Any one traveling in India for leisure usually plans it well in advance and are conscious of few things to keep in mind, but still they end up making certain basic mistakes and end-up wasting valuable time and money, all leading to a lot of inconvenience. Here is a short list but must-know mistakes that you should avoid while traveling in India. Be better prepared for one of the most epic destinations in the world.
1. Trusting Technology Too Much (Google Maps Anyone?)
Whenever I go out to a new city I trust google maps a bit too much. I have lost my way, wasted time umpteen number of times because of this.
There is a simple rule to be followed in such cases, when in doubt, ask! It’s that simple really. Lesser known places aren’t really marked on google maps. Locals know the place like the back of their hands and you should ask them directions whenever in doubt. The corner pan-cigarette shop is a good place to start.
2. Not Booking A Hotel (I’m Looking For Something Spontaneous Eh!)
There are times when I just pack my bags and leave. What goes in my head is something I also want to know. If it’s a small place then not booking a place in advance sucks. You might not find a place or you will have to check out a lot of hotel before settling down for one and that also might not be of your liking.
There are times when being adventurous sounds cool and one goes out without researching enough about the place. Especially when you visit a historical monument, it might be closed when you reach there, not knowing is not at all fun then.
We’ve written in depth about this, you may want to read this piece Preparing for a Perfect Road Trip in India
3. Thinking That The Auto/Taxi/Rickshaw/Whatever Ride Will Charge By Meter
This is like living in a fairy tale. Always, negotiate a price before hopping into an auto or a taxi, unless they confirm that meter rate will be charged. It’s too much of a hassle to argue after the trip and sometimes things get ugly too. Otherwise cab services like Uber and Ola are present in most top cities in India.
Just negotiate a little before you get in the vehicle, if you’re in a popular city, Uber or Ola would be the best bet.
4. Not Checking The Weather Forecast
India is such a diverse country and weather changes every 200-300km. So, if you are travelling a distance of more than 200km, better check the weather forecast there. It might be raining there or it’s too hot. I went to Chikmagalur from Bangalore on a motorbike trip, It rained there for 2 days and we rode all wet the entire trip. It was such a dampener, not to mention that some of us had severe cold and cough afterwards.
You can rely on Google here, check weather forcast for the week to the place where you’re heading to.
5. Not Listening To Popular Advice
Sometimes we feel that heeding to advice is just too mainstream, but believe me, it helps. One should always make use of others’ experience and not necessarily learn things the hard way. So, if you haven’t booked your train/bus/air tickets yet for your next trip, book them now. In India it’s hard to get reserved tickets during the summer vacations (April – June), winter vacations (20th Dec – 10th Jan) and during festivals. Because India has a lot of people and all of us like to travel 🙂
Use IRCTC to book your trains well in advance, you can also use IRCTC to book your flight tickets too!. Their convenience fees is probably 1/10th of the popular booking sites (Disclaimer: Booking through IRCTC can be a little frustating at times)
6. Not Keeping An Eye On Your Bags While Traveling
Contrary to popular belief, India is safer than many other more popular countries. Having said that, you really need to watch your baggage and belongings while traveling in buses, trains or while waiting for your transport. There are the situations where you are most likely to get robbed of your belongings. Mugging is rare though.
There is no hack to being a little more vigilant
7. Booking Tight Connections On Flights And Trains
While in India you can never be sure of your time of arrival. Flights are mostly near about on time, still you can’t assume they will be right on time. So it’s better to keep healthy gap between your connecting flights. Trains are a different matter altogether. During foggy winters trains have been known to be late by more than 24 hours. If you have to change your trains to get where you are going, best would be to keep a day or at least 4-5 hour’s gap.
When traveling during winter (mad fog!) and monsoon season (mad rains!), just keep a good time gap between you connecting flights, trains and even buses. Summers are usually not so bad, apart from the heat!
8. Not Carrying Enough Cash Or Carrying Too Much
Recently ATMs have come up in most cities, penetration is still average. You will not find problem location an ATM in most big cities and popular tourist destinations but you might find them out of cash especially on weekends. Small cities and towns may or may not have an ATM. At the same time carrying too much cash is also not advisable as you may get robbed. If travelling in a group, its best for each member to carries cash instead of just a few.
9. Charting An Over-Ambitious Itinerary
India is a large country with not the best connectivity in terms of flights, trains and road network. Flights and trains could get delayed, roads could be in bad shape and ultimately push you into rushing things too much. Plan your itinerary keeping some buffer for any unforeseen events like transport issues or bad weather. This will ultimately give you a relaxed holiday and with a chance of last moment impromptu plans if you get extra time
When making your itinerary, keep it little relaxed unless you’re on a mission
10. Not Trying The local food
Most foreign travelers to India and even the local tourists to some extent avoid local cuisine for either fear of upset stomach or sticking to their usual taste buds. In real sense you do not fully visit a place until you try the local food of that place. Finding a hygienic restaurant is not all that tough, really!. Look for clean setup and some crowds at the outlet and you have found a good place. So now there are no excuses for not gorging on local food, and remember you can always have those little extra calories while on a holiday.
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