We all hear so many things about India that either spurs us to explore or scares us off even considering it as a travel destination. I want to talk about my experiences with staying safe in India.One of the main gripes about this magical country is that you will get ill from eating the food and that it’s not safe for people to travel, especially alone.
India is one of those destinations which will test you whilst you explore the country. It definitely challenged me but by the end of the trip, I considered it was one of the most fascinating countries I have visited to date.
Staying Safe in India
There has been a lot of media on India’s high rates of sexual abuse, especially towards women and this is off putting. However, here are a few tips for staying safe in India:
This is an obvious one. Unlike back home, where showing a bit of flesh is perfectly normal, in India it will be frowned upon. You will attract unwanted attention, more than you would already get as a tourist. Consider getting a headscarf, certain areas, you will see many women covering up their heads. Blending in is always a good thing.
Don’t display your valuables
This can apply on and off the street and doesn’t strictly apply to India. Leave your fancy watch at home and think about where you whip out your latest iPhone. India is a country of extreme poverty and pickpockets are rife. On the train, we left a plastic bag with shoes in. When we arrived at our destination, the bag and all its contents had vanished.
Pockets and bags
If you have zip pockets this is good. It makes it more difficult for pickpockets. Try not to put wallets in back pockets as you are asking for it to be pinched. Instead you could put things in your rucksack and attach a lock. When you board a train you will see locals removing their bags and placing it in front of them where they can see it.
When I was in India, I always had a sense of readiness for something. Not to say I was constantly on edge, but I was vigilant to what was around me. People will approach you seemingly genuinely and what I discovered a lot of the time was that there was another agenda. Not to say ignore everybody, you need to keep an open mind. But be aware of scams.
Respect the culture
India has a very different culture to what you are probably used to. If you are in public places, try to blend in. Public displays of affection are rare and best avoided. If you enter a place of worship, follow the rules.
Arrive in the day
At night India can be a little shady. It’s best to arrive at a place in the day, so if you are booking a bus/train, try to ensure you arrive with enough time to get to your accommodation before night. Getting lost is easy when you are in the maze of India.
Travel with others
Group travel is a great way for staying safe in India and easing those travel anxieties. It can be more fun with all the craziness of India, it’s always good to have someone to laugh at your own misfortunes if one occurs. Despite this, I would still encourage those travelling solo, to go for it!
Don’t be a door mat
Indian people are some of the savviest people I’ve met. If you fail to hold your ground, they will take you for a ride. This applies to getting taxis, food and generally everything you do as a tourist. Even a seemingly innocent conversation on the street can turn into a demand for money.
Eat Safe in India
When I arrived here, I was really on edge about what to eat and drink. I remember, the fist bottle of water I bought, I checked it up and down to see if it was a real legit bottle. This is perfectly normal (I hope) and within a few days I was far more adventurous and brave.
Here’s a few ways to eat safe India:
This is pretty obvious, but you can’t drink from the tap. It will give you belly ache for days. Buy bottled water, and make sure you check it has not been tampered with. Best to stick with the main brands. These include Bisleri, Kinley, Aquafuina.
Ice is made from the tap water in many places in India. Having this in your drink practically means you are drinking tap water. In some places they will sign post that they have purchased ice that you can drink. In the streets though, it may be a different story. Be careful when buying chilled drinks.
I ate a lot of street food in India. It’s what you’ve come for, and just as tasty as you’d imagined. Don’t let people’s myths about it put you off. I ate so much of it without getting any serious bouts of dodgy bowels. You need to ensure that when you do eat street food, look for somewhere busy and ensure they have cooked it fresh. It should be piping hot. If it’s not, ask them to recook it or go elsewhere.
Cold salads can be risky, as they have been washed using the tap water. You would be unlucky to contract a bug from this but if you feel a bit more risk averse, perhaps stay away from dodgy looking salads.
I think the way I managed to not get serious Delhi Belly was because I mostly stuck to vegetarian foods. Most Indians are vegetarians and the food is so good that you don’t need meat. They pack so much flavour and punch to their dishes. Meat and fish is more likely to make you ill as they may have not cooked it thoroughly or it may have gone bad.
Take your time
Look around and seek out a place that looks good. There so much food on offer, so you should make the effort to find somewhere great. Do research online to see if there is any recommendations, but don’t stick purely to these as where’s the adventure in that. Most importantly, make sure the place is BUSY. It means that they are cooking food fresh all the time and so it’s likely to be good and clean.
Remember that locals are used to the food hygiene a bit more than you will be. If they recommend something to you that doesn’t look clean, say no thanks. Rather that, then be on the toilet for the next few days.
Follow some of these guidelines and staying safe in India during your travels should be simple. Embrace India’s madness and chaos and enjoy it. There’s no place like it. If you enjoyed reading this post, i would appreciate it so much if you’d hit that share button below.