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5 Tips for Solo Women Self-Drive Trips in India

It’s no secret that I love driving. From the first day I sat on the driver’s seat when I was 14 years old, till my last solo adventure in a four wheeler, I just love being behind the wheel.

In the recent years, nudged into travelling due to the fabulous road network in India, I’ve done a lot of road trips and many of them have also been solo adventures, whether in the mighty Himalayas or down south.

I have never been deterred by either the distance or the remoteness of the place simply because I take a lot of care and exercise a lot of caution when I am on the road, on my own.

Over the years, I have adopted some serious life skills when I travel solo, and especially if I am on a solo self-drive road trip.

And, I am happy to share my Top 5 Tips.

I am also especially keen to share these tips because I have often been told that India is an unsafe country for women in general, so it must be unsafe for women travellers, particularly solo women travellers. I feel that a woman traveller can be safe anywhere in the world if we take care to ensure our safety. It honestly has nothing to do with a particular country.

  1. Don’t drive after dark.

Yes, well, it is not rocket science. After dark, it is difficult to figure out roads, troublesome to change a flat, and risky to stop and ask for directions. As a general rule, I stop driving by 6:00 PM and find a good place to shack in for the night.

While it is not unrealistic, I feel that expecting a good samaritan to surface and help if you’re in trouble, is being a bit naive. As a woman who has travelled on her own rather extensively, I feel that my safety is in my own hands and I should take all necessary precautions.

I also don’t think that this rule would be applicable only in India.

  1. Carry a motor to inflate tyres.

This is by far one of the most crucial items I carry on my road trips. It helps inflate a flat tyre just enough to drive to the next puncture fixing shop, so I don’t have to struggle to replace the tyre, or worse, get stuck if I am unable to do so. While I do know how to replace a tyre, sometimes the screws are badly jammed and may need an extra helping hand to loosen them.

If I am driving on mountain roads, or if the roads are in bad shape, I use this inflator to bring the tyre pressure to its optimum level before I start driving for the day.

  1. Stop at crowded places for meals/to use restrooms.

When I am driving on my own, I make it a point to stop at crowded roadside eateries and dhabas (as they are called in India), especially one that has private cars parked in front of them, ensuring that there would be families dining at these places. Most of them also have decent restrooms and often the women using them are happy to hold on to my bag while I wrap up my business as most of them are intrigued to see a woman driving on her own, and end up having a conversation with me about it.

Though fuel stations also have restrooms (it is mandatory now), I find that most of them are quite isolated and dirty as compared to the toilets attached to eateries.

  1. Download offline Maps or keep printouts.

This is 2022 and India does have excellent network connectivity even in rural areas. But sometimes, network might fail. If you’re alone, you don’t want to take chances.

I always download the maps offline and keep a printout handy too, just in case my phone also ditches me.

Downloading or saving a Fuel Pumps map is a very good idea especially if its your first visit to the region.

I have been to some really far flung areas where there isn’t a soul you can stop to ask for directions (inspite of our population), so a map does come handy.

  1. Wear an Adult Diaper.

I can imagine your horror when you read that!

In a networking meeting once, I met a corporate trainer who told me that he wears diapers when going into a really intense training programme and I was also taken aback.

But believe me, this is a life saver.

We all know that expecting a good toilet on the highways in India is like looking for Utopia. It just doesn’t exist!

An adult diaper will take care of those urgent breaks especially when travelling in remote areas, and also keep you safe so you don’t have to risk your life just for that bathroom break.

Choose one of the pants types that are easy to wear and remove.

I hope these 5 Tips help you gain the confidence to venture on your own solo self-drive trip, and if you’re someone who has taken many solo self-drive trips like me, do share your thoughts!


This post was first published on Travel Shots

Ritu February 1, 2022