Ready to go backpacking India? You’re in for an adventure! There’s nothing halfway about the experience you’ll have backpacking in India: a full repertoire of flavors, sights, and smells awaits you. It can be a wonderful experience, if you come in prepared and in a positive frame of mind, and the memories you make here will never desert you!
Backpacking India will be an exercise for your whole person: extending your ideas of person, space, smell, and sights. What should you know before you go to make this exercise a positive one?
• Be ready to go with the flow, and pick your battles only over important issues; India is far enough out of your comfort zone that any other approach will simply lead to disaster.
• The standard eating utensil is your hands, so pack a goodly amount of hand sanitizer.
• Your electronics probably won’t work unless you get an India travel adaptor. The good news is that if you end up forgetting this, you should be able to buy it in country.
• If you are a female traveler, dress modestly and have a stern, cool face ready for whenever you’re approached; Indian men are notoriously over-friendly with western women.
• As in most equatorial climates, insects abound, so plan to use lots of insect repellant to avoid becoming the most popular eating spot for every vampire-minded insect in the area. If you’re buying in India, Odomos is a very effect repellent to look for.
• Check the tags when buying in small stores or market in India; most items will have the price penciled on it, and you can easily avoid being double-charged as a foreigner.
• Every service is tipped in India; the tips can be small, but should never be forgotten.
• Carry your own toilet paper; it will never be provided. Wet wipes are a good idea too!
• If you’re staying in backpacker-style hotels, bring your own sheets—you’ll want them! You can also just bring a sleeping bag and plan to sleep inside it.
• The Taj Mahlal: No, its not enough to just have seen its picture: there’s no way to experience the full glory of the Taj Mahlal but to go see this historical artifact in person, standing in all its glory in a glum, dusty, no-descript town. Half of the wonder may be in the contrast, but either way—go!
• Rajasthan: Immensely rich culturally, this Indian state is packed so full of places you’ll want to visit you could spend your whole vacation here. Old forts, desert dunes, and ancient architecture are spiced up with Rajasthan’s intensely colorful cultural heritage, and your camera could be busy all day long.
• Leh: in North India, a wonderful place for your backpacking hikes and treks, with grand scenary and untouched wildlife.
• Gokarna: Once you’ve been satiated with the sounds and spells of India, escape out to Gokarna, a placid, laid-back area with quiet sandy beaches where you can lie back and listen to the waves come in.
Of course, those are only a beginning; India is packed full of don’t-miss locations, and it’s not a small country either! Backpacking India is something that’ll never be captured in one small article, though, so we’re not going to attempt to do even more than paint the edge of the iceberg. If you’ve Indian backpacking experience, we’d love to hear more from you. What do you think are the key ‘must knows’ to India backpacking? What one thing, if you had known, would have made your experience backpacking in India miles better? What is your favorite backpacking destination in India?