*Have you read my Ultimate Travel Guide to India? That article has all my best travel advice for India, and it has been viewed over 8,000 times!*
And after getting in a fatal bus crash half-way through my trip and nearly booking a flight home, I decided to tuff it out and continue my journey.
My adventure across India was so eye-opening that I now have a whole new appreciation for the world. It was such a trip of highs and lows, that it’s honestly hard to express my feelings into words. But I’ll give it my best shot.
I had originally planned to travel around India with my best friend, but that didn’t work out. So I decided to go alone. And looking back, I’m very glad that I did.
Up until that point before my trip, I had never traveled alone longer than 3 days (in Tokyo). But with 52 countries and 150+ cities under my belt, I was prepared for the test. Bring it on, India!
As it turned out, no trip has had a bigger influence on the way that I see the world. India is a country that you will experience with all of your senses. It’s a country of ups and downs, where you are forced into situations that bring out your true colors. Not only did I gain new perspectives on life, but I valued the fact of fully immersed myself in Indian culture, and by doing that, I met some incredible locals that have turned into my best friends.
I never knew solo travel would be this awesome.
I had the freedom to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. It felt like a reincarnation of my soul. A rebirth of somekind. If I was having fun in a city, then I stayed longer. If I wasn’t feeling it, then I went to a new place. I didn’t have to listen to anyone else’s opinions. I learned quickly that this is the best way to travel.
I didn’t plan anything before my trip to India. Seriously, I didn’t book any hotels or transportation in advance. That was the whole point. I wanted to be as flexible as possible- with just me and my 8 kilogram backpack — anxious and ready to explore the land of 1.25 billion people.
So now, I present you with the 7 Biggest Lessons that I learned from 7 Weeks in India. They are a mixture of life lessons and lessons about Indian culture in general.
If you have any questions about travel in India, then don’t hesitate to email me!
1. Indian people are Good Salesman
Don’t underestimate them.
Indians are some of the best salesman that I’ve ever seen – way better than any other Asian country that I saw. They will try to snag you for every last Rupee in your pocket, and they are really convincing because most of them speak damn good English. Try to bargain as much as you can.
2. Indian Food is Delicious, but be carfeul…
I loved all of the curry dishes, mango lassi drinks and chapati. It’s all cheap and delicious.
But be cautious, because travelers are extremely vulnerable to getting food poisoning. I got it three times when I was in India, and let me tell you that it was NOT fun at all. I have never been so sick from food in my life.
A few tips that I can give you are:
– Only drink bottles water
– Don’t eat any meat (it’s very easy to go vegetarian in India)
– Stay away from street food
– Only eat fruit that you can peel
If you do these, then you will minimize the risk of getting sick 🙂
3. Have Patience
I am a very impatient person. I’ve always been this way.
But now I am changed after backpacking around India. You have to understand that nothing runs on time. Trains were always late. People never met me on time. I was lied to countless times. It’s just how it goes in India.
4. It Only Takes a Smile
In the cities, most people speak English (or enough English to communicate). But not when you get in the countryside and inside the villages.
In the villages, virtually nobody will speak or understand English. But guess what? I was able to connect with them in a beautiful way with just a simple smile. I smiled at people, and they smiled back.
You don’t realize how rewarding this feels until you are in the situation for yourself.
5. Educated Indians are DAMN Smart
I met several highly educated Indian people around my age. People who studied abroad in the USA or somewhere else, and they really know what they are talking about. They have really high IQs and business minds. Honestly, they can run circles around most of my friends who went to Universities in the USA.
Also, India has the highest percentage of engineers and scientists in the world. Go to any college campus inside the engineering building and you’ll see what I mean. It’s just crazy.
6. Bombay is the Most Hectic City in the World
I spent 11 days in Mumbai during my trip. I fell in love with the city, but it was the craziest and businest city that I’ve ever seen. There isn’t a close second.
There is a huge contrast of rich a poor. 60% of the 21 million residents of Mumbai live in the slums. On the flip side, there are 28 billionaires that live there. The traffic is MADNESS, where people never stop honking their horns. The smells on the streets are intense.
If you want to read more, I wrote an entire blog post about this called, “25 Reasons Why Mumbai is the Most Hectic City in the World.”
7. Haggle for Everything
This is one thing that I learned quickly.. bargaining is a MUST in India! Like I mentioned before, Indian are very tricky salesman and they are convincing, so you should always bargain down the price for everything.
I bargained for hotel rooms, haircuts, souvenirs and museum tickets. Pretty much everything except for food is fair game to bargain.
Thanks for reading my post, and let me know if you are planning a trip to India so I can give you some advice!