wise or not: solo female India

Jun 4th, 2010, 01:23 PM
  #1  
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wise or not: solo female India

I am considering going to India, mostly to Northern India on a solo journey. I wonder about the sensibility of this, though I am fairly experienced at solo world travel. Of course I want to have the challenge of doing it myself and all, but I don't want to risk my safety too much. Though I am pretty tough, I think I might stand out in India alot being tall, blonde American and often attract attention in places I have been solo such as China, Mexico, Central America, Rural USA. I'm not out to find a man or a party, just to accomplish a journey, see a part of the world that is important to me. Of course I consider dressing in local clothes, wonder about chopping and dyeing my hair black, using tan in a can, but that would be rather drastic. I prefer to travel with no reservations. Problem? I enjoy off the beaten path local stays as well as uber-luxury level digs. Seems to me that I could probably book several high quality hotels in places I want to go, book air flights or trains and rely on the hotels to help secure drivers, etc, yet this high class method while perhaps safer, perhaps less challenging than the kind of backpacker trip I might have taken on a shoestring and a prayer a decade or so ago. Seems I could also take a very, very expensive tour by the time you add a single supplement to an Aberkrombie and Kent deal, or Tauck tour and enjoy very architectural hotels...or lower end tours but as a solo traveller I am unsure about tour companies. What advice would anyone care to share? Thanks so much. Go it alone? Dare to wing it with no reservations? Reserve the whole trip at the high end? Take a tour? With what company? 5k single supplements turn me off. Don't want to share a room.
judithmills is offline  
Jun 4th, 2010, 01:44 PM
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If it were me (and it isn't), I'd go solo, but with some reservations made. You don't say what time of the year you are going or exactly where, but having recently encountered the place of our choice fully booked 6 months in advance, I'd want the places most likely to fill up - or the smallest places - booked well in advance.

I've traveled all over the world (though the upcoming trip is my first to India) as a blonde female and have both survived and thrived. There are a number of female solo travelers who post here who can also give you encouragement and tips.
Kathie is online now  
Jun 4th, 2010, 01:49 PM
  #3  
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Thanks Kathie,
I have survived and thrived, though I prefer to thrive! I am planning on going in November approximately.
judithmills is offline  
Jun 4th, 2010, 03:21 PM
  #4  
Amy
 
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I had a lovely solo independent trip to India. As I had only three weeks, I did make my plans/reservations ahead of time; I didn't want to spend time with airlines and hotels while there. My trip went from the South to the far North (Ladakh), and, while the first bit was accompanied, most was on my own altogether.

I'm honey blonde and green-eyed, so I didn't blend in at all, of course, but that wasn't really a problem. I definitely urge you to go solo, but there is a tour company that's pretty good for solos that has an India itinerary: www.oattravel.com

Here's my trip report to give you some ideas: http://www.fodors.com/community/asia...rip-report.cfm and here's the site (recommended here on the forum) where I found so much of the info I needed: www.indiamike.com

Happy travels!
Amy is offline  
Jun 4th, 2010, 03:27 PM
  #5  
 
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A lot depends on your ability to handle/tolerate being hassled. I've found that in many countries (India being one of them) you are considered fair game as a solo female traveler. It's not so much being a tall blonde that attracts attention (although it does) as being a vulnerable, comparatively affluent female.

You are less likely to attract attention if you have another female companion, and even less likely if you have a male to vouch for you. I think the most protection is offered by a companion who is obviously a local (male or female).

A tour does not have to be expensive, nor does it have to be a group tour. If you find a good agent, they should be able to work within your budget.

Solo and group travel both have advantages and disadvantages. When travelling solo the itinerary is customised to my interests, and I can spend as much or as little time as I please at any stop. I also enjoy the comraderie of group travel, and this method tends to be far more comprehensive than a trip I would take on my own.
Femi is offline  
Jun 7th, 2010, 08:16 PM
  #6  
 
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I, solo female, spent ten weeks traveling round India by train in 2001 (see wilhelmswords.com/asia2001 ) and am getting ready to go back for another six weeks. I had very few reservations last time, other than for the trains, and had no difficulty, but it was right after 9-11 and there weren't many other tourists around. I'll probably make more reservations this time.

I was very ready to leave after ten weeks, but knew I wanted to go back. Traveling independently on a budget you do need to be prepared to continually haggle with rickshaw drivers (the going rate changes from town to town), and ignore people who want to sell you things (including themselves as guides).

Another option for a tour would be Intrepid (massagediva has a TR for an Indian trip with Intrepid on this site), but I think you can do fine on your own.
thursdaysd is offline  
Jun 8th, 2010, 01:42 AM
  #7  
 
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I think I'll leasve the advice about being a woman to the women - but may I just suggest this as a practical solution to many of your concerns:

http://www.mahindrahomestays.com/Pages/home.aspx

If you stay in the bubble, you can do everything you want to, meet people, sort transport, stay loose, book a day in advance on the net, always have other women around, know the locals... I think you can work out the rest. This is a very reputable company; there are, of course, others.

When you need a break, then explore boutique properties. For example:
www.ahilyafort.com
where a single woman would be utterly comfortable. There are a zillion places like this. The Alistair Sawday site is the place to start. Do your transfers thru the homestay/hotels and there's nuttin' that can go wrong.

Travel with a mobile phone. Arm yourself with the right phone numbers - trust me, when things go pear-shaped in India [and they WILL] a mobile is your first line of escape.

Explore.

The cities may be the place to go up-market.
dogster is offline  
Jun 8th, 2010, 02:20 AM
  #8  
 
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http://www.sawdays.co.uk/accommodation/india/

I'd like to add that you should have your first couple of weeks organised before you go - not 'cos you're a woman, but 'cos India can be difficult at first. Once you get the hang of it, THEN make it up as you go along. Of course, if you want to head to the top boutique property in the top holiday centre at the height of tourist season, you'll have issues. But something tells me you are not that kind of traveler.

My next thought is to be creative and try not to just follow the endless tourist nexus of delhi/agra/jaipur/udaipur etc. etc. because, if you do, you'll just be another sausage going thru the factory. It's very difficult to break out of that assumption. You may find what you want in unexpected places.
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