You Can Do It Too: 12 Tip & Tricks For Solo Travel In India
Many have embarked on solo travels in India and speak about their time in that country with much fondness and their desire to visit again. Incredibly rich in culture, history, mouthwatering cuisine, breathtaking landscapes, larger-than-life monuments, and much more – it’s one place that should be on everyone’s bucket list.
Doing a solo travel, in general, can seem daunting at first if you’re not a seasoned traveller. However, with these simple tips and tricks, it can be done and your solo travel in India will be one to remember and rave about for many years to come!
Getting the first order of business out of the way – your SIM card when in India. It might seem a bit tricky at first but in retrospect, you just need a couple of additional documents.
There are several reputable telcos like Airtel, Vodafone, Jio, BSNL, Idea, and more. Airtel, India’s leading carrier, is perhaps the best option with its competitive tariffs. Aside from having a wide coverage, it’s also relatively easier and faster to get a SIM card from Airtel compared to other telcos.
If you’re arriving at one of the major airports, you’re able to pick up a SIM card on arrival. For this, you’d need to show your passport and a copy of your visa. If you’re arriving at an airport that doesn’t offer SIM card on arrival, however, you can get it instead directly from the retailer. For this, you’d need to provide a copy of your passport, visa, and a passport photo.
The main differences between purchasing from the airport and from the retailer are the convenience and time factor. Depending on the telco, it could take an hour to a few days for the SIM card to be activated if you were to get it from the retailer. Meanwhile, the SIM card purchased on arrival at the airport can be used immediately.
Hence, a SIM card purchased at the airport would cost more than one from the retailer but it’s well worth it for the convenience and peace of mind. Depending on your location, you can also get the SIM card from Klook before leaving to India so you can stay connected as soon as you land!
As with travelling anywhere, it’s important to research and find out what the local dressing standards are and adhere to them. In India’s case, locals typically dress modestly and for the women, with their shoulders and knees covered.
For the ladies, it’s good to carry a thin scarf around with you should you find yourself in a situation where you need to cover your hair, like visiting certain places of worship. If you have distinct or bright-coloured hair, a scarf is also good to blend in with the crowd.
When travelling solo, you don’t have the advantage of an extra pair of eyes looking after your belongings. A couple general rule of thumb applies like carrying your backpack at the front in crowded places and never leaving your belongings unattended.
Besides that, avoid carrying too many loose items. The likelihood of you misplacing something is much higher when juggling a few tasks at once. Keep your items in one bag and you actually need fewer things than you think you might need!
Although hygiene standards in India are not as bad as many think it might be, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Stick to bottled or mineral water and avoid ice as best you can as sometimes it can be the culprit of an upset stomach.
However, if you know you’re not going to have easy access to bottled water, it’s good to carry around water purification tablets with you that you can easily get from the pharmacy.
You might run into situations where you need to tip someone in exchange for some favours or maybe you want to pay a small gratuity to an extremely nice driver, guide, waiter, or whoever it is. It’s incredibly awkward being caught in that situation and only having big notes with you.
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The number one rule when it comes to getting a taxi anywhere in the world is to insist on using the meter. Although that is the ideal situation, when hailing a taxi on the street in India, many drivers refuse to use the meter on tourists and instead would charge a flat fee.
There are times when it’s your only option and you’d have to compromise and accept a flat fee. Hence, it’s good to know a rough estimate of how much your trip should cost and haggle for a price you’re comfortable with. Keep small change with you and try not to pay with big notes as some drivers might keep the change as their tip.
Also, if you happen to encounter taxi drivers who want to bring their friend along on your trip, decline their request or get another taxi. To avoid all the hassle, you could get your hotel to call a taxi for you as well or even better, hire a private car charter for the days you’ll be moving about a lot.
Pro-tip: If you don’t want to risk anything for important city transfers to and from the airport, it’s best to book your airport transfers from Klook before or during your trip. These are trips you do not want to leave to chance!
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Alongside the usual public transportation like rickshaws, buses, trains and taxis, you can also opt for ride-sharing apps like Uber and Ola. It’s especially helpful when you need to get to a location without having to fuss with the language barrier.
With these apps, you won’t have to worry about being charged exorbitantly for your trip and you can charge the rides to your card if you’re running low on local currency.
It’s also advisable to call your driver after they’ve accepted your ride to double check because they might cancel on the way to you if the traffic is too bad. Better to be sure than to be cancelled on after waiting a while.
The only limitation with Uber and Ola is that you can’t travel to other cities. If you don’t want to use public transportation for those transfers, you can consider booking yourself private transfers to and from Jaipur, or to and from Udaipur, as well as other location.
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It’s normal to get curious stares when you’re in a new country and happen to look very different from the locals. Don’t let the curious stares hinder your experience in India! Instead, you’ll probably be on the receiving end of the generous and big-hearted hospitality of the locals.
Some might even approach you and ask for a photo with you. Depending on the situation, it’s pretty harmless if it’s a photo taken with a family.
However, if it’s in a public and crowded area, you might attract some attention and suddenly you’ll find a queue forming to take a photo with you. If the situation makes you uncomfortable, you can politely decline and walk away.
Although many are ready to extend a helping hand, some might expect a tip for their help. In major attraction sites like Taj Mahal, strangers might come up to you and offer to take some photos for you and later charge you a fee for their service.
In the same vein, if you ask to take a photo of a local or for other favours, they’re usually fine with it but you might come across a few who would ask for a tip afterwards.
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Most, if not all, places of worship require you to take off your shoes upon entry. Depending on the place, you might have to place your shoes on a public shoe rack or on the floor together with others.
It’s best to wear a pair of inexpensive sandals that you wouldn’t miss. Otherwise, you can also choose to keep it in your bag. Many places, however, do have someone looking after the shoes for a small fee.
Solo travel doesn’t mean that you can’t join a day tour to certain major attraction sites. It’s good to have a guide sometimes who’s armed with some pretty nifty tips and tricks up their sleeves. There are a number of tours in India on Klook you can choose from that’d easily fit into your itinerary.
With the help of tour guides, they’d know where to get the tickets and where to queue as some places have separate queues for tourists and locals. You definitely don’t want to waste your time standing in line for an hour at the wrong queue only to discover that it would’ve only taken 5 minutes!
If you’re lucky, a great guide will also know all the best spots to take unobstructed photos at famous attraction sites. It’d be a waste to not have great pictures to show for after travelling so far from home!
Your Gucci bags and Cartier watches have their place but probably not when you’re doing a solo travel. The last thing you want is to be a walking target for scammers and pickpockets.
Branded clothing and bags can easily be avoided when doing a solo travel in India but it’s tricky when it comes to gadgets like your cameras. A cool little hack that you can try to take the attention off your expensive camera is to put a black tape over the logo. It certainly helps to deter curious looks and make it seem like it’s just another generic camera.
Check India off your bucket list now!
Time to pack those bags now and go on your India adventure. Who else are you waiting for, anyway? Klook your way to the most incredible, beyond belief travel of your lifetime!