0 comments

Solo travel in India as a female: truth or dare?

By Irina | ForeverSunday

March 9, 2016

India, solo female travel, Solo traveller

Last July when I came back from my six month trip to Australia and Indonesia my dad came to pick me up at the airport. Only half jokingly he asked: “So when are you leaving again?”. I don’t think it was a surprise that I said that I would spend most of the summer at home and leave again in the autumn. Then he asked me where I would go to and I said: “India”. He became pale as a sheet and muttered: “Alone again?”. “Yes, alone.” With a curse under his breath he looked skyward wondering why he of all his siblings would have the wandering soul as a daughter… I think he is half expecting me to go to Syria or Afghanistan next (but for now I have no such plans).

Travelling solo in India as a female

Anyway, even for me when the time came to depart I became a bit nervous. I had become tired of having to explain that India probably wouldn’t be as bad as it is portrayed in the media and that I knew at least some women personally who had travelled to India solo and had had great experiences.
Also, I wanted to study yoga in the country where yoga was born and developed, so really there was no other choice.
It turned out an exhilarating, profound, life changing experience and I’m very happy to have made that choice…

what is my dosha

Free what is your dosha workbook

Sign up to get started with the free 10 page Ayurveda dosha workbook:  take the dosha quiz and get nutrition and exercise recommendations based on your type!

Even though my experience was great, there are some things that you need to be aware of when you travel to India solo as a female. There are also some things that you can do to make your life easier.

For instance when you move around in India, you will mostly meet men. You don’t see a lot of women working in the tourism sector. Taxi drivers, hotel receptionists, shop keepers,… They all want to know 1) if you are married, 2) why you are travelling alone and 3) how much money you are making. This is for one of two reasons: 1) they want to know if they have any chance with you 2) they want to protect you from the ones in the first category. Eventually, I made up a story to avoid having to go into detail why I am not married “at my age”. It would go something like this:

Yes, I’m married. (a white lie)

He works in IT. (This is considered to be a good job in India. You don’t have to explain any further).

He’s at a conference in Delhi and I will join him in the next days. I am just on holiday until his conference finishes. India is so beautiful. (then you will be asked where you have been in India etc. and so you divert the conversation)

No, I don’t have Facebook. (another white lie)

Another example: when you’re buying a train ticket, you complete a sheet of information including your gender. I travel high class (haha) to avoid stares and any of the above questions. Also it’s really cheap anyway… Usually the train staff is very helpful bringing your luggage to your seat. One time, I got to the wrong seat, opened the curtain and saw 5 men staring at me. Uh-oh. I wasn’t going to get into this carriage on an overnight train ride, as thought the train assistant as he quickly closed the curtain again and shouted:”No, this is the wrong one!! You’re here.” *opens the curtain to reveal a woman travelling alone with her 4 children*. Sigh. Anyway, that’s the reason why you have to complete your gender: when you are booked onto the train, you will be paired either with other women or with a family. It’s fun, they usually speak English, they are curious about you and your lifestyle, share about theirs, and they also happily share their food and drinks. So most of the time the only danger you’re in when travelling on the train is a burning mouth due to the spicy food you are given…

As is the case in most places, it’s not a good idea to go wandering about alone after dark, but during the day it is not really a problem (check your guidebook though). I love walking and I don’t want to take a tuktuk everywhere, so when I’m travelling I always get a local SIM card with 3G, so I can use a navigation app while walking. I love love love the Waze app. I put in any destination, landmark or street, plug in my earphones with music and while I’m walking it will give me directions where to turn. You will end up in streets you would otherwise never walk into, you will not be addressed all the time because of your earplugs and you will look confident and like you know where you are going so you will not be bothered. Win-win.

I met so many women travelling alone in India and most thought it was a really good experience. Indian people are extremely friendly and helpful, especially when you’re travelling alone. They will be very protective of you and go out of their way to help you. You will develop your gut feeling as to what people want from you. Many may see you as a walking ATM, but as soon as you know local prices and you can negotiate, they will accept and appreciate you. There is no reason to be scared, but it’s always a good idea to stay cautious…

About the author

Irina is a certified Ayurvedic coach and yoga teacher in the Hatha and Traditional Tantra traditions (500+hr RYT). Irina has been teaching and writing about Ayurveda and Yoga, hosting retreats and offering online classes, workshops and consultations since 2015, when she founded ForeverSunday Ayurveda and Yoga.

You might also like

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}
>

Be the first to know about upcoming online classes, retreats, workshops and blog posts!