Travel Tips: The Do's & Don'ts to an enjoyable trip
India is a vast country and different customs are followed in different parts of the country, which are entirely different from the western world. However, Indians are hospitable people and usually people will accept your different ways as a foreigner. Nevertheless, there may be certain situations where your not following the accepted customs will be seen as sign of disrespect. Here, we have listed such situations along with other dos & don'ts to make your travel in India enjoyable and hassle-free.
- Dress conservatively at a place of worship. In a Gurudwara or Dargah, one should cover his/her head with a cloth. Parikrama or walking around the sanctum sanctorum should always be in clockwise direction.
- Always use strong suitcases/baggage, as mishandling is common at airports/stations.
- Avoid taking photographs of the deity in a temple, this is normally not permitted.
- Avoid public show of personal affection. This is generally disapproved of, particularly in smaller cities and villages.
- Try to avoid shaking hands.
- Greet people with a 'Namaste' (hands pressed together at chest level as if in prayer). You will be appreciated for using the Indian style of greeting.
- Avoid wearing shorts, minis, and tank tops are unadviseable unless you're on a beach. In small towns and cities especially, people may tend to stare if you expose too much skin. Safe clothing would be trousers, peddle pushers, skirts, tops and shirts.
- Be careful of cultural and social sensitivities of the regions. There is no single rule for that, the best way is to observe and follow.
- Cover yourself with travel insurance for thefts, loss and medi-claim.
- Carry proper maps of the places proposed to visit in India, as signboards are often absent. In any case avoid persistent touts and taxi-wallahs at airport/stations/bus stands to help you find your hotel. Always use tourist assistance desk for proper advice.
- Take care of proper disposal of your rubbish always whether you are exploring desert, or Himalayas or beaches or anywhere else.
- Always chain and lock your luggage under your berth in a train. Don't keep anything valuable near the window. Always carry plenty of water, fluids in trains. A lone woman traveler may request to be accommodated near other women travelers.
- Traveling alone in certain deserted places and avoid walking at odd hours, especially as a woman.
- Do not checkout of the hotel in hurry. While checking out it has been noticed in some hotels, the extras are unreasonably charged which the guest hurriedly pays without crosschecking.
- Do not leave your cash and valuables in your hotel rooms. Keep your cash divided in different pockets.
- Export of most wildlife and their products, antiques more than 100 years old is either banned or strictly regulated. Selling and buying "shahtoosh" shawls and Ivory is a crime.
- Buy at genuine shops only. Bargaining is a popular practice in India and necessary too. While buying an article, make sure that the entire transaction is legal and transparent so that you may claim later if dissatisfied.
- Don't eat anything offered by fellow travelers on train or road travels. It might have sleeping pills. Always travel reserved class in trains.
- Do not visit places, which encourage orthodoxy, social injustice and inhuman practices (like visiting a sati temple).
- Don't photograph women without permission. Taking photos at a death ceremony, or a religious ceremony or of people bathing (in baths or rivers) may cause offence.
- Don't accept offers of visiting anyone's home unless you are confident of the person.
- Giving tips is customary but not mandatory. Don't tip unreasonably and unnecessarily in a hotel. The NEWS soon spreads in the hotel and by the time you checkout there will be a group of them saluting you to expect something.
- While traveling, don't act confused. Keep a posture of a person known to the region.
- Do not encourage beggars & street urchins by giving them money or other articles. In most of the cases they beg, as they have become habitual of easy money.
- Don't ever enter a temple, tomb, dargah or Gurudwara with shoes on. Leather articles are forbidden to be carried in Hindu & Jain temples. Do not wear black clothes while visiting a Jain temple.