A good number of “butterflies in stomach” is something no woman travelling alone can skip. Even the ones who travel alone very often. But then, nothing wins over the love for travel and we do venture out, more often than anyone can guess.
A surge in recent cases of violence against women in India was all that a woman who travels alone would have needed for a dampener. Yet (and thankfully), I still keep meeting solo women travellers all around India.
So while my good advice to you, if you’re a solo woman traveller in India, is to kick ass of the word “fear”, at least figuratively, and see all that you want to of this gorgeous country, some tips for women who travel alone would not hurt anyone.
Or, they might 😉
Blend, But Stay Different
While you, of course,should not dye your blond hair to any darker shade, I advice you to blend in with the people and ambiance of the place you are visiting. Like a case of classic camouflage, enjoy coffee at a place that has a good number of locals trooping in. Listen to conversations (don’t stalk!), soak in the mannerisms to look like one of the flock. While doing that, remember you are different, so do not go wearing a sari if others are, for it’s bound to highlight you as an outsider.
With that, I advise you to stash away any of the things that scream – I’m hell rich! So, before you hit the roads, take off that Rado watch and the designer bags that yell “big brand” or anything else on similar lines. Keep it all for some flaunting back at home.
We grew up learning not to cower and retaliate. But our tip for solo travellers is to walk away. In a largely unfamiliar surrounding, it’s easier (and safer) to ignore a comment or a group of lechers and walk away from such situations/people fast. Keep the anger for times when you are sure of getting help from others and know of your surroundings. And then, my ladies, you can retaliate.
It’s perfectly okay and advisable to say no to a driver’s recommendation for a hotel, a guide’s over zealousness to show you around or even a fellow traveller who insists on sharing a cab or going to someplace that is totally offbeat. If it makes you uneasy, you have every reason in the world to say no and walk off.
Wear The Calm But I-Can-Skin-Your-Guts Look
Never look scared or hassled, even when you are. Think of a way out, wear the calm look. While it’s no use in totally cutting off from the local experiences, wear an air of confidence that conveys you can fight back if need be. It can be conveyed from things as simple as enjoying a book by the roadside, giving two hoots to anyone watching.
Choose Your Stay Option Thoughtfully
One of the best options to do so is to talk to anyone who has been to the same destination. Simply post a query on twitter or facebook or a blogger or a travel forum. If it’s a source you trust, go ahead with the general suggestion. Plus, simple mindful things like asking for a room that’s nearer to the lift lobby or skipping the “Mr/Ms/Mrs” box on the entry register helps in easing the worry off.
Do Not Cut Off On Experiences
Travelling would be a pain if you have to be cautious all the time. Thus, if you feel safe and comfortable, go ahead and talk to the guy who runs the street food shack about his experiences. Return smiles and be courteous and polite. In short, do not generalise people.
Leave A Detailed Itinerary Back Home; Keep In Touch
Other than leaving a note of where all you will be going with someone back at home, keep in touch with them. A phone call or an email everyday will suffice and they will know where to track you if you stop communicating.
Do Not Go Looking For Nightlife
For there is nothing that fits the label of nightlife in India for now. Nightfall is pretty much the end of the day in most of the India, so try to be back at your hotel by then. Most of the places or joints that call themselves hangout zones are dubious or still in nascent stage. Watch TV, read a book, write down your day in a notebook. Do anything but staying out at night.
Divide Cash While Travelling
It may sound like granny’s advice but the truth is that it becomes quite harrowing if you lose all all your money in a new place. So, divide both your cash and cards and keep them at two or more different places, maybe in your sock.
Maps Always Help
Be it an app on your mobile device or a hard copy, do carry a map. You’ll have a more than general idea of where you’re heading off to. Staying informed is one of the best self help tips for any woman who travels alone. Also, do not read maps in the middle of the road. Go to a cafe if you find yourself confused or carry a mini-map. Better use a mobile app for it does not make you look lost and hankering after maps.
Lastly, Wear Confidence For A Perfume
Know that travelling solo is not what everyone can do. The fact that you are out there already proves that you are much more confident, even in solitude, than the others. Wear that confidence on your sleeve and walk into cafes, talk to the waiting staff, befriend kids or the local newspaper boy. Most of all, enjoy your trip. There’s no smell as strong as confidence to keep the potentially dangerous people at bay.
Remember, there’s always the next adventure to take too many risks in a trip.
Stay safe, keep travelling.
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