India is a beautiful and fascinating country with an incredible diversity in cultures, traditions and religions. With its overwhelming chaotic madness and unmatched adventures, a trip to India can be a lifetime experience for any traveller. Unfortunately, with its soaring rate of crime, cases of rapes creating headlines and Delhi been named amongst one of the most unsafe cities in the world, tourists, especially the female travellers, have become quite sceptical about their travel to India.
Though it would not be correct to deny the reports of increasing crime rate, but, it is also a fact that majority of them are over hyped by media. It is the media which has stereotyped India as a dangerous country. Every country has its share of good and bad people and India is no exception. Majority of people in India are warm and hospitable. Don’t let the negative press reports and fear stop you from exploring one of the most incredible nations in the world; being a solo female traveller, just be little cautious and careful.
Certain tips and precautions listed below can make your trip to India a memorable experience:
Travelling to a country like India and that too as a solo female traveller, getting mentally prepared is the key for an exciting and rewarding experience. It is highly recommended to do a certain amount of homework before your visit to India. Make sure you understand the country’s culture, traditions and customs well. Read guidebooks and blogs of other solo female travellers to get a good insight into their travel experiences. Understand the fact that although India is getting modernized day by day, gender difference in the society is still prevalent; people will stare at you. Ignore such stares, go easy, and keep your mind and heart open.
Indian culture and thinking is a lot different from the Western culture. A woman wearing a dress revealing her skin grabs a lot of unwanted attention in India, especially by men. It is always recommended to dress appropriately; avoid wearing skimpy clothes, miniskirts or anything see-through or very tight. Always keep a scarf handy; it cannot only be used to cover your head while visiting temples and other religious places but, can also save you those ghoulish stares when travelling in local trains and buses.
An exception to above statement is the city of Goa, which is visited by many foreign tourists. Women can be frequently seen in revealing clothes and bikinis on beaches in Goa. Though chances of women getting molested are rare in Goa, but, it is always a better idea to stay safe and cautious.
Goa is also a place famous for its nightlife. Do not get overdrunk while partying in a night club; people with wrong intentions might be preying on you.
Most of the Indian men are greatly fascinated by foreign women, especially the ones with white skin. They have it as a pre-conceived notion that western women are easy going, flirtatious and lacks values. Avoid being friendly with suspicious looking men as they can take your friendliness in a wrong way and interpret is an open invitation for sex.
While hiring cabs and taxis, make sure that you hire from a registered and trusted cab company. These companies provide taxis with GPS enabled systems through which your journey can be easily tracked. Always note down the registration number of the taxi and name of the driver before sitting in the taxi. Switch on your GPS in the mobile phone or tablet to make sure driver is taking you through the correct route. Also, during your travel in the cab, stay connected with your known ones over phone and keep them updated with your location and expected time of arrival. Get down from the cab if you sense something fishy such as driver bringing in his friend along in the middle of the journey.
During train journeys, try to book upper births. This will not only help you keep your baggage secure but, will also keep you away from the staring eyes at night when you sleep. If you are travelling via Metro, it is more preferable to board the ladies compartment.
Travelling alone after sunset is a big risk in cities like Delhi and UP. Never travel alone in an empty bus, especially during night hours.
Choose a safe hotel for accommodation. Always book the hotel through a trusted travel site. Make sure that the hotel is not located in a secluded place and has a good rate of occupancy during your stay. As the hotel staff is well aware of the fact that you are staying alone in the hotel room, properly locking your room from inside during night is always a safe bet. Stay connected with your family members and friends back home. Keep them informed about your hotel address and contact number. It is always a good idea to befriend some of the hotel staff and make them aware of your travel plans of the day so that they notice your absence in case you don’t return as per the expected schedule.
Stay away from touts and beggars during your visits to historical monuments. Incidents of pick-pocketing and bag-snatching are quite common at these places. Carrying lots of cash and credit cards is also not recommended; traveller’s cheques are a better option as they cannot be easily encashed in case they are stolen. Also, do not trust your guide or handover any of your belongings to him.
Be aware of your surroundings and keep an eye on nearby happenings; this can prevent you walking into a potentially bad situation. You can always sense if you are being followed by a stranger; try to find some people you can talk to. Heading to a café or a hotel nearby is a good strategy in such situations.
Light teasing and body-brushing are common incidences faced by local women and foreigners alike during their travel in local buses or in public places. If the act goes beyond this, don’t stay silent. Either whip them around aggressively with a tight slap or by staring them back hard. This will call for public attention humiliating and embarrassing that person.
Behave confident even if you are not. In situations when you are lost, don’t make your body language speak so. Pretend to be confident, don’t use guidebooks and maps too frequently. Look out for a family who can guide you with right directions.
Women travelling from international countries in India are treated as celebrities. Lots of people will try to get a picture clicked with you. While getting a photo clicked with families and children will do no harm; be cautious of single men around. If you feel uncomfortable, saying a firm and empathetic “No” will solve the problem.
During your conversations with strangers, never let them make out that you are alone in the city; pretend as if you are accompanied with your friends on the trip.
As a sole female traveller, your trip to India can be little challenging in the beginning. But, as you spend few days in India, you would know for sure, that the rewards outweigh these challenges. Adopting some simple wisdom and safety tips listed above, you can experience one of the most amazing travel destinations in the world.
If you have also visited India as a solo female traveller, do share your experiences with us.
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