Humans like to feel safe. We surround ourselves with items that give us a sense of accomplishment, or remind us of happy memories. And we hate giving up any of the conveniences we count on as part of our nest. So it comes as no surprise to people ask, “Is it safe to travel to India?” Misconceptions about the livelihood, attitudes toward foreigners, overnight accommodations, food, and terrorism within India cloud the realities of just how safe it is in India.
Bomb blasts, kidnappings, and the Mumbai terrorist attacks have attracted the attention of tourists who had India on their list of travel destinations. Bad things can happen anywhere, but that does nothing to satisfy the need to feel safe among travelers. After 6 years of traveling the coasts, hill stations, major metros, desert and the highest peaks of the country, I believe India is one of the safest countries.
India is not a country to arrive blindly without having done any reading or background research. Multiple religions have a firm grasp on the societal opinion on acceptable behavior. Tourists are expected to adhere to this as well. A travel guide book will not provide enough cultural examples to prepare the first time traveler. Take the time to pick up one of the books I recommend reading before going to India.
Remote parts of the country are either not advised for safe travel or require tourists to obtain permits prior to arrival due to small scale territory battles between neighboring countries as well as political and religious arguments. Follow the advice of the locals, your government’s Travel Department, travel agencies and any warnings by India’s Ministry of Home Affairs.
Budget travelers and trekkers will do well in India. The abundance of transportation, housing and cheap meal options allow for weeks or even months of travel without emptying the bank account.
Tourists with an interest in more comfortable surroundings would be best advised to seek the assistance of a full-service travel agency. This form of travel takes the guess work out of where to stay, how to move about, what to see and most times where to eat. A car and driver service moves tourists along popular tourists routes using safe, dependable roads during the daytime. Bilingual drivers assist with basic communications in various situations as needed.
The real obstacles to safe travel in India are staying healthy, food issues, and hazardous roads. The old adage, “look both ways before crossing the street,” never fit better than in India. Buses appear out of nowhere. Touts and beggars will be a bother only if you give money. You become an instant target the second you open your bag or wallet. Theft and especially robbery is very rare. These types of activities are aimed more toward locals. Tuk tuks are notorious for overcharging novice riders. Agreeing to a set price up front avoids any confrontation on the tail end. Pack any prescription drugs needed and antibiotics such as Doxy and Cipro for help with overly active stomach issues. And don’t forget to mind the street dogs and thieving monkeys.
Headlines scare traveler’s into thoughts of an unsafe India. You’ll be surrounded by people who believe guests are gods. Trust the people, trust yourself, follow your gut instincts, know your surroundings. Use my complete list of helpful India travel tips to plan your own safe, successful journey.