Want To Explore India As A Solo Woman Traveller? Here Are Some Handy Safety Tips For You

If you wish to explore the kaleidoscopic land that is India, but are hesitating to venture out over safety concerns, here are some tips to make travelling in the country safe and smooth
Taking in the sunrise
Taking in the sunrise/Intrepid Traveller

The recent news of the plight of the Spanish- Brazilian tourist in Jharkhand has mired India in a considerable negative light as a potential destination for solo female travellers. This holds true not only for tourists from abroad, but the local population as well. However, India should not be dismissed solely on the back of such incidents, as it is also one of the most accommodating and welcoming countries in the world, known for its hospitality premised on the principle of Atithi Devo Bhava. Amongst the tumult of noises, the extremes of weather and the colourful landscape, female solo travellers also have to take into account their safety.

Tahira Khan, a recent graduate, who took her first solo trip after college ended said, “I did have to stay on guard, but I also came to realise that people also welcome you with open arms”.  The level of trust and concern for a female solo traveller is also more, with her homestay owners keeping a check on her throughout the journey to the mountains once they came to know that she was travelling alone. “They also guided me to some of the best local spot for food and sunsets in Shimla and I have come back having forged a lifelong bond."

Bessie Jameson, an exchange student from Australia , decided on backpacking through a few cities in the country. Her only advice has been to deny people who heckle you for selfies and shaking hands. “It feels weird till a certain point, when you realise that most of it is just pure curiosity”. However, it is better to be safe. “With a few exceptions like not venturing out during the dark and dressing appropriately, India is a marvellous country to travel through. It is colourful and vast and turns out to be an experience like no other”.

A boat ride on the Ganges
A boat ride on the Ganges/Travel Triangle

Tips for Solo Travelling

Learn the language: Learning a few words in the local language always pays. It is not only a way to connect more deeply with the culture of the place but also throws off overly curious individuals looking to hoodwink you. People are generally more welcoming of women in the country, with bonds of sisterhood formed at the mere drop of a hat; whether you share a seat together on a train ride or are grouped for a hike.

Knowing the local language only enhances these experiences and a simple Namaste goes a long way with everyone here.

Explore in Daylight: It is advisable that you explore as much of the country as possible in daylight. Ensure that the local market is nearby. When booking flights or trains to your preferred destination, make sure that their arrival and departure times are daytime. If the same is not possible, have someone come pick you up or drop you. You can go out at night if it’s a very touristy place and the city lights are twinkling all night, but be sure to carry a phone with you

Do not compromise on your stay: Research properly and book hotels belonging to reputed chains. If hotels are not your thing, book reputed homestays. If you end up booking cheap hotels, chances are they are in a seedy neighbourhood, where trouble is round the corner. Do your research before making an informed decision, and don’t hesitate to splurge a little extra.

The Ghats of Varanasi
The Ghats of Varanasi/Google Images

Dress Conservatively: This does not imply covering up completely, but shorts in public places are not advisable. Wear loose cotton clothes that also help you beat the heat. Carry a scarf with you as it helps in supplementing your outfit if needed.

In most small towns of the country, people’s worlds are limited to the boundaries of their city. The sight of world citizens exploring the country solo, especially if you are female, is a sight of wonder and astonishment. You are bound to draw attention to yourself, but a lot of it is also curiosity.

Keep Your Friends and Family in the loop: Make sure that you are regularly checking in with your closest friends and family via text and calls or, if nothing else, social media post of your progress. Buy a local sim and data plan to keep them apprised of your progress. You can also send them your location.

Locals in Rajasthan
Locals in Rajasthan/ BeyondtheGo

Use Women Only Spaces in Public: Most public transportations have dedicated spaces for women, make sure you travel in them. Metros have women only carriages and even restaurants have “Family” Sections. Head for these. Additionally, you might get to converse with a local family, who are sure to be genuinely interested in your story and won’t hesitate to point out some hidden gems for you to explore.

Use Transportation Wisely: If you are alone in a cab, an auto or a rickshaw, do not let the driver take on a friend. If they don’t agree, change your taxi/ auto. You could also opt for shared cabs, but the same is not advisable because of the lack of control you have over the choice of other passengers.

When Trouble Strikes

On the off chance that trouble actually strikes, dial 112, the emergency number for the police forces. Most of the public spaces also have dedicated safety and police squads stationed to ensure that no incident occurs and everyone feels safe. If nothing works, do not hesitate to scream, the locals are sure to gather round in huge numbers and take care of the situation. Avoid secluded places on your travel.

The backwaters of Kerala
The backwaters of Kerala/Tweak India

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