An awful lot, most of it unverified, some of it is hearsay and almost all of it without putting things into relative context is said about the (unfounded) difficulties in travelling alone in India. As somebody who has travelled all over the world and throughout the country, many times as a solo traveller, other times when the journey started as a solo traveller but ended up as an intense experience of camaraderie and bonhomie, I can tell you with some confidence that India is one of the best places on earth for a solo traveller, forget what the “citizen travel advisories” tell you. I can tell you that I got mugged in Italy, almost killed in Istanbul and was served warm beer for equivalent of 1500 Rs a glass on a footpath in Nairobi, but it won’t mean anything. Those places are beautiful and great and I would go there again once I write enough blogs.
It is true that looking from an international perspective, India is not for everyone. Solo travel in India is certainly for a certain type of traveller , the ones who would like to trade comfort for experience and the ones who are willing to open their hearts out, take the good with the bad and often do get rewarded back amply and with certainty. The Indian ethos of “Atithi Devo
Bhava”, is truly and openly present in almost all of us and welcoming the guest and going out of the way to make them comfortable and feel welcome is something that is as natural and self occurring to us as mould is to cheese, well I could have probably used a better reference point there but I think we get the picture. Remember the days of your childhood when you were not allowed to leave home if a guest was coming over, or to never, ever ask them when they’d leave or to eat only after all guests had eaten, or to give return gifts to guests when they left and thank them for their thoughtfulness of coming over, or that “doha” where you thanked God for giving you the fortune of having a guest over.
The point is that one of the prime requirements of a solo traveler, the support, empathy and help of the local residents, when needed is always available; it is in our ethos and DNA. Always. So in a way while you may be “Alone”, you’d never be “Lonely”. Let us look at some pointers which can be a starting point to understand why you shouldn’t really be scared to travel alone in India. Friendly People: Well, sounds like a natural thing, right. Wrong. If you’ve been to some parts of Germany, Russia, Dubai or Mexico… Very Very Wrong. Thing is, Indians are simple people, sometimes a little irritating but extremely extremely friendly. In fact Indians are considered to be one of the friendliest people in the world. People, So Many of Them! That’s right, the sheer number of travelers in India ensure that you don’t get lonely in any part of the country at any time.
So whether you’re on an early morning jungle hike, in a Kali temple at midnight or at a railway station at 3AM, the law of averages will always be in your favour, and you’d find at least some, likely surprisingly many people to keep you company. Anytime. Anywhere. Improving Infrastructure: The Naysayers will say no but the truth is over the last decade, and I am a privy to it, the basic travel infrastructure is rapidly getting better in India, in some parts of the country, it has really gotten world-class. Whether its roads, infrastructure, food options or security, parameters important for all travelers to enjoy their forays, including the solo ones are getting better and better. It’s Cheap! For a Solo traveler , travel budget is almost always a constraint . One of the reasons perhaps that he /she couldn’t convince a buddy to join in, is the scare of the lack of money required for the trip. Well not in India , With lots of great 10USD a night rooms and 2USD lunches to go around , not to talk of the cheapest Metro Railways and telecommunication services in the world , India is a paradise for the Solo traveler . So keep your Moolah Anxieties away when planning a Solo Trip to India. I could go on and on , but like I said , there is Good with the Bad and there are incidences with travelers in India that we as Indians should not feel proud about , but these happen in all parts of the World .There is no substitute to use Common Sense and proper judgement , whether travelling solo or in a group , whether in India or in Timbuktu , but comparatively and from my experience and obviously with some old Indian boisterous propriety, I can vouch that India of today is one of the safest, most enjoyable and fulfilling travel experiences for the solo traveler , comparable to any place in the World.