World Traveler Post
First Time Traveling to India?
Here are the top 5 things you need to know.
India is a beautiful country located in Southern Asia. There resides around 1.3 billion people in the tropical climate. India has some of the most breathtaking landscapes and friendliest people in the world. It is one of the busiest and fastest developing countries. If you are planning on making India a stop on your travel bucket list, There are 5 important things you should know before traveling to India.
#1 you will experience some culture shock
India is like no other place in the world. There is so much going on around you the moment you step foot off of your plane. It’s going be BOOMING with people. There is not much organization when it comes to traffic and traffic laws.
There will be people, cows, stray dogs, monkeys, non stop honking coming from all directions, people yelling, businesses popping up everywhere you turn and people who are intrigued by your image who just want to look at you out of fascination. For most people who have never experienced this type of commotion wherever they come from will feel some type of over -stimulation and possibly stress.
Before you step foot into india you need to do your research on the country. Read about their culture, whats normal in India that wouldn’t be in your country. One thing that helped me ease the culture shock was by watching youtube videos about India.
I was never much of a reader but I love watching educational youtube videos and documentaries. I would stay up night after night watching youtube videos about India. I would watch anything to do with India because I was already so fascinated with the country. The history of India, living in the slums, street food, safety and lots of tourist vloggers documenting their own experience.
Be ready for the culture shock. Do your own research. Read books, watch videos, look at pictures and you will not experience as much as the heavy culture shock Indian life will have on you for your firs time.
#2 The traffic can be extremely dangerous
In most countries you have to share the road with a few different things. Other cars, bikers and maybe the occasional jogger. In India you have many more things that will be on the road with you. There are always people walking in the roads. Of course this depends on the street you are on and your location in either in a big city or in the outskirt villages. India is full of people in the cities and markets. These roads are usually super narrow and you can barley squeeze by without hitting something.
In India there are 400 traffic fatalities a day.
The roads in India are not something to take lightly, you need to be on your game and looking at your surroundings at all times if you are not familiar with these types of streets.
There are many different ways to transport yourself in India. You will see whole families on a small motorcycle, little six year olds riding with traffic on a bike, regular sized cars, taxis, and so many green and yellow Tuk Tuks.
In the cities you will sometimes find the occasional stop light or stop sign. I remember going into the city for the first time after staying in a small village town Faridabad for a few days. I was so excited to see a stop light for some reason. It was just such a change from the rides I have been taking before, there is absolutely no traffic organization. You beep when you are letting another car or tuk tuk know you are next to them. That’s about it! You see bikes flying by when they want to go faster then you. In America you can only pass someone when there is a dotted yellow line. India is more of a free for all when it comes to traffic control.
This is something the youtube videos didn’t prepare me for. I knew the traffic was crazy and super crowded but I didn’t really take under consideration how dangerous it is to be crossing the street and just being on those roads in general.
#3 There are lots of stray dogs
India is one of the top three countries in the world for the most homeless street dogs. On almost every street you walk on there is a great chance you will see a stray dog walking around or taking nap in the shade by a nearby market.
Why are street dogs such a big problem in India?
Garbage is one of the leading factors the increase of street dogs. India streets are littered with trash everywhere you turn. This makes a prime spot for these street dogs to dig for scraps, call home and make a breeding ground. There is also no type of animal birth control going on for these dog populations.
When I traveled to India I was told by the locals to stay away from street dogs at all costs. There was just a recent attack on a mom and her son at the local playground. The dog was sick with rabies. There is quite a resistance from people hesitant to take dogs in. To make them part of a family and get neutered. This number is low and getting lower making the problem of street dogs worse.
I was so happy the time I found a litter of street puppies on the side of the road. I actually got to pick one up and give it some attention for a while. They were the cutest things, I wanted to bring one home so bad!
Don’t let the stray dog population scare you from visiting the great country of India. Most never have a problem with the dogs sharing the narrow crowded streets. They are just as cute as family dogs and are fun to photograph. Just be cautious and don’t engage with the dogs incase they may be carrying disease.
#4 People are going to stare
As a blond haired blue eyed woman in India. I got a crazy amount of attention in my direction. It was really intimidating and uncomfortable at first. I soon began to realize that the stares were not meant to be rude and intruding, I got used to it. I actually kinda liked it after a while I felt famous! They are just not used to seeing someone that looks like you walking down their streets every day.
I stayed in a small city, Faridabad. This is a village on the outside of New Delhi which is the big developed city. One really interesting observation I noticed right off of the back was that when I was in Faridabad almost everyone I passed did a double take to look at me. You could tell the people of Faridabad were very interested in my different appearance. When I was in New Delhi, the bigger tourist location I didn’t get nearly as many looks. I could tell that the New Delhi locals were not nearly as curious about me.
To wrap up this tip, it depends on where you are going in India how people will look at you. Most small villages are not used to seeing tourists and people that look much different in there area. I later understood and began to realize the stares were not rude, they are just curious. Curious why you are here, where do you come from. I didn’t have one bad experience with a local in India. They are so friendly and are just curious about who you are.
#5 Avoid tourist scams
One of the first scams a lot of tourists walk right into as they step off the plane in India is taxi / tuk tuk driver scams. First of all, I don’t suggest waiting until you arrive at the airport to find your form of transportation out of the Airport in India. Either set up an arrangement to be picked up by a local you know or driver scheduled before hand or start walking away from the airport and find a taxi, tuk tuk, or uber driver then. A lot of drivers waiting for you directly at the airport will hound you, especially if you are a tourist until you get in their taxi. Most drivers directly at the airport will raise the fairs for tourists because they assume you have more money.
If you end up taking a taxi or tuk tuk directly from the airport watch out for the common “we need to make a quick stop first,” “We need to switch cars,” or “that hotel is actually no longer here, I can bring you to a better place” type of scams. Know exactly where you are going and show the address to the driver before hand. It is common for drivers to pair up with local tourist agencies and hotels to get you to come to their destination before the one you told them to bring you to. They can make these types of excuses to get you to buy into a scam so they can get commission.
In the three weeks in Delhi I never had any problems with taxi scams. There were a few times I had to put my foot down and be firm with drivers trying to hound me in their car. Just be aware of the possible scams tourists easily fall into.
Overall India is an amazing place to visit. If you are looking to experience a way of life you know is totally different then your go to India. My whole outlook on the world and my life changed because of my trip to India. The cheapest was to travel is through volunteering. I volunteered with IVHQ an organization based all around the world. If this is something you might be interested in please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to answer any questions you have about India and volunteering vs vacation travel.