India is a beautiful country packed with rich and exotic culture that is undoubtedly unique from any other countries in the world. However, there is still a stigma about this country that many people tend to be a little prejudice when it comes to visiting India. This stigma usually pertains to the incidence of rape, the slums, and others. To ease the unpleasant thoughts in your heads, we listed a couple of tips that solo female travelers to India should keep in mind.
1. One of the most common stereotypes that we see on T.V. is India being filled with slums, rape, and hazards for female travelers. It is, therefore, recommended to sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program of STEP through the U.S. State Department if you from the United States, if you do not then check if your country has the same system. This system makes rescue easy if and when you are in any emergency abroad.
2. Go to India with an open mind. In India, women usually don’t travel alone, married at a younger age than what we expect, religious and are generally in the house taking care of the children. Respect their lifestyle, but at the same time, be honest with your own beliefs. Not everyone would react the same way, but it is just as one would expect.
3. India has a powerful patriarchal society where the difference between what men and women can and can’t do are as clear as day. Thus, it is essential for women travelers to cover-up as much as you could. No shorts or singlet, and try to cover your shoulders and knees at all times. This does not only protect you. It shows that you respect their culture and religion.
4. You are going to have to experience some unwanted attention not only to men but to everyone that you meet, especially if you have fair skin and light hair. You might have to take a few photos here and there, and it is not something that you should be afraid of. Remember, though that whenever you are making a picture, that Indians might not have the same sense of personal space, so if you are uncomfortable with area, put your bag in between you and the other person. If you are uncomfortable taking a pictures with anyone, you can decline but do it nicely.
5. If there are instances that you feel like you have been touched inappropriately by a guy, report it to the police. Indian police departments take these cases seriously as the local men don’t just do this to tourists but local women as well.
6. The dogs and not as much as people are the creatures that you have to watch out for because these dogs are usually feral, especially after dark. Don’t walk alone in quiet places at night. You might want to consider having a rabies vaccination before your trip.
7. Another thing that you should remember when the sun sets is to make sure that you know where you can find transport to get back to your hotel room. If you made friends along your visits to India, meet them at the bus stop or train stop if you have to walk to your hotel. However, if this doesn’t happen to find a hotel pre-departure that would pick you up for free if you are traveling at night.
Just like in any other place, safety precautions should be a top priority for travelers. This is especially critical for solo female travelers. Keeping in mind a common sense, such as not straying into sparsely populated or dim-lit areas, notifying trusted people of your whereabouts, and maintaining emergency contacts handy are some of the keys to maintaining a sense of security for women traveling alone in India.