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India | Travel alone - 15 tips for women

Traveling alone in India? Yes, thinks our long-time India expert Dagmar Gehm. Here are your solo trip - tips with 15 dos and don'ts.

In general, it has become more relaxed for women to travel to the Indian subcontinent on their own in the last ten or 15 years. In the big cities in particular, people have got used to Indian ladies with laptops and smartphones who, instead of wearing sari in the usual business look around the world, populate restaurants, hotels and airports. Nevertheless, a few rules of conduct apply to foreign visitors - especially away from big cities - that help avoid anger, stress and nuisance. Here are the most important tips for women to travel alone that should be considered in India.

# Dress properly

Besides being incredibly comfortable, one meansSalwar Kameez or Punjabi suit, a combination of pants that are very wide at the top and very tight pants from the knee with a calf-length top made of the same fabric and pattern that the wearer is no longer a newcomer.

#Please not topless

Nudism is officially prohibited, but tourists, especially in Goa, take off their tops on the beach and at the hotel pool. This attracts nosy gawkers and harassment. The same goes for skinny mini skirts.

Travel alone - Tip: If she were to put a scarf over her shoulders now, she would be perfectly dressed in the temple | © istockphoto

# Observe temple etiquette

Travel alone: ​​Anyone who appears too open-hearted in temples or other holy places (ashram, shrines, etc.) will either not be let in or be given a misshapen cloth. It is better for women to drape a wide scarf over their chest and shoulders in advance (the long end of the saree does the same) and put on a calf-length skirt or pareo or long trousers.

# Signal "Leave me alone!"

Travel alone: ​​Indian women who do not want to be spoken to pull the long tip of their sarees in front of their faces. A scarf sends the same signal to a European woman.

#Let yourself be driven instead of driven

It's fun and almost safe: in Goa as a pillion rider on a scooter or motorcycle at a low fixed price, or to be shown the highlights. The drivers wait patiently during the tours. You can find them everywhere at stands labeled “Two Wheeler Taxi Stand”. The following applies to normal taxis: only get into authorized vehicles!

If a woman doesn't feel like sitting around alone in the hotel in the evening, a homestay is recommended. So you can immerse yourself in Indian culture, have a family connection and learn a lot about everyday Indian life | © istockphoto

# "Ask my husband!"

“What time is it?” If this question comes from a man, for example on the beach, from whom I assume that he wants more from me than just the time, I point in a vague direction and say: “Please ask my husband back there on the couch. His watch is much more accurate than mine. ”It is remarkable how little the questioner suddenly cares about the answer.

#The thing about the solo

I've never done it myself, but some solo travelers swear by it: Wear a fake wedding ring to protect against annoying pick-ups. In fact, women traveling alone are always asked about husband and children. The answer that you are solo is met with incomprehension by most - regardless of whether you are a man or a woman - because it still does not correspond to the usual social structure. At least it can be a nuisance to lie on the beach alone. Often it is just pure curiosity when someone talks to you, but women rarely come to rest. It is better to sunbathe by the pool, because the security also takes care of your things when you go into the water.

#Never get into a crowd!

Travel alone: ​​Avoid events that are very crowded. Then neither valuables nor certain parts of the body are safe from contact. Always sit next to another woman in the cinema. Don't be alone in the dark.

#No number under this number

Hardly happens, but you never know: sometimes waiters in hotel restaurants regard lonely ladies as fair game and annoy them on the phone in their rooms. Better: Do not have anything written on the room number when paying, rather pay in cash. In a 5-star hotel, I once saw the porter trumpet across the parking lot towards the taxi that had been booked: “The lady from room xy is now ready to be picked up.” So the rest of the people waiting now also knew my room number. There is only one thing that can help, and that is immediately: ask for another room and forbid loud messages in the future.

#Do not kiss, please!

Public tenderness is frowned upon. In the country, even holding hands is considered a stumbling block. Even those who make out with their German friends in front of everyone are described as shameless.

#Book correctly and keep your eyes open!

If a woman books a place to sleep on the night train, she should indicate in advance when ordering that she would like to stay in an all-women or family compartment. When making the hotel reservation, point out that you do not want to be accommodated at the end of a dark hallway or in a secluded building. But even at the airport: keep your eyes open! There, completely unknown men offer to carry the suitcase so that it might disappear forever. Always look for the official porter number. Get rid of all self-appointed tour guides and city guides, in the most harmless case you will be dragged wherever he collects commission. Better: ask for an official guide at the local tourist office.

# Ask women!

Travel alone: ​​if an Indian woman had a choice, she would never ask a man for directions or the time. If women are nearby, the respondent would at least be amazed and even end up being intrusive because he misinterprets this address.

#Strong performance

If you accidentally end up in a lonely area or have to walk through the dark, try to appear as confident as possible. Those who exude great anxiety are an easier victim. Of course, this applies all over the world. Most perpetrators are deterred by this "strong stance".

#Bag beats suitcases

Travel alone: ​​the smaller the luggage, the more independent you are from unwanted offers of help. On the other hand, you shouldn't even carry your rucksack to your room yourself, as tips are the only source of income for many employees. In addition, it is simply not considered ladylike to carry your luggage yourself.

#Homestay instead of a hotel

Travel alone: ​​If you want to immerse yourself a little deeper in Indian culture and don't want to be bored in your room in the evening, it is best to book a homestay. There, women have immediate family connections and learn a lot about everyday life in India. You can go shopping with the housewife and look into the pots. Some even offer cooking classes or Ayurveda. Since the homestays are registered through the provider, women can feel on the safe side there.

PS on the subject "I have to go quickly ..."

A visit to the toilet in India can turn into a joyride. European toilets are the exception in public toilets. Usually the variant “hole in concrete” and no toilet paper dominates. So always have something up your sleeve. In this context: Never extend your left hand to greet you, nor do you give a gift with it. Because the left is reserved for washing with water, namely those parts of the body for which we use paper. That is why the left hand is - as in the Islamic culture, incidentally - as unclean.