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Do you want to run away from the hustle and bustle of urban life and go someplace remote location? Would you want to enjoy the raw beauty of nature first hand? Or would you want to experience a simple life and fresh air?
Whatever it is, remote and rural India can help you experience the tranquillity you have been yearning for a long time.
India is developing fast with an increase in the percentage of its urban settlements. But it still has a lot of rural areas to explore, where you can experience the simple village life. Also, there is no dearth of places for nature lovers to visit. You can trek through the mighty Himalayas, or visit the Thar desert. Or you can hike through a dense forest or enjoy the unexplored beaches. However, during your trips to remote areas, you need to keep some things in mind and be prepared for an emergency to have a wholesome experience.
So, here are seven tips to keep in mind while you are travelling off the beaten path: –
Assess your health before travelling to someplace remote
Not to play a spoilsport, but you have to make sure that you a both mentally and physically fit for your trip. Villages and remote areas may not have easy access to health care centres. It might take time to get help in case you fall sick since there are fewer amenities and people around. Hence, do not take a risk, especially if you are new to this. Also, if you are planning to go for a difficult trek in the mountains, make sure to undergo proper training before embarking on your journey.
Decide, Research, Plan!
First, decide where you want to travel. Then research everything about the place- its weather, climate, and terrain. As India is a country of diverse cultures, you should also be well aware of the local customs. If you are visiting a remote village or a tribal area, sincerely learn about the people and their traditions. Different villages may have a different set of regulations, and even if you do not agree with them, do not go against them while you are there.
Planning your trip well is the next thing. Plan your route, your itinerary, your accommodation well in advance. If you are like me, it will also prevent any travel-related anxiety and you can enjoy your trip better. Going someplace without a plan may be adventurous, but it has its risks, especially in a remote setting. Hence judge your experience and abilities to come out of sticky situations and decide accordingly.
Some treks and village tours are conducted by travel agencies, so you can contact them for a hassle-free tour. But book a reputable and professional travel agent. See their reviews or contact someone you know who might have travelled with them.
How to stay safe during your trip to a remote area
Well, prevention is always better than cure. And although it may take away some time from your day of travelling and enjoying, do follow these tips to ensure your safety if you are travelling alone. If possible, call your friends/family and keep them updated about your whereabouts often. You can also click pictures and post on your blog about the places you have been at the end of your travel day. Even though people may be nice, you should also be vigilant and not trust blindly, especially if you are in a place for the first time and do not speak the local tongue. Also, if you are travelling to a remote area it is best to avoid travelling alone.
Essentials to pack
Try to pack your bag depending upon the place, what is available there and the weather. Try to make your bag light enough for you to carry comfortably and conveniently. In a village, you will most probably get modest accommodations and food joints. Electricity and toilets may or may not be there depending on how developed the village is. And if you are trekking or going to a location with very few to no settlements, then you would hardly find any places to stay or eat. Hence, pack accordingly.
Here I have curated a list of the essential items you can carry while visiting a remote location:
A torch or a head torch, extra batteries, power bank and multi-plug outlets (since the chances of electricity being there might be low), candles and matches, and a complete camera kit with extra batteries if you are a photography enthusiast.
Eating and drinking essentials
You should never trust the water of a new place. Carry a few packaged drinking water if the trip is for a day or two. For longer trips, you can carry water purification tablets, chemicals or a filtration system. If possible, you can also boil your water. Also, carry some packaged ready to eat foods that do not need much cooking or refrigeration, like chocolate bars, protein bars, dry fruits, instant noodles, biscuits, tea or coffee bags, candies, etc. Also, carry glucose with you to give you the much-needed energy during those long treks.
It is a must-have for all kinds of trips, but you should pack extra medicines since in remote areas you may not find dispensaries quite often. Other than your prescription medicines, do take analgesics, paracetamol, anti-bacterial medicines, anti-fungal medicines, anti-diarrheal tablets and aspirin. Also carry band-aids, cotton and bandages.
Carry soap, shampoo, dental essentials, deodorant, baby powder, sunscreen, sanitiser, napkins, and feminine products if needed (sanitary napkins, tampons, etc.). No need to bring your hairdryers, hair straitening/curling irons and electric razors and make your bag heavier.
Clothing and shoes
Pack your clothes and shoes according to the weather and place. But do not overpack! For travels in winter or cold places, invest in one or two good quality jackets and thermals. Also, if you are not able to wash your clothes, then carry disposable underwear, which you can change every day. Carry a raincoat, since it is quite handy for rainy regions, as well as if you experience a sudden burst of rain and cold winds. Lastly, please, please carry towels that can dry easily, like a microfiber towel. Now you do not want a stinking bag during your travel now, do you?
As for the shoes, make sure to wear good quality, comfortable shoes. Do not think whether they will look good on you or not. Roads in villages or remote places are not built for fancy shoes! Also, for places with a high number of snakes, wear long boots and long pants to prevent a snake bite.
Here are a few extra things you can take which won’t take up much space, but will definitely make your life easier: Swiss army knife (Very helpful, especially in the mountains and forest trips), a physical detailed route map of the place (since you might not get a GPS on your phone), mobile satellite phone (if you are travelling to an extremely remote area with no network), mosquito repellent, tent (if you are going to camp) and good quality, thick and warm sleeping bag. Also pack a compact, reflective emergency blanket in case you are stranded in a storm or the cold. And do not forget to take padlocks for your bag to keep your things safe.
If you feel that there are too many things to pack, you can invest in some good packing cubes to compress your clothing and make space in your bag.
Be vigilant with your cash
Remote areas and villages in India often do not accept credit cards, so plan how much you need to spend and carry that amount in cash. Learn in advance if there are ‘working’ ATMs in and around the area. If not, carry some cash in your purse, but the rest you have to hide properly in pouches or between the clothes in your bag so that it does not get stolen. You can also buy a money belt, a portable waist belt, to hide your valuable cash without anyone else knowing.
Mingle with the locals
Travelling to new places is an enriching experience and comes with a lesson of its own. And while visiting a village or remote area, if you can befriend and mingle with the local people, it will help you a lot. Although I mentioned earlier to be wary, making friends with the locals will help you get to know the place better. It will help you to get comfortable in an unknown environment, and you can learn a lot about the new culture. If you are not familiar with their language or dialect, try to pick up some words and important sentences. Use public transport and spend time in the local market. If you are nice to the locals and they see your effort towards learning about their culture, they will become warmer towards you and you will enjoy your trip all the more.
Relax and enjoy!
Do not get discouraged with all these tips. Although it may be a bit difficult travelling to a remote area than to a well-known tourist spot, it is definitely worth the trouble. You can disconnect from the world and enjoy nature in its true form. You can learn how the people in the villages live and take part in their cultures and traditions. And you can eventually stop running through your day and savour the small, precious moments of life. So what are you waiting for! Plan your trip, pack your bags and embark on a journey towards the unknown. All the best!