Female Travel in India

I really want to go to India by myself next year. I am 21 years old, and I think I have a lot of common sense, but do you think I will be safe? What kinds of things shall i be aware of in particular as a young female??

Tilly 14/06/13    Travel health and safetyIndia Link Report

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As a young female traveller, make sure you steer clear of the touts and guides who’ll try and force their services on you. Dress conservatively in areas that demand so. As long as you keep your common sense about you, you’ll be fine. :)

Prema Dutta 14/06/13    Link Report

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  • Hi Tilly,

    Short answer, yes you will absolutely be safe.

    Long answer you will still absolutely be safe.

    In general terms women have no more to fear than men when backpacking, despite the media scare stories. With reasonable common sense precautions (no more so than you would use at home such as don’t disappear down a dark alley alone, don’t get so drunk you don’t know what you are doing or get into a car with a bunch of strangers for example, quite literally common sense stuff), and reasonable precautions about your personal security (such as keeping a close eye on your belongings and using a pacsafe to secure it), then you will be absolutely fine and absolutely safe.

    I have a lot of travel safety advice on my website here http://bemusedbackpacker.com/travel-tips/travel-safety/ and advice for solo female backpackers in particular here http://bemusedbackpacker.com/travel-tips/travel-safety/solo-female-backpacker/

    Have a read through, I hope you find them useful.

    In general a lot of it is common sense and confidence, but there are however a few practical concerns for women in India that may make your trip go a little smoother.

    Ensuring that you respect local customs and beliefs is a must and India is still a very socially conservative country, so wear respectable clothing (there is no need to go overboard, generally shorts or long cotton trousers and a basic cotton T shirt will suffice), and use a scarf to cover up shoulders and skin etc if entering into a religious site or a place of worship.

    It is still quite unusual for women to travel alone in some parts of the world, and India does have it’s share of hassle for women, so you still may get stared at. In fact in India you will be stared at constantly, by everyone. It is just one of those idiosyncratic things about India. Don’t worry just ignore it. If any hassle gets to the point where you are worried, make a lot of fuss and don’t be afraid to shout for assistance, or move somewhere where there are other women. There are female only carriages on some trains in India, you are not obliged to use them in any way shape or form but if it makes you feel safer then feel free. A lot of my female friends and women I have met on my travels have stated that they have found wearing a wedding ring, even if they are not married, stops a lot of unwanted advances, so maybe that is something to think about?

    On the whole though you will be absolutely fine. Yes India has its hassles but so does London and New York and … well, almost everywhere else. Remember, being cautious and prepared and having reasonable precautions for your safety and security is one thing, but there is absolutely no need to go overboard into the realms of paranoia. Thousands of women travel to India every year and are absolutely fine. So just go, you will have an amazing time.

    Michael Huxley 14/06/13    Link Report

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  • “There are female only carriages on some trains in India, you are not obliged to use them in any way shape or form but if it makes you feel safer then feel free.”

    But I would suggest that you try for this category if you can.

    I would also suggest that you get just as much information ahead of your trip as possible – on things like scams, touts, problems other people have experienced, etc. India is one of the weirder places to travel and for most travelers, it`s completely opposite of what you experience in your home country.

    But go, keep a clear head, and have a great time.

    PirateAt50 14/06/13    Link Report

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  • Pirate makes an excellent point about reading up on scams and touts. They are very persistent in india. More of an annoyance than a danger most of the time but it can be quite overwhelming, especially if you are not used to it. Forewarned and all that.

    Michael Huxley 14/06/13    Link Report

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  • Thanks for that. And to get her started, I`ll relay one … The old “I need milk powder for the baby” scam.

    This was the first, and surprisingly only, scam that I`ve been approached with. And years in India later, I still wonder why it`s the only one.

    A young woman will walk up to you with the baby. However she can communicate it (in surprising good English usually) she`ll say that she doesn`t need money, just milk powder for the baby, and LOOK, you can buy it right there at the shop.

    You buy it, give it to her, feel ever so good about yourself, and when you walk off, she returns it to the shop and gets money less the commission to the shop. Later she returns the baby to the mother and pays the rental fee.

    And no, I didn`t get scammed. I`d read about it before I entered India.

    PirateAt50 14/06/13    Link Report

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  • As with a lot of places, you have to get past being intimidated by hasslers if you’re going to really enjoy yourself in India. The British in particular have a morbid horror of being seen as impolite but going along with something to avoid giving offence could lead to unwanted situations. Being quietly assertive, firm and confident and refusing to be drawn into debate will stand you in good stead. And trust your instincts – if something feels wrong, extract yourself from it. You’re travelling to enjoy yourself – not to prove to anyone how brave you are – and if you’re uncomfortable you’re not likely to be having any fun.

    Clare Currie 14/06/13    Link Report

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  • Hello,

    I am a solo female traveller and I have travelled extensively in India by myself over the last seven years. I have very rarely felt unsafe — and I follow what I call “safe travel practises.” I publish an India travel blog that has lots of useful information; in particular read this post: http://breathedreamgo.com/2013/01/my-top-tips-for-women-travelling-in-india/

    Also, I run a weekly chat on twitter called #WeGoSolo (Wed 11 am EST). If you’re on Twitter, join in and meet other like-minded female travellers. Social media is a great way to meet up with other women who are also travelling in India.

    Feel free to contact me through my blog if you have any specific questions.


    Breathedreamgo 20/06/13    Link Report

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  • I’ve travelled a fair amount in India, but never alone. It’s something I think I’d like to do someday, but I definitely wouldn’t underestimate the downsides. The staring and occasional touching can be a lot to deal with on a daily basis and personally I think that it is a very different feeling for a man to be stared at, than a young woman travelling alone. It can make you feel uncomfortable, and I have met woman who have woken up on public transport to a man watching them sleep (creepy!!), or worse, touching them.

    Of course, this is not an everyday occurrence and thousands of journeys on buses and train are without incident. In fact, journeys and travel in general in India really is a huge highlight because of the amazing people you meet along the way. You just have to remember the rules are different. Speaking to a man on his own, or a group of young men might just give them the wrong idea (in general Indian society seems to view western woman as having very loose morals, so try to do what you can to contradict this!). Try to sit with families where possible, and definitely take the women only option when you can. I agree with all the above advice about conservative dress and following common sense rules, and definitely don’t be afraid to make a fuss if someone makes you feel uncomfortable. Shaming someone is a useful tool, and the majority of locals would be mortified by unacceptable behaviour. I know one case where a man was bundled off a bus by the other passengers because he was hassling a British girl!

    One final tip is that it is definitely worth being picky about your accommodation. A secure lock will not only be reassuring, but will keep all your belongings safe too. India is a beautiful country, filled with wonderful interesting people, enjoy your trip!

    Rachel Mills 20/06/13    Link Report

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  • I agree with all the points mentioned by everyone, just to add another , don’t go by the prices they say at first while shopping, always bargain, i was surprised the first time but it always works. whether its a shop , a cab, or normal grocery. Try to shop at malls or marts as they sell at actual prices.
    India is a safe country and have very helpful people. All places have the crazies so follow your common sense and you will enjoy the trip.
    Don’t forget to say Namaste (greeting) and if some hawkers bugs you with sales say “mujhe sabb pata hai” (i know everything) im sure you’ll be surprised to see the outcome.

    Have a great trip.

    Angela Turner 04/07/13    Link Report

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  • india is generally safe. there are regional differences- my female Indian colleagues all say Delhi and the North are much worse than Bombay and the rest of the South, and i think this is true.

    At the same time the one-off incidents get a lot of media attention. This is a country of 1.2. billion people and things happen. Like in any country.

    When that terrible rape in Delhi happened in December 2012 I read many comments online (in newspaper comments sections) by foreigners who were saying things like ‘I’ll never travel to India’ etc.

    A few weeks later a few Football team members in the US raped a girl but i did not hear a media storm about the US being unsafe for female travellers…

    So, keep your wits about you, don;t do any things you wouldn’t do at home, and coming to India will not be more dangerous than staying home… with one possible exception: the traffic. I’d be much more worried about getting hit by a crazy rickshaw driver than about rape.

    MTL 10/07/13    Link Report

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  • Yes…….. I have done my trip to Rajasthan, I was alone, and there was no problem,
    even, my flight was late night at Delhi airport, but my driver and the representative was waiting for me,

    they welcomed me and they took me safely at the hotel.

    After, I visited with them to Rajasthan, I traveled 2 weeks, Delhi, Nawalgarh, Biakner,Jaisalmer,jodhpur,udaipur,jaipur and Agra,

    It was super trip, I hired car with driver for my trip, it is the best solution for the trip,

    so, in short, there was no problem if you are female and alone,

    jenna 30/07/13    Link Report

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    hello, glad to hear you have had such a good experience. I went to Rajasthan last year with a group including my mother, for yoga. i want to go back next month but will be alone. how did you find going round day today? what did you do in the evenings? is there anything you suggest to look out for?

    afc222 01/07/14    Link Report

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