If you’re a reader of this website, you probably love travelling. The hitch-hiking, the rendezvous with locals, and the complementary chocolates in plane that go oh-so-well with the window seat. But if I asked you to list the top 3 things you dislike, what would be your answer?
Many of you probably thought of local commute. As a traveler, that is one of the (very) few things about travelling that can put me off. Don’t get me wrong. It’s great to take a stroll in the bazaar, or the random streets and discover things about the city that you could never have found in a book.
But if you want to get somewhere in particular, that’s when the problem begins. Which bus should you take? Which metro should you take? Do metros even go there? Do autos? What charges to expect from the auto ride?
There are a hundred things to worry about, and I get it. That is why I have put together all the things I have learned about commuting in a new city.
Book a Bike-taxi
Every traveler appreciates a bike ride. You may commute by a cab or a car for a dozen times, but if you commute once by bike, that is when the city truly comes alive to you. Because in a car, you’re a sightseer, a mere spectator. But on the bike, you become a part of the city.
That is why, booking a bike-taxi is my number one thing to do in a new place. And in hindsight, it’s also much quicker and cheaper than the other options. If in a metro city, you can always book an Ola Bike or an Uber Moto from the respective apps and have them at your doorstep within minutes.
If in a smaller city, you can book a Rapido, which expands across 100+ cities, including Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata, Delhi, Indore, and more! Do remember to book using Rapido bike coupons to save more on every ride.
The best part about bike taxis is that you ride pillion. Just sit back and breathe in the city while the captain tells you about local sights as you pass them. Another reason why I personally love bike taxis is because the rates are standard. No matter which part of the country you go to, no matter how crowded or how deserted, the per km charge will be the same. So, you always know what to expect, and do not end up shelling out a thousand bucks where you expected to spend hundred.
Rent a Bike
Now if you’re gonna travel by bike and you’re gonna do it quite often, then why not just rent a bike, am I right? I’m not saying that bike rental is better than bike taxi. Each has its own merits. While a bike taxi lets you ride pillion, a rented bike saves you the time that you’d otherwise spend in opening the app, making bookings, selecting locations, and making payments.
I personally prefer bike rentals because they let you just rev up the engine and go. You don’t need a destination; you don’t need to have a place in mind. You can just go exploring. This is something that you can’t have in bike-taxis.
There are some amazing bike rentals in India. There are hourly rentals like Bounce, and there are daily, weekly, and monthly rentals like Vogo or Royal Brothers. So, if you wish to rent a bike, do remember to compare their available bike options, rates, and mileages, and choose the option that’s best for you.
Pro tip: Each bike rental displays the rates for a maximum number of kilometers (E.g., Rs.2600 for 4 days/480 kms). If you cross this limit, you have to pay extra per kilometer. So, while choosing a rental, go for one that allows for a higher limit, than going for one that’s cheaper.
Carry a Map
I know, I know. Most of you probably do this already. But this is for people like me who were having a warm and cozy sleep a week after their trip and it suddenly hit them – “Shoot! I didn’t go back to that amazing apothecary shop!”
It’s easy to miss out on places if you do not make a note of them. But in my (controversial) opinion, carrying a map is better than carrying a notepad. Instead of just writing down the names of places you want to visit, you can actually mark them on the map as and when you come across them. This way, you not only have a track of the places you have travelled, but also of the places you need to check out in the future.
And if you cannot let go of the notepad, then just get crafty and stick portions of your map on different pages in the notepad. Each page will feature the area you covered in one day, and next to it you can make notes of the sounds, scents, or sights of the area that particularly piqued your interest. Maybe even add a few local words/slangs you learned there and what they meant.
So, as you can tell, I love carrying a map with me. Not only is it very practical, but also arouses my creativity and gets me sketching on the middle of the road. I especially love it when I trace the roads I’ve travelled on the map and it reveals a beautiful shape. I suggest you try this yourself. You never know how your shape may turn out – maybe like a triangle, maybe like a square. And maybe, just maybe, like a 7-corner star.
That brings us to the end of this monologue. I cannot tell you how many times these three tips have come to my rescue, and I hope they will work like a charm for you too. Tell us in the comments which one you’re most excited to try. May you have a wonderful journey.