Traveling alone as a female is very different to traveling alone as a male and don’t let anyone tell you any differently. The sad truth is that in general, and I stress in general, us women are more vulnerable, we are seen across the World as a far easier target than men and as many of you will know, backpacking can lead you in to some dangerous or uncomfortable places meaning us women need to be on our guard at all times. Traveling in India certainly made me feel a target at times, the culture here is very male dominant so if they see a foreign woman alone, many of the men will look at you and treat you very differently. Don’t let me paint a picture of a country of men who are constantly on the look out for rape victims, people to rob or people to kidnap, that is absolutely not the case. The thing is, the culture is different and to ensure you have a great time in India, a beautiful country, here are some tips for getting by as a solo female traveler.
There Will be Staring
You’re going to just have to get used to the staring, remember that you are different and many Indian men don’t see too many foreign females wandering through their lands. Sometimes the staring could be leering but very often it is more a stare of interest than that of a sexual predator. You will get used to it and you will soon see that it doesn’t just come from the men.
Be Careful With Photos
I regularly get asked for a photo with people, I was alarmed at first but now it seems entirely normal. One thing I did learn is that if a solo man asks for a photo, he may go on to use said photo to tell his friends about his new ‘girlfriend’ or even photoshop you in some unsavory photos. Since hearing this information, I always make sure that if anyone wants a photo, we do it in a group.
Scamming does happen a lot in India but what also exists in India is community spirit. The fabric of the country is family-minded and if you should get in the middle of something, making a lot of commotion will often get you out of it. You’d be surprised how many people are prepared to help you out should you find yourself in a difficult situation.
Learn the Culture
Before heading to India, ensure that you learn a little about the culture, this is a deeply religious and conservative country and you should do your best to stay in line with their cultural values. Clothing choices need to be made carefully, showing too much skin will not help you, if you’re the flirtatious type then although harmless, you need to tone that down in India. Like traveling anywhere in the World, do your research and be respectful towards the culture.
Whist there has been a lot of media attention on the spate of problems in India for western women, you shouldn’t let this put you off. The best thing to do is to be respectful, avoid danger areas and try to stay close to crowds as much as possible and you’ll be just fine.