Footprints… Where They Take Me! How it make it easy.
The most liberating fact is that you step out of your comfort zone. Something most women will hesitate to do, and there are some leading ladies living the enviable life with wheels in their heels! How do they do it? How do they travel alone? Wow! These thoughts do cross our minds. Especially when secretively we nurture a dream too, to travel and see the world, the different cultures.
The group tours
The first trip, all alone? It need not be so lonely. There are group tours. Let’s examine how these come to the aid of women travelling alone. Cox & Kings, Thomas Cook, Makemytrip.com, Yatra.com and others have package tours. These are useful as they will give you the best possible budgeting that you are looking at, as they have the experience as well as a wide database of information dealing with hotels and guided tours across the globe. There are many factoring determiners which eventually bracket a good tour. The best of travel agencies too, are sometimes foxed by the prevailing vagaries of the altering circumstances of a trip and the necessitating deviance from the itinerary. A seasoned traveller will know which authorities to approach and overcome the delays and detours, but for those women travelling alone, it could well be a challenge.
The surprise factors
Uncooperative agencies across the globe: Your travel agency here in India may have in all sincerity charted a travel plan for the group with whom you are travelling. But there are rogue agencies in the first world nations too who try to dupe such travellers. When I was in Italy the travel agency there had promised us a tour of the Vatican City, St. Peter’s Square and a guided and explanatory walk-through the Sistine Chapel. They took us to the Vatican City and left us there and just disappeared. We were asked to meet them in an appointed place in Rome, where we would get on to a bus and reach the Vatican City. There was a goof-up about the ticketing on their side. So, they just scrammed from there leaving us tourists confused. When this happened there were various reactions from the group. A few Americans decided to let go the matter and return to their respective hotels. Europeans who could speak Italian threatened to go see the police or polizia as they muttered among themselves. What I did was buy our own ticket, got the recorded tour gizmo and I enjoyed the day! I later spoke to our travel agent back in India and he was flabbergasted. It really was not his fault. So, surprises do crop up, be ready for them.
Being left behind: Usually, in group tours, they make very sure everyone has returned, but there can be that odd case when one person has lost her way following the group on the exit route. Therefore, it is best to have the mobile number of the tour guide. If he is hesitant to share his number give him yours, so in any event, he can phone you and guide you to a landmark to join the rest of the group in the coach.
The weather: Sometimes the weather can play truant. Especially in a country like the USA. Many of their domestic airliners are either delayed or they postpone the flight to the following day, thereby, making travellers lose a day of touring. These are unforeseen glitches that occur and demanding a refund from the travel agency back in India is not fair, because these are prepaid arrangements and therefore once they have advanced the money entirely it is not retrievable, but if you are their valued customer, they may accommodate your request, but it will have to be under very special circumstances though or if they have such an agreement with the corresponding agency in the USA.
The Unexpected: Medical insurance is necessary. The long journeys and the varying climates can indispose you. You may have to visit the hospital. This cannot be the most interesting information to read when deciding on a holiday. But being forewarned is being forearmed. There might be that little adventurous voice inside your mind refusing to spend the money on insurance, ignoring an illness precaution rather than on that exciting shopping! Not only is insurance an important document but also the agency. You will have to do thorough research or be guided by a frequent traveller or the travel agent, in whom you have trust.
An absolute necessity
Reading maps: So, you have decided you want to take that trip alone, the reason being you want space and new experiences to heal or revel in. That is great! The one things Indians hate is reading maps or following them. Somehow it seems to them so much easier to ask a person for directions. This most citizens find annoying, as the trips we choose, are popular tourist places and the denizens there find it annoying that they should direct so many tourists almost every day.
Know your destination
Read up a little about your destination. History is possibly one of the driest of subjects, and it is probable that you hated it the most. Well, now you have decided on a travel plan read up on the destination as much time permits. It will help you appreciate your holiday better. Especially if you are an anxious traveller and yet you want to go that mile alone. Make sure you know the place, its history, and its intrinsic values, to be able to enjoy what the tour gizmo is telling you. The cuisine is paramount to them and to you. It is the food of the place! Try and see what about the cuisine is delicious. Travelling means exploring new cultures, seeing their progress and innovative ideology. Therefore, their cuisine too should be of interest. Enjoying a recommended multi-meat Burger in America at a local restaurant. Tasting authentic samgyeopsal or bulgogi in Korea, from the common to the uncommon we need to enjoy, taste and learn about the various cuisines of the places we visit. Most people are averse to indulging in new tastes, while shopping technology and theme parks fascinate them. It is always a good thing to take in the inherent aspects of the place which has come up with all the advancement in science and technology.
Seek the Exclusivity: Every place has something to offer as being different from the rest of the world. We need to imbibe those in our minds. For example, when you visit Italy they will talk about the wonders of art which came to be infused into the Italian architecture, frescos and wall art influenced by the Muslim invasions. The history of Islam in Italy began with the Muslim settlement in Sicily, at Mazara which was captured in 827. Thereon their rule spread to most parts of Sicily and Malta by the 10th century. The Islamic rule began over Sicily in a consolidated manner in 902. The Emirate of Sicily lasted until 1091. It is interesting to note when on a conducted tour through Italy the guides will make interesting references to the Muslim rule and their influence over art in Italy. This makes you realise the present-day Italians are not averse to the invaders and merely see them as part of their rich historical narrative. These are the important aspects of human thought culturally and inherently entrenched which need to be noticed and appreciated. Most countries will have such uniqueness which inspires us to change our views as we see our past in terms of history and the animosity which we harbour because of it.
The Independent and Self-defined
There is a young lady I know who is completely centred in the way she conducts her life, between work and travel and lives life on her own terms. This article is about women travelling on their own, therefore I can think of none other than KrishmaShetty, she lives in Connecticut and has been there for five years now. She used to live in Bangalore before she took the job as business analytics there. She has travelled to most parts of the world alone. So why did I choose her? She is somebody as normal as any of us. She travels on a reasonable budget. She is not a celebrity who will enjoy the perks of special privileges on the sojourns. She is young and attractive, which means she must be doubly guarded. So, let us listen to what she has to say about travelling on her own.
Krishna in Swiss Alps.
As Krishna says:
“I love the lure of the world. There is so much to see and learn. The different cultures. Some are like ours and others quite different. But if we look deeper even the cultures that seem different are not very removed from the way we think. The natural human dispositions are in many ways the same.
My to-do list is, since I am a foodie, I look to find the best local haunts for authentic food and desserts of the country I am visiting. Seafood is on the top of my list as I explore the food-fare.
While the famous cities and metros are the tourist spots, I prefer quaint untapped spots. They carry the untouched cultural intones of the place.
: To understand and grasp the country’s ethnicity and appreciate its cities, landscape, buildings, architecture, and food, it’s best to do this walking. I love walking through the city and suburban roads. Therefore, early summer and the end of it is the best time to venture out. I look for safe, well-occupied hotels, but since I do not spend too much time there, I don’t care about the luxury but the clean comfort of it.
“Any trip is a good mix of a planned itinerary and some impulsive adventure.
“Most places have great wine, sangria, and local drinks to savour so that’s never missed.
“I never pack too much into a day. I like to spend time at leisure to soak up the place and its beauty.
“Travel by metros and local trains and trams are always cost-effective and I still maintain walking is the best way to explore!
“I always book international and local flights well in advance, so most of my budget does not go into the purchase of travel tickets.
“The big don’ts on my list are, not go for too much economy on the expenditure on hotels. Always pick a safe and recommended hotel. You do not want your luggage stolen after all! You must always pre-check on heating, cooling, and Wifi.
“Check to see if hotels have elevators. Plenty of European hotels do not have them as they are remodelled heritage buildings. Sometimes the elevators are too small, and luggage cannot be carried into them. This can be tough because you will have to carry your luggage up many floors perhaps.
Comfortable clothes and shoes are a must-have…But we need to keep an eye on the local fashion meter. Some places we visit prerequisite appropriate clothing, like Buddhist temples, and the opera shows, the right clothes for the right place.
Krishna in Cambodia.
I like to pick one country at a time rather than jumping across countries and cultures. It is best to explore them individually and take in the essence of the place.
“It’s always good to keep a buffer day to de-stress and perhaps indulge in shopping and other things.
“One very important point is to keep an eye on the local pulse. Most places have sufficient warning on local theft. Like when travelling in France the metro announces that you should be wary of bag snatchers.
I always look for local events and boutiques to complete my journey to foreign places. Some things to carry back as luggage and as fine memory for keeps!”
With these pointers, it makes it easy to travel alone and enjoy many countries. Travelling in the first world nations is easy as they are quite safe, and the road maps are very clear. Language may be a sort of a barrier, so it makes good sense to carry a language book of translations.
The US dollar is the most accepted money exchange so be sure to carry that, rather than British sterling on a multiple country trip. More importantly, make sure you exchange the large notes for some small change for transportation.
Check out the best mode and opt for a weekly or monthly card as per the duration of your stay. Carry your munchies with you, in case you are hungry, and, in the event, you cannot purchase food past midnight. Also, to keep your palate going with your favourite flavours, you are on a holiday make the most of it! So, go-go girl!
By Kalpana M Naghnoor