After deciding to visit the beautiful, vast and unique country that is India, the most important preparation you can make is to expect a total sensory overload. The sounds, temperatures, smells and sights can easily overwhelm new visitors who haven’t conducted thorough research.
No amount of reading up about other travelers’ experiences of the country can fully prepare you though – the best you can do is arrive with an open mind and expect the unexpected.
That said, we want you to go in with some idea of what you will find when you step off the plane into India. Here’s some of the immediate things you’ll notice, and how to deal with them.
- The Noise
From the moment you leave the airport, there’s one thing you’ll be hit with straight-away: booming noise. You’ll be met with 100 vehicle horns per minute, people shouting, dogs barking, and music from all angles. Especially for night times, anyone who’s been to India will recommend that you bring stocks of earplugs on your travels with you.
- The Heat… Or Lack Of
Of course, Indian heat in the day can be stifling. On crowded streets under the midday sun, the heat from food cooking, the baking sun and hoards of people equals sweat overload. Depending on the month of the year and the region of India that you visit, temperatures can reach up to 40 degrees Celsius. However: temperatures can steeply drop at night, and the winter in Northern India (October-March) can actually drop below freezing. When packing clothing for India, you’ll need a mix of garments.
- How to Dress
It’s important to consider dressing for both the heat and the culture. Women especially should try to cover up all parts of the body while keeping cool – loose but long clothing is recommended for this. As per cold nights and chilly winter months, throwing a couple of jumpers in your luggage will not go amiss.
- Spending Money
Being discreet with your money is essential when traveling anywhere, but pickpocketing is especially easy in India on very crowded streets – anyone could stick their hand in your pocket and swipe your wallet without you noticing a thing. Therefore, having hidden money pouches (ideally under your clothes) is a must.
The safest option when you plan to travel India for a month or more is to open a local bank account. This keeps your money safe from prying hands and means you don’t have the burden of carrying large amounts of cash with you. Plus, a bank card is much easier to conceal.
Opening an Indian bank account also allows those at home to transfer money to you – with money transfer apps like Pangea you no longer have to wait days or even weeks for funds to be sent from country to country. Visit their website to find out how cash can be sent instantly to India (and 14 other countries) from a smartphone.
- Feeling Ill
Not only do you have to mentally prepare for India, but there are some physical symptoms you might want to prepare for! Differences in food, water and way of life can take its toll on new travelers. Here’s some of the essential ointments and treatments you’ll want to carry everywhere with you in India…
- Tiger Balm: soothes insect bites, cures headaches, eases muscle and joint pain, and masks unpleasant smells – the number 1 magic cure when traveling in Asia!
- Plasters: for making your feet comfortable from rubbing shoes when walking far.
- Peppermint oil: a few drops of this in some bottled water can help soothe an upset stomach; plus it works to make things smell a little better.
- Bottled water: never drink any water not from a bottle – and avoid raw foods and juices that may contain tap water.
- Insect repellant: hot countries are awash with biting bugs!
- Paracetamol: relief for mild aches and pains.
- Electrolytes: to rehydrate you after bouts of sickness – these are a lifesaver for recovering quickly.
Ever been to India? Share your top tips for other travelers with us!