First time India all alone....

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#1 Jan 15th, 2008, 19:40
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#1
(Ok... im not sure where esCatly to post this one.. but i guess it could be ok in here..)

Once again im planning to go back to India after 10 years from my last visit.. (last time i've been there 6 months from october '97 till march '98... from Uttaranchal till Kerala).
In my last trip i was travelling together with my (ex) bf... so i've never felt the issue of being unsafe as a "single woman traveller".
Now.. it would be a "me, myself & I" journey... so am getting a bit worried, i have to humbly confess this...
Even if me is pretty much informed about local culture, updated on the various topics and chewing a bit of hindi as well, nevertheless im getting a bit concerned of being a solo girl over there - being also kind of a "petit" figure..(even if with sharp nails... )

Thinking of a 3/4 months journey from February till May, I was planning to take it very easy initially, so maybe going back to the familiar Kovalam could have been a starting option... but also Goa (where i've never been) was ticklishing my appetite, as im pretty much sure i'll find some familiar faces over there (party-connexxions...).

Lately im reading a bit of too much nasty news, as being of female travellers being raped, etc..etc.., and even if im not a "topless on the beach" girl.. those news surely don't make me feel "shanti shanti"....

Yes- i've already read most of the threads in this forum concering women and security.. but i still feel the need to ask what u guys and galls would advice me... or is it that getting "older" increases also the level of paranoia?!?!

All reactions are more than welcome!
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#2 Jan 15th, 2008, 22:20
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#2
I really don't know what to advise, except that many women of all ages travel solo there, including many members here. I suppose many others don't.

But if you're asking me, I'd say just do it, unless you really feel uncomfortable at the idea, which might give you an indication of how you'll cope alone on the road, anywhere. Have you traveled solo elsewhere? Or are you generally used to taking care of yourself?

Getting nervous at an impending trip and worrying about a thousand details is perfectly normal, maybe check yourself how much of it is general pre-departure jitters, and how much specifically related to the prospect of being a solo female traveler. If the latter really frightens you, maybe it's an ordeal you don't have to put yourself through. Other options are naturally looking for a friend to hook up with you, joining a tour group... or going somewhere else where you feel more comfortable altogether.

(btw I found being "solo" there is highly relative, you'll have to make a conscious effort not to hook up with nice people along the way all the time. As I've often said, be a little careful with overly friendly fellow male travelers or sharing rooms with them to save expenses, like you would be at home. I am a man btw, just to get that straight. And ps on the other hand, I have had a week now and then of hardly being able to speak a word to anyone. If that is hard on you, the more beaten track is luckily and usually never far away.)

And pps as a final word of comfort, I've not been there for a while, and/but contemplating new trips gets me just as scared as the first time. But what if I don't like it? Am lonely? Etc. I guess there's only one way to find out... What I do know is that in fact returning there I felt like a fish in the water from the very first second. That is not to say you won't get your down days and lesser destinations; just like at home, say.
#3 Jan 15th, 2008, 23:35
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#3
Travelling solo is definetely an adventourous idea..but my Indian mentality always takes a conservative step in this approach..esp for women..as solo women travellers always seem to be the centre of attraction of quite a few lusty eyes. Although rape/molestation cases are the much read about news in recent times in India coz its attracting a lot of media attention...there are many cases which go unreported & i strongly believe its pretty unsafe for a solo woman traveller, thats what iv seen with solo woman travellers during my visit to goa.Be ready to tackle smartly the so called "friendly" attempts which you may encounter in case u go solo. Befriend some1 whom u trust..always safe to have a travel mayte...happy travelling...
#4 Jan 16th, 2008, 00:38
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#4
i'm an American-Indian female who has traveled solo. In some ways, it's easier for me because i speak local languages without any accent, and it helps camouflage the fact that i'm not actually from here. In other ways it is difficult because (i think) indian men assume that i must be "loose" as indian females generally do not travel alone/unchaperoned... so i've experienced some blatant and unwelcome advances.

this is part of the reason why i like to do homestay tourism. i feel safer with a family, plus i enjoy the experience of staying with locals. i take care to dress conservatively to avoid unwelcome attention, esp in rural areas.. if a guide or driver tries to get too friendly or make comments that make me feel uncomfortable, i put them in their place right away with my angry glare and some choice phrases in hindi. try not to go to remote places alone, latch on to a group/travel partners whenever possible. i have some trustworthy male friends here, so if i really want to go somewhere risky, i ask them to go with me.. in india in some areas, it helps to have a man around. never drink with person(s) you do not know/trust, and don't worry about offending people with a "NO" or committing cultural faux pas... your safety comes first and foremost.

apart from this, traveling solo can be a great experience.. i really enjoyed it last year and wish i had more "alone time" this year.. best of luck, and remember IM is here for u
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#5 Jan 16th, 2008, 02:12
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#5
I just got back a month ago - I travelled mostly through Rajasthan, but also to Varanasi, Mumbai and a bit of Goa.

I also did the trip as a fair, solo 27y.o. woman. Through most of the trip, I didn't encounter any difficulties. I had no problems meeting people at the hostels that I stayed in.

I found Goa the most intimidating to be out alone at night. Arambol has areas that are a little off the lit path, so I found it a bit of a sketchy stretch to get back to my guest house. I was in bed by 8pm each night - quite a dissapointment from my expectation of being able to stay out later and relax. I found it more difficult to meet people in Arambol - since I'm not much of a hippy.

My only advice is to make an effort to talk to people at your guest houses... try and choose ones with restaurants - it's a great way to meet other travellers - there are a surprising number of single travellers.

If travelling on trains, I found that I was usually placed near a family - and they would be more than happy to talk and give advice on what to see . If you end up at a train station by yourself, sitting near other tourists (easy to spot because of the backpack),a family, or women can alleiviate a lot of anxiety.

As ChocolatNY said, just try to stay away from remote places, and use your common sense. I personally found cities better for just this reason - there were always people around. If someone is inappropriate, be loud and vocal - they will often back off.

I think that the biggest problem travelling solo is that it can be tiring dealing with pushy shopkeepers, and taxi, tuktuk drivers.
#6 Jan 16th, 2008, 04:55
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When I travelled on my own, I too didn't interact with many people in Goa. After about a week I realized I had only really talked to people who took my food orders, although this could have been as much to do with me as the place. I moved on and then realized that I had to make an effort to talk to people and I started with the people staying at the guesthouse. After that all went well. I had the same experience on trains as Travellerette, I was often seated next to families who looked out for me. Overall, after I got used to things (I had never been to India) I felt very safe and learned alot about myself by travelling alone. I have been to India since with someone and it was a very different experience. I am glad that I went alone the first time as it helped my confidence and my tendency to be pretty introverted. If you are somewhat independent and comfortable being on your own for periods of time, you should be fine. And who knows, you may not be on your own for long. Just use common sense and things should be fine.
#7 Jan 17th, 2008, 15:24
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#7
Im in travelling in india for three months alone, be there in march and i have the same concerns, i read travelerettes posts with interests as well as other lone female travellers here at IM and have decided that the homestays are probably my best option, I've also decided to hire a driver and car for awhile on the theory that if i have someone familiar for awhile i should be more comfortable about travelling alone for the first time (I know, I'm not really alone if I do this) i thought maybe one of the companies recommended here, namaste travel. I too have been reading the reports of assault on women and feel a little concerned, but I think with sensible precaution as the others here have pointed out I'll be alright.
#8 Jan 18th, 2008, 10:50
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#8
I guess arranging something to have some company at first (could also be a tour group), so you ease into it and then feel comfortable to do it alone, is very sensible if you're worried yes. Many people do this.

Tours also come in shapes and sizes; people I know well do a lot of walking (not in India, but pretty much halfway across the world in any case). They are older and doing it by tour just means a bus takes their belongings from A to B and they have an assured place to sleep. The rest of the day, they are alone to walk by themselves. No hassles with fellow tour members or guides or anything.
#9 Jan 18th, 2008, 23:06
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#9

Thanks :o)

Thank u all for the tips and advises
I think i might stick to my "initial" plan... flying to Trivandrum, relaxing and adjusting to the change of environment and habits in Kovalam... and probably check out Goa after that (curious to see Anjuna and more).
Now it's time to check out the best flight options from Amsterdam...& book!
#10 Jan 22nd, 2008, 23:33
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You will find a lot of like minded tourists with whom you can probably team in most touristy places and travel together. Another sugesstion would be to look out on hospitality sites HC (www.hospitalityclub.org) and CS (www.couchsurfing.org) for travel companions as a lot of people coming to India are always looking out for travelling together.

Happy and safe travels.
Last edited by machadinha; Jan 23rd, 2008 at 15:49.. Reason: fixed URL
#11 Jan 24th, 2008, 16:41
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#11

more or less 10 days to go...aahhhhhhhhh....!!!!!

I've booked the ticket with destination Trivandrum and boy-oh-boy.. gotta take 3 airplanes to get there from Amsterdam... puff..

Manyways... as i'm going to land around 5 am, i was wondering if any of you know when it starts getting light in the morning in that area, as i think i better don't leave the airport while still dark outside..

I want to get a rickshaw from Trivandrum to Kovalam, I really wanna feel the breeze and the new smell around me as i did 10 years ago as well..so im sure i dont wanna jump in any taxis.. would it be safe (once again... my fears..) to do that ride by myself?
#12 Jan 24th, 2008, 16:53
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#12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Larkilli View Post i was wondering if any of you know when it starts getting light in the morning in that area
Try
http://www.timeanddate.com/
http://www.wunderground.com/

Rickshaws, I wouldn't worry about it too much (nor leaving airport at dawn), but you may have gathered by now I'm not much of the worrying kind, so don't listen to me. Waiting till daybreak I'm sure never hurt anyone anyway.

That's quite a flight yes, but I guess you were intent on flying to Trivandrum then? Hey, about ten years ago that wasn't even possible, so there you go! I think you'll find the south generally a lot more relaxed than the north which I take it you may be more used to; that's what many people say, and I found it so.

Well, have a safe flight, and in case of any trouble, remember IndiaMike is right here
#13 Jan 24th, 2008, 16:54
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#13
kovalum is beautiful...i had been there about 5 years back. It's a nice place.
#14 Jan 24th, 2008, 17:08
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#14
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Originally Posted by machadinha View Post
That's quite a flight yes, but I guess you were intent on flying to Trivandrum then? Hey, about ten years ago that wasn't even possible, so there you go!
Yes it was...! But 10 years ago i did fly from Rome, with a nice direct flight to Bombay, and from there one to Trivandrum.

It really surprises me that there's no direct flight Amsterdam-Bombay... unless you wanna spend an incredible amount of euros... crazy!

Now i'll have 1 & 1/2 hrs to reach London, than 6 & 1/2 hrs London - Bahrein, and 4 & 1/2 hrs Bahrein-Trivandrum


Quote:
Originally Posted by machadinha View Post
Well, have a safe flight, and in case of any trouble, remember IndiaMike is right here
Thanks... I'll surely do!
#15 Jan 24th, 2008, 17:21
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#15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Larkilli View Post It really surprises me that there's no direct flight Amsterdam-Bombay... unless you wanna spend an incredible amount of euros... crazy!
Hm yes... It's always been Delhi that was easiest to fly to. Had hoped this had improved; too bad if it hasn't. Doesn't sit well with some plans I have, but we'll see.

I'm from the same town as you, there have been attempts at A'dam meet-ups before. Never amounted to very much, but it did put me in touch with one very nice member. We could try again -- either after your return, or before you leave if you think it could help to inspire some confidence.
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