Trekking through the Thar desert, exploring popular cities such as Mumbai and Delhi, riding a yak in the Himalayas, or touring through jungles, these are just a few activities you can throw yourself into backpacking in India.
Unfortunately, most people tend to hesitate when it comes to backpacking in India alone. Some of the reasons for this hesitation include getting lost, language barrier and safety concerns.
While all these are valid fears, it is essential to note that with just a little bit of priori preparation and some of the tips discussed below, you can overcome all these concerns and have an amazing trip.
1. Get travel insurance
For a backpacker, travel insurance should be at the top of the list of things to take care of before traveling. That is because, when backpacking anything can happen. For instance, you can get bit by a mosquito when exploring the jungle necessitating a trip to the doctor for malaria meds.
Without insurance, you can be left helpless and devastated if you, unfortunately, injure yourself or are pickpocketed in crowded cities. Worst still, your getaway might have to be cut short due to unforeseeable circumstances. Before leaving home, think ahead and invest your trip in an insurance company that you trust.
2. Pick your destinations and give your trip a rough framework
What kind of a trip are you aiming for? Depending on where you go, India can be drastically different. Think about whether you want to visit the beaches, trek on mountains, see animals in the jungles (the forests and the Ghats), experience the Indian deserts, or remain in cities.
Aim for warmer clothing for mountain visits, conservative clothing for cities and light but still high-coverage swimwear for beaches.
Moreover, look into transport in that particular region. A good rule of thumb is always to book a ticket two or three days or even further prior because buses and trains tend to fill up fast.
3. Security protocols
To ensure safety when backpacking; there are three things you can do. One, sign up with the state department if you are a tourist from the US or an equivalent body from your country. That way, your government will always know where you are, and you can reach out in the event of an emergency.
Second, get a local sim card that will allow you to call someone in case of an emergency. In addition to the sim card, find out all the local helplines—from roadside assistance contacts to medical emergency numbers and police hotlines.
Finally, use your judgment and be careful. For example, you can avoid going out at night especially if you are a woman. Alternatively, you can choose an all-women coach on a train or bus as opposed to the general coach with both men and women.
4. Get both internet and VPN
Getting a local SIM card is a must. It gives you access to the internet and a local number, which makes bookings and communications with accommodations a lot easier. Data bundles in India are affordable so as long as you have a sim card from one of the main providers, you are good to go.
The Internet will give you access to Google maps which will, in turn, reduce the chances of getting lost. The Internet will also give you access to Google translate in situations where locals do not speak English.
Finally, if you plan to save on your data and connect to public Wi-Fis at cafes or hotels, make sure you have a VPN installed on your device.
Moreover, a VPN will exempt you from any kind of online surveillance because all your traffic will be encrypted. It will also secure all your communications which means any personal accounts you access are safe from hackers on the public network.