10 Things to do Before Visiting India
Till now, I have majorly focussed on Indians and people from other parts of the world visiting the US and tried to solve the problems that they may encounter during their visit to America. This time, I thought of twisting things around a bit and talk about what Americans wanting to visit India for the first time should know.
Attracted by the exotic culture, welcoming people and wide diversity, Americans are increasingly making their way to India each year. However, travelling to India can be a big challenge if you are completely unaware of what the country has in store for you.
10 Useful Tips for Safe Travel to India
Here are 10 useful tips that will help people from USA or elsewhere visiting India for the first time.
1. Visa to Travel to India:
To visit to India for any purpose, US citizens need to have a valid passport and valid Indian visa. Americans can apply for the visa at the Indian embassy or a consulate in their own country. The major consulates are located in cities like New York, San Francisco and Chicago, while the Indian Embassy is in Washington, DC. It will take around 3-5 days for the processing of your visa application. However, the time can extend, depending on certain circumstances. It is best to apply for a visa online to save time and effort.
2. Get Insurance:
Americans, in their home country, use domestic insurance and Medicare to take care of any medical emergency. However, you’ll have to invest in a good travel medical insurance policy when visiting India, since American domestic insurance and Medicare do not provide coverage and medical evacuation outside the United States national borders.
Given the number of slums and rural areas India has, the country hasn’t managed to get a clean chit in terms of cleanliness and health. It is always advisable for a foreigner visiting India to be up-to-date with specific vaccinations, such as those for polio, rabies, Hepatitis A and B and typhoid. Most importantly, Americans are advised to run a course of anti-malarial drugs, since malaria is highly common in India.
Related: Vaccinations to get when traveling to India
4. Pack Certain Medicines:
As I mentioned earlier, hygiene is still questionable in some parts of India and can play havoc on visitors’ digestive systems, especially through water. I will advise you to carry iodine tablets for use in water that is not sealed. Don’t forget medication for diarrhea, which is evitable, in a maximum number of cases, after you have tried street food being sold at an unhygienic place.
5. Travel by Plane:
India offers services like of trains and buses to travel long distances. However, given the fact that these are not only time consuming but incredibly crowded forms of transport in India, the smartest way to travel between cities in India is by air for long distances and rented cars for short distances.
6. Research India’s Dress Code:
If you want to explore India’s culture to the fullest, the best way is to dress the way Indians do. At holy places, like temples, mosques and gurudwaras, you’ll also need to cover your head as a rule.
7. Do not Pack Revealing Clothes:
India has a bad reputation when it comes to the safety of women. Eve-teasing and sexual harassment is highly common in the country. Tank tops and shorts will only attract strange looks, which might even turn unsafe.
8. Learn the Skill of Bargaining:
You cannot buy things in India without bargaining; else you’ll be left with the feeling of having been cheated. As a foreigner, you will need this skill even more, since street vendors tend to hike prices when they see non-Indians.
9. Prepare Yourself for India’s Pollution:
The Indian environment is full of dust and pollution, given the excess traffic the country has. Buy some face masks and scarves beforehand. You’ll need them.
10. Do not Give Money to Beggars:
Beggars in India often target foreigners and do not let them go without taking money. However, begging is illegal in India. If you find someone really needy, give them food or cookies, instead of cash.
India is a beautiful place, enjoy your visit!
When you visit India, the most important thing you’ll have to take care of is your safety and your belongings. I recommend that you learn about India, the destinations you’ll visit and make bookings accordingly to avoid having to ask strangers for help.