Traveling alone is the new trend among backpackers and avid travelers, who refuse to wait around for a friend or accomplice. I’m one to happily join the bandwagon, given that my friends are unreliable, moody bores. I’ve traveled alone for a while and aside from the occasional loneliness that creeps in, it’s an experience that has taught me a lot of things. I’ve grown so much through traveling solo, and feel everyone should opt for it at some point in their early life.
If this is your first time taking the plunge, these 8 solo travel tips for first-timers will help you get a head start for planning your trip alone. The catch with doing this though, specially if you’re a woman, is that there are certain places that just shouldn’t be considered. I had heard this before and often wondered if it had less to do with a particular country or city than with the ideal of being alone in a new environment.
Still, I hadn’t felt unsafe on the streets of Moscow late night. But then again, I’m not a party animal, and you won’t find me frequenting dark alleys in new countries. This rendered me too inexperienced to comment on the whole “safety” situation. Until recently.
I traveled to Bangkok alone on a whim, because nobody wanted to “waste money on Bangkok” and everyone (except me, if you can imagine that!) had already been there. I wasn’t visiting the islands and it wasn’t a pit-stop to anywhere. I just no-reason landed there thinking it would be fun. Alone.
Boy, was I wrong! I learnt a few things traveling alone to India’s favourite holiday destination, and here’s why I don’t recommend traveling there alone:
The sleazy men:
The first night I stepped out was a disaster. As was the second and the third. Unless you make friends with other backpackers (there are plenty backpackers in Bangkok and the best place to meet them is the Khao San Road), you’re out in the town alone. In one single evening, unassuming stuffing my face with Pad Thai, I was passed filthy comments by three men, was followed twice within a span of a minute and was almost pick-pocketed once. Of these six men, five were Indian. Though I hadn’t disregarded the possibility of encountering drunk Indian men, I hadn’t thought they would behave like savages. To say I was appalled would be an understatement. I was disgusted and ashamed on behalf of my country. Stepping out at night alone is the world thing you could do to yourself in Bangkok, and 45 minutes later I returned to the hotel feeling violated, never to step out again after 9 for the duration of my stay.
The struggle is real:
It isn’t just the Indian men in Bangkok but also the locals. Aside from the instances I’ve quoted above, I fought several battles on the street every day. On one occasion I caught a cabbie clicking pictures of me and sending them across to someone, followed by sending across- what I assumed it was- our route. This isn’t to say, of course, that it applies to everyone everywhere, but these are personal experiences of things that happened within 3 days.
There’s little to do:
During the day visits to the temples and shopping streets are sufficient to keep you occupied. In fact, remember to try these 12 things to do in Bangkok when you plan your trip. Come evening, you’ll be missing out on everything. Where Bangkok is known for the best parties, in an attempt to keep yourself safe you might end up missing out on the best part about this city- it’s nightlife! From strip clubs to the best pubs and roof top parties, there’s so much to experience- all of which you risk missing out on, if you decide your safety trumps alcohol!
The flight is a nightmare:
Flights to Bangkok are mostly full, noisy and crowded. Conversing with a flight attendant, I was told this particular sector is always the least favourite for the crew. It isn’t too hard to fathom why. There were guys requesting to click pictures with them, others repeatedly asking for re-fills of alcohol and then some who would constantly pick loud conversations with their buddies across the aisle. It’s best to go through this with a friend or a family or anyone at all!