1. CLOTHES & SKIN CARE
» Carry all your essentials in the bag, but try keeping it lighter.
» Wear cotton clothes in summer, avoiding synthetic ones as they will keep you breathless.
» Wear sun glasses in summers, sweaters & light jackets in winters and rain coat & umbrellas in rainy season.
» Sun screen lotions to be must in your bag.
» Also carry a sewing kit, pocket knife, torch, spare batteries, neck pillow, eye patches and a good first aid kit.
» Carrying delicate fabrics is not a good option if you are staying in a budget class hotel.
2. TRAVELLING TIPS
» Carry your passport, traveler’s cheques, money, cards etc. in an inner shirt/jeans pocket. Better still; shove them in a hidden money belt against your skin. You can then dance around pickpockets and yet be safe. The worst thing to do is to carry them in a zippy bag hung over the shoulders. You will never know when someone just slips it out. The fanny bags or waist packs spell 'money' to pickpockets and make you an easy prey to swoop on. You cannot escape their nimble fingers and sharp razors.
» You can travel through many modes of transport available- cycle rickshaws, Tongas, buses, trains, cars, planes but always confirm the rate to be charged or ask them the fare conversion tariff card.
» Never buy rail/air tickets and hotel rooms through touts, they maigh cheat you. Always go to a Approved Travel Agent.
» Get you domestic tickets and hotel room booked well in advance as in the peak season there is a great rush, so you may not face any discomfort later.
» Beware of pickpockets at crowded haunts like airports, railway station, markets and tourist spots.
» Avoid self driving as it is risky. If you still opt to take precaution for stray animals that walk around, in the night truck drivers can be rash. Also carry a spare can of petrol/diesel.
3. RELIGION & TEMPLES
» Religion is a sensitive topic for most Indians. It is nice to keep your rational / logical self under wraps and follow the harmless norms. Just be sober and friendly in any holy place and remember some must-dos that should keep everyone happy.
» Remove your shoes, sandals, sneakers, slippers etc. This is done to keep God’s place clean. If you hate walking barefoot and are lucky enough, there might be a cloth overshoe provided to you. Also, wash your hands and feet, if you please - it isn't compulsory but just another sign of reverence to the deity.
» Alcohol is a strict no-no inside the temples.
» An Indian attire like a Sari, salwar-suit is ideal while visiting a temple. A loose blouse and a long skirt can do too. Covering your head before entering a Sikh Gurudwara or a mosque will be appreciated.
» Since most Hindu and Jains are veggies, it isn’t surprising that leather products like shoes, belts, handbags, camera cases etc. are prohibited. » Do not point your feet and back towards the Holy Book / the idol / altar. In a Hindu or Sikh temple, sit cross-legged or tuck your feet away.
» While traveling take all precautions that will keep you from that running nose (or tummy !), dizzy body temperatures, giddy hangovers etc. Make sure you carry the first aid kit with all the medicines.
» If you believe in taking precautions, take all the vaccinations one needs. To avoid malaria and dengue, carry mosquito repellents, nets and sprays. If you can bear the heat, wear clothes that cover most of the body.
» Be extra careful about food and water. Eating raw salads and fried food from a street-side vendor is a no-no. Avoid pork too. If the temptation is soaring, go to a clean restaurant that you can trust. Eat balanced and healthy meals. Keep popping those friendly multi-vitamins.
» Water has to be from a reliably clean source. If not sure where the water comes from, ask for a known brand of mineral water. Always carry a water bottle with you - this will save you from dehydration too.
» The Indian bazaar - a place that puts your temptation resistance skills at test. They are stuffed with bright and beautiful things - handicrafts, silks, ethnic jewelry, curios and what have you. You can shop till you drop. Read more to be a smart shopper in India.
» Try to get the right bargain. This stands for all items that don't come with an MRP (Maximum Retail Price) stamp like clothes, jewelry, leather goods, carpets, paintings etc. Always, always look around, compare prices and then buy.
» Exporting items like ivory, fur, animal skins, antiquities etc. is illegal. If you must have it, obtain a certificate of legitimate sale and permission for export before leaving the country.
» Visit the various state emporia and the Central Cottage Industries Emporia (most major cities have one like Delhi, Calcutta, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, and Hyderabad etc.) The prices here are fixed and will give you a fair idea of the cost with a regular dealer.
» Never, never believe the touts who promise to take you to the best shop around and get you the best bargain. They usually have their handsome commissions built into the cost.
6. MORE TIPS...
» People tend to be generally friendly and helpful, but please take extra caution to recognize them.
» Never leave an unlocked suitcase in a hotel room or an unattended one at airports/railway stations.
» Hindus do not eat beef and Muslims don't eat pork. Don't upset them by offering what they cannot eat.
» Photography could be an issue at some places. For places of military importance like railway stations, bridges, airports, defense installations and sensitive border regions, you would require to seek permission from the authorities concerned.