Local Guides Spotlight is a Connect series that celebrates members of our community who are making a positive impact.
Vandana Bellur (@vvbellur) is a Local Guide from Bengaluru, India. After getting her master’s degree in industrial and organizational psychology, Vandana worked in the corporate world for 13 years before quitting her full-time job—to pursue her passion for traveling.
“I know it sounds so cliche, but after two solo trips, I was bitten by the travel bug. I felt there was so much in this world to see. To do that, I didn’t want to wait until my retirement and then travel,” she told us. “My bucket list has 21 countries ticked off and counting.”
Vandana first joined the Local Guides program after her first solo trip to Norway. She often writes reviews about restaurants from a vegetarian perspective and shares her experiences exploring the world as a solo traveler.
“I really want to inspire more women to travel by showing them the ease at which you can do so by using Google Maps, Google Trips, sharing your real-time location, and staying safe,” Vandana said. “I would highly encourage everyone to go on a solo trip at least once in your lifetime.”
We caught up with her to learn more about her experiences as a solo traveler and get her best advice for others who hope to one day do the same.
What’s the first place you traveled to after quitting your full-time job? Why did you decide to go there?
I traveled to Europe for my third solo trip. I came across the Travel Blog Exchange Conference (TBEX), which is the largest conference and networking event for travel bloggers, online travel journalists, new media content creators, travel brands, and industry professionals. I knew I had to attend this event and it was the right segue into what I wanted to do after quitting. It was happening in Ostrava, Czech Republic during the last week of July 2018. After the conference, I began my next journey 58 days in 15 countries.
What is the most challenging part of solo travel?
As much as we may envy our solo travelling friends by scrolling through their social media feeds, here are some untold truths about solo travelling.
What’s the most rewarding?
The fact that you have the luxury of designing your itinerary and seeing it come to life is extremely rewarding. When you are travelling alone, you can decide when your day begins, have brunch or ice cream for lunch, make a sandwich for dinner, etc. To top this all, you meet other solo travellers in hostels, share travel stories, and often promise each other that mi casa es su casa!
What are your best tips for other solo travelers?
For more info on international travel tips, please read my Connect post, “Essential Pre-Travel Tips for First-Time International Travellers.”
Do you have any travel tips that would specifically be helpful for other solo female travelers?
What information do you wish more people included in their reviews?
When people are reviewing hostels, it will be great to know whether there is an elevator or not so that people with huge suitcases will be greatly benefited.
What types of photos do you wish more Local Guides shared on Google Maps?
Outdoor seating and an updated picture of the menu card could help you decide if you would like to visit the place.
Do you have any tips for Local Guides who are new to the program?
Be active on the Local Guides Connect forum and get to know other Local Guides, spend time going through the How-tos section which has a ton of resources that is very handy for newbies.
Why are you proud to be a Local Guide?
I like to help people whenever I can and, by being a Local Guide, I am able to help out people virtually. I know that in some small way my contributions are making a difference. More than anything else, this community has given me a huge set of friends that I am so lucky to be associated with. My Local Guide friends are fun, loving, humble, and are so inspiring that I want to imbibe a few of their traits. I am so proud to call them my friends.
We hope you enjoyed learning more about Vandana! What questions do you have about solo travel? Share them in the comments below and we might just answer them in an upcoming post on Connect!