What all things to keep in mind for a solo travel in India

‘I love to travel but have to wait for my friends to get free time which would match mine’

‘I love to travel but want to experience a solo trip but am too scared about it’

‘I love to travel and want to travel solo but don’t know where to start from and how to do it’

Sounds familiar?

Most of us want to travel, rather love travelling. But when those friends and family are not available when you are available to go then you keep postponing the dates as per their availability.

Sometimes, you just want to have the experience of ‘solo’ travelling but somehow never started off.

So what are the things that you need to know before stepping out for travelling solo?

Here are some important pointers based on my own experiences which you would find useful while travelling solo in India –

Know your place

A little bit pre-researched information about the place where you are going is always helpful. Example, the kind of weather conditions, culture, dressing sense, food, transport availability, etc.

Transport

All places in India are mostly connected by trains and bus. So after you have selected the place you want to go, see the rental options of four wheeler and two wheeler if you want to avoid public transport.

For trains it is better to book beforehand. For the bus transport check for the State run transport first as it is much faster and budget friendly.

If you are moving from one destination to another then check the connectivity. For example, when I went to Rajasthan, I rented two wheeler at Jaipur and covered all the nearby places with that.

Food

Best way to enjoy the foods and have the hygiene factor covered is by having the local authentic foods. You get the fresh fruits and vegetables and also the processed items intake would be less when you are tasting the local delicacies. And given India is majorly a vegetarian country, you would get all types of food at almost all states.

Take your own reusable bottle with a filter attached (although it’s a bit expensive). This will help you to have pure drinking water. Buying water every time if you are on a long trip would weigh down on the budget.

Clothes

India is a vast country with tropical climate. Whatever destination you travel to, better to check the weather conditions prior to that. Especially the clothes you will require at the Northern India is different from Southern India.

However, it is good to have interchangeable clothes and light multi-purpose jackets which you can mix and match and wear anytime.

Another important thing is to wear clothes which does not attract unnecessary attention (especially for women travelers). Prefer to wear clothes covering more than 70% of the body. Not all places are same but just to be on the safer side you would like to take this into consideration.

Also keep in mind, while visiting most of the religious places, wear a fully covered dress and better to cover the head.

Be a Responsible Traveler

Traveling is not just about fun. It’s also about experiences and learning. Wherever you go ensure that you respect not just the people and culture but also the place. Do NOT litter around even if you find litter lying here and there. It will not only help you have a satisfied journey but also you might inspire and encourage others to follow the same, you never know!

Hacks & Tips

Ladies, it is a good idea to fake a ring on your finger! It works most of the time. This peculiar trick keeps away unwanted men most of the time.

Keep a whistle, key, spray(any deodorant will also do) and torch handy always for safety purpose.

Keep emergency numbers handy. Local police and hospital details should always be with you wherever you are traveling to.

While India is a diverse country with a diverse culture, it is always advisable to respect and be humble and empathetic while traveling towards the locals and the fellow travelers.

If you have some other tips and experience do share it in the comments below. Would love to hear.

Happy traveling 🙂

How to travel frequently having a full time job

How many of us wish to travel often but are pulled down due to our full time jobs? We all have at least one friend who fits in the above scenario. Or rather, some of us are the exact ones. Just imagine if you get the trick to travel frequently even with a full time job, how brilliant does that sound? Amazing right!

I have been working in a full time job since few years now, but the urge to go and visit new places, meet new people and most importantly try out amazing delicacies, has always kept a fire burning in my heart since a long time. In simple terms, explore the amazing World given to us by Mother Nature! In most of my travel stories shared with you all in my blog, maximum have been done during weekends, be it with family/friends or solo. You can check out all those with budget and itinerary!

Trips with friends and family are always welcome, but the problem comes when the time adjustment as per their availability does not match with mine and vice-versa.

Hence, I decided to take the plunge and raft with the flow. But the entire planning authority and freedom is mine for these trips and it gives an amazing sense of accomplishment and freedom!

So, most of us have 5 days job. But few even have Saturdays working. So what you can do is –

  1. First, look for long weekends where you can combine 1 or 2 days extra along with Saturday and Sunday for your trip, if not even then it’s fine
  2. List down all the nearby destinations from your location (you can always include the far off destinations with one night journey if you feel like)
  3. Check the train/bus/flight availability

If you are on a budget, then better to take train/bus. Some good websites to book online – IRCTC (I guess foreigners without user id cannot book from here, but there are other options) 

Yatra (some good offers are available round the year, just keep an eye on it)

MakeMyTrip (again look out for offers and discounts from time to time)

Goibibo (good discounts especially during the festive seasons)

Easemytrip (they don’t charge for the convenience fee)

4. Do some research about the place – Now this will be according to your taste and likeness which means if you are an adventure seeker, look out for what you can do in that place or if you are going with your family then what all options are available to explore

5. Set your budget for the entire trip including tickets

6. Calculate your travel time. If you are at a place say for example, Mumbai or Delhi and after office hours if you have to catch the train/bus at Friday night, then how many hours will be taken to reach your destination next day morning. I would suggest not to waste time beyond morning of the next day (Saturday), then you can utilize the max amount of time in the destination

7. If you are more of an explorer like me instead of a tourist, then checkout for hosts/travelers in Couchsurfing . The locals give you the better information about places and activities that tourists don’t get easily

Check out sites like TripAdvisor , LonelyPlanet, Tripoto . There are forums where you can even post your queries and get answers from genuine travelers.

8. If you are fine with not booking in advance for your accommodation, that’s okay but only if that’s a non-peak season. It’s advisable to book accommodation in advance especially if you are traveling in peak season

Booking.com (this is amazing to book good accommodations including homestay, hotel, resorts with excellent deals and you can even book without any advance booking fee and can cancel anytime before a specified timeline!)

My travel is mostly – start friday night, reach Saturday morning, Sunday again start for the return journey and Monday morning back to base. But if there are some mondays or fridays that can be taken as leave or clubbed with any National holidays, it’s more beneficial!

If you need any help or brainstorming regarding any place/trip, do get in touch with me. Always ready to help 🙂

Happy traveling 🙂

 

10 Best Places in India for Solo Female Travelers – Budget Friendly

With a full time job and only few weekends to spend for myself in a year, it’s a little bit of extra work of planning for a solo trip. Although there are lots of places in India to visit solo(for everyone irrespective of men or women), here are the top most as per budget, food and traveler friendly.

Source : Mumbai

Trip Duration (each) : 2-4 days (over the weekend)

Budget : Within INR 7000

Accomodation : Through makemytrip.combooking.com (these offer some really good budget-friendly deals) and Couchsurfing(the worldwide common platform for cultural exchange with travel experiences and hospitality- the best out of all the options!).

Budget : Pocket friendly (All prices might vary from season to season and person to person. These are the ones I completed my trips within).

1. Hampi – Paradise for all backpackers

Approx trip cost – INR 2000

The land of monuments and the Tungabhadra River, Hampi is more than just scenic beauty and an ideal place for backpackers, it is an experience with best of ancient touch and the warm and mordern gestures of the locals. The ancient temples, monuments and the giant rocks and boulders of Hampi will leave you amazed. The locals there speak fluent English so language is not a problem for anyone communicating in English.

Definitely take the Coracle ride once to cross the river. It’s really fun! And it is very well within the pocket-friendly budget. Have delicious foods at Mango Tree cafe with unlimited access to wifi and great ambiance.

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Tip : Take enough cash as there is no facility of card swipe at most of the places. The only ATM is at Hospet, 10 km from Hampi.

For detailed info, check here.

2. Goa – Indian travel hotspot year round for all kinds of travelers

Approx trip cost – INR 4000

The most happening place for solo traveling. Parties, serene beauty, water sports, adventure or just chilling out – Goa offers everything and is most frequented by solo travelers. You can visit Goa at any time of the year except the Summer season(it’s too hot!) During Monsoons only the water activities are closed due to high tides, otherwise every place can be explored and it’s a scenic beauty treat to the eyes during monsoon.

Try out the local cuisines and rent a two-wheeler (rent options available almost everywhere) for an ultimate enjoyable experience.

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Tip : Take good amount of sunscreen whichever month it be. Try out all kinds of booze at cheap rates than any other state.

3. Sikkim : The abode of natural beauty

Approx trip cost – INR 7000

Known as the most disciplined state, Sikkim is the abode of natural beauty and peace. You can never get enough of its serenity. The food, shopping and people are simply amazing. Definitely visit the Monastery, Phelling, Tsangu Lake. Gorge on yummiest momos and soups!

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Tip : Take a light jacket for the night in off winter season and definitely the woolens during winter.

4. Varanasi – Essence of Indian culture

Approx trip cost – INR 4500

As the saying goes ‘Varanasi is not just a place, it’s an experience’ is very true and you can experience this once you visit here. The Ganges, the Ghats, the Ganga Aarti , the innumerous diyas at the bank of the River – India’s culture reflects in every corner of Varanasi. At least once in life you must pay a visit. In the evening take a ride in the boat along the Assi Ghats and watch and immerse in the essence of Ganga Aarti.

Tip : Take proper care of not to get trapped by the ‘pandas’ at the temples.

5. Udaipur – The City of Lakes

Approx trip cost – INR 3000

Rajasthan has always attracted people from all over the world due to its rich history, culture and architecture. One of the safest destination for women travelers. The people are very friendly and helpful. The City of Lakes – Udaipur . The vintage car museum, the City Palace, the stroll near the banks of the lakes and getting immersed in the golden hue of sunset are just some of the many things you should do in Udaipur.

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Tip : Sit by the lakes (especially Lake Pichola) by the evening to enjoy the picturesque beauty and soothing breeze and try out the German Bakery stuffs over there!

6. Jaipur – The Pink City

Approx trip cost – INR 3000

Enjoy the Forts, palaces and vintage museums of the Pink City – Jaipur with delicious traditional foods that the city has to offer. The largest physical sun dial is located here at Jantar Mantar. It’s thrilling how the astronomy and engineering was so perfect at the ancient era in India!

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Tip : If you love walking, then can explore most the city by walking only.

For detailed info check here.

7. Jodhpur – Rajasthan treasures

Approx trip cost – INR 2500

The Blue City – Jodhpur is famous for the Mehrangarh Fort, one of the biggest in India and the Golden City. Along with that the world’s largest Royal residential heritage hotel – Umaid Bhavan Palace is located here.

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Tip : Try walking up the road to the Fort through the narrow backstreet from where the view is breathtaking, especially early in the morning and late evening.

For detailed info, check here.

8. Pondicherry – Touch of French culture

Approx trip cost – INR 5000

The French Colony of India is a place which has something that most of the place has in scarcity – peace and serenity. The delectable French cuisines, the old buildings, the small clean beautiful lanes, the Aurobindo Ashram, the simple people leading their simple lives, the shops for some great shopping experience – you can enjoy all these at Pondicherry. Do spend the evening at the Ocean rocks, it’s a beautiful experience.

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Tip : Take the direct bus from Chennai if you are opting for public transport or better book a cab for more convenience.

9. Khajuraho – Ancient architecture of India

Approx trip cost – 5000

A bit surprised? Yes Khajuraho is one of the best places for female solo travelers to visit and explore. Ofcourse a little cautiousness is needed just like any other place, but once you get the idea you are good to go ahead. The temple is the biggest attraction here and two lakes are also present nearby.

Khajuraho railway station is located in Chhatarpur district of Madhya Pradesh. Along with that the Khajuraho airport is another option. By roadways, you can take buses which are available from Satna in Madhya Pradesh and Jhansi, Delhi and few other.

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Tip : While buying souvenirs at the shops outside the temple, negotiate as much as you can as they don’t give up easily.

10. Jhansi and Orchha – History of bravery and valour

Approx trip cost – 4000

In Jhansi, the Fort is the only attraction but the Orchha Palace is something not to be missed. An official guide at this place would be helpful to understand the details.

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Tip : Take a shared tempo from Jhansi to Orchha and vice versa for a distance of around 10 kms. It is cheap and convenient too.

So step out and explore and enjoy the beauties of every part of India! This list of course is going to increase as days pass by. If you know any other places which should add up to this list, please do share in the comment section. Happy traveling 🙂

Andamans-the coral treasures of India – Part 1 #PortBlair #TravelIndia

The name itself gives an image of clear blue sky, deep blue water, coral reefs, lush greenery. Yes! it is all these and much more beyond these! When speaking about Andamans, it cannot be covered in one article, hence this is the 1st part – Port Blair. Next would be Neil Island and Havelock in the consecutive articles.

Mumbai to Andamans is quite a task to be planned for, especially if you alone are planning for others for the entire trip. The direct and cheapest flights are available from Kolkata and Chennai. Since this was not a backpacking trip for me this time, opted for a good package option. Did a lot of RnD with MakeMyTrip, Yatra, Thomas Cook, etc. but it was crossing the budget more than expected.

Then I came across another website of ExperienceAndamans. It was a new option for me and was hearing the name for first time. Was a bit skeptical but all vanished away once we experienced Andamans through their service. Since it was family trip and senior citizens were present, hence the cab and resorts were chosen really well by them.

We reached Port Blair airport in the morning and the accommodation was only 5 mins away – Sea Lounge. Very neat and clean with all amenities and great service. You can also get a beautiful view of the hills and Ocean from the balcony.

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The seating area at Sea Lounge

Day 1

Went to the Corbyn’s Cove Beach at Port Blair. It’s an average but clean beach with casual eateries, souvenir shops, lounge chairs and palm trees. Jet skiing available there or simply you can spend a good time chilling out or walking on the beach.

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Corbyn’s Cove Beach

After that we headed for the Cellular Jail. Whoever knows the story of our Freedom Fighters for the struggle of India’s freedom, would be astounded once stepped inside. Do take a guide if you want to know in detail the relevance of all places there and the history.

 

A historical silent spectator of the tortures inflicted upon the Freedom Fighters of our country has been named ‘cellular’ jail due to the individual small cells for individual prisoners. The entrance block has housed all the old photographs of Freedom movement. The galleries bring back the struggles that these Leaders have gone through.

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Cellular Jail before the Light and Sound Show

The match-box sized cells with utmost provision of not letting in the Sun rays, long eerie corridors emanating the silence of the pain, hanging room witnessing the screams and sudden silence of the Fighters – would leave you with goosebumps.

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The Light and Sound show in the evening tells the story of Freedom movement beautifully and takes you back the memory lane.

 

 

 

 

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The hanging cell where 3 people together were hanged
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Ross Island, the British Headquarters pre-Independence – View from the terrace of the Cellular Jail
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Silent long corridors of the cells – the number of shadows=the number of cells

Getting to know and see for self the maddening and torturous history inflicted upon our Freedom Fighters would leave you shocked.

Apart from the beach and Cellular Jail covered in a day, another day is needed to see the ‘Jarwar’ village – the tribal village of Andamans. From Port Blair there is this option. But that needs a complete day since they take you at early morning in a bus and you could see them from the bus itself. Getting down or talking to the villagers is strictly not allowed.

We had only one day in Port Blair, hence could not go for that visit.

Next day we headed for Neil Island – Coming up in the next article. Stay tuned 🙂

Udaipur – indeed the City of Lakes! #TravelIndia

Rajasthan – the name itself gives us the image of forts, palaces, deserts, cultural colourful activities and many more. Words cannot describe the vastness, the beauty, the serenity of this place. There are lots of places to explore and see. However this time we just covered Udaipur and its nearby places. Next time would cover the rest 😉

We reached Udaipur in the evening from Mumbai. Checked in Hotel Ishwar Palace , freshened up and started to explore the nearby places. This Hotel is situated at a walking distance of Lake Pichola. The view from the roof top is just amazing!

Since it was already evening, we did not have a lot of places to explore. Every evening there is a Cultural dance and puppet show at The Bagore Ki Haveli which is just situated on the Banks of Lake Pichola.

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Folk dance at Bagore Ki Haveli
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The dance form ‘Ghumar’
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The Puppet Show at Bagore Ki Haveli
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A 62 year old Lady performing the dance while balancing the Earthen pots

Different forms of Rajasthani dance , the history and the puppet show beautifully designed the evening. Next the sunset at lake Pichola is something to behold. We sat there soothing our feet in the water as the pigeons flew around us , sometimes for food, sometimes for fun.

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Folk music being played at the banks of Lake Pichola
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Li’l friend trying to sleep while am trying to take a shot 😉

The City Palace and the Lake Palace are situated beside and in the Lake Pichola respectively.

Next day we headed for the city attractions. The major lakes in the City are connected to each other. Named as Lake Pichola, Lake Swaroop Sagar and the Fateh Sagar Lake. The water is really clean and one can see shells all along the banks of the Fateh Sagar Lake! There are few Camels around the Lake and once can have a Camel ride there for few minutes(although mostly camel rides are at Jailsalmer).

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Shells at Fateh Sagar Lake
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A Camel beside the Fateh Sagar Lake

After that we went to Saheliyon ki Bari. It is a must visit place because of the architechture and the engineering of all the fountains that were made such a long time ago. A specific garden for a specific season where the water in the fountains comes from the Lake and flows in anti gravity way to give a beautiful circular design in the gardens. The garden meant for the summer season has the fountains designed in such a way that when the water pours out , it fall on only the big leaves directly, giving the impression of heavy rains while one walks in in the interior of the garden!

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Saheliyon Ki Bari
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One of the gardens for the Queen

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Water flowing at one go in anti gravity way out of the trunk

On the way there is the Rajasthan Handicrafts and Dress shop from where one can get different kinds of dress materials and some beautiful handicrafts of marbles, stones , gemstones, etc..

Next place was the Folk Art Museum. It houses every kind of Rajasthani folk musical instruments, dresses, ornaments, arts and crafts and lots more.

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For lunch we had the famous Laal mas of Rajasthan as ‘Hukam’ restaurant. It’s a mutton dish cooked in the Rajasthani herbs and spices. No wonder it was delicious!

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Next we headed for the Car Vintage Museum of Udaipur which houses some of the oldest and vintage cars of all time! It’s a treat to the eyes of all car lovers 🙂

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The oldest Rolls Royce!

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Giant carriage

The City Palace – most famous attraction of Udaipur. It was built over 400 years ago by the Mewar dynasty. It’s not only a majestic palace of Rajasthan but beautiful and very well maintained too. The only con is that the entry fee is a bit high, so also for the Camera. Nearly all Mewar Maharanas have contributed to the betterment of this palace.

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Entrance to The City Palace
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The walls of the Great City Palace , Udaipur

There are 2 entrances to this palace. The one on the Lake Pichola side is a narrow street and a bit crowded one.Everything inside the palace and the palace museum is a treat for history lovers.

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The Mewar Dynasty
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Cage for Carrier pigeons
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A view of the Udaipur City from the City Palace
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Li’l friend posing for a shot in the premises of the City Palace

After coming out of the City palace we headed towards Lake Pichola for the sunset again. It’s walking distance from there. On the way just near the Lake there is the Cafe Edelweiss. Once can get a good aromatic coffee and different kinds of tasty pie and cakes! Their speciality is the chilli brownie. We grabbed apple pie , chilli brownie and some coffee. It was yummy no doubt! It’s a small cosy hangout place and a must visit to steal some time of your own to sit and relax with some coffee and dessert 🙂

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Apple pie, Chilli brownie and coffee at Cafe Edelweiss

Next day we headed for the nearby places which included the Eklingji temple – believed to be built in the 15th century, Haldighati – the soil there is of turmeric or ‘haldi’ colour, Kumbhalgarh Fort.

On the way to Haldighati we stopped at a restaurant to have authentic veg Rajasthani thali and it was spectacular!

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Veg Rajasthani Thali
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A view of the Kumbhalgarh Fort

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The Kumbhalgarh fort is another must visit place. It’s huge, majestic and wonderful!

We booked a cab for a day tour and visited all these places. Rajasthan Tour and travels is a good option for that.

There are lots of other activities to do in Udaipur like ropeway, Elephant or Jeep ride etc.

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On your mark….get set go!

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Finally a short trip to the City of Lakes got over for the time being and we came back with beautiful and colourful memories of the place.