IMPORTANT TIPS FOR WOMEN TRAVELERS TO INDIA

This column is for the women travelers, travelling alone to India. Even after being influenced largely by the western world, India is still a traditional country and some practices by the women are considered as inappropriate & are unacceptable to the society. We would not say that there is any problem in travelling alone but just have to keep some things in mind to make your travel a more secure & a memorable experience. Here are some tips to be followed-

  • It is advisable not to wear clothes or dress that exposes your legs or other body parts. It is considered as an invitation to unwanted attention & stares which might make you feel uncomfortable. In big cities like Delhi or Mumbai or Chennai etc. it is ok to wear the western dresses of your choice, but at small touristic places, towns or villages it is not advisable to wear short skirts, tight pants or blouses which can make you stand out in the crowd and attract glances. A wise choice is to wear clothes which neither define the body shape nor expose the body parts.
  • Most of the places have separate ladies queues to buy tickets, ladies compartments in trains, Delhi metro train etc. So preferably use these ladies queues or compartments for travelling. It is safe and avoids any unpleasant hassles or delays etc.
  • An important tip is to always have and carry a friendly nature but please avoid getting friendly or personal with people. Especially with people who serve you in hotels, cab drivers, people you meet in busses, restaurants, street etc.  It may be viewed as flirtation.
  • Simply ignore the stares or weird looks you get from strangers. It is very common as being a foreigner; some people tend to look at your different skin or hair color etc. Don’t get offended by this and simply ignore it. If it is hard to ignore, instead of an argument, wear a sun glass or use your computer/ reading book etc.
  • Don’t accept any free or cheap ride from unknown person or from a taxi/ rickshaw in which the driver is accompanied by someone. A big no to sharing tours/ rides etc.
  • It’s not a rule but advised all over the world to keep your hotel room locked from inside when in the room.
  • Avoid keeping the things of your personal use or undergarments lying all over the hotel room. Personal stuff is meant to be personal and it is not advisable to flaunt it. That’s a hotel room tip which applies globally.
  • It is good to know or learn local culture, but avoid invitations from unknown or local people at their house or room for meals, tea or drinks.
  • Always be attentive in noticing the people and their activities around you. I am not saying that everyone is after you or will hurt you but it is good to keep a sense of your environment while travelling to a new place/ country amongst new people and culture.
  • Always avoid people who approach you themselves. If you have asked for a help or something then it’s different, but if someone approaches you himself/ herself then there must be a reason and it should ring a bell in your mind.
  • Apart from the big cities, touching a person of opposite sex in public is very unusual. Even the married couples abstain themselves from a public display of their attachment or love. Please don’t extend your hand for hello unless the other person does so. The best way is to fold hands near chest and say Namaste. This is traditional and looks very decent.
  • Even in beaches in India you will see ladies fully clothed. It depends on what beach you are visiting. Some beaches like in Bhubneshwar (Ganga Sagar beach) is considered holy and on the other hand on beaches in Goa you will find all foreigner ladies in swim suits. So there you may wear swim suits on the beach but it is inappropriate to walk away from the beach in same attire.
  • Avoid isolated places and it is advisable to avoid going out in dark or very late nights.
  • A way to get more respect from Indians is to try the Indian women clothes like a Saree or a Salwar Kameez. It looks ethnic a traditional. It’s purely your own choice and not a compulsion.
  • In India a clean and appropriate facilities for women are either few or at a distance, especially when you travel between two cities or though village/ highways etc. So take every chance you get to use the washroom facilities in a restaurant, hotel etc or else you will later regret that.
  • Always carry some wet tissues, sanitizer & toilet paper with you while travelling. It will be handy.
  • And one final tip which is stated by Mei Yin Tao, a Journalist from Toronto, Canada-  Indians are very curious by nature and will ask personal questions. So, don't be offended. I had men ask me things like: "Are you married?", "How much money do you make?" and "Do you sleep with your boyfriend?" They meant no harm.

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