Solo Travel INDIA – Is it safe? My experience

ENG

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To make a long story short, in March 2020, I was supposed to go to India with a small group of people, but at the last minute everyone dropped out because of the pandemic, which at that time was just beginning.

About 2 months before departure, India was no longer issuing visas to foreigners, so as you can tell from the context, I went at a very specific time.

Not only were we at the beginning of the pandemic, but there were also protests in Delhi over the new emigration law, so the capital was in turmoil. It was a very peculiar time to go, which made me have a different perspective than someone who visits the country under normal conditions.

Solo travel India
Varanasi

Is it safe for a woman to travel solo in India?

So, let’s start at the beginning. I went around the country for 2 weeks, traveling mostly in Central India, in the states of Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhia Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

This means that I went to the most conservative part of the country, so even though I didn’t have any problems, obviously a woman traveling alone is going to attract a lot of attention.

People asked if I was alone, if I was married, why was I traveling alone. It’s normal for people to ask a lot of questions, but it’s important to realize that if they do it, it’s only because they are curious. Not because they wanted to do me any harm. It was just because I was different.

Obviously, there were several factors that attracted a lot of attention on me, one of them was traveling alone, another was the fact that I was very white and blond. That also made me attract stares. I was stared at for quite a while. But I never felt intimidated or uncomfortable about it. It’s a normal, culturally accepted situation.

Above all they wanted to know why I was in India and if I was enjoying the country. Indians are a very proud people of their traditions and are happy to show and share their culture with outsiders.
If you show a little bit of “open mind”, they will show you the best of their country, because they are so grateful to have you there and so hospitable, that for them, “guest is God”.

If you behave properly, respect the culture, don’t do anything stupid like going to dangerous areas, if you avoid public transportations at night, like long distance transport, and if as a woman traveling alone you don’t stay in risky areas, you won’t have any problems.

During the trip I took internal flights, traveled by train, traveled by car with a driver on a route that lasted 6 hours, rode rickshaws and tuk-tuks, and never had any issues.

I only had male guides and all of them were extremely professional, none of them disrespected me. In fact, no one in India ever disrespected me. They were all very kind and grateful to have me there. I often say that I was treated like a princess in India and that’s what I really felt.

As in any circumstance when you travel alone, whether in India or anywhere in the world, if you don’t feel like talking to people, you don’t have to. People come up to you, start talking to you, and if you don’t feel like doing it, say goodbye politely and go on your way.

Avoid staying in very cheap accommodation for safety reasons. In general, these accommodations have poorly educated staff from remote areas of the country who do not understand the fact that a woman is traveling solo, and see this as an opportunity for an abusive behavior.

Understand that it is a different culture than yours, accept that fact, and respect the difference. Be courteous and kind, because you will get so much back. You will receive so much joy and smiles, you will have the opportunity to meet extraordinary people.

I can’t say enough that Indians are extremely kind, and they will share with you their family, their culture, and even their food.

Before going to India I spoke with a friend, who has been there 7 or 8 times, and told him that I had learned that I was going to travel alone to India. To which he replied to me: “You’ll be fine, just be smart and don’t do anything stupid. You’ll be fine!”

And that’s the same thing I’m going to tell you: don’t do anything stupid and you’ll be fine!
And yes, this was my experience, I met in India some of the most generous and kind people I have come across in the world, I was treated like family. It was funny because one of my guides called me “Sister Angela”.

Logically it was funny for me to be treated like that, because in Western countries we don’t see that, at least not in such a genuine way.

It is inevitable that there is initially that barrier between people that separates us culturally, mostly on our part, since we are educated to be suspicious of “difference” and to be afraid of the unknown.

So the answer to the “golden question”: is it safe to travel in India as a woman?

My answer is: Yes, it is….as long as you don’t do anything that puts you at risk!


PT

Varanasi

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3 thoughts on “Solo Travel INDIA – Is it safe? My experience”

  1. Pingback: India – The Amazing Journey of a Life Time »

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