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Everything You Need To Know About Solo Female Travel In India

Planning a trip to India can be confusing for many potential travelers, particularly women. The news about safety in India is a lot like traveling in the country itself – often contradictory, alluring, sometimes downright scary. To help answer any questions you may have about traveling in India as a woman, I recently spoke with Cristina Boronat on the foXnoMad Podcast.

Cristina spent over 2 years traveling in India, most of it solo, and we spoke about her experiences plus advice on how to dress, her India bucket list, and more in the episode you can listen to here or watch in the video above.

We even got to ponder whether or not my two India scams videos would have been potentially (more) dangerous if I were a woman.

There’s a lot packed into this episode for both men and women planning a trip including the single best piece of advice for visiting India, applicable worldwide. For those of you who’ve been to India the conversation will take you back through the calm and chaos to put a smile on your face.

The Single Best Piece Of Advice For Travelers To India

Traveling in India can be the most frustrating and amazing experience, often at the same time, but there’s one piece of advice that will let you appreciate the entire experience. During a recent episode of the foXnoMad Podcast, my guest Cristina Boronat summed up eloquently a lesson to take with you before visiting India.

The travelers who end up hating India miss this key wisdom Cristina gleaned from years of experience in the country, which you should watch in the video here.

Set Your Alarm Clock To Odd Numbers To Wake Up For Early Flights

phone alarms

We’ve all set 13 alarms in a row to make sure we wake up for an early morning flight, hoping the constant ringing – despite our snoozing efforts – will get us out of bed. Eventually. Such brute force methods require setting alarms well in advance of when you actually need to wake up. Snoozing feels really good but it’s barely sleep, in fact you’d be better off not disrupting your slumber early and just waking up when you need to.

There’s a good way to trick your brain into being conscious for slightly longer when your alarm sounds so you can shorten the time between your (first) alarm sounding and actually getting out of bed. The key is using odd numbers, literally and figuratively.

Melatonin Efficiency

Many taps of the snooze button on your phone are done when you’re semi-conscious, which is why it might feel like you’ve snoozed 97 or 3 times, it’s hard to tell. During the middle and later parts of the night, melatonin levels in your body are high. (Depending on your regular sleep cycles.) Melatonin is a hormone that tells your body time to sleep or wake up.

sleeping tabby cat

Snoozing feels really good because elevated melatonin levels are telling our brains it’s sleepy time. A blaring alarm sound can wake you up enough to the lighter stages of sleep to snooze but the rebound might be so intense you could not “hear” the next alarm.

At worst it’s a missed flight, at best, missing 15-20 minutes of additional quality sleep.

7:03am

The human mind is preferential to even numbers. 10 fingers, two eyes, 7:00am doesn’t give us the same sense of urgency – or novelty – 7:03am does, for example. Ok, so what about 7:05am or 7:15am? They’re odd but more familiar, the key is processing time. According to Terence Hines of Pace University:

Odd numbers stick in our brain more, are harder to digest — and as a result gain extra meanings. In western culture the numbers that attract the most superstition, three, seven and 13, are all odd.

Room 101 is a much scarier place than Room 100 because 101 is arithmetically more challenging than 100. We understand how 100 fits in to the structure of numbers — it is ten times ten, or two times fifty, or four times twenty-five. But 101 is harder to toy around with. The asymmetry is cruel to our pattern-making minds.

In terms of waking up on time and getting a few more minutes of sleep, calculating how many minutes you have to really get out of bed is harder when using an odd number – that’s also not a multiple of 5 or commonly calculated. We convert 45 minutes ahead of 7:30 or 9:00 more easily because we do it all the time. (What’s 75 minutes before 12:25? Quick!)

Sliver Of Consciousness

A tiny bit of number crunching may seem insignificant but it requires a longer window of consciousness. Even seconds of being awake can help you get out of bed – which additionally will be easier if you have a few more minutes of sleep. Using odd numbers, 3:12am works but 3:17am is better, plays on your subconscious at two levels.

For an added layer of oversleep protection, try using your bladder as an alarm clock as well. It’s a lot harder (and messier) than your phone to snooze. Keep in mind though for odd numbers, to keep them odd. Don’t use the same patterns over and over to prevent your brain from adapting.

What It’s Like Traveling As A Woman In Pakistan

Pakistan is not a particularly common travel destination (on par with Ivory Coast by tourists annually) and for many reading this, that isn’t surprising. What may be even more surprising is that tourism to Pakistan has tripled since 2018, attracting adventurous travelers intrigued by a less visited destination.

Since I wrote about what it’s like traveling in Pakistan, many of you asked what it would be like for a woman traveling there? To give a firsthand answer to the question, I recently spoke with Ellie Quinn who joined me on an episode of the foXnoMad Podcast you can listen to here.

Ellie traveled to Pakistan overland from India and shared what that border crossing was like, how to dress, plus vividly describes the country’s northern mountains. She enjoyed her time in Pakistan so much, Ellie’s begun running tours there if you’re up for your own adventure.

We also spoke about the differences between traveling in India verses Pakistan as a woman in an interesting and enlightening conversation you’ll learn a lot from. You can watch the full episode here, download here to listen, and find Ellie on YouTube and Instagram.

The 3 Best VPNs For Travelers In 2020

There are many reasons to use a VPN when traveling, but honestly, everyone should be on a VPN pretty much all the time. A virtual private network (VPN) can hide your Internet habits from your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and protect your privacy online for starters. For travelers, VPNs can get you cheaper airfare or access the free Internet in places with censorship but being so closely tied to your browsing habits, you need to choose the right VPN.

Important VPN Caveats

A VPN is essentially a tunnel between you and the Internet as far as anyone trying to observe your Internet connection. Imagine a helicopter flying over you, it can see you’ve entered a subway station but not where you go after that. Likewise, ISPs will be aware your Internet traffic is going through a VPN but not much else.

VPNs encrypt the traffic going through them it however there is a point in the encryption-decryption process that would allow any VPN to see your Internet traffic. You have to trust your VPN not to do that. Ideally, you’re looking for a VPN that logs a little as needed to run their service and is regularly audited by independent security audit to verify any claims.

NEVER Use A Free VPN

Never. Free VPNs make money through advertising and selling your information since they have no intrinsic incentive to provide good privacy. Never use a free VPN. Fortunately, the paid options aren’t expensive especially when you consider the benefits.

1. ProtonVPN

From the same organization based in Switzerland that created the secure email service ProtonMail, ProtonVPN is focused on privacy. They collect only the information needed to provide service and support (which is fantastic by the way) all laid out in a very clear Privacy Policy. ProtonVPN’s servers are speedy and some tiers have a Secure Core feature for enhanced protection.

protonvpn

It’s also effective for getting access to Netflix but may not work in China (who have at the time of this article blocked them). *Cough* Paid plans also don’t block torrenting *cough* ProtonVPN’s mobile and desktop apps are intuitive to use and straightforward as well.

ProtonVPN’s a little more expensive than the competition – they do have a limited free version to try – but as one of the best overall VPNs, I would recommend their Plus service to cover all your devices.

2. NordVPN

Having recently reviewed their NordPass password manager, a few things stand out about NordVPN. They’re based in Panama outside the jurisdiction of these 5-14 Eyes. They’re also regularly audited by third parties, have over 5,000 servers in 59 countries, and NordVPN should work in China as well.

The interface is especially clean, almost minimalist, and it’s one of the fastest VPNs I’ve tried. Connections are solid (very little cutting out) and they have a good privacy record as well for their plans, which are heavily discounted for 2-3 year subscriptions.

3. ExpressVPN

expressvpn

For travel to China especially, ExpressVPN is a solid choice. ExpressVPN have a very good record on privacy, is audited regularly, and have VPN servers in 94 countries. Speed is also a particularly good on ExpressVPN (all VPNs will slow down your total Internet speed somewhat when in use). The only drawbacks I’ve found is their iOS version can be a little difficult to work with when switching connections. ExpressVPN comes with a 30-day money back guarantee so you can see if it fits your particular needs.

Mentioning Honorable Mentions

A few things about all of these VPNs listed above. They’re all called ‘no log’ VPNs which means they don’t track (outside of what’s needed to provide service and support) – claims which have been verified by an independent security audit. Without those independent audits from credible security experts any VPN claiming no logs – or anything else – has to be taken with a big grain of salt.

Another good option is VyprVPN, like the others offers steep discounts for longer subscriptions (usually over a year) or monthly plans. You’ve also got the option to try these VPNs usually either with a limited free version or trial period so you can choose the best VPN for your travels.

For those of you already using a VPN, this site will let you check to make sure it’s not leaking any info about you. To get the most effectiveness however, set your VPN to always on and don’t forget to secure your mobile devices as well.

Student Shares What To Know When Moving To Chicago For College

This is a guest post by Brian Selcik, a student at the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, where he is studying for a BFA in Musical Theatre Dance.

chicago skyline

You may be a new student preparing a move to begin studying at one of Chicago’s many universities and institutions. Having gone through the process myself not too long ago, here are some things I’ve learned that will help plan for your first semester in Chi-town.

Parents, Students, Either.. Both? Take A Breath

The city of Chicago is like its own small country of 2.7 million people who enjoy over 40 kilometers (26 miles) of public beaches, lively local theater, plus the 4th busiest airports in America making it very accessible. Many universities in Chicago are located in the Loop right off of Lake Michigan. (This is the Loop.) There are over 7,000 restaurants and sights that bring over 55 million tourists annually and going to school right in the heart of the city allows you to experience it all.

chicago skyline evening

Don’t Make Your Living Environment Your Work Environment

One of the best pieces of advice I have for really anyone going to college is not to make your living environment your work environment. Dorm rooms are designed for you to eat, sleep, and live but don’t mistake a desk for a ideal place to study. It is hard to focus on work in a place where you sleep and relax – the opposite is also true. (Parents, you wouldn’t want to eat dinner in an office, would you?) But in Chicago you’re lucky to have many great places to get school work done. Some of my favorites are Dollop Coffee, Hayden Hall, Harold Washington Library, and even the new experiential lululemon at Lincoln Park.

chicago coffee shop

Explore The Loop

There is virtually no place in Chicago five miles around the Loop that would not have some great locations to explore with friends. Take your U Pass (the unlimited student ride pass for the public transportation) and head on the Red Line in either direction. At most any stop you’re probably going to find yourself in a cool location with coffee shops, restaurants, and so much more to experience.

It’s comfortable to get stuck in the few blocks around your university so taking the time to use your U Pass and explore is something allows you to make the most of your time in Chicago. A few of my favorite stops off the Red Line are Chicago and State, North-Clybourn, Fullerton, and Belmont.

Get Out When It’s Cold

Chicago is known for a lot of things but the cold weather during winter is definitely one of the most infamous. While it can get pretty bad you can still absolutely go out and explore as long as you are prepared. (It’s all about dressing properly!) Ear covers, a long coat, thick socks, a warm scarf, and gloves are all you need to survive the cold. You can stay outdoors and go ice skating at Millennium Park, or you can head indoors and go somewhere like the Chicago Board Game Cafe. The cold is not as bad as people (who usually aren’t from here) make it out to be as long as you are leaving your building prepared for the weather! Layers people, layers.

lululemon chicago

Go See A Show!

Chicago has one of the best theater districts in the country where you can see some innovative, creative, and inspiring work. You have your bigger companies like The Goodman, Steppenwolf, and Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, but also your smaller store-front theater like BoHo Theatre and Kokandy Productions. There are always student discounts available (for tickets generally ranging between $10-15) and even some ushering opportunities where you get to see the shows for free. New shows happen year round so there you can go see new work whenever you have a free weekend.

Urbs in Horto

Since studying here I’ve come to realize Chicago is one of the best cities in the world. With its restaurants, history, and theaters, the unique location makes it a special place to live and study. Those of you planning your first semester in Chicago, hopefully these seeds will help you grow quickly in the city in a garden.

Thank you Brian for taking time in between your studies to share your experience and recommendations for new students coming to Chicago! This isn’t Brian’s first guest post on the site so if you’re visiting London see this, want to see Hamilton for cheap read this, and for a Harry Potter trip to Orlando click here. Brian’s also on Instagram @brian_potter7.

About Anil Polat

foxnomad aboutHi, I'm Anil. foXnoMad is where I combine travel and tech to help you travel smarter. I'm on a journey to every country in the world and you're invited to join the adventure! Read More


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