The concept of travelling India as a solo female may be daunting, but don’t let that put you off visiting this beautiful, diverse and colourful country. Incredible India is rich in culture and history, with plenty to offer travellers who come from far and wide to experience it’s chaotic cities, cultural sites, natural landscapes, and spiritual retreats. India is renowned for its authentic cuisine and culinary delights, but this magnificent nation truly is a feast for the eyes. However, it is important to be prepared and remain mindful of the risks associated with travelling in India as a solo female; here are six tips to ensure you stay safe during this trip of a lifetime!
1. Consider cultural differences
Being stared at by men is common in India and it can certainly be uncomfortable when you’re not used to it. However if you try to remember that it simply comes down to cultural difference, you may find you’ll become accustomed to it and not allow it to get to you as much. You can avoid unwanted male attention by dressing conservatively and avoiding eye contact by simply wearing sunglasses.
2. Stay vigilant on public transport
To stay safe on public transport, sit close to the front and near to the driver whenever possible on buses. Sitting next to other women is also always a sensible idea. Many trains in India have female-only carriages which is a great option for journeys of longer distances. Avoid hailing rickshaws and taxis on the street! It’s safer if you have your hotel or hostel to book one for you instead. Also insist on keeping your belongings with you and not in the boot. Larger cities like New Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai now even have quite a few taxi companies with female drivers.
3. Navigate the overwhelming crowds with caution
India has a huge population of 1.3 billion and the crowds can be overwhelming. This can be quite a shock if you’re a small town girl! Stay vigilant to avoid being targeted by pickpockets. A great idea is to book a tour to visit India’s top cities and popular sights. This allows you to be guided around the amazing ‘Golden Triangle’ (India’s three heartland cities of Delhi, Jaipur and Agra) with greatly reduced stress and anxiety. You could then opt to continue on alone to somewhere more chilled like Rishikesh, one of the most spiritual cities in India and a great spot to head north to after Delhi. Recover from all the excitement and rejuvenate yourself with a hot cup of chai on the rooftop of your hotel while watching the sun go down over the River Ganga. Alternatively, you could travel south to Kerala, a region less intense than the bustling cities and therefore referred to as “India Lite.” The beach side town of Verkala is a safe and friendly yoga hub which is walkable, so the risks associated with public transport are easily avoided. You will find lots of other travellers here too which can be a really enjoyable and sociable experience!
4. Be mindful of hygiene
Hygiene in India has greatly improved but still below the standards of the Western world. Avoid street stalls selling food that hasn’t been cooked fresh in front of you. Choose shops and restaurants which are busy and clearly popular. Carrying your own supply of hand sanitiser, wipes, toilet roll and sanitary products is a highly advised and practical choice. Also note that some Indian vendors have been selling tap water in bottles. If you’re at all suspicious it may be a safer and more sensible decision to opt for sparkling water. Drink water with bubbles and you’ll have no troubles!
5. Be aware of the poverty divide (and risk of scams)
The poverty divide is wide in India and there are many slums and street beggars. The plight of child beggars is heart-breaking and travellers are often tempted to give them money. Although upsetting, avoid this to stay safe and escape financial scams. Many children are exploited by bosses who make them beg and take the money for themselves. If you want to help, consider donating to a reputable charity instead.
6. Stay open-minded and enjoy yourself
Lastly, and on a lighter note, allow yourself to be excited for all that India has in store for you! It will be unforgettable! Making the appropriate preparations will make your travels easier and happier, and this is key to preventing anxiety and stress during your trip. You can’t just “wing it” like you would when interrailing through Europe! Having an easy-going attitude will go a long way in a country where delays are common, so be open to change. Don’t let your worries take over the trip; you’ll want to be cautious and prepared, but you want to enjoy yourself and have fun too!
Feeling inspired? Check out our India tours! Before you know it you’ll be standing in the shadow of the tremendous Taj Mahal. A trip to India would not be complete without visiting this most iconic monument!