Aanchal Aneja : Solo Trip Blueprint, Carrying Weapons, Preparing For A Trek, Eating Healthy & Power Of Now

published on 17 July 2023

What has been your most memorable trek?

Har Ki Dun. I know it's a common trek but the valley is so beautiful, lush green. What made my trek beautiful was the kind of people I met and how they treated each other. There were people from every background - author, army, IIT'ian, retired 65 year old woman. We would sit together and have a good time. Everyone was so respectful.

I had to share the tent with two guys, they were cousins. I would sleep on one end and the poor boys would be cramped up on the other end to give me my privacy. The next morning I told them that we are in the wilderness, I have a sleeping bag, a tent to sleep in, relax, you don't have to worry about accidentally touching me.

From then on, we became a family. We would eat together, share stories.

The next day I got my periods. I told the boys and they were extremely understanding. I remember it was raining, these guys stood outside the tent until I cleaned myself up.

One day, we hit a brutal storm. Half of our tents flew away. Our kitchen staff and trekkers were running behind them. At night we all slept in the kitchen tent, together. We wanted to be there for each other. It was beautiful.

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How do you plan a solo trip? Give me a blueprint that a young 20 year old someone can follow.

I'm 22 so you're asking the right person.

#1 Download apps - Skyscanner for cheap flight tickets, Redbus for bus bookings and AirBnb for accommodation. Redbus provides reviews of the bus as well as driver and conductor information, contact information of their admin office.

#2 If you're a girl, for overnight journey, dress up like a guy - there's a lot of people on the bus and I will be safe but why should I make it obvious that I'm traveling solo and attract anyone. Everyone is going to the same destination, I want to avoid making contact with other travellers. I want to have my own piece. I wear loose t-shirts, joggers, sneakers and cap. This is not necessary, just something I do.

#3 Carry weapons - I carry a lot of weapons. I carry a pocket knife, a big knife, a taser and like many others a pepper spray. I keep my taser handy. Pepper spray still takes a while, 'taser ko on kar ke rakho, koi aaya, thok do'. My safety is my priority. I don't care if there is a police case later. I have a family waiting for me, I have dreams and aspirations but I don't want to stop myself from traveling and seeking beautiful experiences. Luckily I have never had to use any of them. I have gone on treks with trek operators and then I have also done short treks by myself. I keep my weapon handy in case of an animal attacks me.

I have learnt martial arts but I know that self-defence doesn't come handy when you are in a tough situation. You blackout. But, if you have something in your hand all the time while you are traveling, it helps. Part of knowing self-defence is being aware of your surroundings. When traveling or trekking solo, make sure you are not glued to your phone, speakers, noise canceling earphones. That is when a person with bad intentions can take advantage of you.

#4 When I travel solo, I don't have a fixed itinerary. I like to discover things. I will go for walks and ask locals instead of googling. Your AirBnb host will guide you very well.

#5 The last thing I recommend anyone to carry is confidence. It is bigger than any weapon.


How do you convince parents, siblings, spouse who might have an issue with you traveling solo?

I've grown up very independent. I take things in my own hands and get them done. I don't give my father the option to say 'nahi, tu nahi jayegi solo trip pe.'

If you are struggling to convince your parents or spouse for a solo trip - show them that you are capable and responsible. Show them that you can be street smart. Be handy around them. Do things yourself, no need to call the plumber every time. My parents had questions and concerns but it was never a NO. My father taught me how to change a tyre before I learnt how to drive.

If you are going on a vacation with your parents, figure out the itinerary, book the tickets, restaurants, hotels yourself. Show them you are capable. Do it in a way that they are impressed. 'Unko dikhao ki tumhe koi buddhu nahi bana sakta'.

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For someone who has a large following on social media, what precaution do you take when traveling?

It is applicable even if you don't have a big following. It's been a week I've come back from Bir but I still haven't posted about where I went. I only shared that I was in Himachal Pradesh. I will never share about my whereabouts for the first 3-4 days of travel. On a trek it's even better because you don't have access to signal, so you can't post about your whereabouts at all.

Also, since I visit a lot of places that are not yet commercialised I don't post about these locations openly. If someone will ask for it I will DM it to them. Since I have a decent following on social media I have to be responsible about such things.


You're a fitness coach and I 'm sure even when you travel you keep a strict diet. How do you eat healthy on the road?

Alright, let's break it down. If I'm on a trek I will eat whatever is there. Maggi, dal chawal, whatever is being cooked, I will eat it. 'Jo milay woh khao, bhagwan ko yaad karo ki itna mil raha hai, bahut meharbani'. But I do bring my own snacks - makhane, amul milk packs, protein sachet, protein bars and nuts.

On a solo trip, my first priority is access to a decent kitchen. So an AirBnb or a homestay. I carry my constant companions - whey protein sachet, protein bars and nuts. In my last trip I carried Safola soya bhurji packets. I start my day with a run, drink a protein shake, make soya bhurji and toast because I want to consume as much protein I can early in the day and head out. For lunch I will find tofu and rice for carbs. It's not complicated, all easily available. I also want to experience the local dishes, so I try and more than half of my required nutrients in breakfast.


What training do you suggest for first time trekkers?

#1 Learn to walk without any distractions. No music, podcast, calling a friend.
#2 Strengthen your glutes, posterior chain and lower back. They are weak from sitting at your desk all day.
#3 Strengthen your ankles and knees. Make them bulletproof.

Most people just don't move enough. Kids younger than me, 18 - 19 years old on treks are not able to walk or carry a backpack. They end up giving it to mules.


What have you learnt about yourself through traveling?

In my 11th standard I read this called 'The Power Of Now' by Eckhart Tolle and I didn't understand what he was saying until I went on my first trek. I was not thinking about my past or my future. My mind was shut and for the first time I remember hearing my heartbeat. It might also be because I was out of breath!

I like living life on my own terms and traveling solo allows me to that. I am not relying on anyone else for my happiness. My networking skills have improved because when you are traveling you meet people from different backgrounds, careers and cultures. You see things from a different perspective and realise not everything is plain black and white.

You become more grateful over all. You say thanks to a half peeled banana that helps you reach the top of the summit, to the clouds when the sun's really hot and to the sun when it rains. I'm very opinionated and rant all over Twitter but have learnt to be more appreciative.

Traveling alone has spilled confidence on other parts of my life. Oh, you don't have time to go try out that new cafe. I'll go alone. You don't want to become my business partner, will do it alone. Can't come for a movie. I'll go myself. If I can go to the mountains alone and come back, I can pretty much do anything on my own.

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