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7 Lessons I Learned from 7 Weeks in India

by Drew on June 5, 2015 18 comments

*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!*

When I decided to backpack India for 2 months after I finished teaching English in Korea, I had no idea that it would be the most life-changing trip that I’ve taken thus far. 

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! 

Namaste 😀

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Drew

Hello! Since 2012, I've been traveling and partying my way around 74+ Countries. Shortly after I graduated from The University of Wisconsin-Madison, I took a job as an English Teacher in South Korea for 18 months. Now, I'm traveling and blogging full-time on a never-ending voyage around the world. Please comment with any questions you have, and feel free to join me on Snapchat & Instagram @drewbinsky :)

Drew7 Lessons I Learned from 7 Weeks in India

18 comments

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  • Ashutosh - July 22, 2016 reply

    Dear Sir,

    I am feeling very happy today, after reading all your views on the India and the Indian.
    You have sketched very well what the India and Indian are actually.
    It will be a great pleasure to meet you in India again.
    Thanks 🙂

  • Tori - July 3, 2016 reply

    Loved stumbling on your blog! Heading to India solo next Feb so my first solo trip. Thinking of doing a very similar route to yours (or the reverse). Any advice or thoughts on how easy it is to meet people? Or general recommendations for a first time solo traveler? Thanks!

  • Rony Dey - May 26, 2016 reply

    Detailed observation. I was in Bombay many years ago. However don’t agree with not eating meat.

    Drew - June 14, 2016 reply

    Thanks for the comment, Rony

  • Ticking the Bucketlist - December 13, 2015 reply

    Loved your post about India… its home…born and brought up here 🙂
    You either love us or hate us…but with some patience..I am sure you will like us 🙂

    Drew - December 22, 2015 reply

    Thanks!

  • sanchaari - June 12, 2015 reply

    Excellent blogs…I was just searching for some Myanmar itinerary and landed up in your blog. I would suggest you to visit Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh( Jammu & Kashmir) in India. Those are two exceptional places which you have missed in your 7 weeks Indian trip.

    Drew - June 13, 2015 reply

    Thanks Sanchaari! I need to get back there on my next trip to India!

  • erickaburberry - June 7, 2015 reply

    Nice blog!

    Drew - June 8, 2015 reply

    Thanks Ericka !

  • Desh - June 5, 2015 reply

    Wow! Totally loved the blog post.. specially the pics with the kids! I totally agree that India – specially visiting diverse places completely changes you. It is said that whatever is true of India, the EXACT opposite is equally true! Go figure 😛

    Drew - June 6, 2015 reply

    Thanks for the comment, Desh!

  • Farooq Hammad - June 5, 2015 reply

    I was waiting for your post for days. Indeed, it is always interesting to read your language. Nice description of India in few lines. You have seen India more than me ))

    Well where are you in pic #4 (with kids)? Please name the place and where are you currently?

    Thanks
    Farooq

    Drew - June 6, 2015 reply

    Thanks Farooq! That photo was in a random park in Jaipur. I am currently back home in the USA

  • Francesca @onegrloneworld - June 5, 2015 reply

    Nice! India isn’t high on my list, so it was fun exploring with you. I love your pictures, especially the ones with the kids! So cute! And I agree, solo is the way to go!

    Drew - June 6, 2015 reply

    Thanks Francesca!! Solo is the way to go for sure. What are your upcoming trips?

  • Beena - June 5, 2015 reply

    Hello…

    I’m born and raised in mumbai, currently living in USA… absolutely love so much detail :))) you’ve made me so nostalgic.
    Also, thanks for such a lovely outlook.

    Drew - June 6, 2015 reply

    No problem, Beena. Glad that you could connect with my writing 😀

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