Staying safe in India: our best advice

photo by CC user dms_303 on Flickr

Every year, millions of tourists board planes en route for India, which is considered to be one of the most mysterious and spellbinding countries on the planet.

While its temples, mountains, beaches and people draw these visitors with their exotic nature, there are many dangers that they inadvertently expose themselves to due to their ignorance of the issues surrounding this nation.

If you don’t read anything else before heading off to the subcontinent, keep in mind the following tips for staying safe in India.

1) Read up on the local customs

India is unlike anywhere else on Earth, let alone the west. If you hop on a plane to New Delhi expecting that things will be just as they are at home, you will be in for a rude awakening upon arrival. Even more worrying, you might say or do things that might seem innocent to you, but they will enrage the locals or give them the wrong idea about your intentions.

Dress here is conservative: don’t go waltzing through the streets of Jaisalmer or anywhere else in India in nothing without a shirt on, even if the mercury is hitting 40 degrees Celsius. Body language like touching that is perfectly acceptable between platonic friends could be misinterpreted as a sexual advance in India, so be sure the local Indian you just made friends with is aware of this before cupping them on the shoulder or touching their arm.

2) Keep your plans and the location of your accommodation secret

In the west, we often think nothing about responding to inquiries regarding information that can be highly sensitive, as the motivation behind the question is often nothing more than pure curiosity. On the road, some locals that pose these inquiries to travelers might have less than innocent intentions when it comes to seeking that information.

Never tell a stranger where you are staying, nor what you are up to that day/night. They may be trying to build upon a newly started friendship, but others may wish to use this knowledge for nefarious purposes. Always hold your cards close to your chest when it comes to these matters.

3) Wash your hands … constantly

If there ever were a place where being obsessive/compulsive and/or a hypochondriac would pay off, India would be it. Though much of this country is advancing bravely into the 21st century, hygiene standards have remained stubbornly antiquated or non-existent.

With plenty of germs residing on surfaces due to this fact, your own personal cleanliness is your best defense against picking up a nasty bug while on the road in India,

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