Friday, August 31, 2012

Safety Tips for Women Traveling in India

Don't get caught slippin!

Traveling alone might seem like a fun thing to do, but for some women it can also be stressful. Packing your bags and scooting off to strange new lands can seem to be an impossible task, but any girl can do it with a few tips here and there! As a destination, India can pose problems for female travelers, but offenses rarely happen. That said, don’t let the fear of the unknown keep you from venturing on an empowering trip to Bombay, New Delhi, or any other destination in India with these tips.

First of all, India is a place of extremes. There are a lot of beautiful places to see, exciting dishes to try, Bollywood movies to watch, but you’ll also find barren lands, heavy traffic, filthy streets, and poor citizens who barely scrape by. You may be surprised, Bollywood films show women dancing with seductive costumes and yet when you actually visit everyone seems covered with social conservatism, something that a lone female traveler should take note of before packing her bags. In the west women are almost always free to wear what they want, but in India even if it’s sizzling hot you have to be careful so as to not attract trouble.

Wardrobe Choice

Upon arrival at the airport, you may see a lot of women like you, often traveling in groups or with companions. Some arrive through prearranged tours, and come prepared by dressing and behaving in a way that’s respectful to Indians. Shorts, skirts above the knees, tank tops, low cut, and tight fitting shirts are discouraged, unless you want to attract denigration from women or piercing stares (or worse) from men. And if you’re fair or showing a lot of skin, you might attract men who might actually be bold enough to pinch your skin or touch you. India is a place where tradition is still very much adhered to, so it’s important to be aware. You’ll attract the attention of thieves and other ill doers with your foreign looks alone, but you can immerse yourself with the local culture by purchasing loose-fitting pants known as Salwars and loose-fitting blouses called Kameez. Locals will even advise you to wear saris and dress properly so that you won’t look like you just got off the plane. At the airport, don’t ever let a stranger carry your baggage. In the blink of an eye everything you need for the rest of your trip may be carried away.

Dealing with the Public

When walking in public friendliness may be misconstrued as personal and flirtatious, so avoid initiating conversations. Even something as simple as eye contact may be interpreted as an invitation. If the inevitable happens, never let them know you are traveling alone—pretend someone else is with you. When traveling by train, which by the way lets you explore the beautiful countryside, do not doze off or else you might just find a hand making its way to your blouse. You’ll have a greater degree of privacy by asking for the upper berth where there is less congestion, or a women’s only car.
Book your hotel ahead. You are already traveling alone so be sure that you don’t arrive without a hotel in mind. Never be alone with a man and that includes the hotel’s staff or bellhop. Your next concern will be protecting your personal belongings. When traveling, keep your bags together by securing them with a cable lock, and use bags such as leg pouches, backpacks, and bags with a belt loop.

Avoid Being Overcharged

The most common problems women travelers experience are with servicers. Hotel desk clerks, tour operators, and taxi drivers tend to overcharge tourists. As in most destinations, if you’re foreign-looking you’ll most likely encounter situations wherein locals will try to overcharge. The same is true in India, where culture suggests the assumption that foreigners are likely to be richer than average citizens. And since foreigners make an easy target for scams, because of their lack of awareness, it’s best to research beforehand about the cost of a service before setting a price. To avoid taxi scams, choose pre-paid taxis where you purchase receipts or tickets at a prepaid booth. Wait until the taxi driver delivers you to your destination, and then hand over your ticket. Don’t give the driver additional payment apart from the prepaid slip no matter what he might say.
When shopping for souvenirs or local goods, pretend you don’t have much interest. The higher your level of interest the higher their price. Always bargain, and if they won’t give you the price you want then there are plenty of other shops that could offer a better bargain. Remember there’s no fixed price for most souvenirs.
Keep in mind that incidents are rare, and anyone traveling alone should be alert at all times. Learn how to say “no”, no one should coerce you in to doing something you’re not sure of.  That said, nothing compares to that liberating feeling after exploring a place on your own, the streets of India included. If you’re careful, you’ll have a fantastic vacation ahead.

Although these tips are specific to India many of them are applicable to women travelling ANYWHERE!

I hope this post gave you some things to think about before your next take off to India! This is a guest post from Check them out for for travel tips and hotel deals! 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

12 Things I MUST do before the end of 2012

Summer is leaving us and Fall is approaching and before you know it 2013 will be here! I feel like it was just January and I was writing down all the things I wanted to accomplish this year. I cannot believe that I'm already pass the 6 month mark! WAIT 2012 COME BACK!! Well people it's not coming back so it's time to dust off your goal chart, wish list, or whatever else you made for this year and get going! Since I'm way behind I decided that I would commit to 12 things to do before the end of 2012 #12in2012. I may not get them all done and I may switch them out with other things but the point is I WILL make 2012 a great year!    

      1. Visit A Vineyard/Winery
I’m trying to become a big girl and step it up. The only wine I can truly judge is sangria. I’m that girl who asks for the “sweet one” lol. A visit to a vineyard/winery will probably not change that because I'm such a light weight but I at least want to try to expand my palette. You never know I may discover a new favorite.

2. Officially Join a Church

3.  Explore the U.S.
Have you ever been asked “if you could travel the world where would you go?” and find yourself listing destinations with none of them being in your home country?  I do this ALL THE TIME!  How sad. When I go abroad I meet so many people that speak about how much they want to explore in the U.S. from New York to Texas to California.  There is so much diversity in our own land and we need to do better at playing in our own back yards, being residential tourists. Did you know Colorado has natural hot springs tucked in between the mountains? An Indian told me all about it and that’s when I decided….I’m there!

Tikal pyramids in Guatemala

4. Book at least one international trip for 2013 
Clearly because I have the travel bug junkie itch and it needs to be remedied.

5. Go to one Embassy event
D.C. is known for being a global melting pot of cultures. It’s one of the reasons I love this city so much. So I thought that I should take advantage of the many adventures right around me. I recently learned that embassies have events regularly and while they are somewhat pricey ($50 average) they are great ways to learn about a country. They usually include an authentic meal, movie, and some type of live performance or art showcased from a native artist. I'm signing up for the Embassy of Costa Rica. I joined a DC Meetup group for young professionals in international development but there are tons to join for travel or international interest.

6. Get better at Spanish
I’ve been learning the language since 7th grade and I’m still not fluent….I simply need to do better lol.

 7. Splurge on Food
I love food but I realized that when I budget I always get stingy when it's time to calculate meals.I’ve started using a website/app called Savored that gives you 30% off your bill at a restaurant. Their selection of restaurants and bars are 4-5 star so it’s a super deal! However sometimes it's worth it to just spend the money, I’m interested to see how true this really is!

8.  Learn to Cook Mac and Cheese
#catchamankeepaman enough said

9. See Broadway Musical
It’s Broadway week September 4-16! 2 for 1 tickets!  I plan to cash in!

10. Host a learning event for other students looking to pursue travel after graduation
So often my Spelman sisters reach out to me with questions about travel and fellowships and life after college. I would really like to find a more efficient way to answer all these questions, especially because they are usually the same. I’m thinking a live webinar or chat would be the best option with either Ustream or Youtube but I’m open to ideas!

11. Go to music performance at Kennedy center for free!

12. Get a Library Card
I LOVE READING! When I was growing up reading was my first introduction to traveling . While packing my bags from my 10 months in India I realized I had a whole suitcase with nothing but books! Since I can admit that I have an addiction I decided that rather than buying all these books I needed to get a library card so that I can not only save money but space!

*Create a brand for myself that allows me to pursue my passion while getting paid. 


Sunday, August 12, 2012

My Top 5 Travel pet peeves.... In A travel buddy...

It's finally here!! The Traveling Brown Girls Blog Carnival! I'm so excited to participate and the first topic of the carnival is "Travel Etiquette: My Top 5 Travel Pet Peeves". So here are my top 5 in a travel buddy.

 1.    Doesn't want to stray from the guidebook

If you’re the adventurous type like me then you like to stumble upon a quaint cafe or bookstore and you probably don't make your entire itinerary based on your guidebook. It's a pet peeve of mine when I suggest something like walking around a neighborhood and my travel partner responds with" that's not in the book".

2. Passes judgment on the experience within the first day

As we all know first impressions are important but I do not agree that they have to be your last impression. It's a pet peeve of mine when a trip starts off rocky with a lost taxi ride from the airport or, slow check in at a hotel, or a nasty attitude having waiter and my travel partner decides that the country, city, or town sucks! I believe that everyone and everything deserves a fair chance to redeem itself. So the next time you experience one of these... Take a second and decide to have a fresh start and then if it still seems to be nightmare, RUN!

3. Can’t go with the flow and be flexible

 Time and time again I have traveled with one plan and ended up with a whole new one. Once I went to Morocco during Thanksgiving and the whole city of Marrakesh was shut down... I learned this from the male flight attendant who invited me to his family's farm. Now when you first hear this you think... “Hell naw I'm not spending my thanksgiving on a random man’s farm” but once you wake up and realize literally no one is in the city you get in  a bootleg taxi and be happy with slaughtering that goat on that random flight attendants farm. It was a crazy experience but had I not gone with the flow my friends and I would have never experienced this Muslim holiday celebration that we will never forget.

4.  Comes broke!

This is my #1 travel pet peeve. BYE GIRL if you are that girlfriend who thinks everything is too expensive and keeps saying “back at home that would cost..." Travel doesn't have to be expensive but it's not fair to come on a trip broke and make everyone conscious of every dollar they spend. If you are on a budget make that clear in advance and be ok with tapping yourself out when your travel friends ball out or do things that you'd rather not spend your money on.

5.  Doesn't communicate

It's so important to discuss your expectations before traveling with someone. All parties should discuss their must do's as well as their budgets. I've found this to be so helpful when trip planning. My friends all list what we want to do and evaluate our interest and where they differ to know how we should plan our time together and separately.

We all have our moments when we can be annoyed, frustrated, or upset about something during travel however we must remember that when we are with others the journey is a team effort! In my opinion that's the beauty in traveling with someone. You don't have to deal with it all by yourself. So next time your planning a trip with a friend think back to my pet peeves and make sure you don' fall into one of these categories as the pet peeve travel buddy :-)

Don't let this....

Turn into this

Follow me @blkgrilbigworld

Friday, August 10, 2012


As you all know Girls Going Global is up and running!!!! We finished our first weekend in Latin America and this weekend we will explore the continent of Africa! More than anything I want these girls to one day go abroad and actually see the places that we learn about but what's the first step? PASSPORT!

 Not one of the girls I work with have a passport....NOT ONE! I want to change that so I am selling BLACK GIRLS TRAVEL T-SHIRTS for a MIN. DONATION OF $20! Feel free to give more as one passport is $105. ALL PROCEEDS WILL GO TOWARDS A GIRLS PASSPORT. Below is an example of the t-shirt. Place your order today! Last day to submit a pre-order is August 20th! Email me at or click on the link below! 

Any and all support is appreciated!!! 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Indian Jams I can't get out my head

Lately I've found myself in the shower, office, and streets humming Indian tunes and then breaking out into full on Bollywood dance scenes with hip thrusts and intense facial expressions. Of course every time I do this people look at me like I'm crazy and judge my life! So here I am sharing my favorite tunes from India with all of you because I will continue to sing them and you should join!

1. Kolaveri is an international party starter.....The U.S. is not up on it yet but I promise you that when this song starts people GO CRAZY! I think it's because of his hip hop swag lol.

2. If you want to still hear a hip hop/pop beat but know something from a Bollywood movie Teri Meri ( You and Me) is the jammmm....this was the very first song I learned and sang for all the auto drivers.

3. Sheila is the Indian Beyonce!!!!! EVERY MAN LOVES SHEILA AND EVERY GIRL WANTS TO BE SHEILA! I love her especially because she does belly dance and the chickenhead all in one 8 count lol! Jam with me people. I even included the lyrics for you to learn and understand what she's saying ;-)

4. And lastly if you want to go full have to know Munni!!!! She's also an Indian favorite. I learned this song on my 15 day train journey with 500 bunk mates said I had to learn all the words and now they call me Munni lol.

 I hope this short list has helped expand your musical selections lol. Some are very old but I promise you that if an Indian hears you singing ANY of these songs you will become their best friend...I almost became some one's wife lol. Hope you enjoyed!

Don't forget follow me @blkgirlbigworld