Hi all, hope you’ve been following our blog and read our recent article on Long Weekend List for 2016.In our current article, Travel Tips India, we will provide you with a few safety tips that you need to adhere to while travelling in India.
No one who has travelled to India will ever dispute the fact that India is a fun-loving and a friendly country, filled with warm-hearted and generous people. It is world renowned for its hospitality, where people believe in the motto “Atithi Devo Bhava” which means “A guest is equivalent to God”
However, like every other country, travelling in India comes with its own share of problems. Apart from the cultural differences, adapting to the rules & regulations, as well as understanding its customs and beliefs, may take some time, especially if you are travelling to India for the first time.
In this Travel Tips India guide, we bring to you the 21 essential safety tips that you must follow while in India, if you want to enjoy your trip and have a delightful experience!
Here is a quick overview of the Travel Tips India Guide:
- #1: Research Before You Plan Your Trip
- #2: Contact Acquaintance Or A Friend Who Stays In India
- #3: Carry Medications And First-Aid Supplies
- #4: Make Prior Hotel Reservation
- #5: Educate Yourself On The Cultural Differences
- #6: Memorize A Few Local Words
- #7: Beware Of Malicious Taxi Drivers
- #8: Dress Conservatively To Blend In
- #9: Beware Of Over-friendly Samaritans
- #10: Never Accept Food Or Drinks From Strangers
- #11: Avoid Wandering Alone Late Night
- #12: Learn The Art Of Patience
- #13: Deal Firmly With Beggars
- #14: Don’t Carry Important Valuables
- #15: Always Be Vigilant While Travelling In Trains
- #16: Stay Healthy – Watch What You Eat
- #17: Rules On Smoking, Drinking & Drugs
- #18: Don’t Flaunt Your Wealth
- #19: Don’t Be Overtly Finicky About Personal Space
- #20: While Shopping, Bargain Like A Pro
- #21: Book A Reliable Local Tour Guide-cum-Driver
#1. Research Before You Plan Your Trip
Knowledge is your best weapon when travelling to a strange land. Therefore, it is essential that you research about the country you are travelling to, if you want to keep yourself out of harms way.
Read travel tips (India) blogs & traveller reviews – they are mightily useful and are full of valuable advice
View travel advisory website – they issue travel alerts and warnings about all countries.
Take advice from people who have travelled to India.
Learn about the Indian culture
In short, educate yourself as much as you can before you make the trip, so you know what to expect when you arrive here, which will reduce your initial cultural shock and at the same time help you to make an informed choice.
#2. Contact Acquaintance Or A Friend Who Stays In India
Nothing beats the joy of meeting a friendly face in an unknown land. So if you have friends or relatives in India, contact them before you arrive.
Try connecting with an acquaintance you might know of, through social media or business contacts. Seeking out friends of friends, who are dwelling in your destination city and are willing to spend some time with you, is also a good idea and will help to serve three purposes:
You will have someone reliable that you know of and someone you can turn to in time of need
Secondly, since you already know someone here, you will be less nervous about making this trip, especially if you are travelling alone in India.
Lastly, as a local, your friend can help you to navigate the city better, than a tour guide.
#3. Carry Medications And First-Aid Supplies
Having your prescribed medicine on-hand while travelling is very important. Thus, be sure to carry enough medication to last you an entire trip or better yet carry extra if you have to.
Also, since small cuts and scrapes are a part of travelling, it is essential that you carry a basic first-aid kit. Apart from this, you can bring along
Satchels of Electrolytes: Since the weather in India is mostly hot and dry, carrying satchels of electrolytes will help you stay well-hydrated.
Sunscreen & Mosquito Repellent: Indian weather can be a bit harsh, so don’t forget to carry a good and effective sunscreen, if you’re planning to do a lot of outdoor trips. Also, carrying a good quality mosquito repellent is very essential.
Toilet sanitizer spray: Carrying a toilet sanitizer spray along with a hand sanitizer is a must.
#4. Make Prior Hotel Reservation
Having a prior hotel reservation is the best and safest way to start off your journey. In this way, you know what to expect when you arrive here and you are not running around trying to find a place as soon as you land.
Also, here are 3 things you need to keep in mind when staying in a hotel:
Ensure that the locks in your room are functioning properly
When you are out touring the city, put a “Do Not Disturb” tag on your door, this will give the impression that you are still inside the room.
Keep your valuables in your in-room safe and don’t store all your money in one place.
Further, ask for business cards, this way you will have the name and address of the local establishment in case of an emergency or if you get lost on your way.
#5. Educate Yourself On The Cultural Differences
Be prepared to be overwhelmed!
Because no matter how well you research or educate yourself, the initial cultural shock of being in India, can be a bit intimidating and at times, lead to sensory overload.
Being a multi-religious, multilingual country, with many ethnicities intermingling together, the Indian culture is a lot more diverse and gets complicated as you travel deeper into the rural pockets.
Thus, to avoid any faux pas follow these simple travel tips in India
Temple Etiquette: Religion is taken very seriously in India, hence it is important that you always show due respect when visiting a religious site or a shrine. Take your shoes off before you enter a temple or a mosque, dress conservatively and cover your head.
Public Display Of Affection: Indian men and women rarely if ever display any form of physical affection in public. Thus, it is important that you refrain from it too.
Indian English: Though English is widely used in many parts of India, the tone or the inflection of it may differ as you travel from one place to another. Also, swearing is taken rather seriously, so avoid the casual use of any swear words.
#6. Memorize A Few Local Words
In India, Hindi is the most widely spoken language, with English being the co-official language. While you don’t have to be fluent, learning a few basic phrases, will make your trip to India smoother.
Knowing important local words for “stop”, “help”, “no”, etc will help you with your safety and give you an edge when dealing with annoying salesmen.
Another way that most people communicate in India is through the famous “Indian Head Wobble.” A difficult thing to understand and a source of much confusion, it is a subtle gesture of nodding or shaking one’s head, and can mean many things from “I disagree with you” to a simple “yes”. Depending on the context, this simple head wobble can denote a number of things.
Thus, if you are likely to spend a considerable amount of time in India, it is important that you learn a few local words as well as get acquainted with the popular Indian Head Wobble.
#7. Beware Of Malicious Taxi Drivers
This is the most common scam you will experience while travelling, especially around popular tourist destinations.
So if you are arriving at an airport or train station, especially late in the night, make sure that you book a prepaid cab from the registration counter inside, before you leave the premises, this way you avoid being overcharged.
Further to avoid any hassle follow these travel tips while in India:
Check the Meter – Before getting into a taxi make sure that the meter is working appropriately. Never get into a taxi or rickshaw, if the meter is broken. Once you are in the taxi, watch the meter to ensure that it is not rigged and working at a consistent pace & not moving too fast.
Use Google Maps – This will help you to track your destination and ensure that the driver is taking you in the right direction.
#8. Dress Conservatively To Blend In
Just like the saying, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”, in India, it pays to blend in and dress conservatively when you are out and about, touring the city.
That’s not saying that you need to wear a 9-yard saree, but a simple attire like kurta, loose fitting salwar kameez with a dupatta (scarf), or plain jeans and a casual top will work wonders on how people in India perceive you.
Furthermore, here are a few pointers that will help you to blend in:
Copy the locals: Female tourists travelling to small cities or traditional areas in India, should follow the lead of local women. See what they are wearing and dress accordingly.
Dress modestly: Make sure you dress conservatively while visiting religious sites.
Avoid tight-fitting clothes: It garners too much attention.
Keep in mind that by dressing up in a modest attire, you are in accord with the Indian culture, which will, in turn, help you gain respect from all quarters as well as offer sanctuary from uninvited stares.
#9. Beware Of Over-friendly Samaritans
Indian people are generally very friendly and are always willing to help. But that doesn’t negate the fact that there are con artists and scammers roaming the streets, who will take you for a ride if you let your guard down.
Here are a few simple travel safety tips that you should keep in mind when dealing with strangers:
Don’t ask random strangers for directions: Avoid asking random strangers on the road for directions. Instead, ask shopkeepers or people with families for directions. It is also advisable that you download maps that can be viewed offline, to help you navigate the city.
Be Confident: Hold yourself well and act like you travel frequently, because nothing makes you an easy target than giving out the impression that you have no clue about the surrounding places or that you are a first time traveller.
Be Brave: Sometimes being polite maybe taken as a sign of weakness, thus, don’t be afraid to raise an alarm, in case of eve-teasing or if someone is making you feel uncomfortable.
#10. Never Accept Food Or Drinks From Strangers
Much has been said on this topic, but this trick is something that travellers often fall prey to. It maybe because you are in a strange country and don’t want to come across as rude to a friendly person, but trusting a stranger does more harm than good.
Thus, be it in a club or while travelling through public transportation, it is important that you never accept food or beverages from an unknown person.
#11. Avoid Wandering Alone Late Night
Wandering alone late at night on the streets is something that you should avoid, however, if you still plan to go out late in the night, remember these travel safety tips:
Always travel in a group – There is safety in numbers. Hence, the chance of you being mistreated or getting mugged while you are travelling with a group is slim.
Arm yourself – Taking a self-defence class or keeping a pepper spray in your purse, will help you in a dire situation.
#12. Learn The Art Of Patience
Nowhere is the frantic pace of life more evident than in India!
You will find streets bustling with people, incessant noise coming from all corners, drivers weaving all over the road, in short, you are bound to find chaos everywhere. Thus, even though undue disruption may seem like a daily occurrence, it is essential that you be patient and don’t let these small things stress you out.
Here are a few pointers on how best to deal with this trouble:
Don’t plan too much in advance: because more often than not, while travelling, things don’t go as you plan.
Take advantage of the undue delay: Sometimes being stranded can lead to unexpected discoveries.
Stop and be still: When accosted with undue delay, just sit back, relax and watch as life unfolds itself around you.
#13.Deal Firmly With Beggars
Anyone who is accosted by a beggar in India is bound to feel overwhelmed at their miserable plight, resulting in a need to do something to help them out, which in most cases means doling out money. But, what most tourists don’t understand, is that while poverty is a big issue in India, begging is a scam carried out by large organized gangs.
So what can you do about it?
Ignore them: Though it seems heartless, this is your best bet to avoid this scam. As long as you don’t make an eye contact and simply ignore them, they will stop hounding you.
Beware of children: When approached by a group of children, be firm with them and take care of your personal belongings
Stick to your decision: Beggars can be persistent and won’t take no for an answer, but don’t give in or you will have the entire clan following you around.
Besides, if you really want to help, you could always donate money to an NGO.
#14. Don’t Carry Important Valuables
To be stranded in a strange city without a passport, id card or a credit car is every traveller’s worst nightmare. Hence, it is critical that you keep your valuables and important documents safe all the time.
Carry a Money Belt : It is a small pouch that goes around your waist and can be fitted under most clothes, making it easier for you to carry all your important valuables with you, while you are touring the town or travelling in a train.
Muggers Wallet: Prepare a muggers wallet by purchasing an inexpensive wallet and filling it with expired credit cards, fake ids along with a little cash.
Hide your money strategically: Never keep all your money in one place. Keep them separately in different places such as hidden jeans pocket, socks etc. In this way, you won’t be stuck with no money, in case you get mugged.
#15. Always Be Vigilant While Travelling In Trains
Trains are a joy ride in India!
Not only are they comfortable especially for long journeys, but they are also reasonably cheaper than any other modes of transportation. Plus, thanks to its large network, you can almost reach any part in India by trains.
Now, while incidents of violent crimes are rare, petty theft and bag snatching, due to overcrowding, can be a major hassle. Hence, it is important that you:
Be Alert: Never let your guard down while travelling in trains. Also for a hassle-free journey, make sure you book your tickets as far in advance as possible
Safeguard your luggage: Make sure you secure your luggage with locks or chain it to the foot of your bed.
Stay covered up & refrain from accepting food: Do not accept food from strangers, as it can be dangerous for your health as well as wealth. Dress up modestly to discourage unwanted attention.
#16.Stay Healthy – Watch What You Eat
The phrase, “Variety is the spice of life”, certainly rings true when in comes to Indian cuisine! But for someone who is new to India, this culinary diversity can be a bit too overwhelming and might take some time to get adapted to.
Here are a few tips for staying healthy while travelling in India;
Drink only bottled water: Avoid drinking tap water and skip ice. Make sure that you always drink purified bottled water. Plus check the bottle’s seal before you purchase it.
Be cautious of street food: Though you might be curious to sample street food, avoid over-indulging in it.
#17.Rules On Smoking, Drinking & Drugs
The laws pertaining to smoking, alcohol, and drugs, may not be very stringent in India, but it could still land you in big trouble if you are caught indulging in it outside the permitted parameters.
Now, while smoking or drinking in public places can get you fined, possession of marijuana or charras, can lead to both – fine as well as an imprisonment of up to 6 months. Also, note that consumption of alcohol is prohibited in the states of Gujarat, Manipur, Nagaland and in the territory of Lakshadweep.
Always ask before lighting up: Smoking in restaurants, public transportation or any public area is strictly prohibited. But there might be certain restaurants, guest-houses, and hotels that allow smoking. Ask before you light up.
Smoking Pot: Possession & smoking of Marijuana is illegal in India
Check before boozing: The legal drinking age and laws which regulate the sale of alcohol in India vary from state-to-state, so check before you indulge. Further, if you are caught drunk while driving, your driving license and car can be confiscated, plus you have to pay a hefty fine.
#18.Don’t Flaunt Your Wealth
Thieves look for tourists who flaunt their wealth!
Thus, even if you are as rich as Croesus, avoid advertising this fact by wearing designer clothes, luxury watches, gold jewellery while travelling, as it will only mark you out as someone worth mugging.
In case you are travelling with expensive valuables, here are a few travel safety tips to help you secure it:
Keep it within your reach : Always keep your valuables besides you. Also, make sure to remove all your expensive items, before the cab driver puts your luggage in the trunk.
Dress inconspicuously: Remember that thieves pick their target based on how they are dressed. So, wear clothes to blend in, not stand out.
Swap expensive items: Instead of wearing expensive jewellery, swap it with inexpensive jewellery. You could also wear cheap watches, shoes, use basic luggage, etc
#19.Don’t Be Overtly Finicky About Personal Space
Being the second largest populated country in the world, overcrowding is a common issue in India.
Most people have to deal with relatively small space, especially while travelling, and so many a times, they might stand or sit a bit too close, without realizing or being too conscious of their personal space or yours being violated.
Thus, while you are in India, you need to see this transgression as a part and parcel of the Indian way of life and try not to be overtly fussy about it.
In most scenarios, people push and squeeze into cramped quarters, just so they can be a bit comfortable and nothing else. But if you are feeling uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to voice your opinion or ask for help.
#20.While Shopping, Bargain Like A Pro
Street shopping in India can be fun, but you need to be smart about it.
The first lesson you need to learn is to bargain for everything. No matter how small an article it might be, always bargain before you buy it or else you will be ripped off by the sellers.
Here are a few bargaining tips that can help you to negotiate better.
Start out real low: When you start out low, you make room for negotiations. In this way, you can reach a price, that you think is reasonably fair or come to a compromise.
Don’t flaunt your money: If you come across a wealthy person, then the chances of getting a good deal decreases immensely. So, don’t show your wallet, until you agree on a price.
Engage them: Engaging with a seller shows that you are really interested in buying that article and this will likely get you a better deal.
Use local language: Its a big plus. Not only will it help you to purchase something at a cheaper rate, but it will also indicate to them that you know how to deal with them.
Avoid too good to be true deals: Tourists have been scammed into buying stuff like precious gems at cheaper prices, which later turned out to be false.
Fixed rate shop: If you are in doubt, it is advisable that you shop from a fixed rate shop, where the prices are already set and so the risk of over-paying is negligible.
Take a friend: Taking along a local friend while shopping means that you get your stuff at local rates, if not less.
Besides these, it is also important that you remember to
#21.Book A Reliable Local Tour Guide-cum-Driver
While many Indian holiday packages include a tour guide, if you are travelling independently and want to hire a tour guide-cum-driver, then make sure you hire one through a respectable agency or ask the hotel you are staying in to make the arrangement for you.
Here are a few advantages of having a tour guide-cum-driver;
Rich source of information: Apart from explaining the key factors regarding a monument or a place, most tour guides, since they are local to that place, will also tell you about interesting, unheard of facts, thereby acting as a rich source of information.
Designated driver: Today, most tour guides also act as designated drivers. Thus, when you have your own guide-cum-driver accompanying you, dealing with annoying taxi and auto-rickshaw drivers, becomes one less hassle that you need to face.
At your disposal at all times: It is essentially the best advantage. A tour guide can accompany you everywhere. You could ask him to take you to the best eatery or club in town or take him with you while shopping.
Here it is a complete travel tips India guide. Just follow these travel tips in India and you will be able to get the most out of this adventurous trip.
However, all things considered, the above-mentioned points are a part and parcel of travelling to any part of the world. So it is wise, not to let these few little things deter you from travelling to India.
Plus, with a bit of precaution, well-timed research and by using a bit of common sense, one can deal with almost anything. What’s important is that you accept India for what it is and try to take everything that you experience here, with a pinch of salt. Lastly, don’t be overly cautious, because it will only result in a miserable trip.
So let loose and have fun or else the entire trip might end up being a total bummer!
Do you have any other safety tip to add to this travel tips India guide? Let us know in the comment below!
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