A Safety Guide for First Time Travelers in India
India is a major tourist attraction in Southeast Asia; in 2018, the country's tourism revenue exceeded that of France. This South Asian country is ranked third in the World Travel & Tourism Council's 2018 Power Ranking. Every year, millions of visitors visit this amazing country due to its geography and cultural history. If you are planning a trip to India, here are some tips for safe travel.
Have a Plan
India is known for its diversity; the country is divided into 28 states, each with its own dialect, language, food, and culture. As a result, you should make a proper plan for the places you wish to visit.
If you want to see some great forests, go to the northeast; if you want to see snow-capped valleys and rivers, go to northern states like Himachal Pradesh; and if you want to experience the divine holistic beauty of nature and backwaters, go to South India, specifically the state of Kerala.
So, before your trip, you should have a clear idea of where you want to go in India. Furthermore, geography and climate differ every 500 miles, and diseases vary by region. To protect yourself from the risk of becoming ill, you must ensure that you have the necessary vaccinations and other precautionary measures as recommended by WHO.
"India is the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend, and the great grand mother of tradition. Our most valuable and most artistic materials in the history of man are treasured up in India only!"— - Mark Twain (Writer, America)
Pre-plan Your Commute and Stay
You will have a lot of expectations about Indian hospitality, but every single one of them will be shattered when you exit the airports or bus and train stations in India. When you exit the airport, you will be surrounded by taxi drivers who will take you to their taxi.
They usually have deals with a few hotels and shops, so if they take you there, they get a cut. It is best to avoid such people, and the best way to do so is to use online taxi booking apps like Ola and Uber, which are reasonable and will charge you a set amount based on their tariff.
Also, make advance reservations for hotels or guesthouses after reviewing user feedback on booking sites to avoid being misled by locals.
How to Get a Local Mobile Network
It is preferable to obtain a local SIM card for internet access and making outgoing calls. To obtain a local SIM card, you will need a few documents, including your original passport, a photocopy of your passport and visa, and a passport-sized photo (2*2 inches). A new SIM card can be purchased at airports. You can also buy a sim card outside the airport using the same documents mentioned above.
If you buy a sim card somewhere other than the airport, the service provider may ask for a local reference number, so get the local number of your hotel/guest house or a friend. Remember that the reference number should be in the same city where you purchased the SIM card, as service providers will call that number for verification.
Most travel blogs and Vlogs complain about the difficulties in obtaining a SIM card in India; however, you must ensure that you visit an authenticated store of the Service providers, as most local mobile shops are unaware of the procedure for providing SIM cards to travelers. As a result, it is preferable to visit a service provider's authenticated store. Even in small towns, you can find these stores. Also, bring a universal plug adapter with you to avoid problems charging your electronic devices.
India is known for its diverse food culture, particularly its spice culture. Each state has its own authenticated cuisine. Because most Indian foods are spicy, you must choose your food based on your preferences. The country is also known for its street food, so try to consume as much of it as possible.
If at all possible, seek advice from a local. You can't eat all of the local cuisines in a single day because there are so many options. As a result, India is a foodie's paradise for those who enjoy trying new foods.
Another important thing to remember is to always drink bottled mineral water to avoid bacteria in the water. Remember that India is one of the countries affected by contaminated drinking water, so be cautious when drinking tap water or water from pots supplied by small street food vendors.
"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."— -George Bernard Shaw
Trains are the best way to travel within India. Indian railways have the world's fourth-largest railway network. Trains and buses are the most convenient and affordable modes of transportation in the country.
Remember that you are traveling in one of the most densely populated countries, so expect people everywhere; to avoid crowds, always book trains and buses in advance. Always avoid unreserved compartments in trains because they are overcrowded and you won't be able to breathe.
Use buses for short-distance travel and trains for much longer distances. Use mobile applications and online websites to book buses. Always use the official railway website to book a seat on a train. You can also book a taxi through ride-hailing services such as Uber and Ola.
Travel on one of India's UNESCO World Heritage trains. They will provide you with an unforgettable opportunity to explore nature. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, the Nilgiri Mountain Railway, and the Kalka-Shimla Railway are three such routes.
There are numerous travel vlogs that claim India is unsafe for women. They also mention instances of stalkers harassing female travelers. However, this is not the case; women travelers are very safe here.
Though there have been a few incidents here and there, India is not particularly dangerous; however, remember that stalkers and womanizers can be found anywhere in the world. Some people complain that Indians stare at them, which makes them feel insecure of them.
Actually, Indians are quite shy people, so when they see strangers, they want to talk to them and help them in some way, but their shyness causes them to wait for the travelers to initiate the conversation. If you talk to someone who is staring at you, they will be very friendly.
Emergency Contact Numbers
The first thing you should do when traveling across a country is learning some emergency contact numbers. India, like the United States, has its own helpline number, which is 112. In addition to this number, there are some service-specific emergency numbers, which are as follows:
Tourist Helpline -1363 or 1800111363
Women Helpline -1091
Child Helpline -1098
Railway Enquiry -139
These are some key points to remember when traveling to India for a better travel experience. Because India is a one-of-a-kind country in terms of development, culture, and economy, visiting this beautiful country is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I hope this article provides some useful ideas for foreign nationals looking to visit India.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Jagatheesh Aruchami