“Strap on your seat belt Dorothy, cause Kansas is going bye bye.” A trip to India is more likely than not going to be one that changes your life forever.
It is a land of extremes that has been described by many as being an ‘assault on the senses’. You will experience scenes of both extreme poverty and extravagant wealth, the pungent stench of polluted waterways as well as the aromatic scents of incense and spices.
These shocking contrasts that make up this ancient land will open your eyes and expand your mind and help you to appreciate the abundance that you have in your life.
You should know that a trip to India can quickly turn into a nightmare if you aren’t aware of the risks and do some very specific things to minimize them.
Here’s some important things you need to know.
1) Make sure you check what vaccinations you need and get them. India has malaria, dengue fever, hepatitis and many other diseases.
2) Do not drink any water unless it is bottled and the seal is still in tact. Many people will try to sell you water in bottles that have already been opened. This is tap water or worse and you will get sick if you drink it.
3) It is better to be vegetarian while traveling through India. Eating meat is risky and will likely give you a case of constipation, diarrhea or worse. Only eat fruits and vegetables that you can peel.
4) Never ever leave your belongings unattended. They will be taken. Keep them locked with a padlock at all times. The fewer pockets you have on your backpack, the better.
5) Use an internal money belt as opposed to an external one. India is very crowded and you could well have some hands reaching around and trying to grab at your money belt. Keep it inside your pants and be careful not to show your money.
6) Do not accept offers from strangers for transport or free meals. This is how druggings, robbings and abductions / ransoms occur.
7) Be prepared to stand your ground when shop owners try to pull you into their shop.
8) Never, ever travel in unreserved third class. You will regret it.
9) Before getting in a taxi always ask the driver to turn the meter on. You will be ripped off if you don’t do this.
10) Before getting on a tuktuk always negotiate the fare to wherever you are going. Again, you will be ripped off if you don’t do this.
11) Always wear sandals in the shower. Never walk barefoot anywhere. Do this unless you want to get a foot condition such as athletes foot or worse.
12) Dress conservatively. Short dresses or shorts and skimpy tops will attract unwanted attention. Wear nice long, flowing clothing made from natural fibers such as cotton. This clothing is actually perfect for the climate and you will feel very comfortable.
13) Never give money to beggars. If you feel you must give, give them food. Many beggars you encounter are part of ‘begging ring’. Similar to prostitution, these beggars have their own ‘pimp’ and the money goes back to them. They will see very little of it, if any at all. Don’t give money!
After reading through all of these tips you might be thinking why on earth you would even go to India? However these are just the basic safeguards that any traveller should adhere to when traveling through any 3rd world country.
India has so much beauty, is so rich in culture and so deep in spirituality. It is a bird of gold that will embrace you and take you on the ride of your life.
Keep an open mind and do your best to go with the flow. Traveling through India is intense, period. There is always something going on and you will find yourself needing to be on guard at all times. Treat it as an adventure into the great unknown and if you survive the experience (which of course you will), you will never forget it. I guarantee that!