A guide for women travelling solo to India
Incredible India. Yes it is, but it’s also Impossible India for many people. I hear from so many female customers “Oh I can’t visit India on my own, is it safe for solo female travellers?” and “But I hear it’s not a safe destination for women?”
Male or Female, India is perfect for a Solo traveller!
- Make sure you dress appropriately. I cannot stress this enough. If you are going to walk around dressed like a Mardi Gras reveller, expect to be treated like one. If you normally show some skin, you ARE going to attract unwelcome attention in India….in saying that, even if you wear jeans and a t-shirt, you’re going to attract unwelcome attention in India…..If you wear loose clothing, covering your arms, legs ,and carry a scarf or shawl to really hit it home that you’re not trouble, you will suddenly find you attract very little attention. The most annoying attention you will garner is hordes of local girls wanting to take their pictures with you. Harmless!
You must understand basic cultural differences when it comes to modesty. Please cover up. Dressing and showing the smallest amount of skin in parts of India is akin to someone wearing a g-string bikini to your local Mc Donalds for a cheeseburger.
- Most of the attention you get is not threatening. You will enjoy your time much better if you just relax, smile and say “No Baksheesh” or “Sure, let’s take a picture for your friends” or even “Thank you, but I just bought some new bangles” 9 times out of 10, the locals are either curious of the tall blond person walking amongst them, or wanting to sell you something. A smile in India moves mountains. Have a laugh, enjoy it, don’t spend your time thinking everyone is trying to scam you or steal your bags.
*NB, some people are out to scam you and steal your stuff, so yeah, take SOME precautions, just like you would at home!!
- Don’t be getting drunk and walking down dark alleyways. You know the drill. Don’t put yourself in a position for anyone to harm you. Much in the same way you would avoid certain things when you’re in your home city,don’t think that because your holiday nothing bad can happen either. Find the happy medium between being chilled out and enjoying yourself, but having your wits about you too. You don’t know the city, or the language, so just be mindful.
- Woman’s health will not be a problem. You are able to pick up tampons, sanitary pads and the like from most corner stores. I was in the middle of nowhere and was able to grab an extra month of the contraceptive pill along with a few decent pain killers. As long as you have rupees, you will be ok for medical supplies and girly stuff. Just be wary of tampered products.
- Book a decent carriage on the train if you travel on them. I spent many hours cooped up in the second class sleeper by myself surrounded only by men. I seen things that don’t need repeating in my blog, but I learnt do NOT book into this category if you are a solo woman. If you really must, stick to the top bed. This way you can ensure your luggage and self is all safe up the top.
- You will never really be “On your own” Trust me… I went there for 3 weeks thinking it was going to be a purely solo trip. I met some of the most amazing people, many of whom I still keep in touch with to this day! Just like travelling anywhere else, other travellers are interested in meeting new people and exploring with them. You might join in with someone else for a day or two, or you might end up matching itineraries for longer, spending weeks on the road together.
India really is Incredible. The people are some of the most kind, and wonderful people you will meet… I found many of the older woman going out of their way to help me or point me in the right direction. Some young men would follow me for a few blocks muttering things under their breath. But a simple “I’m about to meet my boyfriend, do you want to meet him too?” was enough to scare them off in the bigger cities. In country towns when English might be less understood “Maaf Karo” was enough to stop them pestering. Keep in mind Maaf Karo is an insult, so please don’t go around saying it unless you really need too.
The sights, food, and weather really make India a fabulous destination. Do not be swayed out of going there just because you are a solo traveller -just be wary and have your wits. Travel is what you make it!
Have you travelled India on your own? Would you recommend it to others?