Female travel

Is it Safe to Travel to India as a Woman?

18th April 2019

A huge part of travelling is familiarising yourself with a different way of life and gaining an insight into different cultures. This means learning phrases to help us communicate with the people we come across or trying to understand local customs so as not to offend anyone out of ignorance.

It’s especially important to learn about the country you may soon visit, not just out of respect, but so that your trip runs as smooth and enjoyable as possible.

India is a beautiful country, full of deities of all shapes and sizes, mouth-watering food and welcoming people. As a country to travel, there are very few destinations that imprint themselves on the mind quite like India. Perhaps a land steeped in such history, religious beliefs and with so many stories hiding in so many people, the magic of this country really does manifest into its own presence. It is almost palpable.

Despite this, unfortunately, India has a bit of a reputation for not being the safest place for a solo female traveller.

women in india

The position of women in Indian society can go some way to explaining why this is. Firstly, men outnumber women by 37 million in population. There are deeply entrenched gender roles in Indian society and while things are progressing, there is still some way to go.

With the influence of the Western media, where there is a more lax attitude to sex, some Indian men are under the impression that, white women especially, are more sexually liberated and therefore, easy.

This can manifest in as little as unwanted attention such as staring, a request for selfies (which can be harmless, people in India often ask for photos with foreigners), eve-teasing (the practice of brushing past or ‘copping a feel’ in a crowded place) but, though rare, can escalate.

The best way to avoid this is generally the best way to avoid sexual harassment wherever you are:
  • Always be cautious, do your best to appear confident and decided on where you need to go (even if you’re a little unsure, fake it till you make it!)
  • Avoid travelling alone at night, especially in areas you’re not familiar with. Be aware of what time public transport is likely to get you to your destination and make preparations to have someone meet you.
  • Don’t drink too much and speak up if you feel uncomfortable, don’t get into a sticky situation out of politeness.
  • Indian culture is very conservative. To avoid staring, which will largely be due to curiosity, dress accordingly. So, loose clothing which covers shoulders, cleavage and knees. It doesn’t just make you (slightly less) conspicuous, it’s also much cooler in the Indian heat and you won’t have any problems entering temples.

This being said, when you travel smart, with a set plan and have done your research (as you always should do!) travelling in India is an enriching, rewarding experience that will be unforgettable.

Many people report that whatever attitude you bring to India, it will reward you in kind. So, if you are going in anxious, fearful and paranoid, you’ll likely have an experience that reflects that straight back to you. If you go in open-minded, confident and ready to experience all of India’s incredible beauty, you’ll be blown away.

If this still doesn’t sound like your cup of chai, we run plenty of group tours throughout India, including the parts that you might not choose to visit solo as a precaution. This does eliminate the worry of having to find appropriate means of transport or places to stay.

Best of all, because here at Wild Frontiers we specialise in authentic experiences which are never lost or diluted on a group tour (we cap the maximum number at 12, much less than most other companies) you’ll be able to experience lesser-known India with complete peace of mind and make plenty of new friends while you’re at it.

Check out our group tours to India or if you'd still like to go it alone but without the hassle of organising a trip you have 100% confidence in, check out our tailor made trips to India, too.

Hayley Cleeter

Hayley would have to thank the multi-culturalism of London for first sparking her interest in travel. She remembers dressing up in saris from India, e…

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