I am 29 and have travelled three times to the colourful and chaotic country – India.
When I visited India, for the very first time, it was to attend the wedding of my college friend. She invited me to stay with her family for a whole month before her wedding. We shopped a lot, chatted a lot and visited a lot of nearby places. Though I was not able to travel a lot at that time, I came again after 6 months. This time, I was with 2 more friends out of which one was male and one female. Hence, the travel was a bit easier and I felt safe with the company of my friends. The third visit to this beautiful country was in the last summer. I was travelling alone but have come to know the ways and means of the Indian culture, the society, travelling, public transport and lots of other things from my previous trips. Hence, I was armed with all my knowledge and found travelling easy.
As far as the Solo Travelling for international women in India is concerned, it is full of good as well as bad perspectives and experiences. However, the fact that the bad experiences are lesser than the good ones keeps it sane. India is a developing country and has its own issues. The people are less used to the ‘white skinned foreigners’ and you should know that you are going to invite a lot of stares; especially if you are in a ‘not-so-modernized’ region. The interior regions of Bihar, Rajasthan, Haryana, and Punjab can be a bit problematic for you. The people might not be able to understand your language and help fetching can be a bit of effort.
Tips for the First Timers
If you are travelling for the very first time, you should stick to the very popular tourist destinations as these places are bound to have some foreign crowd with which you can interact and feel safe. Also, the people at these places are used to the foreigners and can help you out.
- Don’t opt for exploring the tourist attractions which are located in remote areas or require travelling to the remote areas. You might not know how to handle travelling along with 10 males in a rickety bus or any other dilapidated vehicle which might be your only conveyance.
- While travelling for the very first time, it would be good if you hire your own taxi or conveyance which can be booked from a recognised travelling website or agency. This would help you in avoiding hassles, groping, unwanted staring, talks and bullying in public transport.
- Always make a note of the license plate of the vehicle boarded by you and making a false conversation with a friend or someone in which you describe the destination, as well as the license number, can be another step towards safety.
- Always keep a pepper spray in your purse. You might not need it, but it will keep your mind at ease. Having the numbers of police, local female helpline etc can also make you feel safer.
- Always remember that dressing appropriately is a part of Indian culture and avoiding too revealing, skimpy and plunging necklines will help you in avoiding the stares and rough comments. Wearing some Indian outfit will improve the situation further.
- Though the trouble can knock your door anytime. But the same is true for your hometown too right? I mean, you cannot say that you will never ever get into any trouble while you are at your own place. India is a beautiful country and people are helpful. They would like to show you around, help you with directions, in bad situations, and will also offer to make you a part of their group. But, you have to trust your instincts and be on your guard before indulging too deep.
Suggested Read: How to Stay safe while traveling in India
Tips for all the Solo Female Travel in India
See and learn how indigenous women behave and fend for themselves in daily life. The kind of clothes they wear, the way they talk, to whom they talk and the way they choose their modes of the commute.
Don’t be too open to every single male you find. Flirting might be a sport in your country, but in India, it has a different meaning and perspective. People will be less helpful if you have quite an open attitude. They like women to be less loud and reserve.
- Try to sit with the women folk. While travelling via public transport, you can choose the ladies compartment or the autos which are especially for women.
- Avoid travelling at night or after dusk. Don’t travel via public transport in the night especially if it is empty. Though the metropolitan cities have surveillance vehicles and patrol vans, they might be far away or out of reach at the required moment. Hence be vigilant and choose the peak hours of travelling.
- Even in India, these days, you can find a group of girls travelling. You can take their companionship too. Every other person is not a scoundrel or vice versa. Your own judgement can help you in making your travel easy.
- There are various travel managers that will provide you with a complete package which might be a bit expensive, ajama but is very safe.
What to Wear:
- Salwar suits, long tops or t-shirts with decent necklines.
- Full-length trousers, pyjamas, knee-length skirts.
- Dupattas or scarves around your neck.
- Less revealing clothing
What to avoid:
- Skimpy clothes
- Bikinis at the beach can be covered up by the t-shirts and long shorts
- Hot pants
- Flimsy clothing
What to do:
- Talk only if addressed to
- Ask directions from cops or other people of responsible offices
- Stay amongst women
- Be reserve, vigilant and have less stereotypical impressions or thoughts
- Avoid shaking hands, opt for a decent Namaste
What to Avoid:
- Too loud or too open behaviour
- Tagging along while partying or having drinks with unknown people
- Recreational drugs with unknown persons
- Inviting people on your own to sit with them (especially males)
What to Do:
- Travel in daytime
- Use registered vehicles and have a note of their License Numbers
- Don’t show your panic or restlessness
- Pretend that you know the way to your destination
- Fake your Marital Status
What not to Do:
- Don’t travel alone in rails, buses or other public transport at night
- Don’t wait in the waiting rooms or rain shelters at night alone. They are the hubs of rogues.
- Don’t panic or cry in front of unknown people while asking help
- Don’t accept unusual conveyance help
Please be aware of your surroundings and be vigilant all the time. But, remember that every other foreign place is a bit weird and has a set of shortcomings. You are here for travelling and fun, ignore the rest and enjoy!
Need help for pre-trip preparations? Visit IndiaTravelBlog for more guides to follow when travelling to India.