Foolproof Tips for Travelling in India
Planning a trip to India this year? You’re in great company! More than 10 million people visited the country in 2017, and those numbers are on the rise. So what can you do to make your trip run smoothly? Here are some tips and tricks to get you on the right track.
Women travelling alone
This is true for any solo travellers, actually; it’s always best to be overly prepared than finding yourself in an uncomfortable situation and not knowing what to do! For women travelling alone in India, be mindful of the reserved areas on public transport just for women, and that ticket counters often have separate queues. Avoid travelling late alone, and if you’re out for the evening make sure isn’t anywhere isolated.
People will stare. Trust your gut about whether it’s purely curiosity or if your personal safety is at risk. People will probably want to take pictures with you; try to keep this to a group setting instead of individual! Eve-teasing is a thing; random men might come up to you and give a little elbow rub to your boob. Don’t be afraid to yell and voice your displeasure at such an occurrence!
But above all, don’t believe every horror story you might have heard about travelling solo in India. Keep your wits about you and plan in advance, research Couchsurfing and other accommodation opportunities thoroughly, and know in advance what kind of transport you’ll use. You’ll have an amazing time, trust us!
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India is home to 22 major languages, with over 720 dialects. You’re going to hear some languages that you won’t understand, no matter how well you prepare! It is difficult to say which language you should consider learning a few basic words and phrases of without knowing exactly where you are going, so do your research.
Hindi might be the most widely spoken, with Bengali second, and Marathi, Telugu, and Gujarati also prominent depending on where you go. Though don’t worry too much if you’re not sure which to choose from: English is still one of India’s official languages, so you should find some help no matter where you are.
Shopping in India
With so many beautiful handmade items on offer, it would be rude not to bring at least a couple of souvenirs home. Research the markets, bazaars, and street stalls in advance of where you are travelling, so you know what handicrafts, textiles, spices, and so on that you want. Be prepared to haggle; it’s uncomfortable anywhere in the world for anyone who isn’t used to this way of shopping but the quicker you start practicing the quicker you’ll get good at it!
Many clothes and handicrafts you’ll be able to get quick, free alterations on as you purchase them, so whatever you choose can be truly personal. Be careful with jewellery if you don’t know your gemstones, and if you have an allergic reaction to certain metals then take the time to be sure about what it is you’re buying. Above all else, learn some self-restraint – shopping in India can be incredibly cheap, so you might struggle only choosing a couple of items!
Eating at safe places
You can’t go to India without sampling as much as possible of the cuisine. But you have to be careful! Never ever drink the tap water, and think about the products you’re eating which might have been prepared with it — like gola, a sweet icy treat you can buy on a hot day on the streets. Tempting but treacherous to your belly!
Anything freshly cooked you should be okay with, though it’s best to avoid any meat dishes prepared by street vendors — stick to restaurants instead whenever possible. If you’re stuck with what to choose from then try thali, which will vary depending on where you are in the country. These are like a platter of rice, chapati, fried treats, vegetables, and meat, giving you the chance to try a sample of small things. And if you think that being in India means you have to put yourself to your spicy food limits then do so! Just try to have a little plain yoghurt to hand though, if you do!
Your visit to India is going to be magical. In fact, we might just come with you! When are we going?