8 Tips for Solo Women Travelers in India

Tripoto
25th Jul 2013

Camel Trek. Jaisalmer.

Photo of 8 Tips for Solo Women Travelers in India by Andrea Aguilar-Calderón

Indian Barbie

Photo of 8 Tips for Solo Women Travelers in India by Andrea Aguilar-Calderón

Cycling. Hampi.

Photo of 8 Tips for Solo Women Travelers in India by Andrea Aguilar-Calderón

Fishing nets. Kerala.

Photo of 8 Tips for Solo Women Travelers in India by Andrea Aguilar-Calderón

McLeod Ganj

Photo of 8 Tips for Solo Women Travelers in India by Andrea Aguilar-Calderón

Gandhi's last footsteps. Delhi.

Photo of 8 Tips for Solo Women Travelers in India by Andrea Aguilar-Calderón

Hawa Mahal. Jaipur

Photo of 8 Tips for Solo Women Travelers in India by Andrea Aguilar-Calderón

Jodhpur

Photo of 8 Tips for Solo Women Travelers in India by Andrea Aguilar-Calderón

Polo match. Leh

Photo of 8 Tips for Solo Women Travelers in India by Andrea Aguilar-Calderón

Pushkar

Photo of 8 Tips for Solo Women Travelers in India by Andrea Aguilar-Calderón

India-Pakistan border

Photo of 8 Tips for Solo Women Travelers in India by Andrea Aguilar-Calderón

Laundry. Mumbai.

Photo of 8 Tips for Solo Women Travelers in India by Andrea Aguilar-Calderón

Manali-Leh Highway

Photo of 8 Tips for Solo Women Travelers in India by Andrea Aguilar-Calderón

Palolem. Goa.

Photo of 8 Tips for Solo Women Travelers in India by Andrea Aguilar-Calderón

Pizza Hut. Kolkata.

Photo of 8 Tips for Solo Women Travelers in India by Andrea Aguilar-Calderón

Puppets. Jaisalmer.

Photo of 8 Tips for Solo Women Travelers in India by Andrea Aguilar-Calderón

Sikh guard. Amritsar.

Photo of 8 Tips for Solo Women Travelers in India by Andrea Aguilar-Calderón

Sweeper. Agra.

Photo of 8 Tips for Solo Women Travelers in India by Andrea Aguilar-Calderón

Temple. Hampi.

Photo of 8 Tips for Solo Women Travelers in India by Andrea Aguilar-Calderón

Udaipur

Photo of 8 Tips for Solo Women Travelers in India by Andrea Aguilar-Calderón

Varanasi

Photo of 8 Tips for Solo Women Travelers in India by Andrea Aguilar-Calderón

I can’t explain precisely why, since forever, I was infatuated with going to India, to the extent that it was on the second place of my top 3 countries to visit. The problem was precisely the fear. That fear of, simply, being a woman.

I arrived to India a few months after the brutal attack to Amanat (a student from Delhi named like that by the media), who died a few days after six men put an iron bar inside her vagina during a group rape, while traveling in a moving bus, from which they threw her away. I arrived at a time when all the backpacker horror legends about India have risen more strongly than ever from the newspapers pages. But there I was. And I wouldn’t go back.

And you shouldn't either. If you are a woman, forget to pack the fear in your backpack and just go!

Here are some tips that made my life easier:

Tip # 1. In India do as the Indians do

Even when I would love to change many things about women condition in India, for once, I decided to follow the crowd. India is one of the most complex countries on the face of the Earth (probably the most complex one), so pretend to understand its culture in a short time is naively utopian, to say the least (if not stupid) and to change it... no way. For respect and for your own safety, behave as they do: cover yourself, be respectful at temples, avoid to walk alone at night. There will be opportunities to share your opinion with other people and help to make a change in smarter ways than swimming against a current of 1.2 billion people.

Tip # 2. Before going to India, get married!

Before going to India, get married. Do not stick to a simple boyfriend. That’s not enough: GET MARRIED. Many Indian men seem to have no respect for women, but they seem to have respect for marriage. I understand that many Indian guys may think that foreign women come by default with vaginas that don’t discriminate anybody, and they will try to hook up with you at all cost, but only with the verbal hologram of an imaginary husband is enough to keep them away most of the times.

Tip # 3. Travel at least in 3rd class

Overall, India is very, very cheap, so it really worth paying a little bit more and travel in 3AC or 2AC in case of trains, where families often travel with you and you will feel safer (some of them will even share their food with you). 

Tip # 4. Yeah, take a taxi or a rickshaw, but…

1.The safest way is to catch one of the police prepaid taxis or rickshaws (yes, they are managed by the police), located in major train stations and airports.

2. Ask the people at the hotel to pick you up at the train station, especially if you are arriving at night. Some hotels offer this service for free.

3. If you have no choice but to get on a taxi or rickshaw on the street, look for the license number (usually, it is written with white paint inside the vehicle), take your cell phone and  make a very loud ghost phone call. Remember to scream to your husband (yes, to your husband) that you are already on your way and you’re in the taxi number XXXXX. 

4. NEVER, NEVER EVER allow the driver to be with someone else in the taxi or in the rickshaw at the same time as you are there.

Tip # 5. Never look them in the eyes

Men interpret that if you are looking at them you are inviting them. Avoid to stare at them the same way they stare at you.

Tip # 6. Defend yourself

As long as you are in a public place with enough people around you (which is not unlikely to happen in the second most populous country worldwide), just verbally defend yourself if you don’t like something. In India, what people may think of you is super important, it’s a society strongly based on the family and on the opinion of others, so if a man does something that bothers you, just say it very load. He knows he is doing wrong and he may even LITERALLY run away from you.

Tip # 7. Guys may touch your breast with their elbows. Watch out!

In fact, it was not until I sat down to write this that I confirmed it, meanwhile I was reviewing some other articles from solo female travelers in India to be sure to contribute as much as I could. At that time, I had doubts because it seemed such a bizarre way to touch me that I didn’t know how to react. But some of them may touch you in that way. Watch out!

Tip # 8. Lose the fear

Thousands of women have traveled alone in India and thousands will continue doing it. Chances are that if you go to India, you will survive. As I survived as well.  So just go to India and lose the fear of, simply, being a woman!

Messy city, but with a lot of interesting things to do, especially if you are a Gandhi's fan.
Photo of Delhi, India by Andrea Aguilar-Calderón
Most amazing landscape ever!
Photo of Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India by Andrea Aguilar-Calderón
Meet the real Tibetan culture here and run into the Dalai Lama.
Photo of McLeod Ganj, Himachal Pradesh, India by Andrea Aguilar-Calderón
Amazing and surreal place, like being on the moon.
Photo of Leh, Himachal Pradesh, India by Andrea Aguilar-Calderón
Almost cried in front of the Taj Mahal!
Photo of Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India by Andrea Aguilar-Calderón
Raw India, but essential to understand Hindu religion.
Photo of Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Andrea Aguilar-Calderón
Chaos, but interesting to walk around. Another raw India chapter.
Photo of Kolkata, West Bengal, India by Andrea Aguilar-Calderón
The romantic India I had in mind.
Photo of Jaipur, Rajasthan, India by Andrea Aguilar-Calderón
Holy lake and holy cows wandering around.
Photo of Pushkar, Rajasthan, India by Andrea Aguilar-Calderón
The Golden Temple and the sikhs: one of the warmest people I have met on the face of Earth.
Photo of Amritsar, Punjab, India by Andrea Aguilar-Calderón
The most bizarre closing border ceremony ever! (But I wonder how many closing border ceremonies are around the world...).
Photo of Atari, Punjab, India by Andrea Aguilar-Calderón
The blue city with its festival, RIFF, one of the top 25 music festivals worldwide.
Photo of Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India by Andrea Aguilar-Calderón
Sleep in the desert, under the Milky Way and wander around the fort.
Photo of Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India by Andrea Aguilar-Calderón
Lakes and palaces. Incredible India!
Photo of Udaipur, Rajasthan, India by Andrea Aguilar-Calderón
Great place to spend Diwali under the fireworks next to the Arabian sea and to live urban India.
Photo of Mumbai, Maharashtra, India by Andrea Aguilar-Calderón
Party hard Goa Style after amazing sunsets on the beach.
Photo of Goa, India by Andrea Aguilar-Calderón
Surreal landscape with temples all around.
Photo of Hampi, Karnataka, India by Andrea Aguilar-Calderón
Indian paradise.
Photo of Kerala, India by Andrea Aguilar-Calderón
14 Comment(s)
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Point 2 is completely misjudged, and Point 7, its each and every city of world. India is very beautiful and friendly. If the tips are applicable in India, then I am sure, these are very much applicable anywhere in the world.
Fri 02 12 16, 00:45 · Reply · Report
In most parts, India is the most friendly place to be !
Wed 11 04 15, 11:54 · Reply · Report
Photo of Shreyata Sugandhi
Shreyata Sugandhi
hahaha.. u look to be in too many asumptions dear... trust me, I am also a solo traveller and never needed to care these trips while travelling anywhere in India or entire world... they are exargeted here too much but still good to have... also these tips are very mcuh applicable ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD, so far is my experience.. This time if you wanna travel India come with me I'll show you different prospective... :)
Tue 07 14 15, 08:40 · Reply · Edit · Delete ·
Photo of Prarthana Wahi
Prarthana Wahi
Well, apart from Tip# 5, i completely disagree with Tip# 2 . There are lot many solo female travellers from India and abroad who enjoy wandering this country. I myslef is a solo traveller and never needed this label at all. Tip # 1- we cover over selves or you can say take a scarf in temples as this is our culture not for safety or security. :) Every country has its own set of pros and cons and i guess Female security in india is much of an over Hyped topic across the world. By looking at the pictures,I guess a good time in india and could have included some positive points as well.
Tue 07 14 15, 05:36 · Reply · Edit · Delete ·
Photo of Mandira Basu
Mandira Basu
Andrea, Good post... you give me the courage to travel alone... Thanks Mandira
Thu 04 09 15, 09:00 · Reply · Edit · Delete ·
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