How safe is India for a solo woman traveler?

India is a beautiful country with so much to offer a solo traveler in all its diverse glory. The experience and the culture change every few hundred kilometers. However, everything ever said about India being a great travel destination almost always comes with a warning for one’s safety, especially for a woman traveler.

While much has been said about southern India being safer for solo women travelers, I believe the geographical lines have gone blurry, now that everyone is everywhere and the country is a mixed bag of folks from all over.

Woman Traveler

Even though the statistics make it appear like India is a horror show for women traveling by themselves, I can say with some confidence, it isn’t that bad. As traveling has grown from being a hobby of the selected few in India to becoming a necessary experience of life, the safety nest has gotten bigger than just select pockets in southern India and have spread all over the subcontinent. With hostels, opening up all over, especially in most locations that are on everyone’s travel bucket list, it has become safer to stay and mingle with strangers who share the same love for travel.

    1. Always keep your cell phone charged. Having a local SIM always helps. Your phone is going to be your guide, your restaurant-locator, your cab-hailer, your fact-checker, your best friend any new country you visit.                                                                                                                                                                                        
    2. Having a travel companion could help keep unpleasant situations at bay since you have one other person to rely on. In case you’re traveling solo, you could find local companions, or join travel groups as well. Your hostels or hotels could be of assistance in finding these trusted companions. Figure out from your travel operator or the hostel management what timings are safe and try to adhere to those timings. It would also help to know what areas you should avoid, especially if you’re traveling solo.
    3. Since you’re traveling to a new country, and in case of India, to one with extremely varied culture pockets, your hostel management, or the local travelers you meet could be consulted on what the perfect wardrobe choices would be for that place at that time of the year.
    4. Watch what you eat, especially cold food- fruits, salads on the street, juices and milkshakes on the street and the likes. It is also advisable to carry your own water.
    5. Have maps to important locations like your place of accommodation, your embassy or consulate, the local police station, the hospital, et cetera, on your phone. You should save them offline and/or have a physical version, in case your phone isn’t working during an emergency. It’s also advisable to have important contact information written down in case your phone dies.
    6. Carry self-defense gear- pepper spray, a whistle, a taser. Although, I have never had to use it all these years, and neither have most women travelers I’ve encountered, and it seems unnecessary, if having that gives you peace of mind of being prepared for the worst, by all means, go for it.
    7. It is important to know your rights, and the laws of the country you’re in; those pertaining to your safety in particular. This is an excerpt from a blog about Indian Laws every foreign national traveling to India must be aware of-
  • Only female officers can escort women to the police station. If there isn’t one, DON’T GO!
    Not only do male officers not have a right to escort a woman but she can refuse to go to the police station between 6 pm to 6 am. In case of a serious crime, a written permit from the magistrate is required for male officers to escort her.
  • Women can lodge complaints through emails at ncw@nic.in, our National Commission for Women.

Guidelines issued by the Delhi Police entitle women to the privilege of registering a complaint via email or even through the post if she can’t go to the police station. Just do a quick internet search to get the contact details of your local police station.
SOURCE: India someday – Indian Laws every foreign tourist should know
In case you find anything even remotely uncomfortable, do not hesitate to contact the police.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

8.  Use travel apps to make bookings.                                                                                                                                               

  • For any transport you use, apps like Uber and Ola work fairly well even in smaller towns and are safer considering your movement can be tracked and you have an SOS button at your disposal. Do not get into cabs that offer special tours et cetera without making sure you’re not being overcharged. You could compare prices with Ola/ Uber and figure that out.
  • Meru, another cab service provider(they have an app and a hotline as well,) also provides Pink Taxis. These are essentially cabs driven by women, with pepper spray and a panic button for emergencies. You could look at that as an option if it makes you feel more comfortable.
  • When booking your stay in India, go through the reviews of the place and the location to make sure it’s well connected and safe. Traveler hostels give you information about the place you are interested in exploring, and a group of people with the same interests and agenda, ergo making it a safer experience.  To book hostels in India, log on to http://www.aaohostels.com

India I’d say is as safe as you make it. There are provisions and a framework for safer travel in place. You just need to use it.

Safe travels!

Also Read:

Woman On Wanderlust

Being Traveler

Why I Wanna Visit India?

If you don’t get out of the box you’ve been raised in, you won’t understand how much bigger the world is.” – Angelina Jolie

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