We completed everything we wanted to and more in India, and along the way we received many messages from people asking for advice. So, we’ve put together this basic list of tips for India beginners…
Tips For First Time India Travellers
Go With An Open Mind
It’s important to be open minded when travelling India. Within the first 48 hours alone we saw cows, elephants and camels crossing the streets with humans. (You can read our ‘what to expect when arriving in Delhi’ blog here) India is a country, that as we’re sure you’re aware, is like no other. The expectations you’ll have developed from TV shows and stories you’ve heard are EXACTLY what you will get.
Book Transport In Advance
One thing we picked up on a few stops into our trip was to pre-arrange our onward travel. We got stuck a couple of times having to extend our stay in places due to transport being fully booked. Trains especially, people tend to book way in advance because they fill up pretty quickly. There are ways to get on a cancellation list or you can turn up early in the morning on the day you plan to travel and hope for a ‘no show’.
Just a heads up, the buses may not always arrive on time. If you ask for directions from someone who doesn’t know the place you’re talking about then they’ll direct you anyway. So just be sure to ask a few people until you’re confident with the answer.
Eat Where The Locals Eat
If you fancy something typically Indian then head where the locals are. Families and groups of friends are always a sign that a restaurant serves good grub. Common sense says that if the restaurant is busy and the turnover of customers is fast- moving then the food is going to be fresher. When we followed this advice, we were never disappointed. India has THE most delicious cuisine.
Always Check The Prices Before You Pay
Find out how much things SHOULD be before you even try to barter with anyone. You’ll look back in a month and kick yourself for paying more than you should have for that tuk tuk. See our ‘How to avoid scams when travelling’ blog here.
Prepare To Be Stared At
This is never going to stop and it can sometimes be very uncomfortable, especially if your bed is opposite a creepy man on the train. For those females who travel alone, we’re sure it must be intimidating because there is no one to turn to. So we’d recommend trying to grab a travel buddy to save you from those uncomfortable situations.
What To Pack
If it’s only india you’re visiting then a bikini isn’t really worth packing. Unless of course, you want to wear one underneath something. It’s obviously a very religious country so as a sign of respect, it’s important to cover up and not stick out like a sore thumb.
It’s handy to take a scarf to cover your shoulders with and if you have dresses, wear them with leggings. Also, you’ll need at least one pair of long pants for visiting temples, men and women.
Hand Sanitiser Is A Must! This can be a life saver and makes you feel that little bit more hygienic before tucking into dinner. There are normally hand washing facilities wherever you eat but it’s handy to have the little bottle of potion just in case, especially if you’re going indian style, eating with your hands.
Plan A Rough Route
Pick a rough route… India, as you know is a HUGE place and the minimum time it takes to get to the next stop is around 8 hours. So, it’s helpful to have a rough route planned. If you meet people along the way, you can add places in, just like we did. As you’re travelling India, there’s so much to do and see, so it’s way less stressful if your next destination is already organised.
We’ve put together a Best Of India – Route & Trip Guide here that should help with any of your pre trip planning.
Bear With It, It Will Be Worth It
When you first arrive in India, you’ll sometimes find yourself thinking ‘what the hell am I doing here’. But once you start adapting to the culture, we promise it’s worth it. You may read many things online to say that India tests you and plays with your emotions and yes, it definitely does. Although we have definitely come away feeling full of gratitude.
Over time, you will become more confident and things you found absolutely bonkers in the first couple of weeks will just become a part of your daily lifestyle.
India is crazy, beautiful, eye-opening and exasperating all in one, and a place that everyone should visit at some point in their lifetime.
Where To Stay
For things to do in India or which route to take, make sure to check out our break down – The Best Of India – A Route & Trip Guide
To check the prices of accomodation or book in advance you can do so here.