go through a few solo travel experiences, the anxiety reduces naturally. You’ll realise that the world is safer than what you’ve been told otherwise through mainstream news channels and possibly, your relatives.
The local population you meet in your travel destination, especially in India, loves meeting travellers and exchanging cultures. From my experience, they’re some of the most hospitable people you’ll ever meet.
As a cherry on the cake, you also get to meet other travellers at your destination who have similar travel goals to you.
Don’t blindly follow what you read or hear from ‘trusted sources’. You’ll never know the reality of a place unless you go out there and experience it yourself.
And trust me, your perceptions about your travel destination will change for the better once you explore it.
3. You need to have money to travel alone
Ten years ago, travelling alone wasn’t easy and required some investment. But with the advent of technology and internet penetration today, it has never been easier to travel alone on a budget.
In fact, I would like to say that you can save more money as a solo traveller than when you travel in a group.
I’ve met young college graduates who have hitchhiked from Kanyakumari to Jammu and Kashmir without much pocket money. I’ve also met backpackers who volunteer at a place in exchange for free food and accommodation by making use of platforms like Workaway.
So your total costs boil down to the kind of trip you’d like to have.
The increase in the accessibility of hostels, and platforms like Workaway and Couchsurfing (more on this later) have reduced costs for solo travellers. It means that you can focus more on the things that matter to you while travelling solo.
The same can’t be said, though, when you’re travelling in a group because you need to consider the interests of your friends/partners and compromise accordingly.
I have lost count of the number of times I had to adjust for my friends, like eating at a fancy restaurant or staying at a posh resort which resulted in an increase in my travel expenses. While there’s nothing wrong with having these preferences, you may/may not want these things to define your trip as much as the experiences you’d like to have at your travel destination.
I’m sure you would have faced similar dilemmas while travelling with your friends/partner.
4. Solo travel requires more planning and work
Instead of having a pre-planned itinerary (with a group), as a solo traveller, you take the time out to explore a place freely without any plans and absorb yourself in your surroundings. Therefore, the experiences you have as a solo traveller turn out to be more engaging and captivating than when you’re in a group.
Additionally, planning for solo travels is much more liberating than planning for a group. It is because you call the shots for what you want to do and how you want it. There’s no one dictating what to do, and you don’t have to be accountable for anyone as well.
Thus, it becomes easier to follow your heart and do the things you love. Hence, planning for your solo travels becomes a breeze and exciting at the same time because you are your boss.
5. Solo travel is meant for bachelors only
I was part of a batch of people who went on the Brahma Tal trek in Uttarakhand. In the group, there was a 60-year-old man from Kolkata who had retired from his job. Although his pace was slow and lagged behind the remaining group, he completed the trek with us (people who were half his age).
On another trek (Goecha La trek in Sikkim), I met a guy who was a married man and in his 40s. He had a kid, and he said that he and his wife often go on solo travels to take a breather from life. His wife had gone for a solo Himalayan trek just a few months back.
I have more such stories to share, but I hope you get the point. You don’t need to be a certain age or be single to travel alone.
And that is the beauty of solo travel.
You can do it whenever you want. Don’t let other people tell you what you should and shouldn’t do.
If you genuinely love travelling, you’ll take the time to do it irrespective of the circumstances you’re in right now.
Why you should travel solo?
When you travel alone, you develop essential life skills that will help you immensely in the years to come. Moreover, travel is truly the best form of education if you do it with purpose and intent.
The following are the top 5 reasons why you should travel solo:
1. You’ll learn to become independent
Initially, you may struggle to accept being on your own, but you become self-reliant eventually as you get more solo travel experiences under your belt. Being independent and having the freedom to do whatever you want is liberating and one of the best benefits of travelling alone.
You get to plan your itineraries, travel around a place for an extended period, or even chill at your hostel if that’s what you want.
You’re answerable only to yourself and no one else.
Moreover, you can take a break from life and spend time with yourself which may not be possible in a group (more on this later).
How much more powerful can it get?
2. You’ll be more sociable and make more friends
The ability to meet new people and share experiences with them makes you more open-minded, empathetic and friendly.
You become flexible as you keep meeting different kinds of people from different walks of life because you learn how to behave with each person and adapt to their mannerisms and cultures.
For example, earlier, I wasn’t sure if I could hang out with people five years younger/older than me. But now, I don’t have any problem because I’ve shared hostel rooms with people from different age groups as a solo traveller.
This particular skill of making new friends will help you increase your social circle and network which will be an asset down the years.
3. You’ll know more about yourself
I have been travelling across India since 2017, and without exaggerating, I can confidently say that I have learnt more about myself post-2017 than I did in my entire life.
As a person raised in a conservative middle-class Indian family, you don’t get much time to yourself because friends and family always surround you. Additionally, your parents decide your life and career even before you know it.
But when you travel alone, you get time to reflect on your life and learn new things about yourself with every travel experience.
For example, when I went on my first-ever Himalayan trek in 2018, I fell in love with the sights and sounds of the mountains so much so that I didn’t want to go back to my corporate job. It started my passion for mountain treks, and within two years, I quit my job to become a digital nomad and travel the world.
You’ll also have similar ‘aha’ moments when you start travelling solo.
4. You’ll be a problem solver and a decision-maker
Let’s be honest here. As a solo traveller, you’ll face challenges on the road.
For example, you may get stuck in a hill station due to landslides, or your homestay may make a last-minute cancellation. The silver lining is that such experiences help you prepare for similar occurrences in future.
Every time you face a problem, you’ll learn how to deal with it and come out on the other side. With every problem that you solve, know that you’ve become more resourceful and wiser.
It is an invaluable life skill that will take you ahead in your life, not just in your travels.
5. You’ll develop curiosity and become more knowledgeable
You don’t become knowledgeable by clearing a few exams, watching movies or reading some books. They certainly help, but the first-hand, practical experiences you go through and learn from while travelling are incomparable to anything else you’ll ever come across in your life.
When you travel alone to a destination, you’ll discover so many things about the place for the first time that even Google won’t tell you. You’ll develop a sense of curiosity eventually and start questioning everything around you.
It will encourage you to travel and learn more about the world around you. It is a cycle that keeps on repeating itself.
What are the benefits of solo travel in India?
Now that you know why you should travel solo, let me tell you why you should travel solo in India.
The beauty of India is that it is vast and diverse. I often tell people I meet from other countries that India consists of countries instead of states.
No two states are the same because every Indian state has its own culture, religion, food, language, and geography. Sometimes when you travel within an Indian state itself, you’ll see stark contrasts from one region to another.
For example, the food habits of people you meet in North Kerala are different from that of South Kerala. People consume non-vegetarian Sadya (a traditional Kerala feast during Onam) in places like Kozhikode and Mallapuram (North Kerala), whereas in Trivandrum (South Kerala), you’ll get only vegetarian Sadya.
Similarly, Ladakh is a very remote place with dry mountains and a small indigenous population in the northern part of India. In contrast, Bangalore is a cosmopolitan and commercialised city in South India where you’ll meet people from different parts of India.
In short, as a solo traveller, there’s so much to absorb when you travel across different parts of India. You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing your travel destination.
Having said that, let me give you 5 benefits of solo travel in India:
1. Indians are hospitable and friendly
Safety is one of the first things that come to your mind, especially if you’re a female solo traveller in India. You want to be sure that locals and hosts at your travel destination treat you well.
Of course, you need to check reviews about your destination and the place you’re staying, but in general, Indian people are very hospitable and friendly. It is even more true in the remotest regions of India, where the local population and tourism are less.
You only need to be aware of scammers and touts present in the commercialised tourist hotspots across India which you’ll figure out easily based on your instincts and travel experiences.
2. Cheap accommodations everywhere
Over the years, there has been an increase in the popularity of the backpacking culture in India as well as significant exposure to several tourist destinations across the country due to social media.
Due to this, there is increased accessibility of hostels and cheap homestays, even in the most secluded regions of the country.
You no longer have to pay a bomb to have a comfortable and convenient stay. There are accommodations available for every kind of traveller in all tourist destinations across India.
3. Different modes of transport available
Almost every part of India is well-connected either by road or rail. And therefore, you don’t have to rely on a particular mode of transport to get you from place A to place B.
For example, instead of hiring a cab, you can now rent a motorbike in a quaint hill station like Chikmagalur, making it convenient and cheaper for you to travel long distances.
Similarly, you can cover all parts of New Delhi at a reasonable cost by making use of the Delhi Metro.
4. Opportunity to meet fellow solo travellers
As with the global trend, many Indians prefer travelling alone now, and this figure has been steadily increasing, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic. It is good news for you because you can meet more like-minded people on your travels.
And from experience, solo travellers are some of the most open-minded people you’ll ever meet. I have personally made friends from my solo travel experiences in India and I continue travelling with them every year.
You too can have a great time with the fellow solo travellers you meet, make your travels more fun and become friends with them for life.
5. Different ways to travel alone in India
Do you want to trek through the highest tea plantations in the world in Munnar but your friends aren’t interested? Worry not.
A few camping and trekking operators in Munnar offer group treks wherein they put you in a small group of people and trek with you to some of the remotest regions of this popular hill station in Kerala.
Do you want free food and accommodation while travelling solo? There are many platforms/groups in India that offer you the chance to volunteer with them.
Do you want to camp at the ‘Grand Canyon of India’? There are tour operators who conduct group trips for solo travellers to Gandikota Canyon, based in Gandikota, Andhra Pradesh.
In short, you have all kinds of options these days for the type of trip you wish to undertake, even as a solo traveller (more on this later).
Why you shouldn’t travel solo?
While I always advocate for everyone to try out solo travelling, the reality is that it is not ideal for all. If, after a few solo travel adventures, you’re not enjoying your experiences, you may choose not to continue with it.
The following are the top 5 reasons why you may not enjoy solo travel:
1. You don’t like meeting people
If you don’t like meeting new people and are introverted, you may not enjoy travelling solo.
It is because when you travel solo, you’ll meet people from different backgrounds and cultures constantly, especially in India.
As a solo traveller, you’ll have to do small talks with fellow travellers and locals who would be interested to know more about you and may ask you questions you may not be interested in answering.
In such scenarios, it’ll be hard for you to enjoy their company if you prefer being left alone.
2. You don’t like spending time with yourself
Contrarily, there will be a lot of time when you’ll be alone during your travels. This will be hard for travellers who’re extroverted or like being around people all the time.
The harsh reality is that the people you meet on your travels won’t be with you forever.
Hence, if you’re not used to spending time with yourself, you may get bored easily and struggle to enjoy your trip.
As a solo traveller, enjoying your own company is a must if you wish to travel solo in the long run.
3. You don’t like going out of your comfort zone
As a solo traveller, you need to be flexible with your travel plans. You may get last-minute cancellations from your homestays, or the weather at your destination may be awful.
These kinds of situations happen very frequently.
During times like these, you need to stay composed and be proactive on what to do next.
If you don’t like your plans changing often, you may not enjoy solo travelling.
4. You prefer fancy hotels and resorts over cheap accommodations
Staying at fancy hotels and resorts is a personal preference. But if you’re overly dependent on them, it’ll be hard for you to travel solo because flexibility with accommodation is crucial.
As a solo traveller, you’ll find more options for cheaper homestays and hostels than resorts, especially in the small towns and villages in India.
If you expect your homestays and hostels to be of the same quality as your resorts, you’ll be disappointed.
5. You’re used to being connected online 24*7
Although internet coverage has increased in India, there are still many places where you won’t find network coverage, forget about internet coverage. In some instances, you may not even have network coverage for days.
And hence, if you’re someone who’s used to being online always, you’ll not enjoy your time on the road.
It is, therefore, essential for you to be comfortable with being disconnected from the online world.
How do you plan solo travel in India?
Planning a solo travel in India is not as hard as you might think. After your first few travels, you’ll look forward to planning your future trips much more than experiencing the trips themselves.
The way you plan a solo trip in India is also very subjective. Some people like to go to a destination without planning anything. In contrast, others prefer planning everything as it gives them peace of mind.
I fall in the latter category, but I try to slip into the former one whenever I can as it keeps my travels interesting.
Due to this, I’m having the best of both worlds. I know how my trip will pan out while keeping some travel elements unplanned to surprise me.
For example, whenever I go for solo travel in India, I plan my hostel/homestay bookings because I don’t like taking a chance with my accommodations as it matters a lot to me. But instead of planning all the places I have to visit at my destination, I check in to the hostel/homestay first and then figure out what to do next.
Similarly, solo trip planning for you may be different from mine and will be subjective. For you, your accommodation may not be as important as the places you want to visit in your destination.
In any case, let me give you a basic rundown of how to plan solo travel in India based on my experiences. You may choose to follow these 7 steps completely or take inspiration from them whenever you plan your next solo travel in India:
1. Choose your travel destination
Luckily for you, being a diverse country, India has different travel destinations for every type of traveller.
Do you love being around calm and peaceful backwaters? Kerala is your best bet.
Fancy scuba diving in turquoise-blue waters? The Andaman has to be on your bucket list.
Would you like to go on a challenging trek in the Western Ghats? Then you must try the Kumara Paravatha trek in Karnataka.
What about witnessing living root bridges, Asia’s cleanest village and the tallest plunge fall in India, all at once? Meghalaya is your answer.
Whatever is your preference, you have all the options available in India. Choose a destination that interests you.
You need to know what your destination is known for and how it can help you fulfil your interests. For example, if you’re a bike lover, you already know that Ladakh is an option.
Do your research online and read more about the place you’re visiting to understand your destination thoroughly.
2. Get an idea about the places to visit/the experiences to have
It’s always a good idea to be aware of all the places you can visit/the experiences to have at your destination. Even if you don’t plan to see all of them, at least it sets the right expectations for you.
I read through travel blogs to understand these things about my travel destination. You can also watch travel vlogs on Youtube.
If you’re very particular about having an itinerary in mind, you can create one based on the places you like the most. Else, you can let it be and figure out everything once you’re at your destination.
Pro-tip: If you’re creating an itinerary, it’s preferable to leave aside one day, in case you miss covering any place/experience due to delays.
3. Check out the best places to eat at your destination
I’m very particular about what I eat, not because I’m choosy but because I want to have the best possible experience for myself. It also helps me understand my destination better because local food is a big part of the Indian culture and it varies from region to region.
You don’t have to be strict about this but you can have an idea of some good dishes and restaurants to eat at just so that you’re not missing out on the experience it offers.
I use TripAdvisor and Google to check out the ratings and reviews of the restaurants at my destination.
Pro-tip: Always try to have local delicacies instead of something you’re used to having already. It helps you gain knowledge about new dishes and expand your taste.
4. Book your flight/train/bus
Once you’ve figured out the things to do and places to eat, you can go ahead and make a flight/train/bus booking depending on how far your destination is.
I use Kayak to book my flight tickets as it gives me the cheapest rates.
IRCTC is the only app I recommend to book your train tickets.
For bus tickets, you can use apps like Redbus/Abhibus to book private/state government buses.
Some state governments in India also offer their own online bus ticket booking apps/websites like the Karnataka state government does with KSRTC.
Booking a government bus from the state government’s bus portal turns out to be cheaper always as compared to booking from private players like Redbus and Abhibus. Hence, I recommend doing a Google search to check out the state government bus website belonging to the travel destination that you’re visiting.
Pro-tip: If you’re booking a flight, it’s better to do it one-two months in advance as it gets expensive after that. In some cases, booking a flight may be cheaper one-two weeks in advance but it depends on luck.
5. Book your accommodation, preferably a homestay or a hostel
For booking your accommodation, I recommend choosing a homestay or a hostel. At a homestay, you’ll get a homely feel while in a hostel, you can meet other travellers.
I suggest Hostelworld for booking hostels. It is an aggregator of all hostels at a particular destination.
For homestays, I recommend Booking and Airbnb. You can find different kinds of homestays on these platforms.
If you want to take it up by another notch, you can use Couchsurfing, where you can stay for free with a host at their home, although you may have to spend some quality time with them (more on this later).
6. Pack your bags and make a move for your destination
Pack your bags a day or two before your trip commences.
The best way to make packing your bag a breeze for any travel is by preparing a master checklist of all the things you generally need for any trip. I use Google Keep for this purpose.
Based on the travel destination(s) you’re visiting, go through your master checklist, tick off all the essential things you’ll need for that particular trip and pack lightly.
You may not know the important things to pack during your first couple of solo trips but as you get experienced, you’ll learn what to pack and more importantly, what not to pack (more on this later).
Ensure you charge your cameras and phones fully.
If you’re travelling by flight, reach your airport two hours in advance.
I also follow a twenty-minute rule wherein after accounting for the time I’ll need for reaching an airport or a railway station, I’ll add twenty additional minutes to the planned time, in case I get late due to traffic or other reasons.
You too can do something similar when planning your travels.
7. Check in to your accommodation and figure out local transport
Check in to your accommodation, take a shower and relax for some time. For your first day, you can take it easy and walk around your area to get accustomed to the place.
This is what I do for all of my solo travels.
During this time, you can ask the host at your accommodation about the different modes of transport available at your destination. Many homestays have tie-ups with cab drivers as well so you can also enquire about the same.
If you’re staying at a hostel, you can meet people in your dorm, hang out with them and make travel plans together for the coming days.
You can also enquire about renting two-wheelers at hostels.
Pro-tip: At your homestay/hostel, you can enquire about the places to visit/the experiences to have from the host. As they’re locals, they may know some hidden gems in your destination that you may not have seen online.
How do you travel solo with a group in India?
Did you know that you could go for a trekking or a backpacking experience in India with solo travel groups?
If you prefer travelling solo and meeting people from across the country but hate planning your trips, plenty of tour operators across India offer group tours for solo travellers.
With a group tour, you only need to plan your travel to the pickup/starting point of any trip. Everything else is taken care of by the tour operator.
A group tour package typically includes your food, shared accommodation, itinerary and a guide.
Tour operators have a set travel itinerary with fixed departure dates throughout the year. Every group usually consists of 15-20 people, but this may vary for every operator.
To book your seat in any group, you can visit the respective tour operator’s website/Instagram account to enquire about their group tours. Before doing so, ensure that the tour operator is authentic by researching and reading their reviews online.
To make it easier for you, given below are some of the major tour operators in India I know that provide group tours for solo travellers across India:
They’re specialists in providing offbeat trips and cultural experiences in all the Northeastern states of India.
They’re India’s most prominent trekking organisation, specialising in group trekking tours in the Himalayas.
They organise backpacking trips, Himalayan treks and weekend getaways, especially in and around Northern India.
They’re a leading tour operator in Kerala specialising in exploring offbeat locations in Kerala, focusing on women-only fixed group tours.
They specialise in hikes in the Western Ghats apart from Himalayan treks and backpacking trips across North India.
6. One in the Orange Jacket
Led by Vysakh, One in the Orange Jacket organises outdoor-focused group trips and high-altitude treks across North India, Nepal, Bali, Vietnam, Russia, and Kazakhstan.
They provide a learning-based adventure experience in small batches in the field of trekking, mountain biking (cycling) & mountaineering expeditions in the Himalayas.
They’re an experiential travel company that provides stays in unexplored places (mostly across Kerala) with organic food and fun-filled activities.
10 tips to keep in mind while travelling solo in India
Whether you plan your trip yourself or decide to do a group tour, it’s essential to understand how to travel solo in India because it is a complex country to navigate, especially if you’re not an experienced solo traveller.
Let me give you 10 of my best tips for solo travel in India that’ll help you have fantastic experiences across this diverse country:
1. Be respectful of the religious and cultural traditions
India is a country of different religions and cultures. Always respect them.
You may or may not agree with them, but you need to obey them if you want to get along.
It also means dressing conservatively, especially if you plan to visit certain sacred Hindu temples across India. You may not get an entry otherwise.
Do your research online before you plan to visit such religious sites.
I’ve also seen people taking photos inside sacred temples and Buddhist monasteries despite a signboard telling them not to. It is better to refrain from such behaviour as it will only get you in trouble.
2. Be extra careful of your belongings and money
It would help if you were on high alert when you travel alone, especially in India.
Although people, in general, are friendly, ‘certain people’ will pounce on any valuable item they see anywhere in the public.
- travelling in a train,
- staying at a hostel or
- eating food at a restaurant,
always be vigilant of your belongings. Do not easily trust strangers and leave your luggage unattended.
For example, if you’re staying at a hostel, always lock up your luggage to be on the safer side.
Also, never give in to people who ask for charity donations or offer you something for cheap. These people, more often than not, have the wrong intentions of making money from you.
As mentioned previously, these kinds of people are more common in commercial tourist destinations due to the tourist footfall they receive.
3. Never roam around in India late at night
I don’t need to stress this enough, but roaming alone late at night is a strict no, even if you’re a male traveller. As a tourist in an unfamiliar place in India, you’ll complicate your life.
Even if you think your place is safe, the following are some of the things that may happen depending on your area:
- animals may roam around at night (especially if you’re in the mountains)
- you may lose your way and not find help
- have unwarranted meetings with drunk people
There are plenty of other scenarios as well, but I hope you get my point.
Pro-tip: If you’re driving to a particular destination that is far away, try leaving early morning and reach your place before sunset.
4. Bargain with cab drivers and shopkeepers
One of the most critical skills you learn as a solo traveller in India is negotiating with people.
In India, especially in small towns and villages, you have to bargain with cab drivers and shopkeepers in flea markets to get yourself a reasonable rate.
It is one of the best ways of reducing costs while travelling alone in India.
Most of these shopkeepers and cab drivers will quote you an inflated price instead of the actual price, knowing that you’ll bargain.
You can reduce the cost by as much as 50%, especially when shopping for clothes and ornaments.
5. Keep your friends and family informed about your whereabouts
Always keep your friends or family informed about your whereabouts.
It may sound silly, but it accomplishes two things:
1. your loved ones know what you’re up to despite being far away.
2. they can trace you in case anything goes wrong.
If you’re a female solo traveller in India, it is essential because your close ones are more concerned about your safety than anyone else.
6. Use public transport whenever you can
To this date, I prefer using public transport rather than cabs or autos. When I say public transportation, I’m explicitly talking about travelling in buses and trains apart from other local vehicles for the public.
It not only helps me save costs but more importantly, it enables me to observe the local population and get some insights into their lives. It also helps me understand more about my destination than just being a guest for a few days.
For example, when I went to the starting point of the Neelakurinji trek in Munnar (Kerala), I hired a shared jeep used by the public. The locals of Munnar use it as a mode of transport to go between various villages.
I was not only able to see what these locals looked like but I also got to see their villages whenever they deboarded the jeep. I would not have observed these small things had I hired a cab or a commercial tour operator in Munnar.
It added to my experience and made my trip more engaging.
7. A ‘Hi’ or a smile is all it takes
It wasn’t easy for me to mingle with the other travellers I met during my initial solo travels as an introvert. I was shy and didn’t know how to interact with strangers.
And it wasn’t my fault either. From an early age, we’re told by our families not to interact with strangers in India.
However, all the friends I have made through my travel experiences have something in common.
We either started with a ‘Hi’ or a smile. That’s all it takes. After that, it is easy to keep the conversation going.
It would help if you broke that initial barrier in the same way. Trust me; if you do it, you’ll end up making some fantastic friends that may stay with you for a lifetime.
8. Use Couchsurfing apart from hostels
Hostels and homestays are the lifeblood of any solo traveller. You can save a lot of money by using these accommodations.
But you could save even more by making use of Couchsurfing.
Couchsurfing is a mix of hospitality and a networking platform wherein you stay with hosts for free. Consider it like Airbnb with no costs.
Apart from staying with hosts, you can also meet other solo travellers at your destination and even travel together with them. It doesn’t get any better than this.
Although Couchsurfing is present across all major cities and tourist destinations in India, it may not be available in villages and remote locations. But if it’s available at your destination, use it and see how your travels become more wholesome.
You can read more about Couchsurfing in this article.
9. Carry a power bank and keep your phone charged always
I’ve faced situations where there were power cuts in my homestay, or as I was travelling throughout the day, my phone’s battery got drained. Due to this, I couldn’t make essential calls on time, or I had to rely on someone else.
So whenever possible, I charge my power bank, phone, and DSLR, especially when the charge is below 30%, instead of waiting till the last moment.
Pro-tip: Whenever you stop for a break at a restaurant for food, charge your phone at the restaurant if it’s below 50%, especially if you’re on a long trip.
Also, use your power bank only in case of an emergency. Otherwise, always try to keep your phones and camera batteries fully charged.
10. Pack light
We don’t realise the extra baggage we carry when we travel with our friends or family. However, when you start travelling solo, you’ll learn that any space in your luggage is a luxury.
Whenever you pack your bag(s) for solo travel in India, question yourself about every item you put inside the bag. It will help you prioritise the things you need and eliminate the ones you don’t.
It will come in handy when you have to travel long distances in India.
Pro-tip: If you’re carrying gadgets like a laptop, camera, GoPro etc., apart from your personal belongings like clothes and shoes, put your gadgets in one bag and your personal belongings in the other.
Which are the best places for solo travel in India?
I hate answering this question because, honestly, every place in India has its charm. As you keep travelling, you’ll realise that many places in India are more ideal for solo travel than what you’re made to believe online.
However, I can suggest 5 places when you’re just starting out travelling solo in India. These places are also highly safe and secure for solo travel for women.
Note: The following are some things you’ll observe in all these 5 places that will make your solo travel experience hassle-free:
- Cheap hostels and homestays
- Bike rentals at reasonable rates
- Opportunity to meet fellow solo travellers and backpackers
Given below are the 5 best places for solo trip in India that’ll help you kickstart your journey as a solo traveller:
Hampi is one of my favourite places to visit in India. And I genuinely mean it when I say it.
Nowhere in India would you see a landscape as surreal as Hampi. It feels as if you’ve been transported back in time.
Hampi is an ancient town in Karnataka made of ruins of ancient temples and monuments. It has a fascinating history behind it that is worth knowing even if you’re not a history lover.
What makes it even more interesting, especially for solo travellers, is a small island called Hippie Island neighbouring Hampi, where all the backpackers and solo travellers stay.
So you can enjoy the best of both worlds: chill at Hippie Island and enjoy the historical landmarks at Hampi.
Varkala is a beach town located on the outskirts of Trivandrum, Kerala. It is the only cliff beach in Kerala (meaning there are cliffs adjacent to the beach adjoining the Arabian Sea).
If you’re a seafood lover, you’ll enjoy it even more. As Varkala is near the coast, you’ll get different varieties of seafood here, including crabs, prawns and fish.
In terms of activities, you can chill at the beach in the evening and even take a swim in the water.
There are plenty of shops in Varkala as well selling clothes, handicrafts and ornaments.
While you’re in Varkala, don’t forget to take in the splendid sunrise and sunset views from the cliffs.
I chose Gokarna over Goa because it is less commercialised and hence, quieter. If you’re someone who loves to spend time by the beach in a peaceful environment, Gokarna is your best bet.
Gokarna is a small temple town located along the northern coast of Karnataka. Like Varkala, you’ll find cliffs here from where you can get an aerial view of the Arabian Sea.
But unlike Varkala, you have different beaches here, each with its own vibe. Om Beach and Kudle Beach are the two most popular beaches in Gokarna apart from Gokarna Beach.
The Gokarna Beach trek, which starts at Om Beach and ends at Full Moon Beach, is among the best things to do here. It is a unique trek that takes you through a combination of forests and beaches.
Pondicherry is a small union territory located close to Chennai. Being a former French colony, you’ll find many colourful buildings designed in French architecture.
Apart from that, you can have mouthwatering food from French cuisine here. Baker Street is one place you shouldn’t miss if you want to try amazing French breakfasts in Pondicherry.
You can also go surfing and scuba diving in Pondicherry.
While Pondicherry is a great place to visit, I prefer Auroville if you’re staying for a long time.
Auroville is an adjoining area that’ll remind you of Hippie Island in terms of its vibe. It is the only place in India with no concept of politics, religion or money.
Lots of people from different nationalities have been residing here for years. You can also become a volunteer here and participate in various activities that happen every week.
Pushkar is a mystical temple town in Rajasthan that hosts a lot of devotees and tourists every year. It is one of the oldest and holiest towns in India.
The peaceful vibes here, combined with the aartis (Hindu ritual used in worship) held every evening at Pushkar Lake, make it a great place for solo travellers. The town is very laidback, with a beautiful landscape of the Aravalli Hills in the background.
As a solo traveller, you have different things to do in Pushkar. You can do a camel safari in the Thar desert, go for a sunrise/sunset trek nearby or have Israeli delicacies like falafel.
Pushkar Camel Fair is the highlight of this city, though. It is a week-long festival that takes place every year from October-November.
The whole city of Pushkar becomes vibrant and comes alive during this time. Locals trade their beautifully decorated camels, music shows take place, and magicians perform their tricks, among other events and exhibitions.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a woman travel alone in India?
Yes, India is safe for solo female travellers. I have met female solo travellers who have been travelling across India for quite some time.
In fact, over the last few years, there has been a steady increase in the number of solo female travellers in India.
Female travel bloggers like Taniya Khanijow, Kritika Goel and Radhika Nomllers have made a living through solo travels in India. And there are many more female bloggers pursuing this path.
Follow basic safety practices like avoiding going out late at night and keeping your loved ones informed about your whereabouts. Also, never accept any ‘free’ gifts or donation requests from strangers.
If you keep all these things in mind and trust your instincts well, you’ll be good to go.
How can I have a budget solo trip in India?
There are different ways to have a budget solo travel in India. Some of the common ones are:
Hitchhiking: Take a lift from a vehicle on the road to go from Place A to Place B.
Couchsurfing: Stay with your hosts for free in exchange for spending time with them.
Volunteering: Volunteer at hostels and resorts in exchange for free food and accommodation.
Staying at homestays and hostels: It is a great way to stay on a budget while getting a homely vibe and meeting other travellers.
Can you suggest the best places to travel alone in India?
You can start with the following budget-friendly solo travel destinations in India before exploring other destinations:
As these are small towns, you can cover them on foot, and if needed, you can hire two-wheelers for rent that are economical. Accommodation is also cheap as you’ll find lots of affordable hostels and homestays at these places.
How can I enjoy my first solo trip in India?
The best way to enjoy solo travel in India is to be open to meeting different kinds of people and sharing experiences with them. It is what makes solo travel fun.
Travel with other solo travellers you meet and make random plans with them.
Alternatively, book your travels with tour operators that conduct group travels across India. It is a great way to meet and travel with like-minded travellers from across the country without planning your trip.
Mix and match your travel destinations.
For example, if you travel to Ladakh, try going to North-East next. Much like the landscape, the people and culture are also different in these two regions. Hence, your travel experience will also differ.
Vary the kind of travel experiences you’re going for as well. For example, if you’re making a solo trip to Hampi, go for a trekking experience in the Western Ghats after that.
The whole idea is to experiment with different things. It helps you get out of your comfort zone, learn new things and keep an element of surprise alive at all times.
How do I plan my first solo trip?
Planning your first solo trip may seem daunting as with any other experience you face for the first time in life. However, if you follow the steps given below, you’ll be able to plan your first solo trip with ease:
1. Choose your travel destination based on what you’re looking for. For example, if you want to spend time at a hill station in South India, you can opt for Kodaikanal (Tamil Nadu).
2. Get an idea about the places to visit/experiences at your destination. You can read travel blogs online or watch vlogs on Youtube to get an idea.
3. Check out the best places to eat at your destination. Have local food if possible to learn more about the cuisine at your destination.
4. Book your flight/train/bus. If booking a flight, ensure you do it one-two months in advance.
5. Book your accommodation, preferably a homestay or hostel. They will save you costs while also giving you a homely feel.
6. Pack your bags lightly and make a move for your destination. If you’re catching a flight, ensure you reach the airport two hours in advance.
7. Check in to your accommodation and figure out local transport. If you’re staying at a hostel, you could also rent a two-wheeler.
I have given you all the information you’ll need to start travelling solo in India based on my experience and knowledge.
To give you a recap of some of the essential highlights, we covered:
- what isn’t solo travel,
- why you should (and shouldn’t) travel solo in India,
- how to travel solo in India,
- and the best places for solo travel in India.
Feel free to go through this article multiple times whenever you need some clarity. It will help you on your quest to make the most of your solo travels in India.
Also, as I’ve mentioned multiple times already, your first few solo travels may not be comfortable or enjoyable enough. And that is perfectly fine. It was the same with me.
Contrarily, you may also realize that you’re not meant for solo travels.
You’ll discover which category you fall under only after you’ve had a few solo travel experiences under your belt. So don’t give up before that.
Solo travelling in India transformed me as a person, and I’m hopeful it will have some impact on you.
With that said, let me know if you have any questions down below. I’ll be happy to answer them.
Also, in case you feel I missed out on any point, let me know in the comments below!