India is one of the most beautiful countries you can visit. The amazing culture, rich history, beautiful people, and flavourful cuisine, make it a top destination among travellers.
Unfortunately, however, many travellers have been postponing their travel plans to India following reports that it is unsafe, especially for women. And while we believe that everyone should put a premium on safety, what you read or hear on the news should not prevent you from missing the adventure that awaits you in the spiritual capital of the world.
Whether you’re travelling to India to visit the Taj Mahal, cruise the Ganges, or embark on a yoga retreat, you can do something to protect yourself and your valuables. Here’s how you can stay safe when travelling solo in India.
1. Observe local customs and traditions.
If you ask those who have been to India, their first advice for you would probably be “learn the culture.” What does this mean? You need to keep in mind that India’s culture is different from yours and you need to respect that. India is conservative and traditional. Women travellers shouldn’t be too friendly or confrontational, especially with men, as this might send them the wrong signals. When visiting places of worship, observe temple etiquette at all times.
2. Dress modestly.
Men and women should always dress modestly while travelling in India, especially when visiting the Taj Mahal or destinations of religious importance. Shorts, tank tops or anything figure-hugging, revealing, or exposes your arms and legs are an absolute no-no. You do not want to draw far too much attention to yourself. The best advice we could give you on travel attire is to dress comfortably and yet modestly as the local men and women do: long shirts/tops and loose trousers.
3. Know when to say NO.
While they can be the friendliest people in the planet, the locals can be pushy, especially when they are trying to sell you something. When saying no, be assertive and confident because anything less than that makes you a likely target. Your safety is your first concern when you’re travelling solo so stand up for yourself at all times. Also, never accept drinks or food from people you don’t really know.
4. Be mindful of your surroundings.
When travelling in India, you can get so engrossed that you can lose track of what’s going on around you. Stay alert and vigilant at all times. Do not wander aimlessly. Check out the safety exits in your hotel. When inside your room, keep the door locked and bolted all the time.
5. Secure your belongings.
Securing your valuables is also important. As you check out different destinations, make sure you are using a bag with extra safety features like hidden compartments and attached whistle. Do not place all your money in one place, and keep a dummy wallet if you must. Furthermore, make several copies of your travel documents and keep them in waterproof cases or bags.
6. Travel during daytime.
Common sense will tell you that travel is always safer during daytime. Schedule your activities early and never ever wander the streets after dark. If you must go out at night, arrange for a cab or a rickshaw through your hotel’s front desk.
7. Choose your hotel wisely.
One of the biggest challenges when travelling solo is to find accommodation that doesn’t blow your budget. Even when you want to keep costs down, be willing to spend a little extra on safe lodging. Before choosing a hotel, read the reviews first and check out what other travellers have to say.
8. Trust your instincts.
Seasoned travellers know that nothing beats trusting one’s instincts and you should do the same during your solo travels. This isn’t about making false assumptions or sweeping generalizations. It is simply about keeping yourself out of harm’s way through a heightened sense of awareness. If your gut tells you that something doesn’t feel right, you should listen. Book your private tours with reputable agencies or companies to avoid being scammed.
9. Seek help from locals.
India is filled with warm, generous, and beautiful people. So whenever you find yourself in trouble, never hesitate to ask for help from the locals, especially the women. Bystanders are more than willing to help tourists needing assistance.
10. Stay connected with friends and family.
Whenever you travel, you need to let your friends and family know your whereabouts or where you’re going next. The best thing for you to do is to purchase a local SIM card you can use with an unlocked smartphone. Purchase a data plan in case you need to use Google maps or make travel arrangements on the go. It is also prudent to have the local emergency numbers on your phone for quick access.
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By: Brendelyn Balaga