You probably decided to go to India. And now asking yourself what should I know before traveling to India? It’s normal for all first-time travelers. Even in some cases, experts ask themselves this question too.
India is a colorful country full of culture. Between every 20 kilometers, the culture, language, people change. You should keep in mind many things while going to India because it’s a whole new place.
Here are some handy tips from backpackers who went to India before that might help you at your journey to India.
What Should I Know Before Traveling To India? – 29 Best BackPackers Tips
1.Be careful with water
Do not use tap water, ice, or uncooked vegetables with thin skins (water penetration). You shouldn’t even brush your teeth with unfiltered water. If you’ve lived in India for years, you’re probably immune to it. We have not. Spend 5 hours pooping as I have, and then you’ll change your mind.
I’ve seen a lot of people talking loudly to locals. Language barriers are not the same as hearing impairments. It isn’t polite. Also, avoid slum tours and intrusive “street photography.”
Street food sometimes gets a bad reputation, but it’s fine as long as everything is cooked before your eyes and there is a queue.
By cooking, you remove bacteria in front of you, you assure freshness, and by seeing a line of people, you know it’s a tasty item, and others trust or know the person.
A lot of people don’t like this. They say that it’s hot and they should be able to dress how they want. But India isn’t America or the UK, or even Latvia. India is India.
We like to say when in Rome, do as the Romans do.. so do as the locals do. Their clothes have been designed over centuries to be the optimum style for the climate and culture.
If you don’t want to do this, they cover your shoulders, knees, and cleavage. It’s not fair that guys have fewer rules, but that’s just how it is.
5.Don’t get overwhelmed
India is a different ballgame. The tighter you hold onto your ways, the worse it’s going to be for you.
6.Don’t cheap out
Booking a $15 per night hotel or 50 cents lunch may be too tempting but avoid these at all costs. And if you decide to penny-pinch, you shouldn’t complain about the lack of amenities or quality.
7.Research and plan in advance
You should finalize your accommodation, stopovers, and transportation well in advance. Keep the important phone numbers like taxi service, emergency number, your home consulate contact details handy.
Stay away from the taxi drivers who approach you at airport exits. Also, a good idea to reach out to local guides on google/yelp beforehand.
8.Being a dark tourist is your choice
If you want to experience dark tourism and raise your adrenaline, it’s your choice, but you can’t blame anyone but yourself if your experience is unsavory.
Alternatively, you can focus on the diverse landscape, food, historic sites, and local hospitality.
9.Dress for the occasion
If you are attending a party at an upscale hotel, your attire is of no concern, but if you are visiting a shrine or walking around in a crowded place, dress conservatively.
10.Don’t flaunt your money/gadgets
This applies to all countries. Some miscreants may be looking to make some quick buck off you, so travel light.
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11.Avoid long-distance road travel
Unlike US/CA/EU, travel long distances by road can be bumpy, time-consuming, and expensive. Trains are the better option.
12. Aware of Date Format
India uses the DD-MM-YYYY format for dates. Watch what you type in the visa applications and cross-verify your ticket dates with the printed Visa Document.
You will encounter frustrated immigration officials and security at airports that rival Fort Knox, so you cannot take chances.
Do your homework well. Just the visa does not suffice at times. Some parts of India need additional in-line permits for foreigners.
13. Visa Violations
India takes visa violations very seriously. If you are in doubt at any point about your purpose of visiting India, do not go through the E-Visa route.
Apply physically at the consulate if the purpose goes a tiny bit beyond casual tourism. This is particularly for those journalists, photographers, and wannabe journalists who try to enter India on a visitor visa.
If you wanted to shoot a documentary or an advertisement, the E-Visa you apply for does not serve the purpose. You will be screwed royally if you are caught, which you will be.
14. About the Freedom of Speech
Democracy and free speech are only for the citizens of India and not for non-citizens. Watch what you speak, write or endorse.
Hold the wrong poster, wrong map, or an inflammatory placard, and you may never get to see home again. The MHA of India has zero obligation to its citizens to explain how aliens/foreigners are treated.
If you are an anti-vaxxer who has not been vaccinated as per the WHO Vaccination Schedule, do not step foot in India. You will be in for some nasty surprises.
The same goes for people who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons. Be practical in your decision.
16. India is a Tropical Country
Understand the fact that India is a tropical country. Tropical countries attract tropical problems, just like temperate zones have their own.
It is the same tropical zone of high humidity that is highly conducive to most life processes. The fallout of such climatic phenomenon is explosive breeding of mosquitoes and insects and common water contamination for shorter shelf lives.
Your relentless complaining makes little difference, whether it is India or any tropical/equatorial country. Just because you come from a temperate climate zone does not give you the license to rubbish and insult people and lands for their tropical circumstances. That is the way things are.
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Prepare yourself for being overwhelmed by your 5 senses. You’ll encounter the vivid colors of Jaipur, the heady scent of spices at the spice market in Mumbai, the crowds of people rushing to and from work in Chennai, Jasmin floral garlands at a temple in Kolhapur, and garbage burning in the street.
The noises and sounds of a life lived by millions and millions of people, or just the welcomed evening breeze, humming through a window in an old mansion by the lake in Udaipur.
Don’t struggle against it; give yourself over to it.
18.Traffic patterns/Take a Walk on the Wild Side
There is always a lot of traffic in cities. The only way to cross the street on foot is to watch how locals do it and copy them.
It usually means stepping out when there is a small break in traffic and walking but never running, keeping your pace steady, and even so that your exact position is super easy for drivers to predict.
Drivers will see you and adjust accordingly. It takes some courage in places like Bangalore and downtown Delhi. If you chicken out, be sure to step alongside a local. Go with the flow.
19.You’re Not Their Savior
People have been living in India for thousands and thousands of years, and they have their way of doing things, their good and their bad, like everyone else.
It’s for them to deal with, not for you as a visitor to try to change in any way. It’s hard sometimes, but you have to live by that rule. Let it be.
20.Look at the beauty, not the grime
The architecture, the culture, the exuberant vegetation, the clothing, the arrangement of dishes on a thali, the immaculate white shirts of the workers leaving their modest dwellings in the morning.
The warm, broad smiles of every face that looks at you if you smile at them. The children seem to have sincere happiness etched into their hearts even if they have no money for shoes.
Every single moment you will see a scene of great contrasts: grime, dirt, poverty, plastic bags and garbage all over, dung, dead animals (or worse) will almost always be visible in the same glance as an amazing old palace, a carved sculpture of breathtaking quality, the bright saffron robe of a monk or the intense colors of a sumptuous silk sari.
Keep your eyes tuned on the beauty, don’t waste your time dwelling on the grime. Grime is everywhere, even in your country, but you don’t see it any more than they see theirs.
As a visitor, don’t waste your time or emotional energy on it. There is beauty everywhere.
21.Be a “People Person”
Enjoy conversing with absolute strangers. Startup a conversation, smile a lot. People tend to be very friendly, and they know how to appreciate a good conversation.
Over the years, I’ve found that more and more Indian tourists are sightseeing domestically, and they’re always good sources of information and lovely to talk to.
Locals at the local vegetable market, or a temple, or around schools or universities are also all great people to talk to.
The Taj Mahal is fabulous for an Instagram post, but it’s the people you talk to and make even fleeting friendships with that remain in your heart and mind forever.
22.Never Ask the passerby for direction; instead, ask the shopkeeper, Watchmen, Vendors, Policemen. They give you more accurate and clear directions.
23. Use Public Transport to save money. Use public transport like Bus, Metro or Electric Trains to save money and add more excitement in the journey and create memories by traveling with locals.
24. Eat local food and try popular food in that city. Trying Local food instead of eating your boring routine food at your home will challenge your taste buds and appreciate its taste and eating experience.
25. Try to use Cash for Petty expenses and Use Debit or Credit Card for Huge Expenses.
28. Velcro Pockets will help you reduce the risk of losing your wallet or cash while traveling compared to Pockets without Velcro.
26. Book Hotels online so that you can save your energy and time from going offline, booking and finding out that the rooms are unavailable, or any Auto walas or Taxis in misguiding you in taking you to the cheapest hotel and charge you some amount as a commission.
Let go, learn something new, meet new people, try new foods. Just go with the flow and allow yourself to be immersed in a new world.
Also! Don’t overpack!! 95% of what you need can be bought there and cheaper than the prices back home.