Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Solo Travel In India – Safety Tips For Foreign Women

Solo travel is my favourite topic to discuss. It’s been a while since I wrote anything on this topic. I have pretty much covered everything on solo travel on my blog. But, I really feel the need to talk about ‘foreign women travelling alone in India’. Indian women travelling solo in India can be largely different from foreign women travelling solo in India. People’s perceptions change with a woman’s colour and her ethnicity. It’s definitely easier for an Indian woman than a foreign woman to deal with certain situations that may or may not take place on her travels in India.     

Image copyright: BreatheDreamGo


My heart aches when people look at India as an ‘unsuitable’ or ‘unsafe’ destination for solo travel. Well, yes, travelling in India can be challenging for a foreign woman. But, it is not as bad as it’s made out to be by some people. I believe the challenges a foreign woman is likely to face are no different from the challenges that an Indian woman may come across while she travels in a foreign land. So, I guess it’s got more to do with our own unfamiliarity of the other culture and the way of life.

Today, I have roped in four awesome women, who belong to different parts of the world, to share their views and tips on travelling solo in India. These women have travelled alone in India, and have travelled extensively. So, their tips on solo travel carry a lot of weight.


Candace Rardon (Blog: A Great Affair) tells us how to be safe while travelling on a train in India –
Image copyright: The Great Affair

"For me, India is one of those places where the journey is just as much fun as the destination -- and chances are, part of your time there will involve a long-distance journey by train. Having spent over 300 hours on Indian trains, I found it was best to always book an upper berth--this will not only give you somewhere to keep your bags safe and secure during the day, but it will also help you feel safer at night as well, kept out of the fray as you sleep."

Read more about her India travel experiences here.

Juno Kim (Blog: Runaway Juno) tells us how she could deal with the fact that people in India have a different understanding of personal space.
Image copyright: RunawayJuno

“Travelling in India requires a different perspective of the world. First, please know that the concept of personal space is different in each culture, India, especially. I had a lot of people leaning on me in the trains, looking at my ATM screen, reading my book with me in public places, which made me uncomfortable at times. Slowly I realized that the behaviour was out of curiosity and the people’s personal space is smaller than mine. I had the best time and worst time in India. I loved and hated travelling the country for two months. Would I go back? In a heartbeat.” 

Read more about her experiences in India here.

Monica Stott (Blog: The Travel Hack) tells us how to be safe on Indian trains.


Image copyright: The Travel Hack

“My tip for solo females travelling in India is to book 3rd class tickets on trains. First and second class tickets might be more luxurious but you'll be placed in a small, private compartment. This is brilliant if you're travelling with friends or if you're lucky enough to share with nice strangers - but you don't know who these strangers will be. Because of this, it's safer to travel in the 3rd class compartments. In 3rd class you'll still have air conditioning and a comfortable bed but you'll also have plenty of people around you to keep you safe.”

Read more about her India travel experiences here.

Last but certainly not the least, I bring you Mariellen Ward (Blog: Breathe Dream Go) who tells us to be instinctive and follow simple rules to stay safe. 

Image copyright: BreatheDreamGo

“I have always maintained that travel safety is more of a mindset than a destination. Personally, I have not found India to be the unsafe place the media portrays. I find the people here warm, generous and helpful. AND I always practise what I call "safe travel strategies" -- such things as arranging for airport pickup, trusting your instincts and carrying a phone with a local SIM card. If you feel called to come to India, you might want to start with an organized group tour and then venture out on your own as you gain confidence. When you are able to open up to the beauty of India, she rewards you with magical moments you will treasure forever.”

Read more about her solo travel safety tips here.

I hope these wonderful ladies have infused the right confidence in those foreign women who desire to travel alone in India, but have fears.

In my opinion, no place in the world is safe or unsafe. As a rule, you have to be careful everywhere you go. In the end, I’d also like to give a few helpful safety tips for foreign women solo travellers

. Do a lot of research before coming to India. Read about its culture.
. Dress according to the atmosphere and people around you. For example, in places like Goa and Hampi, it’s okay to dress skimpily, but there are places where people are used to seeing women dress in a certain way (like Uttar Pradesh). So refrain from wearing anything that might draw attention.  
. Never wander alone in a deserted place. Always be aware of your surroundings.
. Take help from official tourism board of the state that you are travelling in.
. Stay in a recognised home stay instead of a hotel. Never choose a stay just because it’s cheap. Safety comes first.
. Keep your people back home informed about your stay and whereabouts.
. Always trust your instinct and stay away from anyone who seems weird.
. Be confident, nice and polite, but avoid being too friendly with taxi guys or anybody of that sort.

What would YOU say? Do you have a safety tip for foreign women desiring to travel alone in India?

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26 comments:

  1. Hi Renuka great article, much needed. We designed Trabug for this very purpose. We want to make India safe for anyone to travel. As a tourist destination, India has so much to offer. But India does not get as many tourist as other smaller countries do. We aim to change this slowly but definitely change it. Do have a look at Trabug and if you like it help us promote it. We have already serviced more than 100 tourists in a short span and they all have loved it. Hope to get a reply from you soon. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Sunali,

      I'm not sure what Trabug is...? Yes, there are certain issues that we have to deal with, in order to promote tourism in India, especially for women solo travelers from across the globe. I think things are on the brighter side.

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    2. Hi Renuka, Trabug is a Travel tech startup. We provide smartphones on rental basis to foreign tourists. Our smartphones are preloaded with lots of information and services that travellers would typically need on the go. These smartphones are powered by 4G connections. Have a look at our video: https://youtu.be/pX0sjQ2FbSs

      Delete
  2. Indeed a great article. Amazing tips which will surely help lots of tourist coming to India

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    Replies
    1. Glad to hear that, Lubuzine :-)

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  3. When people ask me if they "should go to India", I always tell them to just do it! Yes, there are some considerations to be made... but those who want to go but hesitate are missing out on so much!

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    Replies
    1. You are right! Just because there are some people bad, it's sad not to explore a country which is so full of beauty, adventure and warm hospitality.

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  4. Renuka,

    So glad to read the safefy instructions from some very renowned travel bloggers :) I agree quiet a bit with many of them...

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    Replies
    1. I'm glad to hear that, Rutavi :-) Solo travel is a joy in India just like it is anywhere else in the world.

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  5. Amazing post. Glad to find your post! I really like your post. Great tips for travelers. Thanks for sharing it.

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  6. We suggest to add Tourlina ( http://www.tourlina.com ) which is the first women-only travel app connecting solo female travelers

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  7. Great article you sharing in your post. I loved it. So stunning pics you shared. Thank you so much for sharing it.

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  8. Awesome article. Loved the different perspectives of women on travelling solo in India, love the idea of your post. Thanks for sharing so many different experiences. Will read more on their blogs. :)

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  9. Indeed a great article. Amazing tips which will surely help lots of tourist coming to India. Hats off to you for posting amazing tips!

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  10. Staying safe is easy when you know enough of your surroundings. I totally agree with the point that be within people, don't roam alone in a deserted place to avoid being a target for people. I would also like to add that keep your passport & passport photos separately in a bag so that they can be kept safe while you travel.

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  11. best post about your travel experience, I liked reading all your post

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  12. As said by Juno Kim, for a single woman , it always safe to travel in upper berth (be it Indian woman or a foreigner).

    And I think Monica Stott is talking about 3rd AC compartments, certainly its not 3rd class. But yes its safer to travel in 3rd Ac for stated reason above.

    I think media houses should also try to circulate good real stories. There are lot of people who do help foreigners but they never get covered. Only the bad stories come out in open. And because of that people are afraid to travel or to come in India.

    Anyways good points made here. Thanks Renuka for sharing.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, with a little bit of caution and wisdom, anyone can travel alone in India.

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  13. It is a best article and post. Amazing tips of your travel trip. Thanks for sharing it.

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