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Arm yourself with some handy tips to overcome barriers when you travel to unknown destinations — whether in India or overseas, say experts.

Aloke Bajpai, CEO and co-founder of travel website ixigo, suggests a few things you need to keep in mind when travelling in India if you are a foreigner:

* If you know English, then there are chances that you might survive easily. Though you can easily find English-speaking people everywhere in the country, the regional difference in the accent makes it really difficult to understand the language. Despite the language barrier, you can survive in this country by following some simple tips 

* Break your sentences into simple comprehensible parts. Make sure you carry a pen and a notepad to draw pictures or write words. Pen down all the important names and addresses before your leave your hotel. Look for locals who speak in English and record your route.

* This country is widely known for its delicious cuisine with all kinds of curries, breads, chutneys and sweets. Indian food is spicier for its foreign visitors. Also, tourists fall victim to the infamous ‘Delhi Belly’ due to the poor sanitation facilities when they travel in India. 

Here is how to avoid an upset stomach —

– Eat cooked food and avoid salads or juices from any local vendors. 

– Consider becoming a vegetarian while in India.

– Avoid eating too much spicy food, especially chillies.

– Wash your hands often.

– Carry probiotics that suit your body.

* Indian news channels are usually filled with news related to how one community has hurt the religious sentiments of another community. Being Indians, we might be familiar with such a thing but witnessing this might turn out to be really scary for a foreigner. 

They are in constant mental dilemma on what to wear, when to cover their head, what to touch and so on. 

To avoid offending anyone, you must keep these things in mind —

– Respect local dress codes.
– Take your shoes off before you enter a place of worship.
– Don’t eat or pass things from your left hand as it is considered uncouth.
– Don’t discuss religion with the locals.
– Taking a photograph of the deity in a temple is not permitted at most places.

* While wandering in India, you will come across a number of hawkers, local guides and auto-drivers who will be eager to assist you. But remember that most of them are just looking for a chance to extort some money. 

– Travelling in a group is best.
– Drinking and smoking in public is offensive.
– Don’t hire taxis or auto-rickshaws from unlicensed operators.
– Never book tickets from unauthorised travel agents.
– Don’t take any offerings like ‘prasad’ from saints or godmen.

Abhishek Ranjan, Vice President, digital wallet company Paytm, has tips for people travelling overseas —

* In this digital-savvy world, we have everything we ought to know, on the internet. Yes, from tips to overcoming different barriers, visiting picture galleries, and accessing travel blogs, reviews, etc., everything is out there. So get researching and a plan will fall into place.

* Download a language and translation app like Duolingo. This would help you understand the basics and give you the much-needed confidence.

* Family, friends, colleagues, neighbours; talk to anyone who travels often and get some advice. You would not just get an idea about where to go and what to see, but they would also prepare you for scenarios that you may have to face.

* Get money exchange done before-hand and set yourself a budget. Know how much you are supposed to spend per day and stick to your plan to avoid running out of money. Also, ensure that you have international transactions activated on your debit/credit card, if travelling overseas.

First Published | 17 September 2017 6:48 PM
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