Hitch-hiking always finds a place on any traveller's bucket list but many let their apprehensions stop them from doing it. Women, in particular, find it difficult to go on hitch-hiking adventures, trusting strangers all along. But a Malayali girl has undertaken the impossible.
Meet Uma Roy, a 21-year-old who has been travelling around India for three months only by hitch-hiking and the money she has spent till now is zero! She has travelled across Pondicherry, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Orissa, West Bengal, Assam and now she has reached Nagaland.
She left home on September 3 to travel with no money in her pockets. She started from Thrissur. She boarded a train and went to Kollam, which was her first destination. "My parents didn't know that I was leaving home without money. They thought I had borowwed money from my friends. My sister found me on Instagram and that's how they got to know about what I am doing" reveals Uma.
She also said that her parents are not really supportive but they are not forcing her to get back home either. She has wanted to travel since she was a kid. She said that is the only reason she decided to study journalism after class 10. She later realized that one doesn't need money or a degree to travel.
She used to watch hitch-hiking videos but she noticed that there were no Indians who had done them. She decided to travel by multiple means of transport like trains, trucks, buses, autos, bikes, JCBs, tractors and has even walk for 20 km a day, at times.
Speaking on how safe it is for women to travel alone and that too by hitch-hiking, she said safety depends on whom we are with. She said she travelled two days continuously in a truck and never found any trouble. She was lucky to be with great people. "Stay is the scary part. I don't get safe shelter everywhere. I still don't know how safe it is to travel alone. I get both good and bad experiences, but it's all part of my journey." says Uma. She also get money from people on her way and uses that mainly for food.
Her best experience was when she was in Thodupuzha. She was knocking random doors for a shelter at night and the locals called the police thinking she was a terrorist. She had a talk with the police and they took her in their jeep and provided shelter for her.
"But the locals still think that they did a good job and a terrorist got caught" she says.
Her worst experience was while in Orissa. She was with her friend, who is also a hitch-hiker and had met him in Mysore. They both were pitching tent when a man came and offered them food and shelter. Later that night, while she was sleeping, she felt a little uneasy and woke up to find that the man was touching her inappropriately. They packed and left the place at 3 am in that cold weather.
She has not put a time limit on her journey so she does not know when it will end. She said she will travel as far as she can without money. "It might take one year or more. I really have no idea. But one thing is that, the moment I feel like using money, I'll be back home."
To read more about her experience, follow her on Instagram (@the_happy_tramp)