Traveling to India can turn out be a lasting positive experience to someone who knows how to enjoy themselves. With Delhi as its capital, India's population makes it one of the most diverse countries. Having 22 languages, you can get an idea about the various linguistic challenges that one could face in such a place. Hindi is the most common language, and quite a few people are able to understand some English. First off, if you are planning on traveling to India; you will need a valid passport and a visa. You are also required to have a yellow fever vaccination certificate, and it would not hurt to purchase an Indian Travel Guide. In the information below, I will give you several valuable tips about traveling to India.
1. Drinking Water – Always, and I mean always drink bottled drinking water. If you cannot find a clean source of water then use iodine tablets in the water or boil the water for at least 5 minutes before consumption. However, if bottled water is available then try to obtain a known brand of water. Remember to check the plastic seal on the bottle and also physically look at the water to see if anything is floating around inside. It would also be a good practice to keep an extra bottle of water with you at all times, just in case.
2. Food – If you are a vegetarian, you will find no shortage of things to eat in India. But, I would advise you to stay away from raw salads, because they might not have been washed. If they were washed just think about what type of water they might have been washed with. Also, you should only eat fruit that you can peel; and make sure to wash the fruit first. Fruit juices will also be a no-no, because some sort of water is usually mixed into fruit juice and again we do not know where this water came from.
3. Transportation – In India, the most economical way to get around is by train. The train gives the passenger the chance to experience the culture and to see and feel the countryside. The train can also cut out hotel expenses. With use of the night trains that are available, there is space to sleep so the traveler can wake up at their destination. If you plan to drive on your own, you will need an international driver's license. And if you must take a taxi, it would be wise to negotiate a flat fare before getting to your destination. Even though a lot of taxis are metered in India, fares never remain the same so don't put your trust in meters. And always remember, never buy any sort of travel ticket from a stranger.
4. Shopping – There are some very good flea markets and bazaars throughout India. At these places it is easy to find wooden articles, colorful clothing, handicrafts, leather goods and ethnic Indian jewelry. You will have to learn to bargain with traders because they mostly mark the price up to nearly double the value of the merchandise.
5. Carrying money- It is a good idea to carry spare change and small denominations of money because you will have to tip porters, waiters, railway porters, and doormen. However, be careful of pick pickpockets. It is not a good idea to carry your wallet in the rear pocket, nor should you carry around large sums of money. Be careful not flash sums of money around in public.
6. Beggars – Some people think it is alright to give money to beggars and some people say never give money to beggars. I believe that this decision is strictly in the discretion of the traveler. Beggars can range from poor school children to old people using crutches to help them move around. If you do decide to give money to beggars, be careful how much you give for fear of being mobbed by beggars. Another way to avoid being mobbed by beggars if you are going to give them money, is to only give them money when you are leaving a place not when you are going to stay at a place for a while.
7. Mosquitoes – Mosquito can be a serious problem in India, so a good rule of thumb is to bring your own repellants. However, while in India you will find other repellants such as relatively cheap coils that can be lit by fire and work fairly well. Another type of repellant available is a small electronic device that plugs into the wall and requires that you insert a small mat type cartridge in it that will last for some hours and kill mosquitoes in your room.
So, you are now finally somewhat ready for your trip to India. Remember to bring your jacket if you are traveling to the North because the nights are cold there. Also, keep in mind that smoking is not allowed in public places in India and you may be penalized. I would also recommend that you ask before you take any pictures of anyone or any place.