Don't get caught slippin!
Traveling alone might seem like a fun thing to do, but for some women it can also be stressful. Packing your bags and scooting off to strange new lands can seem to be an impossible task, but any girl can do it with a few tips here and there! As a destination, India can pose problems for female travelers, but offenses rarely happen. That said, don’t let the fear of the unknown keep you from venturing on an empowering trip to Bombay, New Delhi, or any other destination in India with these tips.
First of all, India is a place of extremes. There are a lot of beautiful places to see, exciting dishes to try, Bollywood movies to watch, but you’ll also find barren lands, heavy traffic, filthy streets, and poor citizens who barely scrape by. You may be surprised, Bollywood films show women dancing with seductive costumes and yet when you actually visit everyone seems covered with social conservatism, something that a lone female traveler should take note of before packing her bags. In the west women are almost always free to wear what they want, but in India even if it’s sizzling hot you have to be careful so as to not attract trouble.
Upon arrival at the airport, you may see a lot of women like you, often traveling in groups or with companions. Some arrive through prearranged tours, and come prepared by dressing and behaving in a way that’s respectful to Indians. Shorts, skirts above the knees, tank tops, low cut, and tight fitting shirts are discouraged, unless you want to attract denigration from women or piercing stares (or worse) from men. And if you’re fair or showing a lot of skin, you might attract men who might actually be bold enough to pinch your skin or touch you. India is a place where tradition is still very much adhered to, so it’s important to be aware. You’ll attract the attention of thieves and other ill doers with your foreign looks alone, but you can immerse yourself with the local culture by purchasing loose-fitting pants known as Salwars and loose-fitting blouses called Kameez. Locals will even advise you to wear saris and dress properly so that you won’t look like you just got off the plane. At the airport, don’t ever let a stranger carry your baggage. In the blink of an eye everything you need for the rest of your trip may be carried away.
Dealing with the Public
When walking in public friendliness may be misconstrued as personal and flirtatious, so avoid initiating conversations. Even something as simple as eye contact may be interpreted as an invitation. If the inevitable happens, never let them know you are traveling alone—pretend someone else is with you. When traveling by train, which by the way lets you explore the beautiful countryside, do not doze off or else you might just find a hand making its way to your blouse. You’ll have a greater degree of privacy by asking for the upper berth where there is less congestion, or a women’s only car.
Book your hotel ahead. You are already traveling alone so be sure that you don’t arrive without a hotel in mind. Never be alone with a man and that includes the hotel’s staff or bellhop. Your next concern will be protecting your personal belongings. When traveling, keep your bags together by securing them with a cable lock, and use bags such as leg pouches, backpacks, and bags with a belt loop.
Avoid Being Overcharged
The most common problems women travelers experience are with servicers. Hotel desk clerks, tour operators, and taxi drivers tend to overcharge tourists. As in most destinations, if you’re foreign-looking you’ll most likely encounter situations wherein locals will try to overcharge. The same is true in India, where culture suggests the assumption that foreigners are likely to be richer than average citizens. And since foreigners make an easy target for scams, because of their lack of awareness, it’s best to research beforehand about the cost of a service before setting a price. To avoid taxi scams, choose pre-paid taxis where you purchase receipts or tickets at a prepaid booth. Wait until the taxi driver delivers you to your destination, and then hand over your ticket. Don’t give the driver additional payment apart from the prepaid slip no matter what he might say.
When shopping for souvenirs or local goods, pretend you don’t have much interest. The higher your level of interest the higher their price. Always bargain, and if they won’t give you the price you want then there are plenty of other shops that could offer a better bargain. Remember there’s no fixed price for most souvenirs.
Keep in mind that incidents are rare, and anyone traveling alone should be alert at all times. Learn how to say “no”, no one should coerce you in to doing something you’re not sure of. That said, nothing compares to that liberating feeling after exploring a place on your own, the streets of India included. If you’re careful, you’ll have a fantastic vacation ahead.
Although these tips are specific to India many of them are applicable to women travelling ANYWHERE!
I hope this post gave you some things to think about before your next take off to India! This is a guest post from RoomStays.com http://www.roomstays.com/. Check them out for for travel tips and hotel deals!