BY: NADIA ZAIDI
Who says that backpacking is only reserved for Europe? If you’re someone who wants to explore “third world” culture and experience its lifestyle unfiltered and unrestricted, try backpacking in India. The best way to really learn about the people, places, and things in a given country is to backpack. If you actually believe that you are visiting a different country by staying in a resort, well, you’re a bit misguided.
Regardless of what anyone might tell you, backpacking in India is going to be the adventure of a lifetime.
Here’s how to survive backpacking through India:
Eat at busy, local places
If you want to eat meals cooked by local Indian chefs, then go to restaurants that locals are eating at. Just make sure you take an anti-acid before or after – because if there is one thing for sure, it’s that Indian food is not bland. It might take a while for your stomach to adjust to the meat, dairy and spice of a foreign country, but once you have eaten at a few places, you will acquire a certain level of digestive tolerance. If a restaurant is busy, it’s your sign to dine there. An empty restaurant is empty for a reason.
Don’t drink what’s on tap!
I’m not talking about beer here. You probably don’t want to drink tap water in India. It’s no secret that many places won’t carry filtered water. The next best thing – take your own personal on-the-go filtration system. You can pretty much purchase these anywhere. There are also many restaurants in India that offer reverse osmosis water. Make sure to ask for that!
Carry plenty of sanitizer, and toilet paper, too
It almost seems obvious, but many public bathrooms in India do not have sinks. You’ll never take your sanitizer for granted again. On that note, traditional toilets in India resemble holes in the ground – so you’re probably not going to see you’re favourite brand of toilet paper hanging on the rack beside you.
Tip, tip, tip
A tip means everything in India. If you want clean sheets, tip the bell boy. The same goes for any service provider you come across. A little goes a long way. Make sure you know how much you should be paying for something so that you won’t be taken advantage of. When you visit shops in India, merchandise has a label that says M.R.P (maximum retail price), which tells you that they cannot legally sell those items for more than is marked.
The train is the best motive of transportation in India. Make sure you look for the most comfortable place to sit – usually the upper deck where the air conditioning is on full blast.
Don’t walk too far off the beaten trail
At the end of the day, a foreign country is foreign to you. You are not a native, and therefore you are more susceptible to theft and other crime. This shouldn’t deter you, but make sure that you are always surrounded by people. Don’t isolate yourself no matter how tempting the trail.