Preparing for a Trip to India

September 15, 2014 Stephan Popescu

It’s the truth; India is a place like no other. Travelling there will open up your eyes to a country, culture and people that you never imagined could exist, but at times may also leave you frustrated as its hustle and bustle happen around you. Speaking from a personal point of view, if you’re seeking an experience to last a lifetime, then India is the place for you. India had been a bucket-list destination of mine for years, and when I travelled there earlier this year, I found it to be everything I could have ever imagined and more. Visiting India will no doubt give you a culture shock in many ways, but if you touch down prepared and ready for what the country has to offer, then a once-in-a-lifetime experience awaits.

1. Take time to adjust to the local cuisine.

A big part of having an immersive travel experience will always include a country’s local cuisine. This is especially true for India, of course, with its wide array of tastes and smells. While I usually love diving in and tasting a country’s most exotic dishes, when it comes to India it’s good to give your stomach a few days to get used to what you’re putting into your body. This includes eating foods that aren’t too spicy for your palate and eating at restaurants (as opposed to venturing out to try street food). Once you’ve acclimatized yourself to Indian cuisine though, make sure to get out there and try different things. India has a million different dishes just waiting for you to sample.

Bonus tip: When purchasing bottled water or drinks, flip the bottle over before breaking the seal. If it drips at all, the seal is broken and you should ask the server for a new one.

plate of indian food

India has a million different dishes just waiting for you to sample.

2. Be prepared for a queasy stomach.

No matter how hard you try, chances are that at some point during your trip, your stomach will not be happy with some of the food you’ve decided to try out. While taking some time to adjust to what you’re eating will help, it’s still highly likely you’ll get a little sick. This should, in no way, inhibit you from either visiting India or trying out new dishes when you’re there. India’s food will be part of your overall experience, and even though I had a couple of days where my stomach didn’t feel 100%, not experimenting with the food would have ended up being a regret for me. So don’t let your fear keep you from having a truly authentic experience. Just be prepared and stock up on some drug store meds in case your stomach does get a little queasy.

Enjoying a locally cooked meal in Alipura.

Enjoying a locally cooked meal in Alipura.

3. Make sure to dress modestly.

When travelling to new countries, it’s important to respect their cultures and dress appropriately. This is especially true when it comes to visiting India. The general rule of thumb when visiting India is to make sure your knees and shoulders are always covered. Ideally your legs and arms should be covered as often as possible too, but locals in India are usually more open-minded than given credit for and will not see that as a sign of disrespect. If you’re visiting any religious site however, check ahead to confirm any dress requirements, as they’re often more strict.

The Taj Mahal stands tall in Agra, India.

The Taj Mahal stands tall in Agra, India.

4. Always negotiate a price beforehand.

If you’ve spent some time researching a potential trip to India, chances are you’ve read or heard stories about Indian taxi scams, where you’re driven around in circles and then charged an exorbitant amount of money. When it comes to situations like this, or when you’re trying to book an activity or event, it’s important to always negotiate the price beforehand. This will help manage your expectations.

Bonus tip: When possible, try to get your hotel or guide to book your service or activity. They’ll often be able to get you the lowest price while also ensuring that you won’t get ripped off at any point.

Hustle and bustle in Varanasi

Hustle and bustle in Varanasi.

5. Stay flexible.

As someone who enjoys the planning aspect of a trip, I always try to stay as flexible as possible when travelling. You never know what could happen and odds are that something is going to go against your plans at one point or another. This is especially true in India where the chaotic hustle and bustle guarantees that at some point in time you’ll be stuck in traffic as a family of cows crosses the road, (among other delays). If you’re travelling to India, you’re going to have to deal with this at one point or another. If you love planning, then plan for plans to not go accordingly. More importantly, embrace India’s bizarre culture and enjoy the ride. You’re never going to have this experience anywhere else, so you might as well enjoy it while you’re there!

Cows walking through the Orchha

Cows walking through the Orchha.

India is truly an amazing country and if you are the type of person who enjoys getting out of their comfort zone and experiencing new things, then there’s little doubt that you’ll love it here. As long as you expect and embrace the culture shock that’s coming then you’ll be in for the trip of a lifetime. The best way to prepare is to keep an open mind. The kind of experience you’ll have in India is the reason we travel. Visiting new places, experiencing new things and meeting new people. India has it all, so go with an open mind and you’ll never look back.

Getting There

Group travel is a great way to experience a country that might overwhelm the senses. G Adventures runs a number of departures to India encompassing a wide range of departure dates and activities to cater for different tastes. We’re thrilled at the prospect of showing you this big blue planet of ours — check out our small group trips here.

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