Some small parts of wisdom to impart if you are thinking of travelling India (and you should!). I have visited India twice, both times are a solo female traveller and I encourage everyone to visit this incredible, welcoming, beautiful country and to not be put off by the media, by scare tactics but talk to women who have actually travelled as a solo female traveller in India for first hand experience.
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Solo Trips for Women in India : Tip #1
Consider joining an organised tour : My first tip if you are feeling nervous about solo trips for women in India is to book on an organised tour. The first time I visited India I joined the India on a Shoestring 20 day tour with G adventures (but booked through STA Travel as they were having a sale). I 100% recommend them, our tour group was 14 people ages 18-31 of a mix of nationalities and we travelled to so many places and it included so many activities in India. The accommodation was great, in a couple of places it was luxury and midrange accommodation. It was very easy, convenient and took the shock out of travelling in India for me. After the tour ended, I then spent a further 10 days as a solo female traveller in India, exploring alone. I visited for the second time as a solo female traveller in India for 2.5 weeks, staying in Mumbai and then travelling Kerala.
Solo female travel in India : Tip #2
Avoid busy, large crowds as I was aware this is where some unpleasant behaviour such as sexual assault can occur, like bum-grabbing can occur. I simply waited for crowds to disperse at train stations before heading to where I wanted to go.
Solo Travel India : Tip #3
Be prepared for the stares. I have never been stared at so much in my life as when I was travelling in India, alone or in a group. Once I realised that many of the stares were from all generations, kids and the elderly included, I relaxed a little bit. You will be stared at as a foreigner, especially if you are on a solo trip for women in India, and my best advice is to relax, smile and wave and to act like it does not affect you.
India Solo Travel : Tip #4
Cover up. Not only to be respectful but also out of safety. I completely agree that in an ideal world women should be able to wear whatever we like, but we can’t and your safety is more important than your (and mine!) feminist views. It seemed to be more important to cover your legs than your shoulders in most places I went. As a foreigner, you will draw attention to yourself but you can lessen ‘sticking out of the crowd’ quite so much by not showing much skin. Trust me, it will help to avoid some creeps as well.
Solo Travelling India : Tip #5
Photographs. People will want to take your photograph all the time. Sometimes they may ask your permission and, more often than not, they won’t. This can feel quite scary and like a big invasion of your privacy. Sometimes the photographers level of English was too low to actually ask, but if they could speak English then I would always stop and say – please ask me for a photo first. Then I would say yes. This is, of course, a personal preference and you may dislike being photographed without your knowledge. I would often ask to take a photo back so I have some photos of women in lovely saris posing for me – who also have a photo of me!
Solo Travel in India for Girls : Tip #6
If you feel unsure, LOOK confident. Pretend you know where you are going and head somewhere. If you look lost, you always appear more vulnerable which can attract people who want to take advantage of you. Download an offline version of Google Maps if you don’t have data. I recommend buying a travel Sim while in India for added safety.
Solo Female Travel India : Tip #7
Talk to people. Many people will try to engage you in conversation and chatting to a big group of people may help you to feel safer. I remember introducing myself to the women next to me on the train, turns out she was in a big group of nurses who were travelling in my carriage which made me feel right at ease.
Solo Travel India Blog : Tip #8
Consider where to visit. The best places for solo female travel in India are going to be tourist areas which are used to a lot of foreigners. These destinations will be well set up for solo travel to India so there will be people who speak English, other travellers (foreigners and Indians), transport links, a range of hotels and hostels.
Best Places to Travel Alone Female in India : Tip #9
The following areas are the safest places for a single women to travel in India – I recommend Rishikesh, Mumbai, Delhi, Udaipur, Goa, Kochi, Munnar and Varkala are all areas that I travelled to and recommend as solo female travel destinations in India. There will be many more as I would like to discover in the future!
Solo Female Travel India : Tip #10
Hostels are one of the best places for solo female travel in India because there will always be other people around you, they often organise trips and activities for you, they will help you to organise outgoing transport. This can be very helpful especially for booking trains as I found trying to book my own train as an individial very challenging! The best place I stayed at was Zostel, an up and coming chain of hostels that are amazing value for money and offer free activities. They were also full of foreign and local tourists which I loved and I made many friends there, friends who I still am in contact with many years later.
Travelling India Solo : Tip #11
Cross body bags. My recommendation is always to make sure that you don’t have a handbag that could be easily snatched away by a passerby so I always choose bags that go across the body.
Solo Travel to India : Tip #12
Do activities where you will meet other travellers. During my time in Rishikesh (which I felt one was of the safest places in India for solo female travellers) I did white water rafting, bungee jumping, yoga classes and all of these meant that I met even more people than the ones at the hostel where I stayed at.
Solo Travelling in India : Tip #13
Consider the location of your hostel or accommodation before booking. The best destinations for solo female travellers in India is going to be a central location. I always look on Agoda reviews for comments regarding the location and how easy or safe it is to get back to, particularly if it’s the evening. While backpacking South East Asia as a solo female traveller I would sometimes not book accommodation in advance and just show up, I always recommend booking hotels or hostels in advance so that you know where you’re going and feel more confident on arrival in a new place.
Solo Trips for Women in India : Tip #14
If you are in an area where you are finding it difficult to meet people then I recommend using the internet. There are many websites dedicated to solo travellers, including facebook groups and I would also consider Bumble BFF as a way to meet people in your local area that you’re visiting.
Travelling India Solo : Tip #15
My final tip for solo female travellers in India is to organise activities and ongoing trips with the people that you meet. For example, while I was in Kochi in a hostel I met many other solo travellers in India and we all organised to spend two days on a houseboat, one of the famous and best activities to do in Kerala! This was exactly what I was hoping for as I wanted to stay on a houseboat, but obviously not alone in India!
And here’s some advice about solo female travel in India that I didn’t take and got pretty mad about!
What are your solo female travel in India tips? Have you ever been?