Why I’d Never Travel to India as a Solo Female Traveller

posted in: Lifestyle, Travel | 8

I don’t care what anyone says, traveling solo is scary. Traveling as a solo female traveler, well that can be scarier.

I am not saying that women are weak and we can’t handle ourselves. On the contrary – I believe we are strong, but I think we are underestimated. Truth be told, we are still women. There is only so much physical strength, which is why I find traveling solo scary and even scarier as a female.

Jen in India - click through to see more of her travels.
Jen in India – click through to see more of her travels.

I feel as though in today’s day and age we can travel to most countries and we will be fine. It really is, most of time, about common sense. Don’t walk alone, at 3:00 am in a new city looking for directions to your hotel – You will get mugged.

There are certain destinations that make the atmosphere of traveling as a solo female scary.

Which is why I wouldn’t travel India alone.


India is a beautiful country with so much history, culture and just absolute beauty. But unfortunately, India is a prime example of not welcoming Western women to travel solo.

Not all, but some women in India are highly affected by domestic violence or rape. There is a different line of ‘respect’ towards females in India. A lot of the generation is still ‘old school’ so there isn’t much respect. The stereotype, that men have towards Western women are that they are more ‘sexual’. Making their looks and murmurs not so welcoming.

There is also something to say about a woman’s intuition. Some of us have it and some of us don’t. I’d like to say that most women I have met have intuition and in some way or another they have learned to listen to it. And it’s probably saved their lives.

As I mentioned before, most of being safe has to do with common sense. Not being too flashy, trying to look like a local, not walking around late hours of night alone, etc.

So in India, you dress appropriately. Covering your shoulders and legs. First off out of respect for the culture and secondly women aren’t allowed to show skin.

Also, the temples you visit won’t allow you to enter if you aren’t appropriately dressed. That goes for you too men!


My point is that regardless of how covered I was or wasn’t (and I was covered), I still got stares. Now, ladies I am not talking about a glance that lasted a second. I am talking about a STARE. Like holy smokes! A stare like they had never seen a female before. Not even kidding. That right there scares the crap outta me!

I just didn’t feel welcomed.

Not to mention that you don’t see many women on the streets either. I mean you see women, but not as much as men. Men seem to populate the streets more so than women.

I wouldn’t recommend traveling India alone as a female. When you reach India the best way to travel safely is to meet up with a local tour, or a big group, or a retreat. If not, then find a tour, like I did. You will still be confronted by what you see and experience. But don’t go alone.


There are certain countries that welcome the female solo traveler, in fact most do, and other aren’t quite there yet. India is still an absolutely beautiful country and if you’re considering a trip, make it happen. But when a local of India tells you not to go to India alone, that should be your red flag. Don’t go to India alone.



By Jen Morilla from The Social Girl Traveler
Find her on Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Pinterest | Google +



8 Responses

  1. Tania

    Hi Melanie
    Hope you enjoyed your trip to India. For the last two years, Delhi has been my adopted home and I agree to some extent with your assertion against solo female travel here. Not because I don’t think it can be done (indeed you proved it is possible) but because it can be an isolating, frustrating and lonely experience. There is so much good here (history, monuments, life, culture, resilience etc) yet so much that is confronting (poverty, injustice, bad roads, pollution, stares etc) and you go through so many ups and downs in a day. I found it really helps to have someone to debrief with or just sit with over a chai or a beer at the end of the day. The staring is disconcerting and never abates. After 2 years of walking and taking public transport alone here I’ve learned to ignore it and figured out that most people are really just curious. But it has taken a long time to get used to, which is a luxury most travelers don’t have. A tour is a great way to deal with that and entrepreneurial India has many female-friendly and female-only ones these days. Happy travels!

    • Melanie van Egdom

      Hi Tania!
      Sorry for the misunderstanding – I am not the author of this article, Jen Morilla from The Social Girl Traveler wrote this one! 🙂

      Thank you for sharing your own experience, Jen also had a really confronting time as she did some work with children while there. You may like to read her post about this: http://www.thesocialgirltraveler.com/the-realistic-or-unrealistic-dream-the-slums-of-india-do-you-give-a-sht/

      I find it really interesting to hear that even after spending a prolonged period of time in India that the staring still has an affect on you. I would assume (though having never experienced it myself) that it would be something that you get used to over time, but I guess our cultural behavioural norms are so ingrained that it is hard to adapt to behaviours that are vastly different to our own.

      I love that you have shared your own experience with us – thanks so much!

      • Tania Han

        Oh, I must have misread the author details! Sorry Jen! I’ll check out your other post too.

        Yes, Melanie, it still bugs me but now it only bugs me on days when I’m in a bad mood or there are other things going wrong, rather than all the time. You learn to blank it out. India is a fascinating and beautiful place. It’s sad that it has a terrible reputation for female travellers and you do need to take extra precautions which can be exhausting. But it’s hugely rewarding when you overcome the challenges and I am very fortunate to have experienced it to the extent I have. I have blogged generally about my travels in India and will blog soon about what it’s actually like to travel here as a female. Thanks for the inspiration.

  2. Daria

    Hi there! Unfortunately I have to agree with every single word in this post except the first two paragraphs in regards to solo female travel – it is not scary at all, given that you go smart about it.

    I have started traveling solo since 2010 on and off, but I never quit my job just to travel haha.

    This February 2016 I did travel to India alone which was like 40th+ country that I visited and my experience matched the author’s experience almost completely. I mentioned the number of countries just to give you guys an idea that I was by no means a newbie at traveling solo.

    Being in India alone as a woman is definitely scary. I had several negative things happen to me there, which you can actually read in my post (it is too long to describe them here): http://globalstorybook.org/solo-female-travel-misadventures-india/

    I think people (women) should travel to India at some point as it is a gorgeous country that has a lot to offer – just be safe – don’t go there alone. And if you are stubborn like me and decide to go it alone – at least go to the South of India as it is much safer (comparatively speaking…).


    • Melanie van Egdom

      That is really interesting that you had such a similar experience! I have heard many mixed reviews about peoples’ experiences in India and whether they would travel there solo as a female and to be honest, I haven’t come to my own conclusion, so it is always so interesting to hear about how others felt when they travelled there (whether it was with others or solo). Thanks so much for your comment and for sharing that information with us!!

  3. India Golden Triangle Tour | Jaipur, Delhi & Agra

    […] Stepping into the Slums of India can be daunting. If you want to talk about culture shock this is it and perhaps it is not somewhere I would venture as solo as I would elsewhere which Jen, from the Social Girl Traveler wrote about from a women’s perspective. […]

    • Melanie van Egdom

      Oh yes! If you’re going to experience culture shock it would definitely be somewhere that is as confronting as the slums in India. However it is also important to have these sorts of experiences to become aware of your own privilege, to become educated and to see how other people around the world live. Thanks so much for your comment!

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