With its rich history, art, culture, beautiful architecture, and scrumptious local cuisine, you’ve probably been lured to plan your trip to India to explore what more it has to offer to curious travelers like you. If you’re searching for a world full of contrasts, diversity, and enigma, then you’re in the right place. It’s actually what makes India unique and bemusing—a country that curious nomads would definitely include in their travel wish list.
But wait. Before you book your flights, find a hotel, and pack your bags, it’s best to get an inside look in India so you can have a glimpse of what to expect once you’re there. Besides, it’s the best way you can avoid culture shock.
So, what are some things you need to consider before you travel to India?
- Bring enough local currency.
Auto rickshaws are the common mode of transportation in India and you may only pay for it in cash. Same goes with items you’ll buy from small stores as well as other services available in the rural areas. Many tourists have also reported that some ATM services around the country are unreliable. It’s either they’re offline or running out of money.
Therefore, it is important to secure enough money in the local currency before your travel to avoid any of these inconveniences.
- Buy local sim card with 4G internet connection.
To avoid getting lost when you move around the places included in your itinerary, you need a fast and reliable internet connection you can use to access Google Maps. You can even download offline maps before your travel so that whatever happens, you’ll have something to rely on for directions, even when the internet signal suddenly becomes poor in some areas.
Tough competition exists among telecommunication companies in India. So, the prices of prepaid data are quite cheap. In fact, you can have 10 GBs of data for only $3 in one month!
Dress modestly and comfortably.
People in many parts of India are conservative. Although, they may let it pass when foreign tourists dress in a less conservative way from their point of view, it would still be the best option to adjust to their accepted norms. It would show that you respect their values, culture, and attitudes. Avoid wearing clothes that reveal your legs and shoulders, as well as sloppy or tight-fitting clothes.
Because India is geographically-diverse, climates may also vary from area to area. India isn’t all about the scorching heat. There are some cooler places in the country as well. So, before you travel, be sure to check what’s the general climate in the region you’re planning to visit so you can pack clothes that are comfortable and appropriate for the weather.
And oh, since most locals there are conservative, avoid public displays of affection too, when you’re traveling with your significant other. Otherwise, they may consider it downright rude and obscene, even if your PDA only meant the generally acceptable holding hands while walking. Learn more about Indian etiquette from this guide.
- Know how to negotiate with prices.
Prices are typically cheap in India. However, many sellers and service providers might take advantage of foreign tourists, offering them products and services with prices three times higher than they would give to locals. So, don’t be shy to bargain. You’ll probably get more value out of your money.
- There are around 22 official languages.
Sure, it would be useful to learn some words and phrases in Hindi. But don’t expect that all people speak that language as there are around 22 official languages around the country. Find out more here: http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Languages_of_India
No worries though, many Indians understand and speak English.
- The sights, sounds, smells, and chaos might overwhelm you.
Forget about the major cities of India if you are your introverted-self most of the time. The streets are always filled with people, you don’t even know where they came from, what these big number of people will do there, and where they’re heading. If you hate being sandwiched in a crowd, then, this place is definitely not for you, especially when you’re easily overwhelmed by loud noises and an unpleasant mix of strong odors.
On the other hand, the streets of the major cities in India are a street photographer’s haven. The diverse activities going on there all at once are a feast for the camera and invoke tons of creative ideas. The beautiful faces of the locals—their lovely sun-kissed skin, black hair, and deep-set tantalizing eyes make beautiful subjects to capture.
- Be careful with thieves and scammers.
Robberies in the cities aren’t usually hardcore. But they do happen. Thieves are on the lookout for unsuspecting tourists. Therefore, it’s also advised to avoid wearing valuable jewelries when walking in the crowded streets. Be mindful of your bags as pickpockets are lurking around.
Be friendly but cautious when talking to people as there have been reports of scammers targeting foreigners.
- Prepare for possible health issues.
Hygiene and sanitization are a common problem in the country. So, be careful when buying your drinks and meals. Avoid buying street foods and drinking tap water. Read restaurant reviews and buy bottled water from trusted grocery shops.
Know what vaccines are needed for possible health issues. Bring a first-aid kit that includes medicines for diarrhea.
- If you’re a woman, it’s better to go there in a group or with your significant other.
It’s definitely awkward and uncomfortable when you encounter unwanted stares and attention from a group of men as you traipse the streets. So, women should avoid going solo when they travel to India. It’s best to go there in a group, ideally, with some of your male friends or family members. You may also join travel groups that include other foreign visitors, for example, when you travel with India Someday.
- Animals roaming around the streets.
Don’t be surprised—cows wandering even in the major thoroughfares are quite common. They are generally kind. They won’t disturb you. There are however some reports in the past of a cow going violent. So, just avoid going near them to stay safe.
Undeniably, India has some weak points just like any other country. But don’t let that stop you from getting firsthand learnings about this country full of contrasts and beauty. Just learn to accept its flaws and chaos. And don’t forget: They have lavish hotels, too, if you’re quite meticulous. So, what now? Prepare to check off India from your bucket list!