This is just one of a series of experiences that I collected from female solo travellers who went around India. For the full list click here.
Lauren, 35, from Malta
How long did you stay in India?
I went twice – the first time with my ex for 3 weeks and the second time I was there for 3 months.
Which places did you visit?
1st time – Goa, Hampi, Fort Kochin and Mumbai, 2nd time – Bodh Gaya and Varanasi
What did you do when you had to move from one place to the other?
There were times when I had to travel alone and other times I had the opportunity to buddy up and be with someone else. I used both trains and local buses.
Did you ever feel threatened?
Never. On the 1st visit, I wasn’t used to the staring at you by the locals, so it bothered me a bit. But on the 2nd visit I knew about it so it didn’t bother me.
Also,, once on a local bus with another female traveller friend, there were a bunch of drunken teenagers sitting at the back with us. They didn’t bother us a lot, but I think if I was alone I would have minded it.
Tell us a story where you were impressed by the kindness of people towards you:
On the second visit – when I left Varanasi, my local friends I made came to the train station with me. When the train arrived they even got on the train with me and made sure I was seated on my seat and all sorted.
The local couple I stayed with in Varanasi always made sure I was at home by a certain time, and always took care of me, checked on me, made me food, and basically cared for me whenever I was feeling sick. They basically became my parents over there.
One American friend I made in Varanasi , nowadays he became a best friend – offered me a lot of support, caring and keeping me company when I was really sick for a week. He checked on me all the time, brought me food and also came with me to the clinic.
In Varanasi again – parents of local friends I made – once they got to know me – made everything possible to make me enjoy my time there, invited me to all their houses, cooked for me yummy local food and they all made sure that I have a full tummy and stomach before they start eating themselves.
And most probably many more things which I cannot remember right now.
Anything else you want to add:
It can get a bit scary being a woman traveller on your own and yes, sometimes it does get a bit challenging.
Some common sense will help to be safer. For example, if you are travelling alone on buses and trains, make sure that you get to your final destination during daylight not in the middle of the night.
Always also respect other cultures, such as being aware of how women are expected to dress. If, for example, in India women are covered from head to toe, don’t expect not to feel a bit threatened or looked at if you have half your body showing.
Also, if you go to events at night that finish late, always make sure you have someone to come home with or share a tuk tuk with someone else. Avoid being on your own.
Personally, when I attended concerts in Varanasi till very late at night, I used to make sure that there was someone with me for the way back.