Catching an overnight train in India? The majority of people have no problems but as a female traveller you will need to take extra care.
Unfortunately many Western women have reported sexual harassment when travelling overnight on sleeper trains, so it’s wise to take extra precautions and heed the advice from other girls on the road!
Read our tips on staying safe on sleeper trains in India:
1. Book the ‘ladies-only’ carriage
Ask the travel agent to book the ‘ladies only’ carriage. It’s the same price as the standard carriage but much safer. If this isn’t possible, pay extra for third class as this is patrolled by security.
2. Cover up
Dress modestly in comfy trousers and a long-sleeved top. You will attract attention regardless of what you wear but tiny shorts and scrappy tops will only encourage it.
3. Avoid sleeping pills
If you’re travelling alone, don’t take sleeping pills or accept any food/drink from fellow passengers. It’s fine to purchase food and drink from the hawkers on the train, but don’t trust anyone else.
4. Request top bunk
If possible, book the top bunk. There are three tiers and top is safest. It’s too high for anyone to peer in at you! If this can’t be done, don’t worry. Just ensure you cover up and follow our other tips.
5. Make friends with other women
Chat with other women or Westerners in your carriage. Most local women are super friendly and will look after you. Avoid being overly friendly to men that may be travelling on the same train.
6. Buy a chain for your bag
Buy a small padlock and chain at the station (100 rupees) so you can lock your backpack to the seat. It’s also worth buying a Pacsafe bag for your phone and passport, which you can lock onto your bunk.
7. Take a silk liner/sleeping bag
In 3AC sheets are provided but we’d still recommend taking a silk sleeping bag. This ensures you stay covered up from wandering eyes and hands.
8. Set an alarm
Set an alarm to ensure you wake up at your stop! Double check your arrival time when you book your ticket and keep track of your progress. Download Maps.me and save your route offline.
TOP TIP: if the map doesn’t work, hold your phone near the window or open door. If that doesn’t work, just ask around. Most people on the train will be able to tell you when to get off.
9. Pre-book your hostel
Overnight trains often arrive early in the morning – sometimes at 4.30am when it’s still dark. This isn’t a good time to arrive in a new city so make sure you’re organised. Have the area map downloaded via Map.me and workout how much to pay in a rickshaw. Also ensure your phone is charged before you get off (there are power points in the carriage).
And finally, enjoy the experience! Most travellers love travelling by train and seeing the countryside whizz past. Just do what you can to stay safe.