In my recent long distance travels whilst returning home by train the gentleman next seat asked me what took me to Kannur? “I was keen to explore Kannur”, I responded. He asked me if someone was travelling with me in the next bogie, a negative response zapped him off ” How could anyone go sightseeing all alone?” was his remark. 🙂
The concept of Solo Travel has still not been embraced much in India, the numbers are not very convincing. In contrast the westerners are most of times seen backpacking with a copy of Lonely Planet all across the world. After having solo traveled to few destinations across India Valparai, Chettinad, Mangalore, Arunachal Pradesh and Kannur I have had varied experiences and each destination has held a special place in my heart.
When I stepped out of Kannur Railway Station I was greeted with deserted roads, closed shops and no transport. The few auto rickshaws quoted exorbitant rates to take me to my homestay. When I checked with a policeman who was seen patrolling the roads he retorted, ” Madam today it is a bandh here because of the political issue in Trivandrum. The auto drivers are risking their lives by plying today hence I wouldn’t be able to say much”. For a politically unstable region like Kannur the risk factor was pretty high considering I was travelling all alone. Being a female the security concerns are on the radar constantly. But that didn’t deter me and I ensured my purpose of visiting Kannur was fulfilled and I indeed had a fruitful stay.
I always keep my family members informed about my travel itinerary and stay. They are assured and aware of my whereabouts avoiding panic situations. Any help required they know whom to reach out to considering they know my place of stay.
During my solo travels I prefer to stay in homestays for two reasons. One I get a close view of their lifestyle, culture and food and second I have better control on the logistics of travel. When in Kannur, my host at the homestay introduced me to Ajay the auto rickshaw driver. She had been using his services for her guests in the last four years. Few interactions with him coupled with my gut feeling was enough to give me confidence regarding this guy. ” I can speak small small English”, he uttered as I managed to converse with him in my broken Malayalam. Early morning Theyyam rituals in the Kavus (shrines) required me to travel for long hours at ungodly timings. But I was pretty comfortable in commuting with Ajay in his auto rickshaw at 3:30 a.m.
Planning and Management
Befriending the locals and exchanging mails, talking over phone with the host before reaching the destination helps build the connect and also aids in better planning and management. It aids to ensure your expenses aren’t soaring and you have better control over the finances. You can get the best out of both the worlds – time and money. I already knew the charges for travelling from Kannur Station to the homestay so when the rickshaw drivers quoted rates I knew they were being unreasonable.
Being solo means you are on your own in every situation be it dire. In an unknown land you wouldn’t want to fall sick so ensure you have filtered water and food is consumed in clean eat outs. That doesn’t mean you have to visit luxury hotels. I do dig into the local delicacies but also ensure the eatery is decent and suits my budget.
Getting out of your comfort zone
Solo travelling means you are out of your comfort zone. You do not have a place to call your home and anyone to lean on during adversities. It is a different mindset that needs lot of determination, passion, focus and courage. You never know when things would get out of control so it would mean fallback options should be in place and you do not break down.