Before I begin my list, I want to point out that traveling within the country is a smaller challenge compared to traveling outside it - which is the topic for another post! In India, we can blend into crowds with ease which works to our advantage. Of course, if you are a fair North Indian, you will attract stares in Chennai! But by and large, it isn’t too difficult to gel along with these simple things to do.
1. Do your research. I generally don't do a lot of research about the culture and habits of people for Indian cities. We all have a fair idea about how things work in different parts of the country. You may definitely want to go through websites like tripadvisor.com for hotel reviews before you choose your accommodation. Or check it out in case your client booked it for you. Maps and travel websites help you reach a pretty fair estimation of the location and facilities of the hotel you are going to be in. Also, remember to come back and write a review on tripadvisor because you got to give back to the community as well.
2. Know your map: This is one thing that gives me the most confidence on my travels alone. It is pretty hard for anyone to mislead you or for you to get lost with this marvel of technology called Google maps. If you don’t have a data plan, it’s a good idea to activate it at least for the time you are traveling. I always look up the distance between destinations before I have to negotiate with the rickshaw guys. If you know your whereabouts you are less likely to be cheated by touts.
3. Be confident. Act like a localite. Yes, one look at your suitcase and people know that you are a traveler. And more often than not that acts as a signal to treat you as vulnerable. My suggestion is you walk out of the station/airport with your head held high with an air of confidence about you. Nothing holds people off like a confident woman! (and the converse is also equally true!). Plus your research back home should help you assume an air of authority.
4. Better safe than sorry. If you are a woman traveling alone, it’s not a good idea to pick up a very low cost hotel since it will reflect in the quality of their service and level of security. Here too, make sure that you act like a pro during check in. Keep your door bolted from inside at least when you go to sleep at night, just as a precaution. I usually put up the DND tag outside, when I am in the room to avoid anyone ringing the bell and also when I step out because I do not want anyone to get into my room when I am not around. And most decent hotels will respect your wish to remain undisturbed. (smaller cities have the facility but the staff is not polished enough to understand what it means and housekeeping will get into your room in your absence anyways). When not in your room, make sure you do not leave valuables like gadgets, watch, money etc and leave temptation staring up at the staff. Lock them up in the room safe or just zip them away in your bag.
I think I have covered the most important points that come to my mind. Are there any more that you can think of? Feel free to share your travel experiences in the comments below.