Tuesday, 3 June 2014

How safe it is for Women to Travel to India

One cannot deny the fact that India is a country bustling with stunning historical sites, breathtaking landscapes, rich culture and heritage and some hot & happening metro city life worth experiencing. Lacing all these are the delectable cuisines in never-ending varieties and some gratifying shopping all around the country.  All of them come together to make India a perfect destination holidays, any day, any time, any season.

Why should women be left out of devouring the vast panorama that this nation has to offer?

It is well explicable that India may not be safe for Women Travellers, in the light of some recent horrid events. But that could be an occurrence in any nation; one must be careful all the time, especially when travelling to other places, irrespective of the nationality. Moreover, Indian tourism industry is taking all the necessary steps to enhance the tourism in India. It is a continuous endeavour to make the guests feel comfortable and safe while on a holiday.

Well, if you are a woman traveller willing to visit this mesmerising destination, you don’t need to ponder much. Here are a few tips that would help you to travel safe to India without any hassle and make a pleasurable holiday of a lifetime.

Book your Trip with a Reputed Travel Organiser

There are a number of reputed travel groups in India that offer all kind of tours and a search on Google will give you a list of them. There are various groups organising amazing trips just for women travellers, such as WOW - Women on Wanderlust. Holidaying with a reputed travel group is always the safest option, even though it may not be the most adventurous. But you surely get the advantage of a safe journey as well as the ability to see the beautiful spots in India, in an organised manner.

Image courtesy :  travelgenes.com
Choosing Accommodations Wisely

For women travelling in India doing it all alone, it is safer to pay a bit more for good accommodations. Saving money by cutting back on your hotel is quite tempting as you will have more money for food and shopping but again, a sleazy but cheap hotel is not exactly the safest option for a lone traveller. Check for hostels or hotels online and read what other travellers have to say about each and every hotel or camping site. Go for well renowned, reputed and decent places rather than cheap unknown ones down the alley.

Dress appropriately

Despite all the modernisation happening in the urbane sections, India remains a country of conservative mindset in the rural. While it's okay to wear bikinis and shorts on the busy and populated beaches of Goa and Kerala you should avoid putting on anything too revealing anywhere else in the country. Especially when you are visiting villages or countryside! While Western clothes are quite acceptable in the big cities it is still advisable to dress modestly. Sleeveless is fine in the metros but if you want to avoid unsolicited male attention don't wear strappy tops, shorts, anything clinging or see-through. In rural areas the code is much stricter. You can opt for short-sleeved tops and long skirts or baggy trousers. Three-quarter length trousers are generally all right. You can choose to wear Indian Dresses such as salwar suits. The best option would be to carry flowing scarves or stoles to cover-up whenever the need be.

 Image courtesy :  hippie-inheels.com

Do not Roam around Alone

While it is quite possible to go around India as a single woman, it is certainly safer if you go exploring in pair or a group. Attacks against solo women travellers have happened for obvious reasons. Hence, it is sensible to be careful. Avoid arriving in a new place alone after dark and don't walk by yourself along dark streets and deserted beaches. Keep the day for visiting various places, and nights for relaxing at the accommodation you hire.

Pre-paid Transport is Any day a Better Option

Be prepared to spend a bit more on private taxis as you are safer within its confines. Taking a cab will cost you more money yes, but you cannot put a price on your personal safety. At airports and train stations, or even for site-seeing, pre-paid taxis are safer than taking a taxi from the street. Prepaid taxi service is easily available across the nation. Various government and private agencies arrange for such prepaid transport. These taxis are registered with the agencies and the identities of the drivers are secured with their respective agencies. Yet, best of all is to join up with other travellers if using a taxi or an auto-rickshaw at night. Leave the vehicle number in which you are travelling, with some friend or known person. Be verbally loud about it and let the driver know that you are doing it, to avoid any unforeseen circumstances. Warning bells should ring if your rickshaw driver tries to bring another male friend along with him. Jump out of the auto and find another driver.

Avoid Eye Contact with Males

Direct or prolonged eye contact with a man in India is frequently seen as provocation. Try to avoid it if you can. Many women travellers advise wearing sunglasses for this reason.

Learn the Basic Language and Effectual Usage of it

Learn some basic Hindi (especially for north India where unpleasant events are more likely). Even if you only have a few phrases and use them frequently, it will confuse potential trouble-makers. They will not know how much of the language you understand and will treat you with more caution. If you see signs of trouble, don't be afraid to shout. If need be, you can be much more harsh and verbose in India than you would be at home.
Make Educated Local Female Friends

It is a good idea to get in touch with Indian women. Company of educated Indian girls will not only offer you a very different perspective on India holidays but it will also provide you valuable tips on how to travel and remain safe in the country. Strike a conversation with them. It is also very important to always appear confident. Even if you are lost and have no idea where you are headed to, stride purposefully. Seeking directions from a local lady instead of a man is advisable.

solo woman traveler in India
Image courtesy : courtblanche.com
What to do if land in trouble

Always, mind you always, without fail, carry the number to the nearest embassy of your home country all the time. Be ready to call them if need be. If you take all the above precautions, you should not run into trouble. But if you are unlucky enough still to land in a ruckus, report it to the officials at once. Be prepared for the fact that the authorities may not take you seriously at first; be persistent and assertive. Make a telephone call to your home embassy and tell the authorities that you are doing so. It has a remarkable effect. No official wants to get involved in a case with international implications.

India surely is Pandora’s Box for women travelling to the country. Along with incredible experiences, an acquaintance with a different kind of society is guaranteed. Yet, savoring the flavors of this intriguing land is must. Equip yourself appropriately and make sure you are up for the challenge.

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