In the coming months my girlfriend and I will be making a very important journey through India. I have created four simple steps which will not only guide our own journey, but will also assist others about to embark on a similar journey. Enjoy!
1. Be Hygienic
Hygiene while travelling can be an issue, especially when it comes to using public toilets. I strongly advise against using public lavatories while abroad. For the next trip, in my luggage I will be packing several large jars into which I will make daily deposits, I strongly urge that you do the same. Make sure the jars have lids that can be securely fastened, you don’t want an unexpected ingredient in your pre-packed sandwich! Not only will these jars allow you to completely avoid the hygienic minefield that is a public toilet, they will also help you integrate with locals by providing a point of conversation. For example, when you are at a local tea-house, take the jars out of your bags, and explain the stories behind each deposit. Also, don’t forget to share! Ask your fellow traveller if they’d like to use one of your jars, they’ll be thankful for your generosity.
2. Try to fit in
A sad fact of life is that many people don’t like foreigners, and when you travel, you’re the foreigner. For our trip to India, to avoid any potential racial discrimination, we will be taking the very clever precaution of painting our faces black. We will also be speaking in an Indian accent and wearing an ‘I Love India’ T-shirt. Not only will our local disguise shield us from any racial discrimination, we will also get local prices, rather than tourist prices.
3. A smart traveller is a happy traveller
While travelling, you don’t want to advertise to the world that you’re a clueless backpacker. One mistake I see backpackers make time and time again is related to their backpacks. Backpacks, while convenient, advertise to the world that you are a tourist. For our next trip, we will be packing all luggage into shopping bags and baskets. It may mean we’ll have a lot more bags to carry, but it will serve the useful purpose of allowing us to blend in with the crowd. Instead of looking like a hapless backpacker, we’ll simply look like a local couple doing the daily shopping.
4. Know where you are
When I see a fellow traveller scouring a small map for clues on their location, I sigh and lament their lack of foresight. When travelling, I always bring a map large enough for me to accurately navigate my way through a town. My map of choice a 4 x 4 metre world map, accompanied by several 3 x 3 metre country and city maps. Your map should never be smaller than 3 metres, otherwise you wont know what you’re looking at! I usually bring all my maps with me everywhere I go, just in case! When lost, it’s important to not keep wandering aimlessly, it’s crucial to have a sense of urgency and act immediately. That means: 1. Stop walking 2. Immediately access your map by spreading it out across the ground, even if you’re in a busy market. People may accidentally step on your large map, make sure you clear everyone away by screaming, ‘Keep clear, keep clear!’ as loud as you can. It will be absolutely fine because your face will be painted black and you’ll be speaking in an Indian accent, so they won’t know you’re a lost tourist. Even if you’re not lost, pull the 4 metre map out regularly so you always know where you are. Draw your movements with a large marker.
I will continue posting valuable tips over the coming months In the lead up to our departure.
Happy travels all! xx