This is my second post in my Travel series, In this post I am going to share my best 15 tips that I recommend when travelling in India.
The best time to travel to India is between October- March, this is when the weather is at its best. India is a very large country and there is so much to see and do that you really need to plan your itinerary to cover small sections of the country. This year we planned our trip to see Rajasthan. India is very diverse, there is a huge difference in the lifestyle and mentality of people. Large cities in India are very cosmopolitan and modern and are in par with western countries but in the rural towns and villages people still have orthodox beliefs and follow traditional lifestyle and customs.
My 15 top travel tips for India:
1. If you are staying in a hotel that has a safety deposit box, store your passports and extra money in there and only carry what you need for daily use on person. If there is no safe then invest in a bum bag or body belt to keep your pass ports and extra cash safe on person.
2. Be careful and discreet when taking money in and out of your purse. Have two purses one with a small amount of cash to spend in the day and a second purse securely placed at the bottom of your rucksack / shoulder bag with the remaining spare cash.( Tip pin your purse to the lining of your bag with a nappy pin, this way no pickpocket will be able to take easily it even if they tried.)
3. Do not wear skimpy cloths, not all places in India are modern, avoid shorts, miniskirts and vest tops. Be warned people will stare, they find foreigners intriguing, my advice is to fit in and not draw attention to yourself. In India you can get really nice cotton trousers and cotton kurta tops for a few pounds. Purchase a few and wear them, they are comfortable and keep you cool too.
4. Wear comfortable shoes, roads and pavements are uneven and lots of tourist places have dirt tracks and are in remote places.
5. Carry a thin shawl / scarf with you, many religious places will expect you to cover your head as a mark of respect. Be respectful in religious places.
6. Carry a couple of pairs of cheap cotton socks, you are not allowed to wear shoes in temples and mosques, you will need to take them off. It’s much nicer to walk with socks than bare feet and you can discard the socks if they get dirty, keeping your feet clean.
7. A lot of tourist spots charge for using cameras, the charge is a couple of pounds at the most. Some temples / forts do not allow photography or filming be respectful and don't abuse the system.
8. When taking pictures of locals, do ask permission, a lot of them will happily let you take a photo although don't be surprised if they ask you for payment. Generally a ten rupee note will keep them happy that is about 15 pence!!!
9. Carry a bottle of water with you at all times as it can get rather hot and you should keep hydrated.
10. Toilet facilities in India are not the best so be prepared and carry a toilet roll, antibacterial wipes and hand sanitiser in your bag.
11. In India unless you are in government run shops or large department stores where prices are fixed, it’s normal to haggle. The rule of thumb is to offer half of the asking price and haggle from there.
12. Take care when you get approached by beggars, if you give to one, in less than a blink you will be surrounded with more than you can manage. Do not encourage it although seeing small children begging is heart breaking.
13. In most tourist spots you will be harassed with tour guides, only use government approved ones that carry an official Id.
14. Travelling in rickshaws is dirt cheap but hold onto for your life, there are no seat belts or doors and always hold tight your belonging do not leave them unattended.
15. Last but not the least, be careful with food. Although street food looks tempting it can give you a bad tummy, there are no food safety standards in India, and you never know how long the food has been sweltering in the heat. Also do not add ice to your drinks and make sure if you enjoy a glass of sugarcane juice on the streets its not diluted with tap water.
Above all go with the flow, in India nothing happens in a hurry, be patient, traffic stops to let animals pass, people skim in and out of traffic and there are no highway code rules. People in India are happy, they are really friendly and welcome tourists, so respect their country and people and you will have the most amazing experience of your life.