11 Travel Hacks to Make Your Trip to India Even Better

Red Fort, Delhi
Red Fort, Delhi | © Hemant banswal / WikiCommons
Photo of Richa Jain
16 February 2018

With the advent of growing technology, travelling these days does not require extensive planning. It just calls for a desire to get away from routine life and explore a new destination. Given that, if you are looking to traverse India, the land of saints, then these essential hacks might come in handy.

Order vegetarian food

When it comes to food in India, you’ll find most of the dishes to be pure vegetarian. Non-vegetarian food is also available but is sold at a much higher price. So if you are on a stringent budget, then it’s wise to order the latter, unless there’s some non-vegetarian specialty that you wish to try. Going vegetarian is also recommended because India has loads of delicious options. On the other hand, non-vegetarian options are limited and beef is a strict no-no. Therefore, we recommend getting used to veggie flavours and cuisines.

A vegetarian Indian meal | © Vikramdewangan22889/WikiCommons

Buy souvenirs from street markets

India’s arts and crafts scene is quite popular and as you visit different states and regions, you’ll find a great variety of handicrafts here. You probably want to take back some souvenirs as a remembrance. But where should you buy these from? Souvenir shops? No. The local street markets are where you should head to for purchasing the best Indian souvenirs – they are much cheaper in markets than in souvenir shops. Another added hack is exploring markets during late-evenings as this is when things are a steal because it’s time to wrap-up.

Indian souvenirs | © Fancycrave/Pexels

Perfect your bargaining skills

Whether it’s shopping for local products, food items, essentials or transport, foreign tourists are always quoted a higher or double price for everything. Hence, we would advise you to come prepared and practice your bargaining skills to perfection. To help figure out the right price for something, look for the same product at different shops – chances are you’ll be quotes different prices, which will help you decide on the most probable cost for that product.

A traveller bargaining at Dilli Haat, New Delhi | © meenakshi madhavan/WikiCommons

Always carry cash

Though India is gradually advancing and becoming cashless, this growth is currently seen in urban cities only and that too at big stores or outlets. At street markets, in rural towns, in other smaller places and even for local transport, online payments and debit or credit cards aren’t available. So, to save yourself from the payment hassle, just make sure you always carry enough cash.

Carrying cash while travelling in India is a must | © itkannan4u/Pixabay

Avoid purchasing bottled water

Water is something that you will always need while travelling. But not every place will necessarily have good quality mineral water. Also, even if there is bottled mineral water available, carrying a number of them will make your baggage heavy and will also cost a lot. Therefore, we recommend carrying a water filter with you, either in the form of a SteriPEN, which comes with a battery charger, or a LifeStraw filter water bottle. Both of these are equivalent to an Aquaguard in purifying tap water. So, even if you run out of mineral water, there’s still a safe drinking option available.

SteriPEN in use | © Coronium/WikiCommons

Don’t fall for travel agents’ gimmicks

People generally plan their trip to India with the help of a travel agent or a company. They’re then provided with a list or brochures of places to see and things to do. However, in order to see the country at its best, you must explore the streets, lanes and small establishments on your own, and also indulge in some free activities, which won’t be included in your itinerary. For bookings, flights and hotels, make sure you do your bit of research as well, instead of completely trusting a travel agent, otherwise, you’ll end up paying much more.

A travel agency | © shankar s./Flickr

Don’t always rely on Google Maps

Google Maps is an advancement that we all love. It saves us from the trouble of forgetting routes and asking for directions. But when in India, you might not want to refer to Google Maps too often. This is because extreme interiors or suburbs are not always marked. So, to get to a place, you’re better off asking the locals as they’ll know the best route.

Google Maps navigation in a car | © DariuszSankowski/Pixabay

Opt for guest houses over hotels

Hotels are generally where people prefer to stay during their trips to foreign destination. However, guest houses can be a cheaper and more comfortable option. They have all the major facilities available for a homely stay at affordable rates. If you’re on a month-long trip in India, then guest houses are a more viable choice.

ISI University guest house, Kolkata, India | © Tilemahos Efthimiadis/WikiCommons

Take trains for cheap travels

Unless you’re travelling from one end of the country to the other, trains are the cheapest mode of transport. Fares are priced 30 percent less than the cost of a one-way flight ticket. If you board a train at night, then you can also comfortably sleep, saving the cost of a hotel room. Also, train journeys are a tad bit more elaborate than just having a cheap fare. You get to have fun, watch the countryside, meet new people and even spend your time reading or planning the places to see at your next destination.

Thirumayilai MRTS Station, Chennai, India | © Srini G/WikiCommons

Take state transport buses for intercity travel

For travelling from one city to the other, state transport buses are one of the best options. You can obviously go for taxis, rent a car or book an Uber or an Ola cab, but these would cost you much more than travelling via an ST bus. Since it is managed by the state transport, the bus will take you to places where it might be difficult to reach via cab or taxi. Also, you can even chit-chat with fellow local passengers and learn about the particular place you’re travelling to.

A Volvo bus in Hyderabad | © Nikkul/WikiCommons

Go for public transport in small cities

Transport options in small cities in India are quite limited in comparison to the urban areas. Ubers or Ola cabs are not always available and even taxis are rarely seen. Therefore, you should consider taking an auto or cycle rickshaw. You can choose to travel on a local bus as well. Modes of public transport like these are easily available and ensure that you reach your destination in the shortest possible time.

Auto rickshaw in India | © gounder/Pixabay

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