Are you a world traveler, looking for your next adventure? Then you might want to look into the subcontinent of India!
India is such a vibrant country that has so much to offer. Unfortunately, there are a lot of other hazards that westerners need to be aware of. Here are some tips for preparing for and traveling in India so you stay safe while you’re there.
Expect Some Staring
Westerners are still regarded as somewhat of a novelty in India, particularly if you’re going off the normal path for tourists. There’s not much you can do about this, so it’s best to accept it. You may be asked to take photos with some of the locals, so prepare for that.
If you’re a female traveler, you’ll inevitably be stared at. Avoid staring back, as locals could interpret this as you flirting. You should ignore people staring at you if you can; consider wearing sunglasses.
Don’t Drink Tap Water
The tap water in India is generally not safe to drink. You should avoid drinking water from the tap during your whole stay in India. Remember: ice cubes are made with tap water, so also avoid drinking anything with ice cubes in it when you’re eating out.
You should always drink bottled water during your travels. Be sure to check the seal; if it’s broken, the bottle could’ve been filled with unsafe water.
Cannabis in India
In many areas of India, you’ll find cannabis and hashish openly smoked in public. Don’t get fooled into thinking that this means it’s legal. You could end up going to prison for 10 years if you’re found guilty of possession in India!
Even if you don’t end up getting convicted, you could be held in jail for months while you’re waiting for your case to be heard. You shouldn’t get involved with cannabis or any other drugs during your time in India.
Trust Your Instincts
People in India are generally quite outgoing; this can make it difficult to determine if someone’s genuinely being friendly or if they’re trying to scam you.
You shouldn’t just blindly trust anyone you meet, but then you’ll rob yourself of experiences if you don’t talk to anyone. Try to keep your wits about you and don’t ignore your gut feeling. If you feel like something isn’t right, make your excuses and leave.
When you’re traveling, you’ll find your instincts can serve you well, so don’t ignore them!
Use a Money Pouch
Pickpocketing and robbery are not uncommon in India. Make yourself a harder target by using a money pouch worn under your clothes.
You should carry only a small amount of cash in a wallet. This way, if you’re pickpocketed or robbed, you don’t end up losing all of the money you had on you.
India is also a country where you might need to pay a bribe to the local police. If you go flashing large amounts of cash, you might find that the price of the bribe goes up significantly. If you keep the amount of money you actually have on the down low, you’ll get away with paying a significantly lower fine.
Carry a Cable Lock
A cable lock like you’d use to lock up your bike is a great tool for a traveler. You can use it to lock your bags to any stationary object.
This is great if you want to get some sleep at the airport or if you don’t quite trust the staff at the hotel you’re staying in. You can use the cable lock to secure your bags to the bed.
Carry a Padlock
A lot of the hotels you might stay in might use padlocks on the doors to lock them from the outside, particularly the cheaper ones. There’s no saying how many people have keys to open these, so instead, you can provide your own.
Of course, this means housekeeping won’t be able to enter, but it’s a small price to pay for securing your room.
Be Careful When Changing Money
Currency exchanges are often scams and when you’re traveling in India, this is no exception. Some of these places even have modified calculators that have been programmed to show the wrong amount.
Consider carrying a small calculator of your own to calculate the exchange rate. Or better yet, change all of your money at a reputable establishment in your own country.
Always Ask for the Price
In India, the price of an item can change at the drop of a hat. Always make sure you ask for the price first.
This approach to pricing can become beneficial if you’re staying in one area for a length of time. Once you become a familiar face, you might find you can get a much better price.
Tourist Information Centers
Be wary of so-called “tourist information centers” in India. Often, these kinds of establishments are not official. Instead, they’re trying to direct people to businesses they’re associated with.
Sometimes, they might even be in league with scammers and will try to direct you towards a tourist trap. Many taxi drivers are also involved in these kinds of practices.
Never ask a taxi driver for recommendations as to where to go; they’ll almost certainly try to take you somewhere where they’ll receive kickbacks for your patronage.
If you want help planning your trip to avoid these things, consider booking a group tour—learn more here.
Get Rich Quick Scams
If you meet someone who tries to get you involved in some kind of get rich quick scheme, it’s more than likely a scam. These kinds of scams work by getting you so excited you stop thinking logically.
For example, if you’re approached by someone who wants you to help them export gemstones, it’s probably a scam. They might request you put down some money as collateral and then the gems turn out to be fake. If something seems too good to be true, it is.
Keep Your Wits About You When Traveling in India
As long as you keep your wits about you and think logically, you shouldn’t have problems when traveling in India. You should be prepared to deal with small issues such as being pickpocketed or a minor scam.
As long as you’re well prepared, the damage from these kinds of incidents should be fairly minimal.
Want to stay local for your next trip instead? Then check out some cool places in Missouri!