Traveling Thoughtfully: Safely Traversing India as a Woman
Ladies, traveling is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Unfortunately, so many of us get stuck in our own comfort bubbles that we barely see past the doorstep. We’re here to break that bubble and have an adventure.
Traveling alone is a liberating experience that speaks to independence and autonomy. Taking a trip outside your comfort zone is an excellent way to get to know a new culture and yourself on a deeper level.
Grab your passport and fasten your seatbelt, we’re flying to India. Let’s rephrase: you’re flying to India. You’ve already prepared for your journey, but now it’s time to do the thing. Hopping alone into a new culture is going to take some particular precautions that’ll make your trip go without a hitch. Here’s what you need to know.
First of all, mindset is an important foundation to start your trip with. India is a beautiful place, with vibrant culture and rich history. India has gotten a negative light cast upon it, especially concerning women traveling alone. By no means should you be afraid to travel solo to India, but doing so naively is unwise (as it is with traveling anywhere). Wise up and vacation vigilantly.
Common Sense First
Traveling alone bears potential danger any way you approach it. It’s essential to be mindful of those dangers so you can avoid them prior to them becoming dangers at all.
- Language: Before you travel, learn some of the language. Common phrases, simple questions, target words that will help you better navigate an unfamiliar place while traveling alone. It suggests awareness and displays that you care about the culture you’re visiting, not merely another clueless tourist (even if that’s what you feel like). Do your homework and present yourself with confidence!
- Valuables: Unnecessarily flaunting wealth while traveling alone isn’t wise. While most people aren’t out to cause trouble or harm, flashing valuables is a sure way to attract unwanted attention. That diamond necklace is best left at home or concealed.
- Communication: Having a person or group of people who know your travel plans is vital to safety and accountability. Having a charged mobile phone SIM card wherever you’re traveling will allow for planned check-ins and a potential emergency line.
- Intuition: You’ve likely heard this before, but if something doesn’t feel safe or right, trust that feeling. This isn’t to say you should be constantly paranoid or distrustful, but vigilant and situationally aware.
- Needless Risk: Avoid putting yourself in needlessly risky situations: traveling at night, sacrificing safety to save money, wearing overly revealing clothing, taxis alone, etc.
This is more the preparation stage, but you should’ve done some research on Indian culture and traditions. It will help better dictate certain elements of public behavior that you might’ve otherwise not known.
While India has advanced socially, it’s still a slowly changing society that’s patriarchally dominated. The views many men hold regarding women, especially women traveling alone, are that of promiscuity. This is particularly true of Western women, so keeping yourself safe from unwanted advances has something to do with how you present yourself.
Looking at the local women and how they dress, conduct themselves, and behave is a good way to blend better than you would otherwise. It’ll be obvious enough that you’re foreign by just being there, but adopting local customs and dress both show that you aren’t so much of a stranger and care about local practices. Dressing conservatively is a widely practiced aspect of Indian culture that goes a long way as a solo woman traveler. Honestly, traditional Indian apparel is some of the most beautiful, colorful clothing you’ll ever see. Try adopting the local fashion.
In India, you’ll be the pinnacle of curiosity. It’s usually harmless, but there are bad apples in every bunch. It’s important to approach such situations with confidence and panache. Public image is an important aspect of Indian culture. If a stranger was to do or say something inappropriate, loud public shaming and directly addressing the person/issue is the best action to take. This alerts people around you of a problem and most times they’ll intervene. Even if you feel uncomfortable, not being submissive in the face of potential danger is key to squashing the situation.
Go For It!
Solo travel safety tips are never the most fun to read, but they’re necessary to making an adventure as positive as possible. Anywhere you travel, trusting in the inherent beauty of humanity is something you should never lose sight of. As you plan your travels to India or anywhere else, remember you’re living and wandering through a diverse tapestry of human beings. It’s gorgeous and overwhelming. While you’re out experiencing the world, be safe, aware, and–most importantly–open minded. Then every new adventure will be as wonderful as the last.
In a past life, Tasmiah was either a Bollywood actress, renowned ethnographer or master chef, no questions asked. In this one, she is a shower-singing, croissant enthusiast, who also writes content for Fareportal, in that order.