Solo Women Travel: Safety and other Myths

 

I’d rather start honestly, because I don’t know how to start. We have gone through this over and again, in the loom of time, and still cough to clear our throats before we speak. I’ll say the word and you draw the curtains: solo travel and women safety!

I am on a solo quest to travel from Kanyakumari to Kashmir. The day I announced my plan, my mother gifted me a pepper spray, my mentor gifted me 3 combat knives and a 3 day rigorous training session on slash and dash techniques. This other friend helped me secure a camera insurance and karate lessons. I got random phone calls from Pummy aunties about the Dos and the Don’ts. Four months into this trip, I realise that there are a lot of misconceptions latched onto solo women travel, especially in India. Let’s debunk these myths:

 

  • There’s a monster out there: Now, let me paint the canvas for you. Think about this: There is a room, without windows. It is full of people. All sorts. The television keeps playing— The newspapers keep screaming— The media keeps wailing: It is dangerous to go out. The mantra ringing, like a heavy metal track. The chorus never fades and so does the fear. Absolutely nobody steps out. It is consent drawn without consent. People fearfully stick together to the norms of the room and society thrives. But what if, it’s not that bad beyond the wall? What if there’s no monster out there?

This is a mirror reflection of our world. Quite on the contrary, I personally feel that the quality of people drastically improves the farther you move away from flashy cities. Real India exists at least 200 miles away from cities. But then, there is no real India. It is this India, where they’d invite you home, offer you tea and food, and even shelter you.

 

  • You need balls to travel alone: Not physically, or even metaphorically. Almost everybody I know, either thought I am out of mind or foolishly brave to go on this trip. Honestly, I was just as scared as you would be, until I realised that people in general are kind. Take for example, the concerned uncle who asked about my mother, sister, grandmother, fossilized ancestors and more, before he finally directed me to the bus stop. Once you are out there, you’d be too busy meeting lovely strangers, sharing stories, striking heartfelt conversations that you’d have no time to be scared.
  • Can’t manage everything alone: Initially this may seem like a herculean task. Making travel bookings, dealing with the IRCTC website, carrying a 20kg backpack, basically figuring out everything on your own. Eventually, you will become self reliant and that’s a liberating feeling. Putting it in the words of a friend, “where only you will be able to help yourself”.

 

  • Let’s talk stats: A survey titled, “Key Indicators of Domestic Tourism in India” ( 2014 to 2015) conducted by the National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO). It was reported that Punjab tops the list as the state where the highest number of single women travellers go to in all of India — 66 percent of single-member trips to Punjab were made by women. This is followed by Telangana. Out of the 11 lakh people who made overnight trips to Telangana during the survey period, 60 percent were single women travellers. After Telangana, most women travelers take overnight trips to Kerala (58 percent), Tamil Nadu (55 percent) and Andhra Pradesh (53 percent).

Also, only 17 percent of the trips completed in the last 365 days by solo women travelers were for shopping. I am sure a condescending sexist joke just died there.

 

So I am saying, only when you go out there, would you realise that there is no reason for you to put up a post on Facebook before travelling solo, asking, “if is it safe for women to travel alone in India”! Of course it is. Of course it is.

About

Still exploring. Kind of bipolar- for my equal love for home and the world. Essentially believe in what George Bernard Shaw said, "life isn't about finding yourself but creating yourself"

10 Comments

  • Ramesh Tahlan July 15, 2018 at 3:37 pm Reply

    Your last line that ends your feelings. Yes. I agree whole heartedly.
    and i love your travels.

  • Lohith S K July 15, 2018 at 3:42 pm Reply

    Everything new we start begins with a negative thought of what if it goes wrong and adds up by the souls around us who not just care but worry of it.Unless u take a step forward you can’t reach the destination you have dreamed.And totally agree Solo rides is tough for anyone.Kudos and best of wishes for the upcoming solo dreams.

  • Juli July 25, 2018 at 4:01 pm Reply

    I love all your travels that you do. Thank you for visiting me. Your old website is still showing in the notifications when you visit another blog. Your old website is still connected and you should try and fix it to your new website. Take care now.

  • Rajat Kumar July 26, 2018 at 5:32 pm Reply

    I always love solo travelling, though I don’t get to travel a lot. Travelling with others is cool no doubt, but I am in love with nature and serenity.
    I loved your idea of not quitting job in previous post.

  • Umesh thakur photography August 24, 2018 at 10:43 am Reply

    Nice work

  • Nishant Chandgotia August 29, 2018 at 3:56 pm Reply

    I am glad that your experience is contrary to my impressions.

    I have had many friends who have travelled alone in India and besides the few starting hiccups they have managed to make their way quite well. I took a German friend for a north India tour last year and found the cities a little hard to manage; he just got way too much attention. We did love our time in the mountains though. I still suggest my friends travelling alone in India to go for it but to take all the necessary precautions (mostly for street food though).

    • Ambika Bhardwaj August 29, 2018 at 4:47 pm Reply

      India is magic! It’s like the many faced God. There is no real face of this country. Though, having experienced a couple of shades of India, I believe that the rural Indian man is far more relaxed and grateful to life. On the other hand, with one foot in capitalism and the other foot in “log kya kahenge”, the cities have become a confused maze of ideas, shams and traffic.
      Rural is the way to go!

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