Is India a safe destination for female solo travelers? Blogger Anita Hendrieka breaks down the stereotypes and reveals the magic she discovered during a solo trip to India in this week’s Women Who Travel Solo.
How did you get started traveling?
I first started traveling when I was 19. I was having a rough time and I decided on the spot to book a one way ticket to London. It ended up being the best decision of my life!
Why did you decide to proceed with solo travel in India?
Traveling alone in India is frowned upon in my country (New Zealand) as safety is a big issue for females. The thing is, all the horror stories were from people who hadn’t been to India. All the people who had said it was amazing and the best place they could have traveled to. I wanted to prove everybody wrong basically. I also had no friends to go with and I thought it would be a good experience to go by myself. I love traveling solo because I feel like I take a lot more in.
Tell us about your experience with solo travel in India.
As a female with pale skin and blonde hair I did get a lot of attention but it’s all about using your gut feeling to measure how safe of a situation you are in. The experience was amazing and by doing it by myself I met tons of awesome people and I learned a lesson from every single one of them. My favorite thing to do was to look at the forts and palaces by myself, that way I can just stand in the room, alone, and take it all in.
What recommendations do you have for solo travelers in India?
My best advice would be to relax and enjoy the ride! Just use your common sense and it will be amazing. I never go out after dark unless I’m with people, I don’t reveal too much about myself and I cover my body up with loose clothing. I also leave all the details of where I’m staying and what I’m doing with my family just in case.
Don’t carry all your cash either, India has plenty of ATMs that you can withdraw money from so you don’t have to worry about that. That was one misconception of India I had was that ATMs were hard to come by.
Also research about what scams there are because there are A LOT. My sister had a great quote that you should remember when traveling India, ‘Enjoy and ride the wave of India’.
What was the best part of your solo trip to India?
One of the most surreal and best days was when I woke up early and took a sunrise boat trip down the Ganges in Varanasi. Another reason I loved being by myself, it was only me and the rower which made for a quiet trip. I was tearing up because it was such a beautiful moment to have. At that point I was very proud of myself and at peace.
What was the worst part of the trip?
Well, as you have probably heard India has its ups and downs. I got stalked by a hotel manager in Delhi. It was a horrible experience but it also made me more determined to not give in and leave India as much as I wanted to.
Are there any safety concerns for women traveling alone in India?
Unfortunately there are safety concerns as there is a high percentage of rape victims [in the country] and woman are not highly thought of in India. It’s absolutely horrible and I wish it on no one. Just make sure you follow the rules like covering up and wear loose clothing so you don’t attract attention. Take a scarf with you or buy one at the markets. That way if you not feeling safe or feeling like you’re getting dirty looks you can cover yourself up to get less attention.
What advice do you have for women who are traveling alone?
As mentioned earlier, trust you gut instinct! Never arrive late at night to a destination either and always know where you going. Get an Indian SIM card so you can access the internet. This is also a very useful way to track your location so you can see if you a driver is taking you on the right route. I also got great advice from a woman I met. She said always take the rickshaw that is just quietly waiting, never the one who comes up to you and hassles.
Do you have anything else to add to inspire women solo travelers?
Solo travel is liberating and will build your confidence. I feel everybody should try solo travel at least once in their lives because it’s simply an amazing experience you will never forget!
About Anita Hendrieka
A born and bred Kiwi, Anita left New Zealand at a tender age of 19 to see the world. She has been blogging at anitahendrieka.com since she left in 2012, giving readers useful tips and advice on the road. Her aim is to inspire people to book a ticket and go see the world.
Women Who Travel Solo
Women Who Travel Solo is a weekly column that shares the stories of women’s solo travel adventures in hopes of spreading the message that traveling alone is not only safe, but wildly rewarding. Inspire other women to travel solo by sharing your story with Something In Her Ramblings. Email Lauren at firstname.lastname@example.org.