2 women traveling alone?

Old Aug 10th, 2006, 12:58 AM
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2 women traveling alone?

Hello, I will be traveling to India with a friend - we are both women in our 30's. How safe is it to travel alone? Do we need a guide to be safe? I work with quite a few people that live in India and say we shouldnt travel alone, but would like to get a feel if it is ok to do. I am much more of a do-it-yourselfer. Thanks
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Old Aug 10th, 2006, 03:32 AM
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My daughter and I travelled and felt safe in India. I was very careful though, as I am whenever I travel...no flashy jewelry, minimal cash in my handbag, no walking in isolated areas, especially at night, etc. We usually had a driver or had arranged a ride in advance when coming into a new town, so as to not have to hail taxis off the street. Same thing when we were out for the evening.
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Old Aug 10th, 2006, 06:34 AM
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very safe unless you seek out trouble
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Old Aug 10th, 2006, 07:36 AM
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Bob....huh? Happy Travels!
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Old Aug 10th, 2006, 06:14 PM
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lcuy, how did you arrange your drivers/guides? Before leaving or in India? Should we book all flights/trains/hotels ahead of time? I hear about long delays, etc.

I'm also a bit fearful about going on my first trip to India this November!

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Old Aug 10th, 2006, 08:01 PM
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I am one of those people who don't mind paying a bit more for guides. I've traveled to southern India with my sister DIY but spent most of the time in touristy areas for safety. Public transport is a huge headache. It's true, you shouldn't go about alone. I also wouldn't advise staying in budget hotels.

In my younger days, I DIY to save money - I suspect everyone is doing it for the same reason - but the journey did not enrich me personally because I did not see the real beauty of India. I could only remember spending countless hours trying to find clean restaurants to eat, safe places to stay and what not. A couple of years back, we decided to go again and engaged a local guide. This time, it was no worries - and lots of curries. We enjoyed authentic masala tea, thosai, naan, visited coffee plantation (we drank the famous Monsoon Malabar and Terrichelli coffee), tea plantation trekking, fishing ... etc.

To me, traveling is more than going from place to place. It's soaking in local scenes and culture that make a trip worthwhile. If I don't have the money, I'd just stay at home. But when I travel, I go all out. The Indians are one of the oldest civilisation. Their history dates back to thousands of years. It would be a shame to visit the country on the fly and just skimp the surface.
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Old Aug 10th, 2006, 08:07 PM
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I have travlled alone in India on many occasions and in groups of women-only as well. On business trips I travel alone almost exclusively. I have never found India to be unsafe, have never felt unsafe, and have in fact never read or heard that it was classed with countries that are unsafe for woman or are prone to street crime like Brazil or some cities in Europe. I have felt unsafe in other countries here like Vietnam (although in general Asia is extremely safe). I was a bit surprised to read that you have heard from Indian colleague that you should not travel alone. You see a lot of women traveling alone or in groups. It could be that the impression of your colleagues that any small amount of crime is so unusual that they would extrapolate from that to say that it is unsafe at all to travel, I don't know.

I agree that you should take the usual precautions that you would anywhere in the world as to your wallet, etc. I actually would disagree about walking out alone at night, but there is little reason for you to be doing so, so that would not be an issue for you. You do NOT need a guide to escort you from sight to sight or between cities and you do NOT need to join an organized tour. A guide at certain sights is helpful, a driver hired for the day or a few days can be very valuable in saving time, but overall you can very much go by yourself and do-it-yourself.

You can hire drivers for the day through your hotel (the more expensive way), or go outside the gates of your hotel and bargain for your own driver for the day or a few days. I know people here have also hired for whole trips journeys, e.g. in Rajasthan, and may be able to recommend names and have contact details.

For guides, I usually hire them through my hotel for a day or a few hours. I have always had good luck with this. I usually hire them for specific sights like the Red Fort in Delhi or for a huge place like the City Palace in Jaipur. I tend to do a great deal of reading on my own before a trip, have guidebooks with me, and have a solid understanding of the history of the area already so I use guides for specific purposes and for help in gaining access to sights; that is I don't hire a guide to take me around the whole city of Delhi for the day, I would hire a driver for that and then go to sights myself. You don't need a guide for most of the sights in Delhi, IMO, if you have done some reading already.

For flights I would defiantly book ahead of time, as intra-India flights can be booked many weeks in advance (business travel is very heavy). For trains you can usually wait until you arrive and have your hotel get tickets. For hotels in the major cities if you want good 4/5 stars you would again definitely need to book before you arrive as again business travel is very heavy. In tourist towns like Agra and Jaipur it would be helpful in November to have a booking as you are just starting into the high tourist season at that time.

Delays at airports are unfortunately not uncommon as the airports are simply too small to handle the increase in air traffic that has occured over the last 5 years or so. Dehil has really only one runway for all traffic and things can get backed up very easily, and other airports suffer from the same problem. New runways are being built, but progress is slow. Trains run surprisingly on time considering the volume of traffic.
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Old Aug 10th, 2006, 10:06 PM
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Very safe even if you were to travel alone!
An erudite guide can be a delight to travel with for he not only knows the locale of your tours but helps you in myriad small ways, like checking in at hotels, checking out, buying entry tickets etc. And above all, he knows the history & i have repeatedly said on the forum, every stone in Rajasthan has a story to tell, only you need a Fitz Gerald to interpret the Rubaiyyat!!
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Old Aug 10th, 2006, 10:10 PM
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India is a safe country to travel to, but I would be careful about two things. Be very careful about walking around after dark especially in Delhi, unless you are familiar with the area and know that it is safe. To tell you the truth, I have been to delhi on business several times and have never walked anywhere after dark. It is usually a taxi ride from the hotel to the restaurant and back.If you are arriving to India after dark, make sure you arrange with the hotel or an agency to pick you and your friend up from the airport to take your hotel.
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Old Aug 10th, 2006, 10:51 PM
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Thanks everyone. This has been really helpful and I feel much better about doing it ourselves with the usual precautions.
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