If you've gotten to this page I'm presuming you've read Parts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 of this #iGoSolo and #iGoGoa blog series..
Bringing this incredible experience of travelling (first solo and then with my group of friends) that I've extensively written about through a ~4700 worded blog series (all parts included) to a close, is this post.
You'd have realized that a very random Google search on 'travelling solo in India' will pop-up a number of websites that talk about a list of do's and don'ts; particularly if you're female. Having answered the question, “Don’t you get scared of traveling by yourself?” way too many times myself (including on this trip), I've listed down a few of the things I do when traveling (solo or not) and I think they have worked quite well for me so far:
- Wear your no-nonsense game face. It’ll help disguise any trace of anxiety or fear (that otherwise has the potential of inviting unwarranted attention, let alone company). Even when you have every reason to be anxious or scared. No, make that 'particularly when you have every reason to be anxious or scared'.
- Keep your family and friends in the loop regarding your whereabouts. I get asked often (and not just by aspiring 'female' solo travellers), "How did your parents allow you?" or "What did you do to convince your parents?". I did nothing except providing them with all the details. Every. Single. Time. And frankly, you do a good job of being responsible and then reachable to the extent possible the first time around, no one panics ever.
- Learn to decide for yourself. Most importantly, trust yourself. Opinions (of what’s right or wrong) and advice (of why this is right and that is wrong) have and will continue to flow like a river. Be grown-up enough to chalk your own destination, your route, your days, your budget – be open to suggestions, but don’t get overwhelmed. I'll caveat this by saying as long as you can be equally responsible too. No crying buckets, hurtling expletives or flailing hands in the air when things don't go as per "your" plan (as it is bound to happen any way).
- Be prepared to have your plans tossed in the air (delays WILL happen).
- Yes, you will meet people who are uncomfortable because you’re travelling alone/holidaying by yourself. Let them be. You don’t have to entertain them. But don’t be a shady recluse either! Be open.
- All hail Google Maps.
- No, languages are NOT a barrier. Even when talking to cops.
- Moderate your expectations well within what you’re willing to pay and that safety, security and comfort are critical
- Use local transport, if nothing then at least for the experience. Most often than not, they’re clean and reliable. Road and rail trips are your toned down version of ‘Bharat Darshan’ and worth the investment of time (if nothing else. Even when they add up to 36 hours)
- When it comes to food or other services that may be available, by merely observing people I’ve learnt that the less fussy one is the more you’re capable of enjoying. Else,…
What I also learnt about myself is that journeys – whether roadtrips or railtrips – are fodder for epiphanies. Here are some from those 10 days:
- If only women were such go-getters in matters other than claiming seats on public transport, the world might still have hope of turning into a better (somewhat equal) place.
- Occasional sightings of a billboard that reads ‘Daily Bread’ left me confused on whether it was a delicatessen or the name of a cult?
- There are too many Café Coffee Day’s sprouting about near Coorg (in comparision to none being sighted when I was there 6 years ago)
- Treks, no matter how small and no matter how many you’ve completed before, always have a way of making you feel like you’ve punctured your lungs!
- Indians don't know how to relax. While beach bumming in Goa, the contrast was stark evident - foreigners were happy sun-bathing, reading and us Indians, furiously "busy" on our smartphones and such other thingamajigs. *SIGH*
Because the glass says: Pause. Life can wait.. and you're pouring yourself a Chardonnay!