Disorderly, puzzling, exhilarating, crazy, exasperating, incredible, daunting, unusual, and exotic; India is an amalgamation of all of these things, and more! So, how can you possibly plan and prepare yourself for the ultimate touring plunge? Start with our tips and hacks for travelling to India for the first time!
1. Keep your cool and be patient
Besides its charm and wonder, India has often come into major scrutiny with its infamous reputation for scams, touts and other nuisances. Well! It solely depends on how you react. However, there are many other ways you can lessen the odds of being scammed or tricked! You may have a few encounters with scammers on your trip, so keep your cool and remember that the offers and deals that sound too good to be true are usually rip-offs! Especially, be cautious of rickshaw and taxi drivers who request on taking you to particular hotels, stores or popular sites - the cost may seem outrageous. Be aware of the value of Indian currency, before you spend on trivial things.
The most critical bit of advice for any first-timer travelling to India is to remain neutral and calm, no matter what! Road rages and frustrations boil over easily in India. So, to stay neutral and to be able to subdue them is the right way to go forward! If you're getting frustrated about losing money or being cheated, take a minute to pause and reflect on how much you've lost and think whether it's worth paying heed to the fuss, in the grand scheme of things.
2. Stay hydrated and healthy
India has a somewhat infamous reputation amongst tourists for so-called Delhi belly (an upset stomach). Nobody wants to fall sick, especially on a long trip. So it takes some cautious measures to avoid a dodgy tummy. Avoid drinking tap water, and stay clear of any food that seems unclean. As a forethought, avoid ice creams, salads and fruit (that you haven't just skinned yourself).
It's wise to give time for your stomach to acclimatise for a few days before indulging into a super-spicy street food treat. And whenever you feel compelled to eat street food, practice the same assessment of cleanliness criteria as you would anyplace: are the owners freshly preparing the food or has it been there as a display for a while? Is the stall occupied with lots of customers or only drawing hoards of flies?
You can go veggie when in India, and it's not a bad idea, as a bit of meat may cause a lot more harm than undercooked greens. Moreover, 31% of Indians are vegetarian, so India offers the world's most remarkable choice of vegetarian cuisine. If you do want to try meat, ensure it's well prepared, and visit the restaurants that are packed with locals or have good ratings!
3. Ditch the travel-list and go with the flow
Many travellers add too many things into their travel itinerary to India and consequently strain themselves! To experience, the best of what India has to offer, focus on a few hotspots rather than striving to tick off as many places as possible. Viewing one or two hotspots gradually can be much more satisfying than seeing round loads of places but not having time to relish any of them.
Spend an ample amount of time in one spot! You'll be less stressed, and you'll gain a more profound perception of where you are! Moreover, your dialogues with hospitable locals will unquestionably lead to some of the most memorable moments of your journey.
4. Escape the crowds and visit offbeat destinations
With over a billion, cities in India are overly crowded. The buzz and chaos can be fun, especially if there's a celebration in town, but it's natural to reach the point of saturation.
Luckily, India has lots of peaceful retreats, so add some relaxing retreats into your visit to India. To keep your spirit high, spend some days, if not weeks in a city; followed by some downtime in the rustic settings or smaller town. For some quiet time, you can travel south to the beaches and backwaters of Kerala, or north to India's lush hill stations or the Tibetan-influenced highlands of the Himalaya in Sikkim, Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh.
5. Pick the right destinations and a perfect route
India is vast and has thousands of hotspots spread across its 29 states. Therefore, it is highly impossible to see it all on one tour. Think about what intrigues you, what you fancy, time and plan your trip accordingly.
Be pragmatic about how many destinations you want to fit in your trip with respect to the duration. Instead of trying to tour the whole country, you can choose either south or the north region for your first trip! However, domestic flights - are much more pleasant and misty long-distance trains - are abundant and economical so you can leap from north to south and vice versa if you want a taste of both worlds.