Travel tips and funny customs….

**This is being updated as I go – more will follow!**

Italy

  • Trains are safe, fast, reliable. Get an Italiarail pass to enjoy some discounts on travel, attractions, events etc. There is also a VIP lounge for members at Rome station (or you can pay for a day pass) which offers free WiFi, air con, free afternoon nibbles and drinks (inc booze!) and assistance with booking, planning etc.
  • In train stations where there are no electronic schedule boards, look for the printed ones displayed on the walls and on platforms. You should find your scheduled train listed and will guide you to the correct platform.
  • Even if it says you have as little as 5-10 minutes to change at a station, providing it is not a big, main station you should have plenty of time to find your train. The only downside is some stations don’t have lifts/escalators so if you have luggage you will be lugging it up and down steps!
  • Eating out as a vegan can be limited, especially in smaller towns. Even worse if you are celiac or gluten intolerant as main/only choice is likely to be spaghetti pomodoro. Always good to ask for alternatives though as they are usually happy to help. In mid-expensive restaurants you could call ahead so the chef has time to get the ingredients and prepare the dish. I always found this to be appreciated in London and the chefs love having to create something different!
  • Siena was quite tricky for eating out, very limited options, although Bio & Chocolate had lots of sweet and savoury snacks with more filling options at lunch and dinner and was very affordable. It was also located in a quiet street away from the crowds which was very welcome.
  • As with any country, having some basic language skills always goes down well. And Italian is a beautiful, expressive language that is fun to speak in, so maybe brush up on some pleasantries and words that will help you get around.

 

India

  • Udaipur airport is small and has one type of canteen. So unless you’re not fussy, and especially if you’re vegan, it would be wise to take some snacks with you.
  • It is likely you will receive lots of intense stares when out and about. Don’t be put off by this, it’s just curiosity. Mostly.
  • It is likely you will be asked to have a selfie taken with the locals. Be careful if you say yes as a queue might form! In some place (Delhi mostly) they might even ask you to pay them for the privilege! I decided early on to only have my photos taken with children, families or all females. For obvious reasons.
  • Travelling in the trains is relatively safe and easy providing you go with an open mind (which needs to be permanently open if you are to enjoy what India has to offer!) and accept the friendliness of others. If traveling alone as a female, it helps to acknowledge your fellow passengers to make friends and feel safer. Best options are other females and families but I’ve had fine experiences with solo men who will often try a little conversation and share their food.
  • Delhi is totally overwhelming if you haven’t experienced India before. And even if you have it can blow your mind a little. A second visit is usually way more enjoyable when you’ve got your head around it a little, but try not to let it spoil your time.
  • Delhi metro is an excellent and cheap way to get around. Very reliable. There are female-only carriages if you prefer but I’ve also had a nice reception from guys in the general carriages and people tend to give up their seats or make more space for women as well. Only be cautious when traveling during very busy times when the carriages are cramped and you’ll be pushed around in the throng of people getting off/on!

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