Transport Safety Tips for Backpackers in India

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Generally, travel in India is safe. But, like anywhere in the world, you should take some precautions and always be aware of your surroundings. Our partners, husband-and-wife team Goats on the Road share a few tips on how to keep yourself, and your belongings safe.

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Two travelers in a tuk-tuk in India Photo © Julian Manrique, WhereNext.com

How safe is transport in India for solo women travelers?

It’s not recommended to take tuk-tuks or taxis late at night, particularly for solo female travelers.

Trains and buses are also safe, but in our experience, night-time can become a bit bothersome for women. To avoid men staring and potentially touching my wife, we would set up a curtain around her bed on the train.

By simply tying a few sarongs or scarfs around her bunk, we were able to keep away from prying eyes and get a good night’s sleep.

Indian men don’t see foreign women very often, so they can be a bit overwhelming, especially on night trains.

On buses, my wife would cover her hair with a sarong, which seemed to work well.

Some Indian men can be a bit more aggressive compared to what you’re used to at home. So, to avoid any issues, women should always dress modestly – especially on night transport.

A good tip is to avoid talking to men for long periods of time, as they will typically think it means you’re hitting on them.

Try to stay in berths and seats that have only women. If you’re feeling uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to ask to switch seats so that you can be next to a woman instead.

Also, if you feel you’re being harassed, don’t be afraid to make a scene. Be loud, and let the aggressor know that you won’t have it. They’ll likely become embarrassed when other passengers start to glare at them for bothering you.

Keep an eye out for your belongings

For both men and women, like everywhere, it’s important that you keep an eye on your belongings.

We used a small metal chain and a padlock, so that we could lock our bags to the seats and beds on night trains.

Other travelers I’ve met have tied some thin fishing wire from their luggage to their wrist, so that if anyone tries to take it while they’re sleeping, they’ll be woken instantly.

So, is transport safe in India?

Transport in India is generally fun and exciting. Like everywhere in the world, it pays to be cautious and keep your belongings close.

Perhaps India more than anywhere, women should be a little bit careful about talking to men. Generally this is more of a bother than an actual danger, but it’s worth noting.

Our experience traveling around India was fantastic. We got around on boats, trains, rickshaws, motorbikes, and about everything else you could think of.

Every step of the way there was an adventure, and if you go to India with an open mind, you might just find that getting from point A to point B is actually the best part of traveling there.

It’s not just about the destination after all!

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