India is a multicultural amalgamation exploding with diverse dialects, ethnicities, customs, practices, cuisines, terrain, landscapes and people. There is so much to see within a country that exceeds 3 million sq. kms inhabited by more than 1.3 billion humans.

A backpacker’s paradise, it is easy to be spoilt for choice, among the dry lands of Central and Western India, evergreen Northeast and South Indian forests, remote and endemic Andaman Islands, unique shorelines of the South, and the magnificent Himalayas; to extensively explore it all, would easily require a lifetime or two.

There are, although a few things to keep in mind when it comes to backpacking in India. Like every other place on earth, we are bound to come across different kinds of people, many genuinely good-hearted folks, and as always there are some (like a few bad apples that spoil the bunch) who can manage to singlehandedly dampen your inner traveller’s spark.

It most definitely doesn’t mean we let down our spirits and miss out on backpacking altogether, but instead work our way around it; after all what use is travelling if it doesn’t challenge you and teach you a few life lessons, on the go. Here’s a list of things to be careful about, while backpacking in India.

  1. Being rude

Often travellers make the mistake of not being kind enough to their co-travellers or to the local people whom they meet while backpacking. This can possibly cause nuisance, if in case any of the locals get offended, and take the behaviour of a traveller as some sign of arrogance or insult. As sensible humans, the bare minimum one can do is to treat each other with respect, irrespective of who they are or where they come from.

  1. Being too friendly

Likewise, it is not always advisable to quickly get too friendly with the local people whom you meet while backpacking, until you are able to build some trust. Travellers are often the first ones to face the wrath of con men, who disguise themselves as locals, to help and aid you in your journey, and just end up robbing you off your money or personal belongings. It is just sometimes better to be safe, than sorry!

  1. Not budgeting enough for the trip

The essence of backpacking, which sometimes leans towards unplanned travel, does not mean we go completely unprepared, at least financially. It would be terrible, if you had to miss out on a brilliant opportunity to travel and explore to a new place that you’ve come across during backpacking, just because you did not budget sufficiently. It is also safe to carry some emergency hard cash with you, all the time, since ATMs are often scarce in remote places and destinations.

  1. Carrying extra or unnecessary baggage

During ‘backpacking, your backpack will be with you for a majority of your time spent roaming. And so it is crucial that you carry only the essentials required, and nothing in excess. You might require a few trips to figure out your ideal size of the backpack, and what you carry within it. But it’s best to not overload yourself too much, or you can end up with a literal pain in the ass.

  1. Not informing about your whereabouts

You might visit new places, where there can be less cellular network coverage or your phone battery might just drain out during your prolonged journey. It’s just a safe practice to inform your trusted contacts, regarding your whereabouts. One never know what situations life can come up, at any point in time.

  1. Not being physically/mentally fit for backpacking

Backpacking can at times be very taxing, and one might require to be patient enough to adjust with whatever resources that are available. Backpackers need to be physically and mentally prepared to deal with such situations, especially in a country like India, where weather, humidity and rainfall play a huge role of how your days are planned. Travelling gives enough opportunities to adapt, learn and improvise on. And by the time you head back home, you might end up being a better version of yourself.

This is a small list of things you can avoid, to enjoy your next backpacking journey. Travel safe!

Text by Aristo Mendis

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