6 Essential Tips for Backpacking in India
If you are considering backpacking in India, you have probably heard all those breathtaking stories about how mesmerizing this country is. It is true – the sights, music, and people will warm your heart. India has eight main religions, 22 languages, 20,000 dialects, and 1,398,420,500 people. So, we can all agree that India seems a lot more like a continent than a country. And, when it comes to sightseeing spots, we do not know where to start! Trust us – there is no place in the world that is more colorful (in every sense of that word) than India. Thus, if you want to visit, you can rest assured this experience will be life-changing. But, before you start packing your bags, check out a few essential tips for backpacking in India.
1. Define Your Itinerary Ahead of Time
First things first – before traveling anywhere, you must first define your itinerary. Keep in mind that India is a huge country! And, unless you have a whole year to spare on backpacking, you will not be able to see and experience everything. Thus, do your research ahead of time and decide exactly where you want to go! Then, think about what you want to do in India – maybe you want to visit the Konkan region, marvel at the Taj Mahal in Agra, or explore the Red Fort in New Delhi. It would be a shame to go to India and not visit these beautiful places! However, know that doing so takes time and money. Besides planning your itinerary, plan your budget and schedule as well!
2. Pack Light. Extremely Light
When backpacking in India, or pretty much anywhere else in the world, you need to pack light! After all, what you bring will be on your back the whole time.
Our advice is to pack a light capsule wardrobe according to the weather conditions. Besides good-quality, sturdy shoes, you will also need light clothes for the south and some heavy clothes for the north. Moreover, always keep in mind that India is a conservative country, so no bikinis on the street and no short sleeves and shorts in holy places. Of course, packing light also applies to electronics, toiletries, etc. And, do not worry if you forget something – you will undoubtedly be able to find it in India.
3. Inform Yourself About Transportation in India
Backpacking in India does not mean just walking. You need to get there by plane and move around the country using public transport. Of course, if you do not live too far away, transferring your vehicle might be wise. If you transport your car, you won’t depend as much on buses and trains. If not, you can try your luck with one of many different public transportation options in India. And, trust us, luck is what you will need. Understanding the transportation system is not easy, and traffic around the country is crazy! So, do thorough research on this, and be sure that you are well-informed about everything transportation-related in India.
4. Pay Attention to Hygiene
Unfortunately, hygiene in India is not always up to par. So, if you want to go backpacking in India, you have to take certain precautions. The first thing you need to pack is a portable water purifier. This will purify the tap water (that is not good for drinking, especially for foreigners), and it will save you a fortune you would spend on bottled water. Next, you need to pack hand sanitizer and use it often! Finally, you need toilet paper. Indian toilets are different than western ones, and they don’t always include TP.
5. Choose Food Carefully
Be careful what you eat in India if you want to stay healthy. Foods we are not accustomed to can wreak havoc on our stomachs and easily cause food poisoning. Of course, you do not have to pack your own food or eat at McDonald’s every day. You can still enjoy those amazing Indian dishes. You just have to choose your food carefully. That is, you need to select the places where you buy food carefully. Our advice is to follow the locals – see where they eat. Do not avoid crowded places as this usually means the food is delicious and safe.
6. Stay Safe
This one goes without saying, but it doesn’t hurt to mention it one more time. Always think about your safety when backpacking in India. The stories you hear about scams and thefts are, unfortunately, true. So, keep your belongings by your side at all times. If possible, get one of those backpacks that are theft-secure! And, if you have to get into a taxi, find a trusted local and ask which taxi is reliable. There are taxi drivers there who may not only attempt to rip you off but also take you to an entirely different destination. And, if possible, try to learn some useful Hindi phrases as most people in India do not speak English. If you do not speak their language and if they do not speak yours, you might have a harder time finding your way around this beautiful country.