Planning to explore the length and breadth of India but none of your friends is willing to travel to India due to the negative press about solo female travellers to the country? It is true that a few unfortunate incidents have befallen women travellers but India as a country is not as scary as is often portrayed. I am an Indian woman who has often travelled alone to various small and big cities of India and has survived without any untoward incident. Any woman from India or abroad can safely travel and experience the myriad beauty of Indian destinations by following a few simple tips.
Whenever you are travelling to India alone, do plan ahead. Many of us believe in taking impromptu trips as and when the mood strikes. However, it is not safe when you are a solo female in India where the society is mostly conservative. Instead of feeling lost in a new place and becoming a target of scammers and scumbags, it is advisable to do all your hotel bookings, train/flight reservations in advance. Even if you land at the airport at midnight, it will be a relief to see the hotel representative standing with a placard with your name on it. Also, when you make bookings in advance, you can always choose the hotel based on reviews and hence avoid the properties in seedy locations and sleazy clientele.
Choose reputed service providers
Whether you are choosing to go with a tour and travel service or booking a hotel or a hostel, try to stick with the renowned and popular names. The reputed names will go an extra mile to ensure that their customers are safe and happy. Also, the other customers of these companies will be mostly families and respectable people looking for some quality time. Thus, you will not only get some good company but also feel safe. In rare cases, if something bad happens, these companies will have their own people to control the situation.
Be socially active
Whether it is Facebook, Twitter or Whatsapp, do stay connected with your friends and family. Keep posting updates about your locations, activities and do not forget to send some pics of the places and pubs that you visit. In case you are hanging out with some new friends do click some pictures and send them to your family. This will keep your family in loop as they will always be aware of your location. Some of us do not want to use social media when on a vacation. However, when travelling solo, social media can be a helpful tool.
When in Rome….
Indians dress conservatively and you should adhere to their dressing style. It does not mean that you must wear sarees (although you should definitely give it a try). However, avoid mini skirts and backless tops. Stick to jeans, capris, skirts and decent clothing. If possible go for cotton kurtis and jeans which are comfortable and chic. For any reason, your dress should not attract unwanted attention as you are alone and do not want to land in trouble.
Call your family and friends
Even if you have nothing to talk about, do call your friends or family every time you are travelling to a new city or boarding a taxi. Let the taxi driver know that you have told your family about him and his name, taxi license number etc. Similarly, if you hire guides, tell his name and registration id number to your friend.
Think twice before making friends
When travelling alone, one gets lonely and tends to make friends. But choose your friends wisely, especially the local Indian men. Indian society is patriarchal and a girl travelling alone is often regarded as an easy target and available. Also, a friendly female is also regarded as a willing one. So, it is advisable to be cautious and not trust these friends. If you are visiting some pub with local men, ensure that you have your hotel informed and a vehicle waiting to take you back to the hotel so that you do not have to hitch a ride ad become as easy prey.
Drink but do not get drunk
When travelling alone, you should be careful about not getting drunk as you are the only person who can look after herself. A lone woman drinking in the pub is again regarded as an easy target by some Indians, so it is better to avoid getting drunk. Also try not to make friends over drinks and certainly do not accept drinks from them and neither leave your drinks unattended. There are many drugs available in the market that will leave you helpless and a probable victim. Also, a drunk woman looking for a taxi and walking alone a night can attract unwanted trouble.
Carry your arsenal
Pepper spray, taser, pocket knife and deodorant along with some local cash should always be present in your bag. Never move outside your hotel room without these things. You never know, when you might attract some unwanted attention and Indian police is well known for arriving late. So, it is always good to be prepared. Do not think twice before using weapons from your arsenal if molested.
Ask for help from locals
Not all Indians are goons. Indians are known for their friendly and warm nature. You might even get invited to their homes for a dinner. Besides they feel protective towards women and guests are regarded equivalent to God in Indian culture. So you may come across genuine Indian people who simply want to make your visit a memorable one. If in trouble, you can ask the youths, women or men on the road to help you out and in all probability, they will go out of their way to help you. Most Indians are well- versed in English, so language should not be a barrier for English speaking woman.
I know that the attitude of Indian men towards women is not something to be proud of. Society is gradually changing but it will take decades before women can travel without fear. Until then it is better to stay safe by following the above tips.
Author’s BIO: Nupur Hazela – A nomad at heart, this mom loves to pamper her kids. A big time food lover, in free time she loves to read, write and travel to every nook and corner of the place where her soldier gets posted.