Travelling to India can often be a terrifying prospect for even the most experienced of travellers. The chaos and pollution you hear of seems to become overwhelming before you’ve even got off the flight! From experience, I can say India is by far one of the most beautiful countries you will ever visit and is truly an adventure of a lifetime!
Let’s get past our worries and forget those common questions, “How will I survive the chaos? And how will I cope with the mayhem?”.
These top tips for India will get you through the various cities and make it feel like a walk in the park!
1. Prep and plan ahead
India may look like a small country on the map, but when there is so much ground and beauty to cover, India can seem huge. Tip number one has to be to plan your route!
Every part of India is so different from the next that it can become hard to decide what route is best for you. From experience, covering less ground and spending longer exploring one place is often more beneficial — live in the country, don’t visit. Of course this varies massively on the length of your trip and how you get from point a to b; domestic flights obviously save time, but Indian transport is cheaper and one heck of an experience.
Travellers who want a more chilled and beach experience, head down towards Kerala and Goa on the Malabar coast — it’s absolutely stunning! And for those feeling more adventurous and spiritual, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh will be right up your street.
2. Overcome your transport fears
India is renowned for chaotic roads and transport, which can be a huge turn off for many. Sweaty palms and a racing heart will occur at some point during your Indian adventure, but it really isn’t something worth worrying about (plus it’s almost impossible to avoid).
Trains may seem like a daunting prospect, but they are surprisingly organised and easy to figure out. A top tip for trains would be to choose your class wisely! If you’re doing an 8–12 hour journey, do not opt for the cheapest fare, first or second class with AC is much comfier and bearable! Always arrive early as the trains don’t hang about. From experience, trains can sometimes pull away within seconds of stopping!
3. Stock up on loo rolls
Now I am not suggesting your bag is full to the brim of loo rolls (toilet paper), but carrying a couple of rolls is 100% essential! Hygiene may be different than what you are used to in Western countries and toilets are not always user-friendly.
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4. Turn vegetarian for your travels
On the subject of hygiene, Delhi Belly is another renowned aspect of travelling through India, which can really make your stomach churn. Although it is likely you will experience some mild form of sickness whilst on your travels, taking several precautions can really help you avoid something more severe.
Many travellers turn vegetarian whilst travelling India, and for good reason! Meat is not often consumed in India and on the rare occasion that it is, it might not be cooked in a way you used to — it is best avoided, really.
Don’t eat food that has been sitting out all day and is swarming with flies; it really isn’t going to do your body any good — you might think this is obvious but trust me, some travellers like to live on the edge ‘sigh’. Avoid eating fruit and salad, (unless the fruit has a skin, which you can peel) as they will have been washed in unsanitary water.
Street food can look and smell delicious, but really isn’t worth the hassle of spending the night in the bathroom; from experience I can say it really isn’t worth it.
5. Pick your restaurant wisely
Talking of food, picking your restaurant whilst travelling India is key to a happy tummy. From experience, I would recommend only eating in busy restaurants — I mean, they are busy for a reason.
Although us travellers are often on a tight budget, eating at a reasonably priced restaurant is a much safer option in the long run than eating at a questionably cheap restaurant. The quality and hygiene of the food is going to be much better.
6. Stay hydrated with bottled H20
Staying hydrated whilst in India is so important as temperatures get incredibly unbearable. The dry heat is not only going to affect your mood, but it can make you feel quite unwell. Make sure you stay well hydrated at all times and only drink bottled water.
Only bottled water? What?
Yes! Don’t drink the tap water! This is the most important thing ever! It’s not potable, it doesn’t taste nice and you will almost certainly become ill. When it comes to water, make sure you only buy bottled water with a sealed cap. The same goes for water, try to avoid having ice in your drinks!
7. Avoid pesky scams
When travelling in India you will most definitely experience some form of scam. Whether it’s through someone trying to offer you a ‘gift’, (it’s not a gift so don’t accept it) or a taxi driver over-charging you, scams can easily be avoided if you know what to look out for.
Learning the art of battering is not only fun, but can save you a substantial amount of money. Shopkeepers and market stall owners are pros at ripping off tourists. Now, it’s not so easily done in a shop, but always barter for your goods at markets as the price will be tripled when you’re a tourist.
In may sound harsh, but avoid giving money to beggars. It can not only become a nuisance having people constantly hassle you, but once you’ve given to one, you’ll attract more beggars.
Now you may think a small Indian child running up to you to is cute and adorable, but whilst one child is talking to you, don’t be surprised to find another trying to pick pocket your bag. I am not saying this is every child, but it is incredibly common for this type of thing to happen throughout India — just be aware.
Take a deep breath, enjoy and survive India
The biggest and best tip for first timers travelling to India is to enjoy it! If you ignore all the other tips, don’t ignore this one! India is beautiful and such a fantastic country to explore, that if you become wrapped up in worry, you’ll lose sight of all the enjoyment there is to have.
Yes the chaos and catcalling can become overwhelming and even the most patient person could lose their temper, but remember to take a deep breath, be patient, and enjoy India! Good luck!
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