Travelling alone as a woman can be a daunting experience wherever you might be travelling but with reports of rape and violent crime making up the headlines in news about India, it could definitely be putting some people off.
Over the last months, a number of women have reported being gang raped and in some cases robbed or drugged – the latest case reported involved a 51-year-old Danish woman – and it is having a big effect on tourism in the South East Asian country.
Reports like this can put off women from choosing to travel alone.
And while it's impossible to completely ensure that nothing like this ever happens to you, there are precautions that can help keep you from danger – tips suitable for men as well as women and advice that can equally be applied to many countries, where security can be an issue.
First and foremost, travelling at night is likely to be more risky, and this counts as much in Europe or the U.S. as anywhere else. Anyone needing to travel should stay to main streets and avoid being lured into any dark alleyways.
The UK's Foreign Office suggests that if you must travel alone at night, visitors to India should avoid using public transport, street taxis or auto-rickshaws. They recommend, instead, to have a hotel call a taxi.
The agency also reminds people that wherever you are travelling it is important to try to respect the local customs and wear clothing that will allow you to fit in. However, it does advise leaving expensive jewellery at home – although a wedding ring (whether you are married or not) can be an asset to avoid unwanted attention.
Meanwhile, Lonely Planet warns that in some countries groping and physical harassment could be a problem but encourages women to speak out and make a fuss to rally support from would-be helpers nearby and shame men to stop what they are doing.
In some countries, such as Egypt, organizations for women have created Harassmaps, an electronic billboard that details danger zones on any given day in certain cities.
Hotels all over the world have also been working to cater to women travelling alone, with the establishment of women only rooms or floors in countries including Singapore, Copenhagen and New York.
Although as a trend it has tended to target business women, offering amenities such as hair straighteners, sanitary products and yoga mats, in countries like India, there has been a greater demand from solo women travellers for single-sex floors to make them feel safer and more at ease when visiting.
The truth is that there are always risks for anyone travelling alone – especially women – but with the right planning and precautions, and taking advantage of local resources, you can still get the chance to see the world and feel a bit safer about it, too.This is strictly an exclusive feature, reprints of this article in any shape or form without prior written approval from 4Hoteliers.com is not permitted.
Louise Osborne is a correspondent and editor based in Berlin, Germany. She began her career working at regional newspapers in the UK and now works with journalists across the globe as part of international journalism organization, Associated Reporters Abroad (ARA). Living abroad for the second time, she continues to be fascinated by places both near and far, and boards a plane eagerly, as often as she can.
Louise writes a weekly exclusive column for 4Hoteliers.com