Planning a trip to India? Want to know the top 15 travel tips for travelling India? Then this is the post for you!
India is a wondrous place, a world of its own jam packed full with colour, culture, smells, flavours and sights that will leave you gasping.
A vast land with many cultures, languages, religions and foods all waiting to be discovered. India will for sure challenge you, but it will also surprise you with the most amazing travel experiences and acts of kindness.
It would take a lifetime to explore India in its entirety, but after 5 months of travelling through India we learnt a lot about the place and have compiled this list of top India travel tips to help you our fellow traveller out!
1. Eat the Street Food
We are all afraid of ruining our travels by contracting the dreaded Delhi Belly! But in all honesty street food is often times fresher than restaurant food. Due to high turn-over at street food stalls food is usually prepared fresh daily unlike some restaurant foods that might sit in a fridge for a day too long!
Plus street food is always super cheap and its where you will eat the best food of your life, we promise!! Check out our Indian Street Food video here for proof. In our 5 months travelling in India I only got a slight tummy upset once and Reti only got a bad case of food poisoning once (he went for the chicken burger).
Although Reti ate almost everything and anything. My rules were to keep to vegetarian where possible and to only eat the food if it was served hot and fresh. I did eat salads and fresh foods, but was weary of water droplets (which could be contaminated). You can also check out ourtop 8 Indian Street Foods blog post here.
2. Pack Charcoal Tablets & Rehydration Salts
Take activated charcoal with you and take them as soon as you feel an upset tummy. This trick really works a treat to curb an upset tummy in its tracks! Also take rehydration salts with you to keep hydrated and energised while travelling.
3. Know that Things Don’t Work the Same
Things like, misleading advertising, restaurant menus that do not reflect the real menu and shops and vendors never having any change are just a few examples. These are all things you will need to be prepared for in India.
In most cases having a hamburger plastered on the restaurant window means that they will serve hamburgers, but not necessarily in India. Even the Taj Mahal did not have correct change for us when we brought our tickets.
These things frustrated us at first, but then we just learnt that this is the way things roll in India and not everything will be the way things happen back home. If you mentally prepare for some of these changes then your trip will go a lot smoother! Bonus Tip: Ensure you have small change, small change is everything in India.
4. Dress To Blend In
This one mainly applies to the ladies. India is a conservative country and if you want to draw the least amount of attention to yourself, then its a good idea to dress with your (S.C.L) shoulders, chest and legs covered.
I found wearing the traditional Kurta was great. It felt so comfortable to wear while traveling, plus they are so beautiful! Kurta or not, it’s a good idea to respect local culture as well as deter stares and dress with your S.C.L covered.
5. Fight for Your Place
Due to high populations in India you will notice waiting in lines, any lines……to be a real struggle. In-fact remove the word line, it’s usually a scurry of people hustling chaotically.
If your travelling in India you might need to leave the orderly line waiting habits at home and be ready to hold your ground and fight for your place in the line. Not actually aggressively fight, but position your body so that you can eventually get what you need.
It might take a bit of getting use to but if you watch the locals you will soon learn how its done. Bonus tip: be prepared for people to push in line, try not to get too worked up as this will happen regularly.
6. Don’t Believe All the Stories
India has had a bad wrap in the press in recent years and many people are afraid that India is not a safe country to travel in. Let’s be real, India has its challenges, you might get a few more stares in India and you do need to have your wits about you while travelling.
But its not as big and scary as you might think. During our 5 months of travelling we had no major safety incidents at all, in fact we felt most people in India were extremely kind and honest.
In saying this as a traveller you do need to exercise common travelling sense as bad things do happen everywhere and we want you to be safe on your Journey! That leads us onto the next few tips…..
7. Keep Valuables on You
Never let your valuables such as money, passports, phone etc leave your side. We always carry our passports, credit cards and cash in a sports belt that we can hide under our clothes and we will only keep enough cash for the day in our wallet.
Even after all this time travelling, it’s one thing we haven’t relaxed on. The sports belts are discrete and are usually sweat proof which works really well!
Not only will this ensure pickpockets can’t reach your most valuable things, it also means you have less chances of misplacing them, because they are strapped to your person. You can also check out our 10 tips to avoid travel scams post here.
8. Stay Confident
Sometimes travelling to a new place can a be a bit overwhelming and daunting. We have definitely felt this way on many occasions. But it’s best to try and keep these feelings under wraps if you can!
If you show confusion or uncertainty with your body language you’re letting scammers know you are an easy target. Instead try to be (or act) confident, walk with purpose.
Scrambling around with a map or looking confused and lost will surely attract the wrong attention. Confidence is a great way to repel a cheeky scammer or thief!
You might get stares, especially if you are off the beaten path, but just smile and 9 out of 10 times you will get a smile back.
10. Have a Landmark
When ordering a taxi or rickshaw, find the nearest landmark, this will always be 100% more effective than trying to explain a hotel name or street name. For example if your hotel is 50 metres from the Ganesh Temple, then just tell your driver ‘Ganesh Temple’ then instruct them where to drop you when you arrive.
You can find the nearest landmark with a quick look on google maps….this will make your life easier, promise! Bonus tip: Use Mapsme or GoogleMaps to see how many kilometres away your destination is to ensure your driver can’t trick you into paying more. Many times drivers will exaggerate the distance to justify charging more.
11. Ask a Local
Before ordering a tuk tuk or taxi or other service we ask a trusted local what the fair price is. Usually your hotel owner or restaurant owner will give you unbiased advice. Bonus tip: always negotiate the price before accepting the ride.
12. Give Yourself Extra Time in India
Say that your train is leaving at 5pm and Google Maps says it takes 15mins to get to the station. Don’t depart at 4:30pm, we would recommend 4pm as a safer bet!
So double your timeframe to ensure you allow ample time for things like traffic, lines or just getting a bit lost or confused. Having a bit of extra time up your sleeve will ensure your travels run smoothly and your stress levels are reduced.
13. Get a Sim Card in India
If your travelling for more than 2 weeks then we recommend you get a sim card. It will make your life 100% easier to have an internet connection on the go. IDEA is the sim company we used and they are easy to get.
You can buy a sim card from most corner shops, however you will need your passport, some copies of your passport and two passport photos. You will also need the number of a local person, if you don’t have any local friends you can ask your hotel or guest house owner.
14. Buy Indian Train Tickets Online
If your planning to be in India for more than 2 weeks and you plan to travel by train then I highly recommend signing up for the online train bookings at least a few weeks before your trip. Trains book out sometimes months in advance so it’s always good to book online in advance if you can.
There are tourist quota train tickets in India but these can be a pain to get and don’t apply to all train routes. Getting set up with the online train booking system can be a bit difficult at first, but once you are set up it will make your travels so much easier. You can refer to our Indian Trains Explained Blog for more detail on how to get set up and for all your Indian train tips!
15. India Packing Tip
Pack a battering bank for your cell phone, this will be a life saver during long journeys. Also we are so happy that we packed our power multi-box. This allowed us to charge multiple items with just one adapter!
Bonus Tips Health: It’s important to visit your travel Dr. and get the recommended vaccinations before travelling to India. We had Tetanus, HepA, Rabbies & Typhoid Fever. But your travel Dr. will be able to advise correctly.
Also, when travelling anywhere, especially a place like India, its important to have trustworthy and comprehensive travel insurance. Those common travel stories of catching illnesses like dengue fever are a real risk and if they occur you want to know that your costs are cover.
So there it is, our top 15 India travel tips and hacks! We hope this was useful information and it makes your trip to India that much better!
Cheers, Native Travellers
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