India is home to numerous customs, traditions, languages, religions, and ethnicities. But when it comes to safety, India does leave a lot to be desired for. In recent years, the number of rapes in India has substantially increased and the revelations from this situation are absolutely terrifying. Travelers who are women are particularly vulnerable to sexual assault, as they’re generally perceived as easy targets for the dominant male population. Several women all across the world would be able to empathize with this situation wherein, they had to abandon a lot of their plans simply because it was unsafe for women.
Given the current scenario, the shady image portrayed of India in mainstream media is almost justified. In the absence of strict laws, and jurisprudence that puts the burden of proof on victims, it has become increasingly easy for criminals to escape justice. The fear that there are several perpetrators and the lack of a solid legal system, makes India a hesitant travel destination for several of the womenfolk.
Take it from fellow women, if you’re planning to travel to India anytime soon, do ensure that you adhere to the following safety tips, during all aspects of your travel in India.
Traveling In India – Safety Tips
- Public Transport is best suited to travel during daylight. It greatly reduces the chance of being isolated. However, avoid them at night and never ride in an empty bus or train.
- On a bus/train, always opt for the seats designated for women or choose a seat next to a woman.
- Avoid hitchhikers. You avoid the risk of being robbed of your valuables and being left stranded.
- Avoid taxis or auto-rickshaws, where the driver is drunk or shows signs of intoxication. Choose to ride only if they are professional and genuine, regardless of the urgency. You can also choose the cab services like Uber, and OLA. These mobile applications come with an SOS button installed.
- The safest option is to rent a vehicle and drive yourself. Again, don’t provide rides to strangers of any age and only stop if the Police request you to do so.
- If you land in the middle of the night, get your hotel and transport arranged beforehand. If you wish to sightsee during the night, arrange your transport from the hotel owner.
- If you suspect someone is following you for a considerable time, don’t panic. Move fast and stop in a crowded shop or in any other place where you feel safe.
- It is always safe to have GPS-enabled or share your location through Google Maps to keep your friends, family, or fellow travelers informed of your location and itinerary.
- If you have trouble navigating, ask for directions. But never follow someone who says, “Follow me, I’ll take you”.
- If you travel by any means of transport, keep checking directions on maps or with people you meet en route to verify if you are on the right path.
- Download offline maps. This is very important and might save you in difficult situations where you’re facing network coverage/signal issues.
- Upon boarding a taxi, call a friend notify the taxi number, and share your live location. At least pretend to do so, if they fail to pick up your call. It’s also advisable to take a pic of their license plates.
- Be conscious of what you wear to avoid unwanted attention.
- It is always a good idea to have a shawl or scarf in your bag.
- Take cues from locals, and dress like them. This varies depending on the state city or region you are planning to visit. Remember, if you are in a place where an average local doesn’t wear them, it would be best if you don’t wear the same attire.
- Designer handbags and clothing scream “Look! I’m not from here” which makes you an obvious target for pickpockets.
- Don’t wear more jewelry than necessary.
- Carry a dummy wallet with expired cards and a little bit of cash. You can save your actual valuables in case of robbery.
- Read the extensive blog on what to wear and how to dress in India for better comprehension.
- Avoid unnecessary body contact with the opposite sex. It is the most polite and safest way of saying hello in Indian culture is by saying ‘Namaste.’
- If the place is isolated or remote, do not get into conversations with strange men. Try to move to a crowded place as quickly as possible.
- Avoid PDAs even if it’s with your married partner.
- Don’t look lost on the street. Look confident as if you know what you are doing even when you don’t. Locals always know where they are going and what they are doing. Don’t they? Tuck into a shop and ask for directions, if needed. But don’t stand on a busy street corner, turning your map upside-down with a despondent look on your face. These actions tend to attract creeps and unsavory characters.
- Do not smile at strangers, even courteously. Invariably it will be mistaken as a flirting/ easy prey signal.
- Silence is often misconstrued as consent by misogynists. So do speak up if you are hesitant or are not interested in something they offer.
- Avoid getting offended or easily frustrated. Learn to ignore staring and unwanted attention.
- Be in the company of a known or trustworthy person. The world is a big place, and it’s best to explore it with someone.
- Try not to be too nice or too friendly with the strangers you meet when traveling. Nobody trusts strangers in India even if they happen to be the nicest people on earth.
- Couchsurfing is not so popular in India and is not recommended for solo female travelers due to safety concerns.
- Even if the hotel gives you keys for your hotel rooms, lock with another, especially if you leave your valuables, as the duplicate keys can be done in minutes or the lock can be broken.
- While booking hotels, check for reviews and make sure to read them all, especially if you are planning to travel solo.
- Don’t disclose your hotel or your place of stay to random people. Avoid getting your memorabilia or any other product you purchased delivered to your hotel.
- Stay in a hostel so you can make friends with other travelers, and have someone to go on adventures with.
- The rule of thumb is to never accept any consumables from strangers. If they insist on you, ask them to taste first from the same bowl. This includes getting water from strangers if it is not sealed.
- Dine-in in any hotels or restaurants where local people eat that are usually crowded. More crowds typically signify great food and ambiance.
- If you happen to chat with the locals, ask them where they would recommend or their favorite go-to restaurant.
- Eat street food in India to get the taste of native cuisine.
- It is always best to travel during the day than at night. However, if you need to go after 9 PM IST, always opt for the crowded route.
- Know the sneaky tourist scams at the destination. Some tourist spots are popular for scamming visitors. Being alert, prepared, and observant of your surroundings helps you to eliminate risks and suspicious behavior.
- Always carry your mobile phones and make sure they are fully charged when you step out. Having a power bank is a good idea. This practice will always ensure that you can contact someone in case of an emergency.
- The concept of traveling alone as a woman is not welcomed in India. Misogynists tend to creep around solo travelers. Whenever possible, always opt for group travel.
- In many cases, Indians can be a very good company and can advise or caution you about dos and don’ts. They can also support you when a local vendor or a random stranger tries to take advantage of you. Also, most Indians are hospitable and you can make good friends for life by the time you leave.
- Don’t attend parties or pubs alone. Take a friend along with you. Be extra cautious as people might spike something in your drinks.
- Don’t get over drunk. We can’t stress this enough. There are high chances of something bad happening to you when you are too drunk or unconscious.
- Do not leave your stuff unattended as theft is common in India. Always! Keep an eye on your belongings.
- Avoid traveling to remote places where you don’t see people around. Especially if you are a foreigner who doesn’t have much experience deciphering what is a safe or unsafe locale in India.
- The probability of getting robbed in the streets or in a crowded place is high. It is advisable to keep your valuables in a safe place. Wearing gold and silver accessories makes you a target for pickpockets.
- Do comprehensive research on the destination or place that you are planning to visit. Plan your itinerary well. Information is power and the more you know the better prepared you can be.
- Be assertive. Avoid being too polite. If you are not interested in donating to a beggar or transgender is nagging you for money, be curt and ask them to go away. It might be harsh but they will not leave you even if they see the slightest intention of empathy or sympathy. Move out of the place if needed.
- Scream, shout, or make a scene that draws attention if something goes wrong or when you are harassed in public places. Please don’t bite your tongue and ensure that your perpetrator at the very least feels embarrassed by their actions. However, it is inappropriate if you make a scene out of nothing in the streets.
- Pretend that you always have a boyfriend. Wear a ring, and display all the generic ornaments or signs that show that you are married (not engaged). Cheesy, but it works.
- If someone insists on your contact number, get theirs, pretend to save it, and tell them that you will call them later.
- Do your research (It is so important that we mention it twice!). For example, if your reason to travel to India is for a Yoga retreat then ensure that you chose a Yoga school or trainer that is legit. India is a vast developing country and the number of ingenious scams that are pulled matches the size.
- Don’t trust all women. They might look very innocent regardless of the ill intentions that they might bear. Nowadays, Indian women are part of large scams.
- If someone takes your picture without your consent, immediately confront them and ask them to delete it. To avoid these things, you can wear sunglasses and a hat.
- Don’t flash cash. Better yet, don’t carry a lot of cash. Most places accept digital and card payments.
- Count your cash inside the ATM or currency exchange office itself as they are usually secured with CCTV cameras.
- Don’t answer personal questions like “Do you smoke/drink? Are you staying alone?”
- A firm ‘No!’ goes a long way. Do not let anyone pressure you into committing to anything if you are not interested. It is OK to decline invitations from hawkers, tour guides, strangers who invite you to their house, or car; or other backpackers who want to share a room or get you to go somewhere with them. Remember, you are allowed to change your mind later and are under no obligation for this.
- Don’t get involved in debates with other nationalities about your homeland’s geopolitics.
- Make copies of all your important documents and keep them in all of the bags you carry.
Above all, stay alert and be aware of the surroundings.
Tools For Safety
Traveling can be an amazing experience, but it’s not without its share of challenges. Make sure to pack these life-saving essentials so that you’re well-prepared for anything that comes your way.
- Pepper Spray. Yes, it is legal to use in India for defense purposes. No documentation or license is required to buy one.
- Pocket-Knife or Swiss Army Knife
- Whistle or Alarm (something that makes noise)
- Safety pins in situations where pepper spray is out of reach
- The best among all is to learn some self-defense techniques.
Note: We carry pepper spray. It is in our bag at all times, be it going to the office or anywhere.
How To Identify The Best Help?
- For directions, approach vendors or elderly locals.
- For outdoor activities, ask the people at your place of stay or the restaurant owners.
- Seek information from the local tourism office. You can also get help from the public transport drivers as they are usually familiar.
- Schoolkids would be your best buddies and guides.
- Make use of the internet. There are several articles on the safest travel destinations in India.
- Know emergency contact numbers. Call 100 for the police and 108 for the ambulance.
Living In India As A Women
Women in India have a long way to go before they can live with the same equal rights as men. Violence against women is not uncommon in this country, and gender inequality is rampant. However, in recent years, a growing progressive mindset is pushing India towards actual equal rights. Indian girls are still deprived of an education and the opportunity to work. This offers them very little in terms of financial independence, and it perpetuates the social stigma that suppresses women.
India used to be the bedrock of civilization. A country so diverse, with so many ingenious wonders, does surprisingly fall short when it comes to treating Women as Women. In the aftermath of globalization, and with a rising number of women leaders, the ideology is beginning to change, and the future does look hopeful.
Is India Safe?
In general, India is safe for tourists as long as you follow these simple tips. You should always learn to exercise caution. Nevertheless, we should be honest and tell you that theft, break-ins, and sexual assault have become increasingly common, in major part due to lenient laws. However, if you think deeply, these crimes occur in almost every country. So more than an Indian problem, this when addressed needs to be done as a global problem.
Our goal is to ensure that women traveling in India should be made aware of the risks and dangers that they might face. Misogynistic men are unbridled in the country. It is best to safeguard ourselves from them. The number of sexual assaults and harassment is greater in India than in any other form of assault or battery.
Also read: How not to look like a tourist in India?
We hope these given tips are useful and do not scare you; these tips are basic conduct for every Indian woman who follows in their daily life. India is without a doubt, one of the most beautiful and spiritually woke countries in the world. Unfortunately, this beauty is marred by rampant toxic masculinity. As fellow travelers, we stand by our belief that we would be doing any justice to our women readers if they were only shown the beauty of India and kept away from the seedy nature of her populace.
Travel safely, and adventurously! For any content on travel or everything about travel, check out our other articles, and stick with us for so much more….