5 Things to Keep in Mind While Traveling / Backpacking in India
Located in South Asia, bordered by the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, with a population of over 1.2 billion people, India certainly has a lot to offer. No one claiming to be an explorer, traveler or backpacker can pass up an opportunity to visit India.
Its culture is diverse and renowned. The approach to life is something quite different from Europe or America and it certainly offers a steep learning curve as well as an excellent life experience. Visiting is something that many would love to do but there is often a certain amount of anxiety that comes with India, even for the more travelled ones amongst us.
In light of that, we have devised the top 5 things to keep in mind while traveling to India. These top tips should put you at ease and keep you safe throughout your time abroad.
Rickshaws, taxis and buses are the typical means of transport throughout India. Just as you would experience in the markets, some people will try to take advantage of you by overcharging. Make sure that you haggle with them and try to do it before you get into the vehicle, so that the amount cannot be changed or disputed. If you plan well enough in advance you can also save money using travel coupons and get some discounts.
Sometimes there will be a meter or a fixed price, as for the buses, but it is still wise to
be on guard and be prepared for lots of traffic. When you are out on foot you should be
streetwise. Many will try to take advantage of you and try your very best not to get lost!
Is there anything more important than security? You need to feel safe, wherever you are traveling to or from. Personal security could be as simple as planning the route to the airport so that you are not left stranded. Otherwise, you should also take great care to look after your finances.
Money is hugely important and many carry it on their persons when they travel. This can be a big risk so make sure that your money is stored safely out of sight, somewhere that only you can reach. Use padlocks or security codes on your baggage too, and where possible use backpacks since these are easier to carry.
Your health is of the utmost importance when you are abroad. Do not leave your home without proper medical insurance! This will make sure that you are treated if anything happens to you, that your costs are paid for and that you can get home again. Don’t be a fool by taking unnecessary risks. You should stay in groups, remain calm, follow your guide and stay on the designated path.
When it comes to food, you should also take great care. Make sure that your food is thoroughly cooked and where possible choose dry foods. Anything that is likely to have been made with water is a risk. Water is also a high concern. Only ever drink bottled water! Check that the seals have not been broken, and always carry extra water with you when out and about. When in doubt, use water purifying tablets.
Plan your stay well in advance. No one wants to be searching for a hotel after having flown for several hours. Take the time to research the areas that you will be visiting. A tourist can be spotted from more than a mile away and people will try to take advantage of you, particularly in the markets. Don’t take their word for it, instead choose a respectable hotel that has been properly reviewed or endorsed by travel boards or other visitors. Get air conditioning!
Take extra care if you are a woman, and even more if you are traveling alone. Where possible, you should look into accommodation that is based in residential areas, as these are less prone to hassle, thievery and other such risks.
There are a few other tips that everyone should be aware of when they are visiting India. These could really help you to get by and to have a more genuine experience of the lifestyle and culture of the country.
Bargain hunt – you should always look around at 3 or 4 different shops or stalls to make sure that you are getting the best price for a good. Haggle whenever you can and if you are buying online, then check out discount and deals sites like Couponraja.
Language – most people will speak English but the national language is Hindi. There
are probably opportunities for you to converse in their native tongue and many will
appreciate you trying.
Clothing – try to blend in. You can buy traditional clothes when you arrive. These are
ideal because they are also made for the weather, which is likely to be extremely
hot! Carry very little with you, and nothing of value. Linens are best. If you are a
woman, dress moderately. It is offensive to many when women are exposed.
Manners – there are a few customs which are always great to read up on. For
instance, you should remove your shoes when you are invited into a person’s house.
You should also avoid eating or passing items with your left hand, as this is deemed
rude and unsanitary.