1. Always travel with travel insurance.
2. Make an appointment with a travel clinic at least a month before your departure date, six months if possible. Many universities have travel clinics. If you cannot find a travel doctor in your area, please check out the web site for the International Association of Medical Assistance for Travelers.
3. Stick with foods that have been cooked, or foods that you can wash and peel yourself. Stay away from fried foods if you have a sensitive stomach.
4. Consider taking a "friendly bacteria" supplement such as Kyo-Dophilus (L.Acidophilus, B. Bifidum and B. Longum). Supplements are available at most health food stores and many supermarkets, even in India.
5. Drink bottled water only, readily available in all but the most remote villages.
6. Chai, tea, coffee and soft drinks are quite safe.
7. Wash your hands frequently, even if the pandemic is over by the time you are visiting!
1. Learn this phrase early in your trip: "Ye hai India, darling." (Pronounced yea hay India, darling.) This is your mantra whenever something goes wrong, when things don't move fast enough for you, when the road is blocked by a cow, when you haggle ferociously for 15 minutes to reach an agreement on the price of a bracelet and as you proudly leave with your purchase the shop keeper throws in a second one for free, when a six year old street beggar tugs on your elbow and offers you a handful of berries, when the lights go out as the sun comes up, when the lights go out as the sun goes down ....."This is India, darling."
2. When inquiring about the cost of a service by asking "How much?" the response "As you wish" means: "I know exactly what I want and I am going to be insulted if I don't get it."
3. When in a shop, sit down, relax, take the tea they offer, even though it may be your third cup of the morning. If you want it, and can afford it, buy it. Don't drive yourself crazy wondering if you got the lowest possible price. You didn't.
4. Just because it isn't clean doesn't mean it's dirty. Re-read this one after you get back from your trip!
1. India is a very safe destination for travelers. Theft is not common but you should bring luggage that you can lock. Keep your valuables close to your body.
2. Walking alone at night is ill-advised.
3. Substances that affect your judgment, such as alcohol or Bhang Lassi, leave you susceptible.
4. Female travelers (and male travelers) will want to dress modestly. Bare shoulders and bare legs are generally unacceptable.
5. Although grass, hashish and opium are available, they are illegal, and penalties for use, trafficking and possession are harsh and strictly enforced.
If you arrive in the middle of the night, there may be staff sleeping in the lobby. This is normal.
A "boy" will accompany you to your room and carry your luggage. Don't let him leave before you have:
1. checked that you have both a bottom and a top sheet
2. looked in the bathroom for toilet paper and towels
3. flushed the toilet to make sure it operates to your satisfaction
4. asked about the hot water situation
If something is missing, simply ask him for it and he will bring it. Let this become your ritual upon arrival at any hotel. Just as you would in any hotel in the world, if you have a problem or a need, call down to reception. Don't suffer needlessly.