As a 30 year old woman who loves to travel, I have come to know that it is not always possible to find a friend or a group of people who would like to travel at the same time to the same places and do the same things as you want to do. Not being able to mix all these 3 , I had to often let go off traveling even though I had the time and wish to.
Traveling solo for a woman in India is made to seem like a nightmare. Yes, maybe it can turn into one, if you are not planned or prepared. I recently had my solo trip and here is what I can tell you from my experience :
- Never arrive or start from a place after dark - No matter what, plan your trip such that you reach before sunset and you start before sunset. This way you might lose out on some precious time but you are safe.
- Research Extensively - Before going out make a Route map in your mind, chalk out the itinerary , figure out the best mode of transport, time to be spent at each place. Yes plan that extensively if you are travelling alone.
- Be Alert of your surroundings - It is said we women have a sixth sense about approaching danger. Be alert while moving out and keep an eye on suspicious characters.
- Never do small talk with strangers or make eye contact - No matter how friendly someone appears, don't make any small talk with anyone. If Possible don't even ask for directions much. Don't people know that you are new. Do not act like a tourist.
- Start your day early - You haven't visited the place so that you can sleep the entire day. If you are serious about exploring ,start your day early and figure out which places remain open in the morning and plan your day accordingly.
- Always use public transport - The best mode of transport is metro, bus, auto etc. It is cheap and safe.
- Dress like locals - See what women around you are wearing. You are here to travel not for a Vogue shoot. Dressing traditionally is always advisable unless you are in Goa! :) Always carry a scarf or a stole.
- Technology Support - Have a smart-phone with 3G connection so that you can keep a check on GPS as to where your auto is taking you. Charge your phone in cafes etc where you stop to eat. Carry a power bank at all times.
- Travel light - Too much luggage slows down your movement. Never ever carry heavy luggage.
- Have enough cash - You never know where your plan can go haywire. So always have extra cash to implement Plan B in case Plan A doesn't work.
- Build a Trust Factor - Sometimes it's good to build a 'trust factor' with the local people like the person you buy breakfast from everyday, or auto wallahs ferrying you from one tourist place to another. Not everyone out there is a rapist but be careful whom you are putting your trust on.
- Avoid Hotels - Hotels unless very good are usually under lot of 'Bad Eye' . Try to stay in Hostels or couch surf with a friend. This way you reduce your travel cost and also avoid unnecessary travel.