It can be obnoxious and loud because it’s alive, it’s a bit dirty but still very colorful, it will wear you out however it will also grow on you. It is India! The diversity and vibrancy of India’s traditions are what make people fall in love with the country and to keep returning.
It is so impressive just to sit with a morning coffee and watch all the people bustling along the streets of Delhi dodging cars, bikes, and cows while squeezing past one and other within the congested streets. I find it fascinating to see how a society with so many people and so much congestion can still function. This fast-paced country with over 1 billion inhabitants can be a bit of a challenge to get around in for both new and seasoned travelers.
When I first started a 5-month trip throughout India, I was a bit overwhelmed with everything. I found that my eagerness to explore and energy level were high at the commencement of the day. But by late afternoon I was exhausted from all of the noise, touts, traffic, heat, people, cows, and just from seeing stuff everywhere.
I think India is an amazing country. But the infrastructure is overused, and things can be a bit dirty at the best of times. Put it this way, if you drop a chocolate bar on the floor the 3-second rule does not apply here! But let’s be fair; it must be hard to keep things clean with so many people living in one area.
During my time in India, I eventually developed a few tricks to help tolerate all the little things that seem to wear your energy down. If you try some of these tips, I think it will improve your overall experience.
1. Ear Plugs
My most prized possession during my time in India were my ear plugs. A set of ear plugs are not easy to find in India, so I suggest you bring some from home.
The streets and alleys in India crowded with people, cows, vendors, cars, and scooters. Constant honking will eventually rattle your nerves. Especially the motorbikes that tend to sneak up on you and start frantically honking. It’s like getting a knife in the ear with every honk.
If you have ear plugs in, it will take the noise level down a few notches. But please remember it is still important that you hear the honking so you can move out of the way.
2. Soap Strips/Hand Sanitizer
There is an old saying in India “ Slowly slowly anything can be done in India.” Well yes, they are getting there slowly, but there is still a long journey ahead. You will see that most public washrooms including International airports and expensive hotels will have all the high tech soap dispensers but no soap in them. So close but yet so far!
I would suggest maybe carrying a small bottle of hand sanitizer or get some of these fancy soap strips. I bought the ones in this picture at the train station, but you can get these at camping stores in some Western countries.
3. Use A Towel On Your Pillow
If you’re on a budget and getting $10-$15USD hotel rooms, then you cannot expect 5-star service. I often found that the pillows in these hotels to be ancient, and although the sheets were all clean, the pillows just didn’t smell great. I always tell myself “the price is right, so you get what you pay for! “
The best solution is to use a towel solely as a barrier between you and the pillow. It makes a world of difference! As for drying off after a shower, you can just ask for an extra towel or most of the time you can just air dry. India can get hot. (This trick will come in handy if you’re using budget hotels in just about any country.)
4. Wear Closed Footwear Unless You Are At The Beach.
Just like most Asian Countries the sidewalks and streets in India can have a lot of small tripping hazards. Uneven sidewalks, big holes, feces, and endless objects from vendors using the public walkway for storage. It’s best to have closed footwear to protect your toes.
5. Book A Single Bed For Night Buses.
If you book a bed on a night bus, be sure to book a single bed! Most night buses in India have beds on both sides of the bus. Double beds on the one hand and single on the other side. If you forget to book a single bed, you might just end up sleeping next to a complete stranger. As you can imagine, this could be incredibly awkward.
6. Bring A Few Good Quality Electronic Chargers And Adaptors From Home.
A lot of the infrastructure in India is old, and the electrical outlets can heat up very quickly. Within five months I had to buy several chargers for my phone. A lot of the time the adapter will get too hot, and the electronics inside will melt. I woke up once to see that my charger had blown up and caught on fire. So please do not leave them unattended!
The charger mechanisms that I bought in India were even more likely to overheat. And just because it says Apple on the side of the box does not mean that it’s an authentic product.
If you are lucky enough to have a portable fan in your room, you can use it to keep the charger cool. Just point the fan over the electrical outlet. The breeze will help the charger stay cool. I would also suggest to check your charger every 15-20 minutes and unplug it if it gets too hot.
7. Phone, An Imaginary Friend, To Avoid Bus Touts. 🙂
Touts and Rickshaw drivers can be very annoying. They will follow you when you get off the bus and try to lure you to a hotel where they will receive a commission from if you stay. You can tell them, no, but to them, no means yes. They don’t give up very easily. I developed a trick that always seems to work.
I prefer to walk to the backpacker areas of a city so I can choose my hotel. I always use map.me for directions to the hotel area as it does not require data or wifi to use the GPS function on your phone. I put my ear buds on, walk off the bus and follow the blue GPS arrow to the hotel zone. When touts come up to ask me if I need a taxi or a hotel, I only pretend that I am talking on the phone. I always say stuff like “Hey I’m here at the bus station, are you guys at the hotel room?” This trick always seems to fool the touts into thinking that I have friends waiting for me at a hotel.
If you use maps.me you will need to download all the maps to your phone to use it offline. The files for the maps are big, and the wifi in India is feeble at the best of times so download all your files before you leave your country.
8. Travel Sickness Medication
Before you leave home, make sure you get some medication from you family doctor for travelers diarrhea. I bought a drinkable vaccination called Dukeral a few years ago. So far I have had a lot of luck not getting travel sickness.
9. Toilet Paper
Buy toilet paper or have some tissue handy. Most hotels and public restrooms do not provide it. Most washrooms in Asia have a water hose next to the toilet. The water hose is often used for cleaning up with instead of toilet paper.
Please note! Do not put toilet paper in the toilet! The sewage pipes in Asia and South America are not designed for paper. Usually, there is a bin next to the toilet for disposal.
If your timing is right, try to do your business at your hotel before your shower. But be warned a lot of hotels claim that they have hot showers. Expect it to be cold and if it’s warm then take it as a bonus. And never shake anybody’s left hand! Traditionally people use their left hand for wiping!
10. Check The WIFI Strength Before You Commit.
If you are going to a coffee shop solely to use the wifi, test the strength of the wifi signal before you commit to ordering food. You could also ask a customer in the cafe how well the wifi is working. And just because the wifi was good at a place one day does not mean it will be good the next day.
It is often necessary for the cafe/hotel owner to reset the router to get the wifi to work again. I’ve tried to explain this to different establishments in the past. However, I found it hard to convince an owner to try it. But fear not! Most places in India have power outages daily so that the router will reset eventually.
Related blog posts to follow.
I will eventually have a future link on (Avoiding Travel Scams). This one will most likely evolve into a blog category. I think I could write a book on this subject!
Remember Why You Left Home.
I developed most of these strategies while I was in India. However, they also come in handy just about anywhere you travel. Just remember traveling is all about the adventure. Compromising is what makes it different from your normal life, and the little escape from your comfort zone is most likely why you are traveling. If you are more prepared for these changes and have a few solutions on hand, you will enjoy your experience more.
India has so many amazing things to see, so if you find that you’re having a bad day remember, tomorrow is a new day! And best of all you are not home working, or in my case freezing at the grips of winter. Any day not at work is a good day!
If you have any questions about India or any other destination, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below, and I will get back to you when I can.
Thank-You for visiting my travel blog today!