4 Tips For First-Time Travelers in India

The magnificent Taj Mahal
The magnificent Taj Mahal

From magnificent and magical to chaotic and crazy, a wide variety of words are used to express what India has in store for you when you are touring the country. It’s a magical land for sure, which can overwhelm and charm – all at the same time. Yet, there are many wrong notions and several stories about this land that make first-time travelers a bit wary. If you too belong to this league and are about to come to India for the first time, here are four tips that will make your life easier and your travel hassle-free and enjoyable:

1. Pick a small tour and plan your itinerary well: Instead of trying to rush from one location to another and feeling tired as a result, try a shorter trip that’s planned meticulously. India is a vast land that offers something or the other for almost everyone. Whether you like wildlife, rivers, mountains, forts and palaces, seaside locations, or just anything else, this land has many varieties from which you can take your pick. Whether it’s the Alleppey (Alappuzha) backwater tours, or the classic Golden Triangle that covers Jaipur, Agra and Delhi, pick your tour destination based on what interests you the most and keep your itinerary short.

2. Go slow and enjoy the immersive experience: Take time out to talk to your co-passenger or the local seller at the market and you will get a glimpse of the place, its people and even their culture and tradition. Seeing a place at a slow pace (say, taking a walk down the road to appreciate the surroundings) could let you notice and appreciate things that you would otherwise miss if you were in a hurry or just take your India tour as a routine visit like most travelers do.

3. Be careful about what you eat: Spicy roadside chats or bhels, or even fruit salads and lassi can be tempting but it’s best to give them a miss and eat only at clean, standard restaurants. In case you just can’t ignore this huge temptation, go for freshly peeled fruits and foods that are either fried or boiled. During your visit, you surely don’t want to fall ill and eating whatever and wherever may make you prone to illnesses, the most common one being stomach ailments. So, apart from keeping an eye out on what you eat, try to carry your own water. In case you can’t, opt for packaged drinking water to keep stomach ailments at bay.

4. Have some buffer time in your itinerary: Traffic in India, especially in some of the big cities during business hours, can be crazy. From traffic jams and impromptu interruptions like a protest march or rally by a political party can cause unexpected waits and unnecessary delays. So, it’s best to have ample buffer time in your tour itinerary and keep an eye on the local news to know in advance if the roads would be blocked or there would be trouble on a specific route since that would let you make alternate plans.

Other small things like saying please and thank you to the locals for their help, taking note of local customs (like removing your footwear before entering temples, not passing food or money with your left hand etc) and a smile at the right place would let you enjoy your India tour to the fullest and make you come back looking for more.