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Posted 28 Feb, 2014 | Posted in: India, Newsletter 2, Travel Blogs | 67 Comments

India is no walk in the park. You can’t (or shouldn’t) just pack your bags and head here without at least knowing a bit of what to expect. India can be a slap in the face, but that painful culture shock can be followed by a gentle caress that massages all of your achy travel muscles. It can truly be a highlight of your travels IF you plan your trip properly.

Mental Preparation:

Surely if you’ve decided to go to India, you have heard the rumours. This is not a place for the faint of heart. While we still rate it as one of our favourite destinations, the subcontinent has pushed our limits at times. For women, the country can be  stressful and many feel as though they spend their entire time here defending themselves from prying eyes and groping hands. This is of course not entirely true.

Dariece In Her Typical India Attire

Dariece In Her Typical India Attire, Usually Accompanied by a Scarf

While many Indian men do seem to find western women irresistible, being stern and forthcoming can do wonders. For women, be prepared to cover up in India and do everything you can to avoid unwanted attention.

Luckily for travellers, Indians usually treat us like honoured guests in their country, which helps during those times when your patience is running low. When booking train tickets, often there are separate lines for foreigners or windows will suddenly open to call over the goras (foreign people). While you may not get paid to be white like we were in China, Indians will welcome you to their country and you may be offered some special treatment along the way.

IMG_0095-001

Prepare for sensory overload. Walking the streets of India will likely exhaust you, but it is this excitement that makes this place so amazing. Everywhere you go there are the smells, sounds, colors and tastes that make the subcontinent so unique. It often feels as though India is trying to be as crazy as possible, flexing its chaotic muscles to try to scare away visitors. But underneath the rough exterior, India is a soft, gentle and loving place and no matter who you are, if you stay here long enough and open your mind to it, you will love it… eventually. We even loved Delhi!

Gadgets & Gizmos:

A lot of people travel to India with very little. You don’t need much to get by here and in extreme cases, you’ll even see tourists without shoes! Regardless of how you choose to travel here, there are a few things you’ll want to bring.

Packing our bags

Ipod / Smart Phone: You definitely don’t NEED a smartphone to travel here, but it’s easier to pack than a computer, and it acts as a phone and your music as well. Even though many Indians speak English, having an App that can help you translate your language into Hindi can be a lifesaver. Google Maps and Trip Advisor apps can do wonders as well.

Need a compass? Want to read about current events in the country? How about a local newspaper feed. Trying to keep track of all of the Hindu Deities? There’s an app for that! We’re new to the world of tablets and smart phones but there’s no denying their use in travel, India is a place where you may want all of the help you can get.

Travel Adaptor: India has a strange power system and you won’t find it in many other countries. If you want to charge and power your gear you’re going to want an Indian travel adaptor. You can buy these at many corner stores in the country but some are made to last a week at best so be wary of where you spend your rupees.

India Travel Adaptor

Other Essentials To Pack:

Hand Sanitizer: In India, everyone eats with their hands and it’s a fun way to get more intimate with the amazingly varied cuisine here. But of course, your hands will be full of bacteria from days spent on trains, buses and rickshaws. You’ll want to “freshen up” before eating here. After sleeping on some trains you’ll probably want to bathe in the stuff.

indian food

Ear Plugs: This is a definite essential. The streets can be incredibly loud, even at night when you’re trying to get some shut-eye. Vehicles honk their incredibly loud horns all night long, dogs seem to bark at nothing at all, and music can play into the wee hours of the morning. Bring some ear plugs.

Tiger Balm: Ah… the magic Asian menthol! Never leave home without this stuff. Tiger Balm has many uses including masking gnarly smells, curing headaches and soothing itchy bites. All of which you’ll have when travelling here.

Tiger Balm

Sheet & Pillow Case: These can come in pretty handy in India. You may see some less-than-immaculate bedding during your travels and it always feels good to sleep on a sheet that only has your stench on it.

Odomos: This is an insect repellant that you can buy in India and it’s amazingly effective. After trying Odomos, you’ll probably never go back to Off! or other DEET products.

Himalaya Products: A wonderful line of all natural products. Everything from lotion to lip balm, all at great prices. If you leave India without buying Himalaya, you’re missing out!

Tips For Travel In India:

Almost everything in India has the price marked on it in rupees. Bottles of water, chocolate bars, soap, bug spray… nearly every consumer product. So don’t be fooled at corner stores when they try to charge you twice the price for a bottle of Cola. Point to the price stamped on the side and don’t get ripped off!

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Price Marked In Rupees (Rs.) On This Lotion Bottle

Rickshaw Drivers will try to rip you off. Always bargain your prices in India ESPECIALLY with rickshaw and taxi drivers. Keep in mind that these guys often don’t make enough to feed their families and while you shouldn’t offer every driver charity, sometimes it’s best not to bargain to the last penny. You may find it hard to bargain with the shoeless foot rickshaws in places like Kolkata and there’s no shame in paying a little extra to help a guy in need.

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Friendly Rickshaw Men In Kolkata

Women cover up and husbands act rationally. As I said earlier, western women tend to attract unwanted attention in India so the best way to avoid this is to cover up. Boyfriends and husbands should try to avoid conflict and instead of getting aggressive, just hold her close, laugh and walk away.

Nothing is free in India: Bell boy carried your bag? Pay him. Chai (tea) brought to your room? 5 rupees. Guy walks you to your hotel? Backsheesh (tip). Money changes hands with blinding frequency in India so be prepared to pay a small backsheesh for every service you are offered. It doesn’t cost much each time you pay, but it can definitely add up.

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Tourist Pricing & Tactal: This isn’t referring to that annoying tourist pricing when foreigners pay extra for sites (although it does happen here). Tactal and tourist pricing in India has to do with the train tickets. With over 1 billion people in the country, train seats book up quickly.

Luckily the Indian rail system reserves tickets especially for foreigners and for those who must book last-minute. Talk to the information desk at the train station, or any travel agency in town and figure out how to get seats on a train that seems to be fully booked. You’ll almost always be able to get to your destination, even last-minute.

sleeper class train india

India Is So Crazy! Why Even Go?!

Reading the first 1000 words of this article, you’re probably thinking “why would I want to go somewhere so crazy?” If you’re asking yourself that, you need to first ask yourself another question. Why do you travel? Is it to experience new cultures? Taste different foods? See amazing sites? Learn about incredible history? Witness a world different from that of your homeland?

For us, travel is all about finding something unique and different and India has different in spades! India is bar none, the most epic travel experience you can have and it is a great country for budget backpackers.

India Travel Post

Some travellers say that India is like going to the big leagues of travel and after being there, you’ll feel like other countries are just like tee ball.

While I don’t believe that India has taken away from other countries I’ve visited, there is still no comparing it. India is a country, a continent and a world all of its own and it is somewhere that everyone should visit at least once.

Everything that a person could want can be found in India and it is the epitome of quirky culture, sumptuous cuisine, awesome adventure and extreme spirituality. If you hear a lot of negatives about India, it is simply because horror stories tend to be more entertaining. But for every bad story that comes out of India, there are 10 good ones that far outweigh their counterparts.

India will never disappoint and it will always amaze visitors… for generations to come.

Have you ever been to India? Anything you would add to the list? Share below!

Like it? Pin it! 🙂

How To Prepare For Travel In India

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67 thoughts on “How To Prepare For Travel In India

  1. Reading the first 1000 words of this article, you’re probably thinking “why would I want to go somewhere so crazy?”

    I think “It sounds great.” 😀

    India seems like a strange and interesting place. Lately India has only been in Danish media when something terrible happens. Did you experience anything terrible while being there or did you only met a lot of wonderful people?

    1. Exactly! It’s the craziness and uniqueness of India that we loved as well.

      We didn’t experience any dangers, the only thing that happened that was very inappropriate (but unfortunately, not rare in India) was seeing a guy pleasuring himself on the train while looking at an Indian woman! Crazy.

      We’ve spent 6 months in India and that was the only thing negative that happened or that we saw. Other than that, positive experiences 🙂

      Cheers

      1. That isn’t unique to India !! Walked into, what looked like an empty washroom, at a train station in Spain. stepped up to the urinal, started my business, heard some noise, there was a guy, full erection, behind me, finished my business running outside. Best part of the story, i start telling my long time buddy about what happened… he had been in the washroom about 10 minutes before, he starts laughing and says ” oh, is the pervert still in there”

  2. Been to India 3 times. Be aware each part of the country is completely different interms of culture, food, etc. very magical place Varanasi was alife changer, kochin tropically exotic, Ladakh and Sukeem spiritual and Buddist. Try and experience all the multifaceted culture . never felt threatened but in view of recent events, women should never travel alone or venture out by themselves.

    1. You’ve got that right, each part of the country is completely different from the next. Each state and region has it’s own identity and amazing things on offer. There have been some awful things that have happened in India lately, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say that women shouldn’t travel there alone or go out by themselves. I do agree however that Indian men are very immature when it comes to sex and have a strange fascination with western women. As a solo woman, it would be a good idea to not take overnight trains, or go down quiet streets by herself. India is a great place to meet up with other travellers, which is always a good plan for solo travelling females.

      1. as a single woman living in india for 3 years now; i take overnight trains all the time; quickest, cheapest and most comfortable way to travel. if you can’t find a cheap charter flight (indigo/spicejet) take first class train tickets; worth the extra money and they will always put you in a 4 berth with another woman. if you do find yourself with men; ask the main in the train to help you change cabin; they are very helpful and sensitive to this; and like you said; if you’re covered up (not only arms but neck and chest!!) and someone is harassing you; make lots of calm but stern noises and huddle near a group of woman (aunties!) they are very protective and understanding!

        1. hi there i have never been abroad before and did intend to go to India with a male friend and it now looks like that he won’t be coming after all and i am a 32 year old female with hardly any money and had just planned to get there and worry about somewhere to stay when i got there but i could really do with some advice. When i get of the plane, not sure what part of India as yet , how do i go about getting somewhere really, really cheap and safe? any advice regarding my hoped for trip would be gratefully accepted. Thanks

          1. Hi Sarah,

            I recommend checking out the online hostel sites for bookings:

            Hostelworld.com
            Booking.com
            Hostelbookers.com

            And you can check out the recommendations in the Lonely Planet guidebook as well. I hope this helps. Definitely have at least your first couple of nights sorted out beforehand – trust me, you won’t want to be wandering around after just having arrived in India 🙂

  3. I could not agree with you more about the Tiger Balm! I carry this with me all the time, especially when travelling in tropical countries. Great for insect bites!

  4. You certainly hit the nail on the head here… what a complex, confusing, fascinating, maddening country, and unlike anywhere else in the world. We spent the first month or so continually asking why? why? why? was everything so backwards for our Western minds. Finally, when we surrendered to India and stopped asking why, the magic really began.

    1. EXACTLY! Whyyyy are things the way they are?! haha, it’s so hard for a western person to get their head around many of the things in India. It’s just so different and “backwards” from what we’re used to.

      Thanks for commenting 🙂

    1. Don’t be ashamed that it’s out of your comfort zone! It’s out of many people’s comfort zones for sure 🙂

      India isn’t for everyone, but we definitely love it there. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you! I can’t belive we forgot to put that on the list. T.P. is one thing that we always have on us when in India (and many other parts of Asia).

      Toilet paper isn’t used by Indian people and you’ll definitely need to have your own when going to the toilet.

      Cheers 🙂

  5. A fabulously informative post. I don’t move without my hand sanitizer here…I’m sure its saved me on many an occasion! India is an incredible country….if anyone is wavering…just go!

    1. Glad you found the post useful 🙂

      If you’re interested in going somewhere where you’ll be challenged, blown away and totally in aw…then India is right for you.

      Have a great trip!

  6. I’ve back packed across India twice, once for 18 months, my advice would be to travel light and see as much as possible. I don’t think it will exist as we know it for our children was they adopt more from the west. Beautiful humble country.

    1. Hey Johnie,

      Wow, an 18 month trip through India would be awesome. India needs (and deserves) a lot of time. We will definitely be going back one day, hopefully soon.

      I also agree…travel light in India.

  7. Dariece, wasn’t it in India that you choose to wear a wedding ring? So simple an idea, but made things easier for you both and prevented a lot of unwanted attention.

      1. I’m sorry to disagree, but they do. My wife is constantly eyeballed by indian men and has been groped on many occasions in different states. It really does seem that you can’t escape from it and the issue can’t be brushed aside. She covers head to toe with a scarf and baggy clothes and we both wear our wedding rings. Trust me, they’re not looking at her left hand.

        We love your posts and follow everything that you do, so please don’t take any offence to our 2 pence.

        Ignoring the glances or stares is difficult, but my wife has now bought a big stick that she carries and it seems to work.

        We love this country and your advice couldn’t be more true. We love it and hate it every day. It’s the people that ruin our experience and it’s the people that make it so brilliant. I don’t think we will ever understand this place, but you can be sure that after our 6 months runs out, we will be back again one day.

        Keep up the excellent work and thank you x

        1. Thank you for your comment.
          I’m sorry to hear that your wife has had such a rough time and has had to resort to bringing a stick?! I was stared at a lot in the south, but found the north to be much better. I was never groped, thankfully.

          Many Indian men are obsessed with Western women….

          Glad to hear that even after all of the negative aspects, you’re still wanting to go back.

          We too love India.

          Cheers!

      2. I travelled solo A LOT when i was younger, mostly because I couldn’t find compatible people who wanted to head for my intended destinations. I never removed my 18K wedding ring; partly because i was unable to do so since gaining a few pounds after I married at 17. The ring would have had to be cut to remove, and I’d found it to be somewhat useful as a deterrent to lechers thinking I was a young innocent young teen, when in fact i was in my mid to late 20s. Moreover, it wasn’t likely to get lost from my finger and I’d always have it with me in the event that i needed to access its value as gold..
        As a deterrent, it had limited success, and only when I was able to use it intentionally in an unwelcome conversation. For instance, I was molested on a bus in Morocco . I had fallen asleep watching the crescent moon and stars, and the vague tonal change where the atlas mountains met the sky. The 1960s school bus that I was riding, had long since lost its original seats to hard use as mass transport. The cushions had been replaced by thick slabs of plywood. Even with my closed-cell sleeping mat folded under me, my butt was numb long before I nodded off, oblivious to the fact that a man had sat down next to me and must have touched or caressed its supreme numbness, because when I awoke to a more intimate prodding, he seemed to think that he’d been invited. And, there were plenty of grinning faces that quickly turned away as i screeched and tried to get up on rubbery legs having almost no feeling. I was rooting in my bag for the hunter’s skinning knife i carried, when i realized that things had lightened up around me, and the guy was the object of ridicule for what everyone seemed to know he’d done, and he moved away, only to be replaced by another guy who spoke fairly good english. Are explained that the other man was his friend, and didn’t mean to harm me. We didn’t explore what he meant by that, but he did say that the young king (Mohamed?) wanted to encourage tourism, and anyone caught harming a tourist would be imprisoned and harshly treated. I didn’t feel entirely safe at that point, but i realized that he’d given a potent bit of information and that became very useful on a couple of occasions. However, I did wind up using my knife when a taxi driver refused to stop when I said I wanted to get out. I just showed it to him when I put it under his chin, and he slowed to a stop right away. .

  8. Great Post, we’re just coming to the end of spending a month travelling through India. I wish I had a good pair of ear plugs for the north as the noise was something I did not expect to be so bad!!!
    Two things I wish we has brought with us from the UK: 1. disinfectant wipes.. for the questionable bathrooms!! 2. pens for the many children that we have spoken to and have asked us for them. Something we take for granted in the West.

    Great blog by the way.. we found it very useful and inspirational to give us the motivation to leave our jobs in the UK and travel the world.

    1. Hey guys!

      Wow, so glad we were able to inspire you – that’s what we aim to do 🙂 Isn’t India insane and yet, incredible? I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did. Yes, wipes, sprays, and anything disinfectant are a must!

      Happy travels!

    2. Oh I don’t want to ruin your happy feelings towards the children or understand the context in when they asked but it is very common for children (or adults) to ask for items like pens or shampoo with the real intention being to re sell the item. Its a catch 22 to get away from flat out begging.

  9. Hey! LOVE your sight. We are headed to india next. We are coming from the end of our euro trip through Turkey and have not been home in quite some time. Do you recommend vaccinations? I’m not sure my opinion on whats necessary and since we are still in a foreign country im not sure how to get them in time.

    Thanks!

    1. Hey Victoria! Thanks for the kind words, we LOVE India. Check out this list of recommended vaccinations http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/india#vaccines-and-medicines

      The main concerns for india are food poisoning, dengue fever and possibly malaria – although we’ve never had any mosquito diseases there. Cover up, wear repellent, sleep under a net and eat street food, but be mindful of what you eat.

      Have fun 🙂

  10. wow glad I came across this article. I am travelling to India in a couple months for the very first time. Abit nervous about what to expect, but super excited as well! Your tips are very helpful

  11. This is a great observation from a trip to India. As a resident India, please allow me to add a few more tips and sort the order of things to carry:

    1. Hand Sanitizer: Must carry. Also can find in most local stores in big cities.
    2. Wet wipes: Absolutely must. You may need them a lot. Not easy to find everywhere.
    3. Toilet Paper: Carry. Also easy to find in most local stores in tourist areas.
    4. Mosquito Repellant: I avoid using Odomos which requires direct application on the skin. I think Himalaya has a herbal cream just in case you prefer a direct application on skin. Else you can buy a kit of “All Out” which comes with a pluggable repellant liquid good enough to last for two month. I costs a mere $2 for the kit and easily available in almost all local stores. Plug it to the electric socket in the evenings and the mussies would be out.
    5. Small Padlock: To tie your luggage to the iron hooks under the train seats in you need to take an overnight train.
    6. Bedsheet or a light sleeping bag: I wouldn’t travel without them if I am travelling unplanned without prior hotel reservations.

    Some tips for planning:
    7. Train Reservations: It may not be easy to get reservations in trains on a short notice(may be 2 weeks in advance), especially in the economical comfort class like 3rd AC. The tickets can be booked online at http://www.irctc.in upto 60 days in advance. They send you the confirmation almost immediately over email or sms. Use it as your ticket when you travel. In case, you have to cancel the travel, it may cost around $1 too cancel the tickets and you can do it online upto 48 hours in advance.

    8. Medicines: While its recommended to bring your medications with you, its worth mentioning that Medicines are extremely cheap in India. Once I took my polish friend to a doctor for cold and fever. The doctor prescribed him some of the most expensive medicines by Indian standards. But when we checked online, he found that the same medicines costed atleast five times more in Polland. BTW, these were medicines from the most renowned Indian companies, hence were expensive by Indian standards.

    9. Pack up adequately: During my backpacking trip to europe, I was using budget airlines where check-in luggage is allowed at an additional cost. Hence I was travelling with a single light backpack. The same holds true for my next trip to SEA. In India, all airlines allow you a check-in luggage of 15-20 kg at no extra cost. So, you can afford to spoil yourself with an extra luggage as long as it light enough for you to carry.

    10: Communicating back home: PC to PC calls are allowed but PC to phone is illegal in India. While you may be able to buy a local SIM card for your mobile phone, it may not work beyond a few days. As per the local regulations, mobile companies do a manual human verification for every SIM card sold. Its always better to buy SIM card from a local shop who can take care of verifications.

    1. Thank you so much for adding all of these awesome recommendations! You’re absolutely right that people should bring hand sanitizer and wet wipes! Everything that you mentioned is a must. Thanks for sharing and enjoy yourself in India 🙂

  12. Hi I am going to India and Thailand with my girlfriend for 3 months, could you help us to know about the vaccines that we should be taken?
    Thank you
    Ricardo.

    1. Hi Ricardo

      I would suggest speaking with the travel clinic in your city to discuss the vaccinations.

      We were up to date with our Hep shots and got polio and typhoid. But speak with your doctor to see what they recommend.

      Cheers and happy travels.

  13. I am going to Kerala next month. I’m beyond excited. Did you guys think that Kerala was different than other parts? I have never been to India before and I heard a lot of stories about it. I heard that Kerala is a bit different, less chaotic. I am going to travel by myself, so I am a bit worried about my safety. What did you think about that region?

    1. Hi Jo,

      Thanks for your comment. India is fascinating, but as you said, it can be chaotic as well! Kerela is an awesome state. It’s less crazy than many other parts of India, it’s beautiful, the food is incredible and the people are kind (but they’re kind everywhere!) There are lots of sites to see in Kerela as well. Don’t be overly concerned about safety, but be cautious. Make sure to cover up and wear appropriate clothing and since you’re travelling solo, opt to sit next to women or families on transportation.

      Have a great trip, we love India 🙂

    2. I lived in India for almost a decade as a blonde haired blue eyed foreigner. Kerala is by far the safest of the states to visit on your own. You will be fine as long as you pay attention to your surroundings, dress appropriately. Often people recommend saying you have a husband. I used to do this and sometimes it worked, sometimes it didnt! now I do have a husband and still it doesn’t always deter admirers!

  14. Hi,
    This article made me smile. you guys are amazing. I just got back from a trip to south India. I had read this post before and I came back to this post solely to tell u two, TIGER BALM IS A LIFE SAVER! Thank you 😀
    I am glad that u guys enjoyed India soo much. All I hear are mostly bad reviews about the country, which is upsetting. When visiting India, forget you’re a foreigner, be one among the Indians, blend in and you will surprised, travel light in India and always be careful of ur wallets, lot of pickpocketing in India. Enjoy the spiritual (also the chaotic) experience. Everyone must experience the incredible India.
    Thank you
    loads of love.
    bye.

  15. Hi

    I am a fairly experienced female traveller in my mid 40’s, Always wanted to go to india but am being put off by reports on the attitude to woman. I am middle aged, overweight and generally not very attractive so, am I correct in assuming that the hassle is mostly aimed at younger attractive females?

    I will be travelling alone and am not planning on going anywhere out of the way, and being older will have a decent budget and access to funds. Obviously nobody can guarantee a hassle free trip anywhere – But broadly am I right in assuming that I will be invisible to most men there?

  16. I am an Indian . And your words,
    “If you hear a lot of negatives about India, it is simply because horror stories tend to be more entertaining. But for every bad story that comes out of India, there are 10 good ones that far outweigh their counterparts. India will never disappoint and it will always amaze visitors… for generations to come.” are really beautiful . Thanks for your articles explaining about this great diverse country . Have more great crazy and happy travels 🙂

  17. Hey guys!

    We’re a couple of similar age planning a trip to India in January – March. We are deciding between doing a tour from Khathmandu to Delhi or doing it ourselves. The big international tour groups seem v expensive compared to your money guide and were not sure it’s worth it. Can tour guides be arranged locally, or is the risk of getting ripped off for this too big? How busy is it during the months we are going – should we be ok arranging trains etc ourselves at short notice?

    Thanks a million for your help

    Gill and Donal
    @galandian on Instagram

    1. Hi Guys!

      You can definitely travel India independently. Many people go for tours so that they don’t have to sort out transport on their own, but it’s definitely possible to do it indie. We do, and many people do! You can book tours for day trips and various things in-country. Just shop around for a guide that you like, get some quotes from your hotel / guesthouse and then youll have a rough idea of the price. Look online as well for reviews. You can book trains and things as you go, just as soon as you know where you’re going, book the train.

      Have fun!

  18. Great article..one of my fondest memories is sitting in the open doorway of a sleeper class train from Varanasi to Haridwar with some holy men,sipping chai and smelling the waft from their,ahem,herbal stress relief…god,I love Indian trains Despite how informative your site is I’m sure you’ll agree that for India first-timers it’s fair to say that no matter how well you research,how many guide books you read,people you talk to & vlogs & blogs you study,that nothing,but nothing can prepare you for the reality of say,stepping out of the airport taxi into Paharganj at 8am on a Monday morning! I was in India for three months in April-July ’15 & cannot wait to get back!

    1. I completely agree Jim. There’s nothing that can prepare you for India, it’s a place that has to be felt 🙂 We haven’t been there since 2012 and want to go back soon! Such an amazing country. Thank you for commenting.

  19. It regularly feels as if India is attempting to be as insane as would be prudent, flexing its turbulent muscles to attempt to drive off guests. Be that as it may, underneath the unpleasant outside, India is a delicate, tender and cherishing place and regardless of who you are, whether you stay here sufficiently long and open your psyche to it, you will love it. in the long

  20. I wholeheartedly agree with INDIA being “not for the faint of heart.” Even though I’m of Indian heritage and live in the USofA, I’ve always had a challenging time traveling in INDIA. It does get to you, when you see the filth all around you, the poverty, being repeatedly and daily harassed by beggars, watching your back and looking out for pick pockets and thieves at all times. Not to mention, dealing with the heat, humidity, diarrhea, monsoons, loud honks, etc. etc.

    Yet in spite of all that, I have gotten SO MUCH MORE from each trip I have made and have grown, learnt, and matured from each trip I’ve made in the past decades. It has made me appreciate and be grateful for the many blessings in my life, which is why I make it a point to “count my blessings every day.” It has softened my heart and increased my compassion, love, kindness, generosity, patience, towards those less fortunate than myself—as India, despite it’s development, is still mired in poverty and lacking in many ways. Yet, if you seek the good, you will find much good in India, whether it’s your first time or tenth time like myself.

    From my past several trips to India, If you truly want to experience “real India” do your homework, prepare as much in advance as possible, learn about India as much as you can digest, pinpoint the specific places/sites/locations/cities/landmarks that prick your curiosity and plan your trip accordingly. Yet, be flexible when you get there and solicit the advice of reliable locals and be willing to change plans accordingly. They won’t steer you in the wrong direction esp. if you’ve gotten a “second opinion.” And make a genuine effort to learn the language, esp. vocabulary words and sentences that will serve you well, open doors of hospitality, enable you to make new friends (even lifelong), enjoy your day to day experience, you cannot control what transpires, but you can definitely control your “attitude and mindset” each day.
    When you get on the plane to fly to India, prepare and set your mind on positive mode and remind yourself that you are going there for “an adventure of a lifetime.” Therefore be flexible, assimilate, ask lots of questions, smile –it costs nothing, learn to do the Namaste gesture. Make new friends, give them your business card, and learn from the locals, “go with the flow” and “don’t sweat the small stuff.”

    Most Indians may have a heavy accent but they do speak English and understand English, even American English if you speak clearly and slowly. If you have a bad incident, brush it off and learn from it. So you don’t waste your fleeting time repeating the same mistakes again and again.

    BTW: I myself am planning a trip to India (last time I was there was ten years ago) sometime in May and have started preparing for the long trip, as I plan to visit Sri Lanka (thank God the decades long civil war is over and its safe to visit), India, Bangladesh and a few other countries if time and opportunity allows me to do so. If I can be of assistance in any way, you’re welcome to contact me at my email: [email protected]

  21. Excellent article! My son and I are traveling to India for the first time in October 2016. Some really great advice and tips. Man , better buy some Tiger Balm! 🙂 We are really looking forward to this amazing journey and experience of a lifetime! Thanks for sharing this excellent article!

  22. There is no way to prepare for what India may do to you! It can be magic! You just have to be open to whatever may happen and go with the flow. This will be one of the most memorable and possibly most profound experiences in your life! Go for it!!!

  23. Going to Pune in Sept. for just a few days and a week in Delhi. Any tips on being there during monsoon season?

  24. I have been traveling quite often but my first trip to India mast year exactly correspond to your description : lots if noise, very intense smells, crowd at any time, often considered as something particular often people taking pictures of us just because we were 2 white women. It has been a tremendous cultural shock in Mumbai but I am already looking forward to visiting India again in few weeks. Surely I will be more prepared than last year. Indian people are also very nice people.

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