Common Mistakes Travellers Make On Their First Trip To India
Updated: Jan 11
India is one of those destinations that makes it onto everyone's bucket list, and why wouldn't it given it is such a beguiling country. With charismatic people to meet, off beat places to travel and aromatic traditional cuisines to try and so much more, it can be an assault on all the senses.
This is my second extended stay living in India with many more to come I am sure. This time around it has been much easier. As I have come to learn to accept the culture with time. Most travelers would agree that their first time to India was challenging and would most likely do some things differently. Even the esteemed traveler can be overwhelmed at times. So here are common mistakes that most first time travelers make and how you can avoid them.
Common Mistakes Travelers Make
On Their First Trip To India
Not Accepting What You Can't Change
The saying in India goes, 'This Is India' essentially meaning it is what it is. There will be plenty of times when travelling in India, where you will be beyond frustrated. The Indian way of life can be extremely stressful for the foreigner and no matter how prepared you are, you will most likely find yourself overwhelmed.
This especially applies to the poverty that you will come across throughout India. Seeing small children beg can be heartbreaking, but remember this is what they do for a living in most cases. You will be broke before you know it if you donate to every beggar. Instead try to help in other ways such as volunteering if you are able to.
So try to avoid stressing the small things and accept what you can't change. The biggest piece of advice I can give, but yet find difficult to do myself, is to just go with it. Research the culture of your destination as much as you can, so that you know what to expect.
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Under Estimating Travel Time
India is densely populated making travel especially slow whether you are taking a rickshaw, bus, taxi or train. The worst thing you can be doing is rushing between destinations as you will miss out on so much of the culture. There really is that much to do and see in any one region of India that you want to take your time sightseeing, so be sure to plan enough time to travel between destinations.
Driving in India is a nightmare and driving 1km takes thrice the time it would in any other country. Roads are chaotic with traffic honking at one another, stray animals roaming the roads and people dashing amongst the traffic as they attempt to cross the road. If you are planning to drive in India and aren't confident with no road rules, then I'd suggest you hire a driver. Expect public transport to be overflowing as passengers are usually crammed into trains and buses. With passengers even being crammed onto rooftops and any nook or cranny that is available. Not to mention most public transport is never on time so if you are relying on buses or trains be warned to expect delays and cancelations.
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Being Overwhelmed By The Culture Shock
India is an assault on all the senses for a tourist, no matter how much you prepare yourself you are likely to be overwhelmed at some point in time. You will find that the culture also changes between regions of India. So you may just become adjusted to one culture only to find yourself immersed in another culture.
Even the esteemed traveler finds Indian travel challenging at the best of times. The Indian way of life is different in every way imaginable that adjusting to every aspect can at times be difficult. It is best to accept what you can't change and don't sweat the small stuff. Which is usually easier said than done.
Avoiding Off Beat Destinations
Almost every traveler I have met heads straight to The Taj Mahal given it is one of the wonders of the world. It is definitely a sight to see although there are just as many off beat destinations that are equally impressive in their own way. These are the places that you find bloggers will specialise in. Those who have travelled or lived in India are your best source of information on where to travel.
North India is also a greater culture shock to the tourist rather than South India where there are more tourist destinations. Places such as Goa where there are more tourists tend to be westernised and makes it so much easier to adapt to the culture. There are also just as many beautiful sights to see with the added benefit of being able to dress more casually. North India is more traditional and being a woman means you will need to dress conservatively.
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Being Overly or Under Cautious
You need to find a happy medium when travelling in India as being over cautious means you miss out on great things. Whilst being under cautious you tend to be scammed and are left with a bad impression. So whilst you need to be careful and not trust everyone in India there are those you can trust. Most Indian people I have met are more than willing to help you out where they can.
The same can be said when it comes to dining out, as Indian cuisine is a foodies heaven. You shouldn't avoid food with the fear of becoming sick however you also don't want to have complete disregard as you will most likely find yourself in hospital. I suffered severe food poisoning at Delhi Airport and had to be wheeled off the plane in a wheel chair. So don't think that you are safe just because you are at the airport. Take precaution and use your instincts.
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What tips would you add to this list?
Did you have a bad experience during your first trip to India?
Leave your comments below in the comments field, I'd love to hear from you!