The travel industry website Skift dubbed 2017 “the year of the modern female traveller,” and Conde Nast Traveler recently reported that solo female travel is more popular than ever. So while you pack your bags and zero in on your next vacation destination for 2018, here are some frequent travellers, who happen to be women☺, that tell you what to remember to make it easy peasy!
1. Nausheen Tareen, PR Professional and Lifestyle Writer
Walk, walk and walk. I feel you have to allow yourself to get lost walking to truly experience the pulse of a place. So do not stress yourself with itineraries and guided tours. Just get your google map out, put in the final destination, understand the basic route and then keep it aside. Keep walking and enjoying the sights and sounds of new places. Imbibe it all with an open mind.
The second and the most important part of my travel experiences is the FOOD. I truly believe that food is a window to the soul of a place defining its culture and values. Do not just go for Michelin star meals (nothing wrong in that too!) but make a list of local favourites, food-tasting circuits, touristy must-eats, score a meal with a local family, hop across small bars in narrow alleys, just indulge your taste buds to open up your mind.
When it comes to packing, do not go overboard with clothes. Remember to carry a couple of pairs of comfortable walking shoes and basics like jeans, tees and sweatshirts. Dressing up in layers is always advisable in places you are not sure about the weather. So carry a light jacket or two.
And lastly, while you are there, plan a few things like a local. See if there are any upcoming concerts, speakeasy nightclubs flocked by locals, sport matches, fashion shows or art exhibitions. Or just read up about what locals do on a day off, picnic at a canal, football at the beach, BBQ in the park. Could be anything, just pick the cue and make local friends. You will truly enjoy the destination.”
2. Monica Dogra, Musician, Actor
“Who doesn’t enjoy a glass of bubbly on the flight. But I have a sensible thing I remember to do. If I am travelling by myself (or even with friends) I usually drink after landing. It is a great idea to battle jet lag as it does make you sleep better! Also, for those that feel sick after or during a flight or road trip, sipping on chamomile tea is great. I swear by it.”
3. Amanda Sodhi, Singer-Songwriter, Filmmaker, Poet, Founder, Pen Paper Dreams
“As someone who travels a lot, there are a few tips I would like to share with other travellers. Pack as light as you can, especially if you know you are bound to purchase something to wear at your new destination. I like to keep everything contained to one backpack and one oversized purse because it allows me more mobility when I’m on the go; imagine having to roll a huge bag on the streets if you’re exploring new spots after checking out from a hotel! I recommend keeping one pair of jeans, black leggings, PJs, 1 light-weight dress, several t-shirts/blouses/light-weight kurtis, and, most importantly, a hoodie, scarf and socks, if you have a tendency to feel cold on flights or AC buses/trains. Carry multipurpose accessories to dress up outfits as and when needed. Check with your hotel in advance if they provide towels and toiletries, so you don’t have to haul those around. Try to map out points of interest in advance so you can pinpoint which spots are within walking distance of each other – also jot down which cafes fall within those areas. Walking around, rather than taking a cab for every tiny distance, allows you to really explore more. I enjoy watching a movie or catching a play in new cities with local residents. If you are a foodie, try to do some research on recommended cafes, lounges and restaurants and cross-check menus and photographs to create a shortlist of interesting places to satisfy your hunger pangs. Lastly, it helps to ask around on your social media pages if anyone can connect you with locals. A local resident will be able to tell you which tourist spots are overrated and which lesser-known spots would be better substitutes. And, they can serve as an emergency point-of-contact.
4. Ankita Vazirani, Independent PR professional
“I feel, travelling solo is a skill, and one I’m constantly honing in order to get the very best out of my experiences abroad. I have travelled close to six countries till now and four of them solo, and it’s taught me so much about myself, about people and the universe. To help you figure out how to travel alone and take that leap of faith, or enhance your solo travels, I would like to share some pointers. Firstly, download all local applications. When I plan my travel overseas, the first thing I google is about the local navigation applications. I try and download all those applications which I feel will be useful for me while commuting through public transport or food-related applications which tells you the best food joints nearby your stay or the best local dishes to try out etc. While I was in Singapore, I downloaded an app called GRAB, cab service application which has the same model as Uber and I really saved a lot of dollars :p.
Secondly, keep copies of your Visa and Ticket in all your bags: Now this is something very important. Don’t know how unusual it is but yes important. So, I generally keep one copy of visa and one copy of my travel tickets, hotel reservation, etc. in all my bags, handbag, luggage, etc. I make several bundles of all documents, each copy and put it in all the bags I carry.
And most importantly, No, I don’t feel weird when I sit alone in a restaurant and enjoy my meal!”
5. Afrida Rehman Ali, TV Journalist/Anchor at MirrorNow
“I am an anchor, so I am conditioned to look a certain way. My numero uno travel tip is to be comfortable but don’t compromise on the style factor. I am a big sucker for taking pictures so I do plan my look as I step out of my hotel or temporary shelter during a holiday. If it’s a cold country I am happier. I love my bright scarves and stoles which I love to drape stylishly around my neck and team it up with a smart jacket! Comfortable sneakers are every traveller’s buddy but I am also a big believer of wearing bright footwear during my travels because my jackets or tracks are usually of dull/mute colours. So I love to offset the monotony of the dull browns and beiges with a little burst of colour. One no-no for me is wearing denim during my travels… I find them atrociously uncomfortable… and also – style-wise how predictable! I prefer wearing track pants and I have invested in quite a few that will perhaps last me a lifetime! Those cargo pants and chinos are also great travel gear!
And yes I do pay attention to my ear studs or little something around my wrist … something that adds a feminine touch! Of course, my tinted lip balm, sunscreen cum moisturizer and my hairbrush will always be handy either in my sling bag or in my waist bag which I invariably wear during all my travels!! The whole idea is to look good … feel good… everything flows from there, isn’t it??”
6. Deviya Kumar, Actor, RJ, Communication Professional
“To find the real gems to check out in any city or place, looking up travel websites and magazines is all great. But the real recommendations come from the locals who you might interact with during your visit. They know their city and it’s hidden gems better than anyone else. Travel Insurance is extremely important. If you are travelling by flight this is a must. Spend that extra 100 even when you make your domestic bookings. In case of baggage loss or missed flight you will be glad you have insurance for it will have you covered. For international travel whether via flight or any other form of transportation don’t even think twice. Whether it’s your baggage, the flight and the most important if you get sick while on foreign waters your policy will have you covered. Medical care as a tourist can be quite an expense. Make this a rule and you will be at peace always.”
Compiled by Aarti Kapur Singh