20 Tips for Women Travelers in India

India is considered as one of the most intact and safe countries for traveling solo by women. As of the given impression, the country is also known for its immense population, excessively scorching heat and disturbing noise that can be slightly annoying. So for our fellow female readers, the following are the top tips to travel solo for women travelers in India.

As long as you are in a known territory, could be around your town or your farm, most things like the safe routes, quick get backs and local support should be taken care of. Also having some basic wild survival skills would come handy and give you confidence. Most areas around towns and settlements have phone networks so carrying one or two mobiles would add to your safety. Most importantly inform someone about your intended trek routes.

Travelling to new places is the best thing that rejuvenates your senses and gives you a positive and fresh energy to catch up your routine when you are back. Going to new places can be fun when it is with your friends and can be adventurous when you are on your own. Of course, you do have to be a bit more careful if you’re a female traveling solo, but it’s not an impossible feat.

Solo trips require a lot of extra work which you must keep in mind to have a safe and healthy trip whether you are going to a trek or are planning to hit the ocean it is always best to be safe rather than healing. If you are planning to take on the journey as a solo traveler then these tips will be really helpful in planning as well as enjoying your trip.

There are some things you can do to keep yourself safe – and I’ve got top tips for solo female travelers right here!

1. Follow-up a well-through research

India is truly diverse in terms of ethnicity, language, food, weather, and anything that one can think of. Don’t plan for an offbeat place in the first place at least until you are good enough to carry on your own.

Please don’t underestimate the research on the clothing requirements and other habits. For instance: as a solo female traveler, you cannot afford to roam around in a regressive area with what the locals consider to be an inappropriate clothing. You do not want to draw unnecessary attention on your trip.

Once you have made up your mind about the destination you would like to visit, the first thing you must do is to read about the place in detail. You must know about the climatic conditions, places to stay, places to visit. This research will make you feel more confident and will also help you in preparing your bag and baggage accordingly.

When you are on-the-go amidst a completely foreign place, you must be thorough with the prominent whereabouts and significant tourist spots. This helps prevent loss of direction and an easy stay. Besides, when you are traveling in places like Delhi, unlike places like Bangkok, European countries, and Greece it is excessively ancient and traditional.

Since there is an extreme diversity of cultures and people around, it could get slightly inappropriate if you receive special attention due to your clothing or lifestyle choices at public places. Not to hop your judgment caps on but on wearing shorts and mini-length attire, the revelation can cause unnecessary chaos. You can also search for a solo female travel group.

Preparation is the key to safe traveling when you’re a solo female. Write up a long itinerary of where you’re going and do your research as to what you’ll need. Will you need visas? The last thing you want to do is get stranded at customs somewhere. Have you sorted out insurance? Is your passport up to date and ready to go?

Some countries ask that you have a passport valid for longer than you’re planning on staying. Preparing everything in advance will help put your mind at ease before you jet off.

Ticket booking is an essential move for any and every trip. To avoid a last-minute chaos, ensure that you have booked for each and every amenity that you are bound to require when you are in India. These also help save time and get great and feasible deals. Check for positive reviews before booking anywhere.

Forewarned is forearmed: DO read up about your destination and its particular features – social norms, peculiarities, is it OK to change money on the street? Yes and you get a better rate than ATMs’ in some countries, goods and services for which foreigners are always charged more than locals – museums and transport are quite common, tipping/gratuities, etc. And any areas that shouldn’t be visited alone or when it’s dark.

2. Walk with purpose

Walk at a good pace, walk with a direction of where you are going. If you linger, do so near a wall, near other women or someone who looks older. Even if you have a polite nature when you are traveling across a country like India, you must be aware that you need to put out a rather confident and affirmative front so as to save yourself from being catfished.

The basic aim is to avoid portraying a feeble self as in order to avoid being attacked. If you feel that you are being harassed in any absolute form, feel free to push through and shout for safety as you walk away. If you need to ask directions, ask other women, people over 60, or merchants.

Always listen to your instinct, it will never mislead you. If you feel uncomfortable, or if there is a "too nice" man who follows you and asks where you are going, is firm but polite and leave. Tuks, tuks, and taxis are everywhere, so if you feel threatened or lost, tick one, give them the address of your accommodation and regroup at the basis of the activities. It is also a good idea to inform your loved one and accommodation staff about your whereabouts in case.

Go very far and you will find that when you are a young lady traveling alone, there is kindness and help everywhere. Some eyes can pop when you say you're traveling alone, and an even more unbelieving look when you say, "No, I'm not really married." But don't stress it. After conversations with taxi drivers and other people on the train/bus about directions or stops, you will find that the locals are sincere and determined to help in every way possible.

Some will even advise on the area you are going to, how you cannot be scammed, how to stay safe on the road and which areas you should avoid traveling alone. If you speak English, try learning some hindi sentences, but don't worry, many rural Indian people know some English or can't understand it.

3. Don't hitchhike

Ride on public transportation if there are other women/children on it. Do not avoid trains because of preconceived notions. At times you would be travelling in the opposite direction (against the crowd) and your travel would be very comfortable. Would save you money as well as time if you are travelling long distance.

In India, public transport is a treasure-like facility but only when used smartly. Vehicle-drivers like that of auto-rickshaws and cabs can often tend to deceive as in order to retrieve more money than allotted as travel fare. To prevent such a situation, ensure that you remain active and observant at all times.

Even while traveling in the dark, note down the vehicle number you use and make it obvious to the driver that someone you know is aware of your travel details simultaneously. Staying connected to your friends and associates is always a good idea, to avoid bad encounters.

4. Carry a Battery-backup with your mobile phones

Firstly let us accept the reality that bad things can happen anywhere. I've had incidents where I got cheated by locals in Europe but that happened to me in my own country as well. I had to take harassment in the form of abusive catcalls while I was traveling in North India, but that also happened in my own city right next to the street I live in.

So especially If you are a female, whether you are at your own city or elsewhere you cannot afford to take off in protecting/guarding yourself. For any female traveling alone being safe is very important.

One of the things you can do little about is lower safety standards. Largely it’s just a feature of your destination …. Internal travel by plane or train will be safer than bus or taxi; try to insist on a taxi with functioning seatbelts especially for longer trips.

DO take a torch (flashlight) with you for walking about at night, especially in cities where street lighting may be sporadic and the pavement dodgy (manhole covers missing or worse). Think about taking some basic medical kit with you – from Imodium to plasters to antiseptic cream and more; if you’re in a larger group then it makes sense to carry more items than you will want to carry as an individual traveller.

If you hire a car expect a lower quality vehicle and a lower quality road surface and lower quality adherence to traffic rules from your fellow road users so consider paying for a driver too if your budget is up to it.

It is important that your mobile phone is switched on and reachable at all times. This is because it helps you stay connected to your loved ones and makes your travel pretty convenient. When on travel, you can purchase a cheap-rated SIM card for daily use. There are many offers on calling and internet facilities. You must also keep along with you a battery back-up to ensure that your phone doesn’t drain its battery as you go around the place.

5. Adapt to the customs of India

As partially mentioned before, unlike any other country touring within India requires of you to be extremely respectful and aware. The society here follows stringent rules that apply to all its visitors and residents equally. From modest clothing to cautious moving around and interaction at all times, India can be distinct than other places you might have visited.

Bring sturdy clothing and layers. Depending on where you go and the luck of the weather, you could have a blustery 50 (Fahrenheit) or a balmy 85. The further out on the coast you go and the further north, the more you’ll need to be prepared, clothing-wise. Being cold is bad, being cold and wet will demoralize you in a hurry.

6. Carry Medicines & Hygiene-related Amenities

Ensure that if your road trip is not simply an excursion and is rather a week or month-long program. Take basic items such as toiletries, a bottle for fuel refill, extra Stepney. Those could be a life saviour. Ensure your medicine kit has all that you need at your disposal and stock up snacks boxes with items such as protein bars.

Ensure that you are traveling with all your prescribed medicines, even if they are available in the latter country. There is no harm in being prepared for the worse. Also, do not forget to carry wipes or wet-napkins for on-the-go use in the country. This helps you to protect yourself from germs and bacteria that are prone to affecting or harming your health in any possible way.

7. Take precautions

Being adventurous is one thing, Being foolish is another. Don’t let cheap thrills woo you. Anyone who has traveled solo can tell you that ‘Safety’ is one thing which can make or break your trip. Avoid sleeping in your car ‘alone’ in the middle of nowhere, it’s outright stupid. On the other hand, camping out with people is always a good idea. Pepper spray, stun gun, additional copies of ID, cash are few of best friends on any solo trip.

Many times, other travelers are the biggest threat and hostels are notorious for non-secure rooms. ALWAYS choose safety over saving money. It's not even a question. If you are just starting out, avoid traveling at night. Make sure you don’t reach the airport at night. Maybe abstain from drinking outside when traveling just to be on the safe side.

If you're going out at night, tell your hotelier where you are going. They are usually very protective. Ask them to call taxis and get the card of the taxi to pick you up. There are negligible people around you to judge you for things you prefer to do. However, being impulsive could land one into trouble.

Make sure documents are in a secure place. Have some as per your need as nowadays online payment is available everywhere and use the ATM whenever you need more. Always distribute money and copies of your passport and visa in multiple places. Keep half money and cards in pocket or handbag. The rest in the backpack and some if you have a luggage bag. There is nothing wrong with preparing for the worst. Keep pepper spray or a taser handy.

People will be tempted to relieve you of precious pieces of paper (banknotes) and objects (mobile phones, cameras) if you handle them blatantly and carelessly.

Some may try violence on you as individuals or in groups. The last is always the most unpleasant – and advice can only be the same as at home: Learn in advance what risky areas to avoid, leave anything you don’t need in your hotel, keep cash on your person in several places so you can hand over only a small part of what you have on you, if there’s a real threat of violence and you’re not a marine then DO give them something.

8. Stay Connected

If you are on a backpacking trip, book your stays in prior. If you are on package tour, have the contact number of the guide to your family members and let the guide know that. Keep your friends and family apprised of your whereabouts. So that you’ll always have someone to reach out to if things don’t go your way. Reach out on Facebook groups in case of emergencies.

One of the most important things to do while travelling solo is to let your family and friends be aware of your itinerary. Maintain a list of hotels or inns where you will be landing, your entire journey with local phone numbers of your accommodation where you will be saying so that they can get in touch with you or if they lose touch then they will have a place to call and know about your safety.

If you are on a day tour or something in a cab. Make a note of the vehicle and driver info, share that with your known. Most importantly let the driver know that his info has been shared.

Always be in your senses, Do not leave hints to strangers that you are vulnerable. Not Trusting strangers is not an option when you are traveling alone, but have control over what you talk and tell them about yourself at least at first. Never tell a stranger that you don't know anyone in that place and that you are traveling alone. Play it maturely and let them have a feeling that if they try to harm you they will be in trouble.

Understand local cultures and traditions, dress up and behave accordingly. DON’T go telling the locals how much better things are where you come from (even if you think they are). DO compliment them on.

Always let your family or friends know your whereabouts. Unless you are looking for deep solitude, always carry a phone with a local SIM card. It not only comes to help in panic situations but it's also very important to let our loved ones know that we are safe. Keep the numbers of you host/hostel front desk saved on your phone (keeping a written note also helps just in case).

9. Stay in hostels

Instead of booking starred hotels, book a shared room or hostel, you will get to meet different people from different places. Pocket-friendly, and also a great place to interact with like-minded travelers. Unlike traveling with friends or family, when traveling solo you are out of your comfort zone, and more open to interacting with people. That makes it making friends far more likely. While it's exciting and encouraging to make new friends on the trip always refrain disclosing personal details.

Booking an inn, home stay or a lodge will be the best idea rather than landing up in a hotel room as it will be in your budget and will also provide a homely feel. There are a lot of inns and homestays that offer home cooked food too which will add up to your trip and will leave you with yummy memories of the local food and hospitality. Travelers can easily book their accommodation.

10. Track your travel through Maps

India is among the highest number of mobile subscriber base still don’t expect that WiFi to be easily available or Internet Data plan easily accessible. Go old school, carry physical maps for visibly detailed directions. If you are lost in a deserted land, and unlikely to speak the local language. You gotta show some map.

You should always try to visit a place where people speak the language that you do. And if you really want to go someplace where the language is different then ensure someone is there for you whom you know.

Don’t use taxis. Use local buses instead. Even if you are traveling in a well-equipped vehicle, it is vital that you track down the route your driver takes so as to be mindful and be on-the-beam about the route from your location to the designated destination. This also helps you track the general fare and put up a knowledgeable comparison when required.

Depending on what time of year you travel, it might get dark early which means you do not want to be outside exploring as long as you might on a summer evening. If you're going to be spending a lot of time at your hotel, make sure to stay somewhere with free wi-fi which will also help you cut short on those extra expenses. You can use this time for Skype your family and friends back home to recount your adventures for the day.

Wear shoes that are comfortable and in which you can move. Good walking shoes will also be a massive asset to you. You can do hikes in them AND walk around cities.

11. Learn to Get Help

There can be stressful moments when you are completely unaware of your whereabouts. At such times, language barriers too can make things worse. Here, you must locate the absolute nearest PCR (Police Control Room) for help and assistance. Avoid losing your calm in public and try to be as clear and concise about your details to the authorities as possible.

Always travel with your phone unlocked and keep a list of emergency phone numbers somewhere easily accessible. Keep a diary where you must mention your name, blood group, your address, phone numbers of your parents or friends and you must also mention some quick details about your insurance policy. These things are very helpful if you and up in any kind of medical emergency.

Traveling in the daylight seems boring but in the daylight, one can protect herself from the bad elements of society. If anything happens you can easily seek help.

12. Make sure you wear Indian clothes too

Don't show cleavage or upper thighs. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Right? Must you aim for the same in India? Absolutely! Indian clothes are one of the most alluring and heart-warmingly beautiful attires you will ever come across. Make it a point to try each and every traditional attire according to the state you are on the visit at. Pack clothes you don’t mind getting destroyed.

13. Travel with additional locking device

Lock your hotel room door and pull on it, push on it HARD. Twist the handle this way and that. Do this every time you enter or leave. I travel with an additional locking device that adds extra security. You can find various versions at several price points on the web.

When leaving any items in the safe, leave an item such as the shoe you will wear when you leave. When you go to leave the room and have only one shoe, you’ll be reminded that your other is in the safe along with valuables. So many people forget to empty the safe when they leave. Be aware that even an in room safe has an override feature so it’s not totally secure.

Consider leaving the TV on at an audible volume when you go out. People will be less likely to target your room if they think someone is inside. When you hang the do not disturb sign on your door handle quite often these have a side in English and a side in the local language. Hang yours with the local language DND facing out. Robbers are more inclined to steal from tourists. Same goes for TV above. You may wish to leave it on a local channel.

Use your deadbolt and spy hole, always. Consider keeping something in front of your door which can alert you to a night time intruder. Just a bag which can make a noise or fall over when the door is opened. You can also buy special door alarm clamps specifically for this purpose.

Use the emergency exit map inside your room and consider doing a practice run of where the fire escape routes are located in the hotel, and remember if there is a fire, do not use the lifts. If you are trapped in your room due to a severe fire, immediately put the plug into the bathtub and sink and begin to flood your room, take towels, sheets, pillows and drench them.

Place them along the door sill and try to seal up gaps so smoke doesn’t easily enter your room, you can use your wastebin or ice bucket to bale water from your bathtub to drench the carpets and door areas.

14. Carry packets of noodles

If you are vegetarian, don’t assume that you would get vegetarian options everywhere you go. This is a life saver - carry cups of noodles and other options of your choice. This also helps reduce time early in the morning when you just want to get quick breakfast and move.

Research very well about the place you are going to. Do's and Don'ts. Speak with local hosts or local people before you go there. On day one, try to reach during the daylight. Take toilet paper, soap (flakes or liquid), wet wipes etc. with you for visiting establishments which may (or may not) have water but nothing else.

Never eat anything that has not been recently cooked (fried street food is fine) or that you have peeled yourself with clean hands. Eat unpeeled fruit and salads only if prepared in environments where you trust the hygiene standards – upmarket hotels and restaurants should be OK.

DON’T drink cold drinks except from bottles or cans. DO make sure the seal on bottled water is not broken though fake seals are now increasingly common in some countries – if that worries you go for glass water bottles with a crown top whenever they’re on offer!

DON’T drink the tap water. DON’T accept ice in your drinks (unless you’re sure it comes from pure water).

15. Do not leave valuables in your vehicle

If you have your vehicle or a rental vehicle park under the parking lot lights. NEVER leave anything of value in your vehicle either in plain sight, hidden under the seat or in the trunk. These criminals are savvy about which vehicles to break into.

16. Not planning your outing properly

Yes, impromptu plans rock but don't underestimate the population of India. If you're planning for nice dinner/drinks at popular places, don't forget to book in advance or be there before 8 on Friday/Saturday evenings. If you are happy sitting at the bar, choice is yours. Don't get drunk around people you do not know. Don't tell anyone where you are staying or let someone walk you home unless you are 100% sure they are safe.

Some travelers like to go where the wind takes them – and this is fine if you’re in a group! However, if you’re traveling as a solo female, then you might want to be a bit more organized. You don’t want to end up stuck in a country with nowhere to stay! Make sure you book as much as you can in advance, through reputable companies.

This doesn’t just include flights and accommodation; I’m talking about transfers, tours, and even meal reservations too depending on your level of comfort! Use somewhere like TripAdvisor to research the best places to eat, drink and check out while you’re away. That way you can avoid anywhere unsavory!

17. You will be stared at

If you don’t look Indian you will definitely be stared at. Try to remember that you are very much in a minority, and imagine if you saw something very unusual in your country what your reaction would be. You may be a little less obvious with your staring, but you would still probably take a second look if you saw something very unusual that you didn’t see often.

18. Don’t be offended by personal questions

Indian’s will ask you whether you are married, how much you earn in your job and other questions that we would not discuss. This is very normal to them and there’s no point being offended. You can avoid the question, but don’t get annoyed with them for asking it, as they don’t see it as rude.

19. Don’t expect people to respect your personal space

There are over a billion people in India. So there is less space for all the people. People stand a lot closer to each other and push past each other in shops. This is normal and not seen as rude, so just expect it to happen.

20. Make sure you try Indian food

Eating the cultural delicacies like that of Punjab or Rajasthan for instance, will make you experience the life of an Indian and rejoice each moment.

After a long and tiring day dinner is the most difficult part especially when you are travelling alone. Make sure that you visit the same place to have your dinner, this way you will meet the same people again and can socialize with them. Try to eat at the bar or in a restaurant with communal tables and you could be mixing with the locals in no time.

Travelling solo is a complete adventure in itself and one must do it once in their lifetime. It not only gives you time to explore things according to your lookout but also makes you independent and confident. All you need to do is to keep some small things in mind and be extra cautious as your security and safety is in your hands. Go on and start planning your trip and make sure you choose a good trip advisor to guide you with places well within your budget.

There are malicious people everywhere and you are vulnerable because you are female and an outsider. These precautions help you get to a place where you can judge dangerous situations/people and then relax and enjoy those that are safe. And don't forget to ask someone to take a photo of you!

Do not defer your trip according to what you hear about India for it is a lot more than the toxic myths that you come across. Each moment is worth cherishing to travel away! The most important thing is never forget you are a female. It is hard to get used to.

These are just some of the many tips to keep safe as a solo female traveler. Remember that instant plans/trip are likely to give you all kind of rush. However, a bit of planning on the go as you travel solo doesn’t hurt. Feel free to share your own suggestions on solo travel for women in the comments below!
Kalyan Panja