How to Stay Safe When Traveling in India

Staying safe in India requires awareness and caution. While India draws millions of visitors each year and is known for its great beauty and diversity, there are simple precautions that tourists need to take in order to help ensure a pleasant and enjoyable vacation. The following tips are some of the best ways you can protect yourself from illness, aggravation, and theft.

Watch Out for Pickpockets:

First time visitors to India are easily overwhelmed by the sights, sounds, scents, and colors. With well over a billion residents, it’s easy for newcomers to fall victim to theft and pickpockets. Carry valuables, credit cards and cash in a concealed place, with a combination of cash and reliable credit cards for travelers. Additionally, it is a good idea to save copies of all documents and emergency numbers in a separate place, if you should need assistance. Watch out for individuals posing as guides and porters and expect service providers to show proper identification. Remember that, as the second largest nation on the planet, India is crowded! It’s not unusual to be pushed and jostled, just try to keep calm and reasonably assertive!

Use Caution with Food and Water:

While most food is safe in India, be careful about eating anything that has been sitting out (unrefrigerated) for an extended time. Carefully wash vegetables and fruits before eating them and use extra safety measures when drinking the water. Avoid drinking tap-water from any source that is unknown and plan to drink bottled mineral water with a familiar label. Even then it is recommended that you check the cap to make sure that the seal has not been broken. Carry tablets for water purification as a back-up. Take along insect and mosquito repellents and speak to your doctor about the need for anti-malarial medications. (Note: if you should require medical attention in India, medical providers and medications are usually available at reasonable costs.) Here’s a water buying guide in India.

Extra Precautions:

It may come as a surprise that photography is not allowed in many areas, such as airports, military sites, in railway stations, and on bridges. If you’re not sure, it’s probably best not to use your camera. If you should have a legal problem, ask to speak to the ‘senior inspector’ in the local police-station or get in touch with your national embassy. While violent crimes are not that common in India, it is advisable to remain aware at all times. If you are female, there are additional precautions that are advised.

Safety Tips for Women:

Female visitors are encouraged to take extra precautions when visiting India. Avoid unwanted attention (and potential groping) by dressing modestly. It helps to cover bare skin, wear long skirts, and avoid body-tight clothing. A shawl or scarf is a great way to cover up and prevent harassment. Avoid: touching strangers, posing with men in photos, friendly gestures that could be taken the wrong way, large gatherings, ‘gurus’ and wandering ‘holy-men.’ Additionally, avoid staying alone in a guest house; sit next to women while traveling, and avoid being alone after dark. Be cautious even with hotel staff and remember to securely lock doors and windows.

Final Tips:

Smokers can be fined on the streets and while on public-transportation; always check to see if there are restrictions wherever you. Possession of illegal drugs subject travelers to a minimum of a ten-year sentence. Watch out for scams and sting operations. Stay alert at all times, don’t take anything for granted, use good judgement, and enjoy a safe and healthy trip to India!

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