Love every minute of your adventure with our survival guide to India
India is without question one of the most exceptional countries on earth. It is everything all at once and very loud. The madness is why I love it. The sights, sounds, smells, food and people are incredible. I have been going to India since I was 18 and now at 32 I am still discovering amazing new things every time I go back.
Most people love travelling to India, but it can be very hectic and take a bit of easing in. Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your visit to magnificent Mother India.
Don’t Rush – India is not a country that likes to move quickly and things happen at there own pace. Don’t try to hurry, it only results in upset and things go even slower. Get on India-time and let things happen. If this takes 10 minutes or 10 days, don’t panic something amazing will crop up.
Keep your Cool – there are over 1.2 billion people in this country, so it can seem very full. If you are out an about and feel a overwhelmed just remember everyone will bend over backwards to help. Secondly, if it all gets too much head into the countryside. From jungles to tea-covered hills, beaches and deserts, there is so much to enjoy at a less hectic pace.
Eat Well – the dreaded Delhi belly, iodine pills, no water, no ice, no street food, no anything! Yes there are places that don’t make the best snack stop, but a quick glance will confirm this and off you go to the next one. Food is spectacular and you should try it and love it. Use your judgement. Dirty water is the main cause, so avoid unfiltered ice and foods that have been washed in cold water, like salads or uncooked vegetables. If you are in a lovely hotel or smart restaurant you will be fine.
Street Food – street food in India is rocking and it is also where you take the biggest risk. I stick to things that are cooked in hot oil so bacteria are killed. Remember that queues are a good thing; a busy stall means the food is prepped, cooked and eaten fast so less likely to be off key. But there are no hard and fast rules so be sensible and don’t be scared.
Travel Overland – travelling by train in India is one of life’s great pleasures. It is a chance to watch the world go by and soak up some of the splendid Indian hospitality. Every train journey I have made has resulted in me being adopted by a family and stuffed with snacks. Despite this, many of them are very long and can get very hot. First Class AC helps. It comes with a bed and space to play cards. You need ear plugs, eye masks and snacks and a bag chain is a lifesaver.
The Big Question – this may sound odd, in fact rather mad but I have always found asking a question where the answer can be ‘yes’ or ‘no’ rather a gamble. If I was asked a question by a tourist in London (or shouted as we Brits tend to do) in Hindi, or Spanish, or even French I wouldn’t have a clue. In fact, I couldn’t even say ‘yes’ apart from in English. In India, thankfully, a little English is common but not everything. So remember the smile and ‘yes’ might not be the answer you’re looking for. Roll with it – they have 3G if you get really stuck!
Just Looking – India is a massive, beautiful country and there is an abundance of things to do, from cities to sacred rivers and palaces. You can get hassled in some of the more tourist-tastic places. Stick to the plan and if you don’t want to go to someone’s cousin’s shop, just say no.
Love it – if you are lucky enough to be travelling to India, love every minute. Whether playing Holi covered in paint or cooking up a storm with friends, I have had some of the most wonderful experiences in this vibrant country and I can’t wait to go back again and again and I hope you all do, too.