Top 10 Tips For First Time Travellers In India
INDIA ! This country means many things to different people…….. Exotic, enchanting, lively, hospitable, conservative, chaotic, cosmopolitan, beautiful etc.! Well India is all of this and much, much more.
All said and done, you would really miss something, if you miss out on visiting India at least once in your lifetime. In fact, people who visit the country and experience the hospitality once, yearn to come back, again and again to see more.
So to ensure your first impression is the best and help you to experience the beauty on all counts, of this country, here are a few tips for first time travellers to India.
1 – Be ready for diversity in every aspect :
India is a land of diverse and varied geography, history, people, religion, language, food, general lifestyle and beliefs. Because of its vast land and huge population, it’s almost like different small countries within a country !
Geographically, this country is divided into Northern, Southern, Western and Eastern parts and the people, language, food and customs differ quite a bit from region to region. While this may appear quite confusing and a bit too much to take at first, each region and place has its own charm and beauty and most important of all, people across India are very hospitable, though cautious and inquisitive at first. All one needs to do is go with the flow…….keep an open mind, be observant and be ready to adjust according to the lifestyle or customs.
2 – Read up and adapt to the Indian culture :
Stepping into India without any information and preparation, especially in the non-urban cities, rural areas and villages, can give a first time traveller from abroad, a bit of a jolt !
Most foreign travellers are taken aback with certain customs, beliefs, lifestyle and dress sense when they visit the country for the first time ! The joint family structure where you have many people living in one house together, the number of festivals celebrated and kind of celebrations, the number of gods worshipped, the general community living and visiting each others homes without notice, grown up kids living with their parents till they are married and sometimes even after………….all these and several other customs are all quite strange and overwhelming for most foreigners.
However, it would be much easier for you to mix around with the locals and general Indians if you remain non-judgemental, join in and adapt to the situation. In fact you may be astounded with their warmth and generous hospitality.
3 – Plan your trip/ route in advance and practice the virtue of patience :
It would be best if you do your homework and chalk out your route/ holiday plans in advance. Coming down to India and then taking off to places on a whim can prove to be time-consuming and expensive. Visiting places in one region or state within a definite time-frame would make more sense, rather than dashing around to various parts of the county. In this way, one can get a complete feel of the destination, enjoy the local flavor and soak in the beauty of the region one by one. It would also prove to be less tiresome and relatively hassle-free.
Despite all the planning and booking, please be ready for some delays and hassles. In India, time is normally taken for granted and you may experience delays and inaction in certain areas or activities. Travelling and traffic are very often major hurdles and so you need to give yourself and others meeting you, a little leeway. This can prove to be frustrating and disappointing but patience is the key here. Losing your cool is not a solution and will get you nowhere.
4 – Be cautious and do not trust blindly :
Just as there are warm, welcoming and generous people all across India, this huge population also has some people (mostly from a lower income background) who can be crafty, cheat you and make you part with your money in different ways under some pretext or another. It is important to be wary, cautious and careful while approaching people for help and one should not blindly believe what someone has to say. It would help to reconfirm with someone else discreetly, before giving in blindly to what someone is pestering you or bothering you for. Always negotiate the price for any service first (after finding out the general price range for that service), so that there are less chances of you getting cheated.
5 – Women travellers should stay safe :
While women in India (both, in cities and villages) are enterprising, going places, forward thinking and competing with men in almost every sphere………..most of them are careful in the way they dress, interact with men and carry themselves in general. It would be good for lady travellers to try and blend in with the local women-folk and dress slightly conservatively, so as to avoid unnecessary attention and harassment. Light, colourful cotton wear can be opted for, if required to suit the heat and humid climate.
It would also be wise to avoid travelling alone late at nights or asking strange people lurking around for directions or help in any area. Do not fall prey to men who shower you with unwanted attention and try to be extra friendly.
However, do not let any of this dampen your spirits and come in the way of having a good time. There are plenty of genuine people out there…..who you will slowly learn to recognize.
6 – Be ready to bear noise and commotion :
Most places, especially the cities are very noisy, with people talking loudly or calling (advertising) out their wares, traffic noise and horns blaring. The market places too are full of pandemonium and noise. But there is a method to the madness and life goes on through all of this………so just learn to detach yourself, plug in a pair of headphones if required and amuse yourself as an observer.
7 – Be careful about food and water :
First time travellers should preferably avoid eating street food, no matter how tempting and stick to bottled mineral water unless staying in someone’s home. It would be safer to eat cooked, boiled or mildly fried items than raw food, from restaurants instead of road-side stalls. Would also be advisable to check on the amount of spice in the food as most regions of India enjoy their spice in life and this may not work well for your stomach which may be accustomed to bland or non-spicy food !
8 – Choose the right region/ city to travel to in the right climate :
It’s best to visit some places in India during the summers and some during the winters. This would make your travel more pleasant, enjoyable and manageable. While the rains in India, which happen at different times in different regions, change the climate and environment…………making it cooler, greener and more beautiful, many holiday destinations may reduce or cut down their activities or sometimes completely shut down due to the excessive downpour or risk involved in travelling. It would be a waste, if you happen to visit the city or destination during that time.
9 – Choose and plan the type of holiday that you want :
India has a lot to offer – beautiful mountains, picturesque hill stations, beaches, desert destinations, the backwaters and many scenic and mesmerizing locations. Besides this, you have a very alive and bustling city life with plenty of attractions, a buzzing night life and tantalizing food restaurants and choices. Choose the type of activity and holiday you want wisely. It is not possible to squeeze in everything in your first visit……..or you risk the possibility of spoiling your whole trip just zipping around from one destination to another without letting yourself relax and take in what the country or state has to offer.
After all magical and progressive India is here to stay and will continue to embrace people from all over the world for years and years to come !
10 – Organize your paperwork and pre-decide your budget :
It’s important that you get all your paperwork in place before visiting the country and carry it with you at all times, with extra copies kept in different areas of your baggage or with different members of your family (if travelling in nos.) for safety. One should also be alert while moving around or sight-seeing as you may be easy prey for bag-lifters, petty purse snatchers etc. and trying to recover any of these important items by filing a police complaint etc. could sometimes be very time-consuming, frustrating and exhausting.
India is suitable for all types of holiday budgets and offers a variety of options right from low-budget to mid-range or ultra luxurious holidays. It is only essential for you to pre-plan the type of vacation you desire and budget accordingly.
Picture Credit : Memanat.com