Is travel alone in India safe for a solo woman traveler?
Well! This question is not only a matter of consideration while traveling in India. The answer to this question may vary for different countries. But today, we are going to discuss what problem a solo woman traveler faces in India while traveling and what are the best tips to overcome these problems.
Let us start with some basic thoughts which hit the mind of a woman while traveling in India.
If you are a woman and you also think that, Is India Safe?
I would say, your question is not right here. Anything can happen anywhere. You cannot think like that for a specific place or a country. It is not about where you travel. Actually the right question here would be how you travel?
Everyone has the right to freedom. They can think or they can do whatever they want. Maybe the problem discussed here also belongs to some other countries too. So keep in mind it’s not against any nation. It is my opinion as a traveler because I am a big believer in caution. Sometimes media and your own thinking lead up to fear in your mind which is not a good approach to travel or life.
Being a male writer, I cannot be sure about what a woman thinks. So, in order to justify my points, I will give you a reference to the real experience of one of my good friends. Her name is Saili and she had visited India in 2018.
- 1 Here is the list of problems a solo woman traveler faces while traveling in India.
- 2 1. Unwanted Attention
- 3 2. Being nervous every time
- 4 3. Neglecting Gender Inequality
- 5 4. Careless about your phone
- 6 5. Not ignoring staring
- 7 6. Don’t have transportation facilities
- 8 7. Saying yes to the selfies
- 9 8. Not understanding the philosophy of Atithi Devo Bhava
Here is the list of problems a solo woman traveler faces while traveling in India.
1. Unwanted Attention
It seems a very common problem among every foreign traveler. As you are new in India and don’t know anything about where to stay? How to travel to different places in India?
There may be many taxi drivers, travel agents, and some local citizens who show interest in you. They try to win your heart by giving you unnecessary attention. Not all of them are frauds but the majority of them are just admiring you for their own profit. You can easily differentiate between a genuine helper and a selfish one unless you are a self admirer.
The same thing happened with Siali. As she walks out of the airport, taxi drivers, travel agents gather around her and keep asking her for where you are going? Some of them asked her to arrange accommodation for her by saying at a reasonable price. But, as any other traveler, it seemed irritating to Saili. You can get rid of this problem by simply complaining to the airport Management staff. But they cannot stop them everywhere.
I think the only solution is self awareness to deal with such kind of problems.
2. Being nervous every time
Don’t be nervous. You can simply go to India with an open mind.
Yes, India is overwhelming to the first time visitors and most people experience culture shock. Don’t fear too much. Indians are the nicest and most helpful people you will ever meet. Evil minded people always look for the sign of nervousness on your face.
Once they find this, they can manipulate you for their own purpose. Behave normal and try to show that you know much about the place you are visiting.
Saili is a confident woman. She told me that people treated her very nicely. She tried to speak very confidently with the locals which came up as profit to her. She successfully took help from people with this attitude. Saili also said while traveling in Rajasthan some men offered her to take 1a ride to the nearby villages but as a woman, she didn’t feel this right and refused the idea very gently. Having the right attitude towards every kind of person becomes very important for a solo woman traveler.
3. Neglecting Gender Inequality
I know India certainly has its share for the reformation of social problems like gender inequality. But in many parts of India, they follow old rituals so it is important to understand the difference between growing up as a woman in India and traveling as a female tourist. You can’t simply neglect gender inequality everywhere in India.
I think in many places in India, they are concerned with what a woman wears. Such places do not allow women to wear short dresses. If you are traveling somewhere and that is opposite to your culture then you should not disrespect this. It is up to you whether you can refuse to go to that place or you can simply accept the condition to visit the same. But don’t think you have to compromise beyond your limits. You can wear trousers, full pants, and shirts while visiting such places, which I don’t think is a big deal.
The rest of the restriction as gender inequality is applied over locals more. You don’t need to worry about it.
4. Careless about your phone
When you are far from your home, it becomes very necessary to keep in contact with your family and relatives. Keep in mind that your phone should be working properly. For the sake of that manage to get a local SIM card and don’t forget to carry your mobile phone wherever you go. It is often seen that women are much concerned about their getup more than essential things. It seems funny, but not when it actually happens. When you are alone nothing can be your good friend as a mobile phone is. You can book train tickets, taxis, appointments and also need it to communicate with your driver. Be responsible for your essential needs.
5. Not ignoring staring
Being a foreigner in India it is more culturally acceptable to stare. Don’t pay attention to unwanted starey. Most of the time it’s dangerous. They just stare at you because your appearance looks different from them. Maybe it’s catchy to their eyes. Still listen to your intuition. If you feel something wrong with this you can simply ignore this and if the condition is worse then you can take the help of locals as well as police.
6. Don’t have transportation facilities
Being not cautious about your transportation would result in trouble. If you don’t plan your transportation you may arrive at your destination in the middle of the night. It is very hard to get the right person to help you to get to your desired place. You cannot trust anyone at this time. Especially if you are new to that place you should always call out someone to pick you at railway station or airport.
Many hotel and tours offer the service which came out to be very helpful at this situation
Saili gave very importance to this specific point. She planned transportation services via hotels she stayed at. She always had a service guide with herself which shows her well-planned strategy. Always note down the number of the vehicle you are traveling in and share your live location with your family and trustworthy. Carry less cash and avoid expensive jewelry with yourself. Stay connected with your friends and contacts via social media.
7. Saying yes to the selfies
As you are new to India, you feel very excited which is natural. You try to indulge in people who are very friendly. People here also feel excited to have a friendly approach towards you. But not everyone there is with the same approach. Sometimes you are asked for a selfie on which you agree at once. Do such things cause safety concerns? The answer is a big Yes! You cannot identify the pickpockets in the group of thousands of people wandering around you and seeking the moment to snatch your purse, device, or something expensive you are holding. You can also not neglect eve-teasing or bad touch some people try to do. To avoid such incidents, say NO to the selfies. But if it does not seem harmful to you then be careful. Hold your accessories strongly. In case boys or men, don’t allow them to put their arms on you. Maintain the necessary distance. Saili has a simple rule. She says NO to the selfies with the boys or men until they are with girls, women, or with their family.
8. Not understanding the philosophy of Atithi Devo Bhava
If manipulating statements of the media affects your mind with the idea that India is not safe for women then this specific information is only for you. Do you know the meaning of Atithi Devo Bhava? It means we Indians treat our guests like our god. The well-mannered population of India completely follow this statement. Saili found many Indian people live up to this motto and treat foreigners with all their hearts. Just because of a few abrupt people, you cannot set a petty mentality for the whole country. Don’t take the media statements too seriously. Instead, pay some attention to the travel advisories. The various government advisories never say “Don’t go to India ”. Most often, they advise caution which is required everywhere while traveling. Don’t fear too much! India is what you are looking for as your dream destination.
I think I have successfully described problems related to solo women traveler in India. Now here are some useful tips from my side which you should try to avoid troubles.
Try to dress conservatively
This doesn’t mean, I am asking you to cover head to toe. But shorts and explosive tops are not advisable from our side. You should wear full pants and cotton shirts which is a good way to avoid unwanted staring. Also if you learn some words in the local language, it turns out to be very helpful to you. Nothing disarms a curious bystander more than a greeting in their own language.
Always pick reputed homestays
Just for the sake of saving some money, don’t take the risk of accommodation is not well-known hotels. Especially when they are in a desolate place. Such hotels are not really responsible for any type of inconvenience to you. Always look for some affordable hotel by a reputable chain like Hotel Lemon Tree, Key Hotels, etc. These hotels also provide pick up from the airport or railway station along with the transportation facility.
Never dare to venture out alone after dark
Besides it seems safe to wander nearby at night, just don’t do it. Trouble never warns you. Seek for some safe place at night. It’s best to be accompanied by other people while stepping out after dark.
Stand against Eve teasing
Many sexually repressed men try to take advantage of crowded places to cop a feel. Try to wear your backpacks in front to prevent accidental brushing. Even don’t hesitate to elbow the men who try to press too close.
In times of danger
On rare occasions when things go wrong and nobody is around you for help, dial 100 for the police that work across India. Also, many big cities and tourist places have women’s safety squads always ready to help you. Seek help from them when you feel any danger.
Don’t ask for drugs
Like other countries, India is very strict against drugs. I am not saying that everyone asks for it. But in some exceptional cases if you are used to it, Just avoid asking for it in India. If someone offers you some, they may get you in trouble. Also, women who do drugs, drink alcohol, and smoke is considered immoral in India and it is a harsh reality that you become a kind of “Available” for the person with cruel intentions.
If you are a solo woman traveler then you can also share your views about traveling in India. Our readers will get more information regarding this topic.