A guide for women travelling to India

Many women have stated worries about travelling to India and many more have chosen not to go at all. Here are some tips protect yourself

The matter of women’s safety in India has been in the news often recently. Many women have stated worries about travelling to India and many more have chosen not to go at all.

Why go to India

There are several threats facing Indian women and foreign visitors similarly – staring, groping, stalking, and most gravely, rape. With such dangers everlastingly hanging over a female traveller’s head, it makes sense to speculate if India is worth the worry and the hassle. Why not leave it totally in favour of less worrying destinations?

One reason – No country will charm and irritate you more. While travel in India will need sharp attention and common sense, let me guarantee you it is worth it. It is not possible to typecast a nation of one billion people, and bad experiences there will of course be impossible to avoid. The challenge lies in declining to agree to such happenings as the status quo, while still opting to focus on the positive. This may sound immature, but it’s a pick that India demands of you.

Below are 11 tips to help protect against unnecessary circumstances – but also keep you open to positive experiences:

1) Do your homework

As you would for any other destination, spend some time gathering some knowledge about India and its traditions before arriving. Come in with your eyes wide open, having taken the required steps to be ready, and comprehend that what waits for you there may be very much different from what you’re used to. Don’t visit regions where crime (particularly drugs) are unchecked. There are places in India like this. Read the handbooks to decide if your destination falls into that category.

2) Dress suitably

This goes without saying, but needs to be reiterated – India is a traditional country, so be respectful of that by covering your shoulders and legs and watching your cleavage. Think of wearing Indian clothing such as a kurta or a shalwar kameez, which can simply be purchased once you reach local markets. However, this is by no means assure your safety and may not change the way men look or act towards you, but there’s no requirement of drawing needless attention to yourself.

3) Discern when doctoring the truth may help you

When suitable, it’s as significant to share our own traditions and lifestyle with other cultures as it is to learn about theirs. This mutual exchange is one of the many things you will love about travel.

But when staying alone at a hotel, mention of a husband or boyfriend who is reaching shortly and don’t make sociable conversations with the male staff. Rather, make friends with any women, if they happen to work there.

4) On train journeys, book an upper berth

Nowhere else in the world is the journey just as entertaining as the destination as it is in India and everybody has their unforgettable story from the Indian trains. But it’s also imperative to take some safety measures. When booking your journey ticket, choose an upper berth. This will not just be a place to keep your bags safe during the day, but will also give you a sense of privacy and keep you out of the fight at night as you sleep.

There is a lot of jostle and commotion on Indian trains – during the day, a regular stream of hawkers move by selling food and drinks, and even at night passengers are continuously getting on and off the train.

5) Don’t reach a new destination at night

Try to avoid late-night arrivals or departures. This is as much a matter of safety as it is for monetary reasons – shrewd touts will be out, hoping to take advantage of those who seem lost or without a plan. Book at least your first night’s lodgings in advance so that you’re assured on where you have to go when you leave the airport or railway station. Also avoid travelling on foot at night, plus by public transportation, hire for pre-paid taxis or auto-rickshaws.

6) Be confident

In a country whose typical head bobble can mean yes, no, maybe, not now, or we’ll see, it makes sense that it’s hard to firmly tell someone no in India. But as a woman on your own, this is required at times, just as it’s infrequently essential to overlook unwanted or uncomfortable talks. When you are travelling alone as a woman, particularly in a country like India, it is your job to protect yourself – so don’t hesitate to do so, be it with a tough word or silent reply.

7) Watch your body language

Staying on your guard and keeping an open heart – is possibly most significant to how you act towards men in India and the messages you might subconsciously send. Never give them any kind of sign that you might be interested in them.

The vital thing to keep in mind is that an action or gesture that may come naturally to you, such as touching someone’s arm while talking to them, may be misconstrued in a conservative country like India. Be watchful of maintaining your physical distance from men even while being open to them, particularly on public transportation where personal space is at a premium. Interacting with men in India is a regular balancing act of being guarded and friendly.

8) Don’t do something you wouldn’t do at home

It’s true that travel makes you get new experiences and pushes you out of your comfort zone, but at the same time, be sensible and ask yourself if you would do something at home. Things like hitchhiking, going out alone at night, and taking drinks from men you don’t know are unsafe no matter where you are in the world.

9) Try travelling with a group

The thought of visiting India for the first time is threatening enough, so maybe, beginning your time there on a tour, through companies that arrange group tours, can help you get acclimated. A huge part of travelling alone is learning to trust your own senses when you don’t have friends or family there to talk about your options with. Before you can trust those you meet on the road, you have to learn to trust yourself. Build up this sense of self-trust before undertaking to trip to India alone.

10) Mass photo-taking sessions will take place

This takes place enough in India that I feel it’s worth mentioning – If you unexpectedly find yourself at the centre of an outbreak of photo requests, particularly at historic sites, go with the flow – for as long as you are comfortable.

11) Regroup away from big cities

Even if you follow the recommendations mentioned till now and somewhere else on the web, harassment may still happen. If you have an experience that shocks your nerves, don’t leave India right away. Take time out to process, heal, and regroup.

Consider of heading to places such as Dharamsala, home of the Dalai Lama and surrounded by the Himalaya; Jaisalmer, an ancient fort city in the Thar Desert; Fort Cochin, a colonial town with easy access to Kerala’s peaceful backwaters. You will find a certain calm and respite from having to be on your guard so much.

Keep your heart open

Though India can be a tricky place to travel and there will be moments when being the centre of attention would be awesome. By using the above mentioned tips, you can lessen the feeling of having eyes wrongly on you and change uncomfortable situations into positive ones.

India is a complex and frenzied country, and yet it is also a place of unimaginable beauty and warmth.

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