Discovering Goa safely: A solo woman's ultimate travel guide
Goa is known for its beaches, bachelorettes and yet failed travel plans. But don't let that keep you away from visiting this coastal paradise. It doesn't matter if you are by yourself and you are a woman. In any case, you should certainly take that trip just as I did back in 2020. It was the best time ever!
Just as other female solo travellers who have made it here say it was a journey to self-confidence, so it was for me. The locals are hospitable, and I never once felt unsafe when I was around people. But coming from a metro, empty streets are a red flag. So to make sure I felt safe, here is how I got to planning it. You can use it as a guide for a solo woman’s trip to Goa.
HAVE A CLEAR PLAN:
While impromptu plans are the trend, I believe carefully devised plans are the best. These plans can always be changed. But, if you have none, you could find yourself in the middle of the street trying to make one. Trust me, you wouldn’t want that with a one-bar network in most of Goa under the dim street lights.
So here’s how you can start making the itinerary. Forget the checklists that fashion the internet and find out what you are really looking for during this trip. Is it the beaches, the parties, good restaurants, great drinks, authentic food, immersion in the culture or unique experiences? Figure if they are mostly in the north, the centre or the south and look for stays accordingly.
WHERE TO STAY:
Begin by looking for accommodation closer to busy areas. The best part about Goa is that even if you are in such an area, it can be peaceful and calm. I am generally very picky about hotels as a solo traveller. I prefer hostels while I am by myself, so I get to meet new people and know that there are people within reach.
If you are crashing in a dorm, look for one that is female-only. In case you would still like your space, try out a private room at the hostel. My favourites include Woke Morjim, Woke Arpora, U R D Ki, The White Balcao and The Old Quarter. Where a hotel is concerned, my go-to is Ciarans as it is on the beach and I can freely leave my belongings in the room.
HOW TO TRAVEL:
Rent a car. If that is beyond your budget, go for a two-wheeler, so you are not dependent on fickle transport. Invest in good earphones like Airdopes and wear them along with the helmet.
And no, don't use them to listen to music but for directions while navigating maps. This was a lesson I learnt from my 2020 trip as I had to stop every now and then to look at my phone for directions in dim and empty lanes.
In case you don't have a license, find tried-and-tested cab, auto or pilot drivers. You can also use the AC electric buses to and from the airport. Otherwise, there are buses that have particular timings. Make sure you gather that information before you start relying on them.
Read a lot of reviews, ask a lot of people around for their thoughts and make informed decisions. Go to good-looking and well-rated places and avoid those that are empty. Some restaurants even have a protection system if you are being harassed by someone. You can order a drink with a certain name and help will reach you right away. The situation would be handled discreetly.
Some of my favourite restaurants include Petisco, Sakana, Fat Fish, Joets and Good Fellas. Experiences through Make It Happen, Blive and Urbanaut always felt safe personally. If you need to, feel free to start your day early and end early. That is what I did in 2020.
CARRY A NOTEBOOK AND PEN/PENCIL
While we may be living in the digital age, I strongly recommend having the good old notebook and a pen or pencil handy. It thankfully never runs out of charge, hangs due to the heat or becomes too bright to read on a sunny day. Keep on hand accommodation details, the itinerary and contacts in case of emergencies.
Note that the women's helpline number is 1091 and the women’s Whatsapp messenger contact is 7875756177.
(Heena Shah is an avid traveller and covers topics such as sustainable travel and lifestyle. Got comments, suggestions? Contact: Explorer.email@example.com)