Things to Know for Safe Solo Female Travel in India
A Guest Post by Rachita Saxena
I often get this question from people, both from India and outside: is it safe to travel in India alone? And as an Indian solo female traveller, I often find it difficult to answer this question because it is complex and grey. Women can travel solo in India, but yes, it can be a little risky, especially if you don’t pay heed to the regional customs and regulations.
India is a diverse country where you can find a variety of landscapes and cultures to experience. From desert to hill stations, you will see it all here, which is why it should be on your bucket list. Slowly, India is evolving and is working hard to become a female-friendly travel destination.
However, a more significant part of your safety is still your responsibility which is why I have curated this post to help you stay safe while travelling solo in India. Just follow these simple dos and don’ts, and you can easily enjoy yourself as a female solo traveller in this beautiful country.
Things to Do in India Solo
1. Research Carefully About the Place
Before you head off to any place, make sure that you research a lot about that place. I check several existing blog posts, TripAdvisor reviews, etc., before making a plan.
This will give you an idea about how friendly or safe the place is so that you can employ the necessary measures to stay protected while travelling here alone.
2. Ask Several Locals Before Making a Decision
Another critical thing to do while going alone in India is to ask locals for guidance. If I have to visit a new and unknown place, I ask a few locals, including the owner of my accommodation or local taxi guys, to get an idea of this place.
This helps me decide on the perfect mode of transportation and the ideal time to visit. If it is a remote location, I plan to leave early to get stranded there during the evening/night.
3. Dress According to the Local Dress Code
In most parts of India, you would find that women cover their entire body, and while it might feel too restrictive, it is always a good idea to follow their lead. This doesn’t mean that you have to wear sarees, suits, etc.
Just dress modestly in long skirts if you are exploring a conservative location. If you are heading to Goa, Mumbai, etc., then you can certainly go ahead and wear dresses or bikinis. The only thing to keep in mind is to dress according to the place. Avoid going in sleeveless or shorts when visiting a religious location to avoid being stared at.
4. Be Careful After Dark
While it is okay to roam around at night in most cities, it is always a good idea to be vigilant and careful. Ensure that you only head towards crowded places at night and don’t go off alone to any secluded areas.
Although you might not encounter anything during the night time, it is always better to be safe than sorry.
5. Carry a Pepper Spray or Small Knife
Yes, this one is a must, regardless of which country you are visiting. Ensure that you have a sharp item or object with you at all times, in case you need to defend yourself.
This will not only be handy in scaring away the thieves and creepy strangers but will also be useful if you encounter some dangerous wildlife on your way.
6. Make a Plan, create an Itinerary
If it is your first solo travel or the first time in India, then a great idea would be to have an itinerary ready with you. Check out the places that you are likely to visit and reserve hotels/hostels for your stay.
Also, make sure that you know any permissions or permits that you might need to travel to a particular state or location. It will make your solo journey in India infinitely more comfortable and convenient.
Things to Avoid While Traveling Solo in India
1. Don’t Go to Secluded Areas with Strangers
The first rule of travelling solo in India is to avoid going with strangers to unknown or secluded locations. Many people think if you are open to travelling with them, you are willing to do anything with them.
But yes, this doesn’t mean that you don’t make new friends. Just trust your instincts and stay away from people who you feel are creepy and probably unsafe.
2. Don’t Show That You are Scared
Whenever you are travelling solo in India, as a woman, make sure that you exude confidence and determination. If you show yourself as timid or scared, more people will try to take advantage of you.
Also, be polite but firm when you aren’t interested in the service. Sometimes, you will come across people proposing rooms in a hotel or transportation for your place who won’t take ‘No’ as an answer. Ensure that you are confident while dealing with these people and don’t give in, no matter how hard they try to convince you.
3. Never Tell People You are Traveling Alone
One of the essential rules of travelling as a solo female traveller in India is not to disclose that you are going alone. At least, not to strangers who you meet while sightseeing.
This is because people often start following you and bothering you if you say you are travelling alone. If you tell them that you are here with a friend, but the friend is still in the hostel/hotel, most people will leave you alone.
4. Don’t Stay in Shady Neighbourhoods
Most importantly, stay in an area that is well connected and not too secluded. Please make sure you research in detail about your stay and call it up to ask about the area.
After all these measures, if you still feel that the area is slightly shady or unsafe, check out there and take place on a crowded street.
Tips to Enjoy India on a Solo Trip
1. Try Unique Experiences Here
India has a lot to offer, and you need to be open to the experience here. You will find a plethora of activities to try here, from snow trekking to exploring the backwaters. You have it all. So make sure that you always try new activities or experiences here to learn something new. India can teach you a lot, but only if you wish to learn.
2. Always Try New Cuisines in a Place
You will find a large variety of dishes here to try so, don’t be a spoilsport. Try the different cuisines of different states and truly experience the Taste of India.
A few of these dishes might be too spicy or sweet for you, but unless you try, you won’t know.
3. Let the Locals Guide You
Spend time with the locals and interact with them. They have many stories and wisdom to share and often be the best guide you would ever come across.
So, trust them and let them show you the real beauty of India, and you would be pleasantly surprised by the end of your trip. I know I am always amazed when I visit a new place in India.
4. Learn to Bargain
If you want to travel to India solo while not spending a fortune, you have to learn how to bargain. You would need to haggle the prices of rickshaw/auto trips or bargain at the local markets.
If you plan to buy some souvenirs or local dresses, then your bargain game should be really up. Otherwise, you would end up being conned into spending too much.
Safest Places to Explore in India as a Solo Female Traveler
If you plan to travel solo in India any time soon, then here is a list of the safest places to add to your itinerary.
Gujarat is undoubtedly one of India’s safest places for solo female travellers and offers a wide range of travellers experiences. You can visit the Great Rann of Kutch or the fantastic Gir Forest here. Or you can watch their fascinating cultural dances or taste the delicious theplas, dhoklas, khaakras, etc., which this state is famous for.
Sikkim lies in India’s North-Eastern part and is one of the most quaint and peaceful places ever. The locals are friendly here and won’t make you uncomfortable for even a second. So, if mountains and serene places are your thing, then a trip to Sikkim is a must.
Another Northeastern state which is perfect for solo female travellers in India is Meghalaya. This is the wettest region of the country and offers some fantastic mountain and lake views. You can come here alone and live with the locals, and you would never feel like an outsider here.
Himachal Pradesh is one place to visit if tall lush green mountains or snow-covered peaks are your areas of interest. Here, you can explore some fantastic hill stations in India like Leh, Spiti, etc. and enjoy a trek in the snowy mountains. It is a paradise for female solo, and you will always feel safe while visiting this place!
Finally, God’s country itself, Kerala, is one of the safest places to visit in India. I, myself, travelled from Munnar to Kovalam for two weeks as a solo female traveller and never felt creeped out or weirded out by the people there. The gorgeous backwaters, lush green tea plantations, and numerous waterfalls certainly make this a must-visit place for all solo travellers.
About this Guest Author: Rachita Saxena is an Indian traveller and the co-founder of a travel blog named Nomllers, which caters to budget travellers and aims to inspire others to leave their comfort zone and experience the unknown. You can follow her journeys on Instagram and Facebook.
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