Friday, May 14, 2010

The Lone Traveler

"Woman was born a long ago, but her journey has just begun." Quoting myself! But isn't that line true. It has just been a decade or so that Indian women have begun traveling on their own. Although women have been financially independent a long time ago, traveling alone was a concept not easy to imagine for women. The exceptions to the case being those who had moved abroad for studies or jobs. But mostly a working class woman traveling alone was hard to come by. The reason being the obvious old one. The family disapproval being topmost, "Who would imagine leaving their daughter travel alone in these unsafe times!" Not entirely untrue, but still that was being a little exaggerated.

But then the era of "My Space" ushered and changed everything about women, with all honesty only urban women. Thanks to the liberalisation, women today can live on their own, marry at their will, spend the money without any guilt and travel alone. But traveling alone can come with its share of risks which can be avoided with only a little bit of caution. Just a few tips for traveling alone so that your trip becomes a happy memory.

1) Expenses : The most essential part is the expenses. Have things clearly calculated beforehand. If you are traveling with a touring company find out details regarding what the packages cover. The questions here of course being expenses for: Transport: Will they be covering the ticket fare to the destination and back. Would there be any extra taxes? Hotel Accommodation: Are they providing hotel accommodation? Most travel agencies do but you need to find out if the hotel suit your tastes. Some hotels provide breakfast and one meal as part of the package. You might enquire if they provide vegetarian meals, in case you are a vegetarian.

2) Documents: It would be always advisable to carry the necessary documents along with you even while doing the local shopping rounds. Do make it a point to carry some sort of photo-identity proof with you.

3) Always carry some loose cash and put them in various pockets.

4) Dress appropriately: Especially while doing the local sight-seeing. Do not wear anything that will give the locals some culture shock. It doesn't mean you cover your head because you are in a Middle Eastern country. It would be best to combine the cultural look with your preferred regular wear. A tunic/kurta over a regular pair of jeans could be your best bet.

5) Haversack Happy: Mostly while traveling alone, a haversack is a smart option compared to a strolley. Haversack tend to accommodate the whole universe! And if you are worried about your steam-ironed party wear, one way to keep the fold intact is to roll it up and tuck it in a rarely used compartment, so that you don't have to remove it a thousand times. Unlike a strolley, haversack can also be carried around during local sightseeing or shopping.

6) Couchsurfers Unanimous: If you have couchsurfer hosting your trip it would best to chat up at least a month before the trip just for feelers. You could exchange your normal photographs or best have a phone conversation, all this will ensure that there won't be any unpleasant surprises once you land at the place. On the host's part, they would be more happy to oblige if they are normal. They would be curious about you as much as you are about them. They don't want a creep to land up at their place either.

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