India is one of the most magical places to visit; it’s filled with excitement, vibrant colours, unique scents, and something to leave every visitor astonished and inspired by. A chaotic and sometimes overwhelming destination, India is a tourist spot that requires a bit of extra planning, particularly as a woman. The following tips are by no means to deter you from visiting India (you should definitely go!) but just to inform you of a few simple ways you can make your journey to this lively country even better and safer for yourself.
Do your research
Okay, so it would be kind of exciting, but also terribly stupid to travel anywhere without covering the basics. India is a massive, diverse and super busy place to spend time in and can be overwhelming at first. Take some time to research your specific destinations, as they vary greatly. Some cities like Mumbai are frequently visited by westerners and tend to be safer than others. There was a notorious rape incident in Delhi which now, for many reasons, tends to be avoided by women traveling alone.
Additionally, you’ll find that different cities have different norms. For instance, wearing your typical Saturday-night-at-the-club outfit may be totally fine in some areas, but simply wearing shorts may be totally ridiculed in others.
Polite and confident are totally different things
Simply how you carry yourself while traveling can make all the difference. It’s always wise to be polite while immersing yourself in another culture, but being sure of yourself is essential while in India. Be firm, and even loud and forceful. If you’re lost, don’t frantically use your map or phone while in view of the public. Be calm and rational, even if times get stressful. In order to avoid unwanted attention, it’s smart to try to appear as confident as possible. If you’re targeted as someone who looks like you’re afraid to say no, or scared, or will politely handle any situation, you may be the recipient of unwelcome words and gestures.
Consider your interactions with men
Again, it’s nice to be polite but don’t let your kindness, courteous and respectful manner be interpreted for something more. India is a very traditional society, one in which men and women don’t mix like they do in other countries. Some men, especially ones who haven’t had many educational opportunities, may confuse your polite friendliness as you seeking sex. So just don’t be over the top when it comes to niceness, keep it polite don’t go beyond what’s necessary.
Marry an Indian
No, you don’t actually need to be married to an Indian while traveling in India, but it may be helpful to pretend that you are. Many women report wearing a marriage bindi (red dot on forehead) or even Indian jewelry from ‘their husband.’ Sometimes, women who are perceived to have married into an Indian family are thought of as an insider and may be looked out for in a different manner than someone just casually passing through for a couple of weeks.
Have common sense (duh)
It might be kind of dumb to state this but a little common sense can go a long way. Checking reviews of hotels before arriving is smart. Avoiding Airbnb or couch surfing locations with few or negative reviews is also smart. Providing someone back home with your travel plans and copies of passports, plane tickets, etc. is genius. Simple practices like arranging travel insurance, not keeping all of your money in one easy-for-thieves location, and keeping your bag with you at ALL TIMES are frankly too easy and too important to disregard.
Carry a cell phone
This might be common sense but when travelling alone make sure you have a way to seek help if need be. This either means arranging international service plans back home or ensuring that you’ll be able to get a sim card and phone service when you get to India. Prepaid phones are cheap and once you arrive you’ll be thankful that you have a phone to do everything from arranging train tickets, making appointments and reservations, to ‘talking’ with your fur baby back home — not to mention for your own peace of mind.
You’ll be in a culturally-rich area and fortunately for you, Indian clothing is BEAUTIFUL. Traditional clothing is light and airy, super affordable, and perfect for India’s hot climate. While some think that wearing this type of clothing is a bit controversial, most travelers agree that not only will you be comfortable, but wearing traditional garb will earn you a bit of respect from the locals. Pack light and as soon as the plane touches down, head to a local shop and purchase a salwar kameez (a comfy cotton three-piece suit).
The most important tip of all…
For every ‘bad’ man in India who’s harassed or insulted a female tourist, there’s thousands of really, really good ones who have unfortunately been given a bad rap. India is a beautiful place with beautiful people. Use your instincts but don’t lump all men into the same category. Are you prepared to travel to India?
Kristy is a keen traveller who has travelled to many parts of the world. Currently she works for Limousine Royalty but is planning her next travel adventure to Europe. She enjoys her job and loves to see the new sights of the world. In her life time, she hopes to see every part of the world before she explores the afterlife.