India is a mine of cultural gems, vibrant and poignant. There are many ways to experience its warmth, charms, romance and intriguing traditions. Many travelers, both from the country’s own soils and others from global lands, like to traverse the length and breadth of this huge country alone.
Whilst this gives you a chance to travel as you like and is the perfect recipe for adventure, it is good to travel responsibly to enjoy and cherish your trip. Here are a few tips that can come in handy while you take the solo path to enjoy ‘Incredible India’!
- Take it slow
India is a vast country and it simply cannot be covered in a single trip, unless you are stretching it on for months. Instead of making your trip hectic, localize your visit to cover destinations that are close to each other. This saves time, is budget friendly and can give you more time to explore the intricacies of each place that you visit. If you desire, make multiple trips to cover different parts of this beautiful country. The more you see of this wonderful land, the more you will be left yearning for – that is a promise!!
- Carry first-aid and some handy snacks
Pack in come usual medicines and a first-aid kit, in case you need them when you travel alone. Medical shops may not be available everywhere and in any case may not stock up what you need. Likewise, pack in a few energy bars and light snacks, at least for the initial days till you get familiar how to move around.
- Understand the Indian culture and mindset
India is a traditional land, and one with many religions. The culture by and large is one that respects people. Before visiting a place, read up about its culture and the general thought-process of the inhabitants. This will help you mingle in better especially when you interact with the locals. Dress moderately, especially if you plan to visit places of religious worship, as some of these have some basic rules for dress codes.
- Give Indian hospitality a chance
Indians by nature are very friendly and open up easily in fluent and warm verbal exchanges. These are valuable opportunities to get insights about their beliefs, lifestyles and you might learn a few things that may not be available in any tourist brochure. These glimpses of local life will stay with you forever! You can get handy and practical tips from the locals as well. You never know, you could end up forging a real friendship!
- Taste the local flavors first hand
If you have been to India and not savored its gastronomic delights, you’ve missed something awesome! India is a land of spices, and flavor and food habits change every few miles. Pamper your taste buds with the local dishes. Most of the hotels and restaurants will dole out these for you lovingly, being their pride and tradition! If you are the adventurous type, ditch the expensive hotels and head down the by-lanes and streets for the true Indian cuisine wonders.
Be aware that some of these eating joints may have hygiene issues, so be sure to check them out well. Also, Indians go high on spices, masala and oil, so be careful what you pick to eat!
- Avoid travel at night
It is advisable to travel during the day, since you are traveling alone, as far as possible. Avoid going into the city or desolate areas around dusk and later. This is even more important if you are a woman. If you do have to travel at night, be sure to use public and well-habited modes of transport such as trains or planes.
- Stay Connected and Safe
Enjoy the joys of the virtual connectivity, and keep your family and loved ones informed about your safety. Use Wi-Fi hot-spots and Internet mobility to send regular updates back home. Buy a local calling card or a local mobile SIM card and talk to your family at least once a day. You can purchase a SIM card at the International Airport on arrival and saves you a lot of hassles/formalities to procure one outside. Every International Airport in India has telecom operators, selling these cards inside the airport. Download some of the safety apps on your mobile and configure them for emergency contact numbers for emergency.
- Never compromise on your accommodation
Save in other places, but never compromise on the quality of your accommodation, since this is linked to safety and your well-being. Having a good manager with helpful staff is very important to make you feel happy and relaxed. Choose a budget hotel or warm family home-stay options if you want to cut costs, but one that is well known and has good reviews.
- Don’t be wary of public transport
Public transport is safer as compared to taxis. They are cheaper too, especially the buses and trains. They also give you a good chance to meet locals and interact with them! Check out the bus, metro and train routes well in advance when you make your detailed plans. Download mobile apps of Indian Railways, Metro routes & bus routes. India is a technologically advanced country now, we have a lot of such technology readily available.
- Don’t stick to the tourist hot-spots
Touristy places may sound ‘safer’, but are also commercialized and overcrowded. You may find a pleasant village tucked away nearby, relatively untouched by the money-making frenzy. This could be the perfect quaint place to visit, even though it may not have fancy offerings. This shall give you genuine first-hand experience to soak in the local ambience, perhaps at the cost of a bit of compromise on comfort. Don’t miss it!
- Don’t forget to keep a self-defense weapon with you
Being safe and well-equipped for any unforeseen emergency is always good. Carry a handy weapon like a pocket-knife or the very suave and effective pepper-spray with you. Hopefully, you shall never need it, but it’s always good to be prepared, isn’t it?
So go on let the country soak you in its myriad colors and inspire you. Never cease to be surprised, as each of the 29 states has its own set of unique dialects, languages, food, culture and traditions. Travel well, travel smartly, safely and enjoy a memorable trip!
You might like to read more on traveling to India below:
- Exploring Ladakh with strangers
- Kerala Mecca of Ayurveda
- Jodhpur Travel guide
- Varanasi Travel guide
- Jaisalmer Travel guide
- Jaipur Travel guide