Essential Tips for First Time Travelers to India

Travelling to India for the first time? A trip to India is always fascinating, as long as you take the essential measures to stay safe and healthy during your visit. There are many foreign tourists who consider a trip to India one of the best experiences of their lives, while there are others who just want to leave within days of getting there, horrified by what they see and experience.

Colorful India

Really, travelling to India is not all that hard as long as you know how to handle the various situations you face during your visit. Reading some of the tips here will prepare you for your trip to India, so that you know exactly what to expect and are prepared for it. Remember, traveling to India is not a hardship journey that you are obligated to do; it’s fun, exciting, and even exhilarating – as long as you are prepared!

Dealing with the crowd, the heat and the traffic…

The crowd and the traffic are always the hardest thing and required some getting used to. The heat can be oppressive too, and hits you as soon as you step out of the airport. The poverty and the slum present a sad sight too. While this is overwhelming, don’t let allow it to throw you into some sort of a depression within moments of landing in India. Not every country in the world is the same, and that’s what makes our planet so wonderful. You will get used to it.

Traffic in India

The traffic can be a bit too much, but surprisingly few accidents happen on Indian roads. Cross at the traffic signals, and you should be fine. Always hire taxicabs while travelling in cities, with apps such as Uber, hiring taxis is easy in India. In smaller towns, hire the 3-wheelers called autorickshaws to get around. Only when there’s no other choice should you get into public transport. Don’t let the noise on the streets get to you, carry an ear plug if you are affected by it.

Dealing with the extra attention

Indians have a habit if staring at people, especially at female travelers. This can seem disgusting to you at first, but don’t allow it to affect you. Don’t stare back, just ignore the stares. Wear sunglasses when you go out, as that would save you a lot of trouble when it comes to handling these stares. Remember, the stares from most people, while embarrassing, are harmless, and only curious. Don’t get your photos taken with strangers, as they might be used for the wrong purposes, as bragging rights, even. Just turn down any photo requests, point blank.

Advice for female travelers…

Female travelers should dress conservatively in India, avoid wearing tight clothes and avoid physical contact with Indian men, don’t even shake hands. Don’t stare back when someone stares at you, as this will be seen as flirting. Don’t allow your photos to be taken. Sit with other Indian women when travelling by public transport. Never travel alone at night and keep the locks of your hotel room tightly closed, especially at night.

Women in India

How not to get sick…

Always drink bottled water made by recognized companies. Ensure that the bottles are sealed correctly before buying them. Wash the fruits or salad before eating them. Never drink the tap water in India, it is highly unsafe. Always have food from restaurants of a decent quality. Never have street food. Avoid roadside dhabas or eateries, and definitely avoid tea sold by roadside vendors. Shower twice a day, in the morning and at night, before going to bed.

Dealing with the beggars…

While the poverty and begging can be heart wrenching, don’t get affected by them. Beggars in India, especially children are very persistent, they grab your hand and don’t let go. Just avoid them, ignore them, get away from them, and don’t get involved. It might be hard for you, but understand these children are taught to beg by organized gangs. By giving them money, you will only encourage these gangs to hire more child beggars. If you want to help the poor kids in India, you can lend your support by donating to some of the reputed NGOs that are doing a great work in the country.

Beggars in India

Never lose your cool…no matter what…

It’s important to be patient at all times in India, especially when dealing with the local bureaucracy. Things get time to be done in India, but you will only make them worse by showing anger or impatience. Be polite, but firm, and get your work done. Smile and smile often, when dealing with bureaucrats, that will get them to do what needs to be done faster.

How not to get mugged…

Mugging is not as common in India as it is in say, South Africa or the Caribbean. But you should avoid walking alone at night, and when you do, walk in busy places. Keep your valuables close and don’t get too friendly with strangers. Always ensure that your wallet or purse remains safe. Watch out when someone appears to be following you. And just stay away from the holy men and astrologers.

Strictly stay away from drugs…

Just avoid marijuana and hash, no matter how high the temptation. Carrying drugs carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years and will it will just destroy your life if you are caught with drugs in India. Just avoid them, and stay away from locals or other foreign tourists who you know use drugs.

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