I wouldn't call myself a hard nosed Indian traveler, but I spent the bones of 2 months here covering a considerable area with a large amount of that time traveling solo. The following tips may be a help to those willing to take the plunge at some stage!
The Backpack - Travel light, one backpack and a small bag for small outings. Invest in a good backpack with comfortable straps and a rugged body. If your a guitar player most airlines will allow you to bring the instrument on board.
Accomadation - You can find budget hostels, hotels and guesthouses at all major locations and plentiful they are. To get the best, use word of mouth from people as you move from place to place or from the "bible of Indian travel", the "Lonely planet" book. Top tip here is go to traveler based locations, if you traveling solo, you are bound to bump into someone here if you wish to tag along. The first day I went solo this happened. *Always get a card at reception to know the address when trying to get back!!!
Delhi Belly - Practically all people I knew as I went along got some form of Delhi Belly, this can range from a 24 hour bout of diarrohea to a week long nausea, of both diarrohea and vomiting.If its really prolonged then an antibiotic or even an overnight stay in hospital may be needed. 9/10 times, ride it out and stay hydrated. I find some natural yoghurt can send you in the right direction. Bringing me to my next point...
Bogroll - Unless you wanna really go all Indian and use your fingers and a jug of water, always carry some bogroll in your backpack!
Heat - During the warm to hot seasons, India gets damn hot especially for people coming from colder climates. Get up early to do your tourist stuff and spend the time studying the guide book and relaxing during midday hours.
Food - Gotta try as much Indian cuisine as possible but the old saying is true, look for places that look clean and have plenty of people in there, especially locals as the food will be good and less likely to leave you feeling sick.
Transport - There are plenty of ways to get around India, plane, train, bus and auto-rickshaws. Trains are notoriously hard to get a few days before and need to be booked well in advance, however if you have that little extra money simply go to one of the many travel agencies dotted around and they will find something for you, trust me! AC transport during the day can be advisable if not used to heat. The sleeper class train is a must for experience through!
Malaria - You will get bitten at some stage but I wouldn't get too choked up on malaria. The tablets taken often have many side affects for people such as stomach cramps, weird dreams and even turning your skin sensitive to light. Like many people I gave them up after a few weeks. As long as you are aware of the symptoms of malaria and are vigilant, you can treat it very effectively *But obviously no substitute for taking proper medication!
Scams - As a tourist you will get over charged for almost everything, expect it! Bargaining by pretending you don't want something and hit them with at least half the price, they expect it. Ask the locals first what prices are of things that way you know what you are aiming at. Have change handy too, they all to often seem to find it difficult to find change for you!
Safety - Have to say I fell very safe in India at almost all times, but the usual stands. Don't be alone in shady unlit areas at the early hours of the morning and always try to split your money in different locations.
Interaction - Bond with the Indian people, they are friendly and will help you out. They ask inquisitive questions it's in their nature, answer them and ask them back. Then ask them with help in the area, they will only love to assist you. Some people are tight with tips, but Indians will really appreciate it (will cost you nothing converted) and they will help you even further.
*TOP TIP - My top tip for traveling in general and not only in India is taking pictures of all your important documents. Almost everybody nowadays has a smart phone with a decent camera. Take pictures of you passport, visa's, important travel documents etc it can become invaluable later. If you wanna double up make sure incase you lose your phone simply email everything to yourself, internet and wifi are never far away and main Indian town and cities!!
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