Tips to stay safe while travelling in India

The cultural diversity on offer in India makes it one of the most intriguing and popular destinations for travellers.

For all its charms, India needs to be treated with some caution and planning. Severe poverty results in opportunistic crime in some areas; hygiene and sanitation standards often pose significant challenges for western tourists; and political or civil unrest can erupt quickly.

Theft and muggings can occur, even in daylight, so it’s highly advisable to ‘travel light’ while exploring and keep your valuables safely locked in a room safe or hotel security box. Public markets are hot spots for petty theft and pickpocketing. If you are going out at night, be aware of your surroundings and avoid being alone, particularly if intoxicated. Stay in well-lit areas and be sure to take only registered and licensed taxis. Drink spiking and drugging food is not uncommon — it’s advisable never to accept free food or drink and always purchase bottled and sealed beverages, especially on train journeys.

Accepting food from strangers on India’s crowded long distance trains has reportedly led to trouble for travellers being sedated and burgled while they are incapacitated. Inflated tourist prices and ticketing scams are also rife — it’s highly advisable to purchase your passes from outlets recommended by tourist offices or your hotel or tour operator.

Your favourite personal items can be gone in a second, so consider a travel insurance that covers luggage and personal effects. Some items may have a limit unless specified, so check your travel insurance covers your most precious items correctly.
Women travelling alone may be exposed to some forms of harassment. Staring, inappropriate comments, groping, and unwanted attention are not uncommon. Always be on your guard and avoid venturing out, travelling, or taking any kind of public transportation alone, especially at night. In this conservative country, choose to wear long pants, skirts, dresses and shirts that are light, loose-fitting and cover all parts of your body.  This way, you can stay cool, comfortable and culturally appropriate throughout your time in India.
Women travelling alone may be exposed to some forms of harassment. Staring, inappropriate comments, groping, and unwanted attention are not uncommon. Always be on your guard and avoid venturing out, travelling, or taking any kind of public transportation alone, especially at night. In this conservative country, choose to wear long pants, skirts, dresses and shirts that are light, loose-fitting and cover all parts of your body.  This way, you can stay cool, comfortable and culturally appropriate throughout your time in India.
‘Delhi Belly’ hits many western travellers eating in India, as we are not used to the poorer conditions in developing countries. Never eat from street vendors — eat at busy restaurants or at your hotel. Plates and utensils at restaurants may not be as clean as you expect either. Eating with your hands can be a safer option as long as you have thoroughly cleaned them with hand sanitizer first. Only drink bottled water as tap water can be full of pollution — even arsenic — making it extremely unsafe.
Travel Insurance can help you cover any unexpected medical costs associated with illness while you are travelling. Our medical assistance team can also advise which hospitals in India have good standards of care.
While using public transport you should exercise a high degree of caution at all times. Taxis should only be caught at registered taxi stands or when requested from your hotel or tour operators. Being taken on long and expensive journeys by ‘lost’ rickshaw or taxi drivers is a common complaint.
Scam artists tend to be finely tuned operators adept at parting you and your hard earned money. Whether using the lure of opportunity (the offer of discount ‘valuable’ gemstones to take to a fictitious pre-arranged buyer back home), taking advantage of your lack of local knowledge (doctored taxi meters, ‘closed’ hotels, or emporium side stops en-route to the airport) or something else altogether, the poor life of these scammers has encouraged them to find innumerable ways to take advantage of unwary travellers.

The huge population means a lot of traffic and exhaust fumes. The waste management system sometimes involves just burning piles of rubbish including plastic.

Poor families may also use materials for fires that produce excessive smoke, like cow dung. If you have any lung or asthma-related illnesses, it’s best to wear a mask to protect your airways or avoid urban centres altogether.

When applying for travel insurance, it’s important to declare your pre-existing medical conditions so that you can obtain the right level of cover for your holiday. If you don’t advise your travel insurer and you make a medical claim related to a pre-existing condition, your claim may be declined.

NOTICE: While the Information is considered to be true and accurate at the date of publication, changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of the information. We strongly recommend verifying the travel advisory of your destination prior to departure.

DISCLAIMER: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of all information as at the date of publishing, Allianz Global Assistance does not accept liability for any errors or omissions. Allianz Global Assistance strongly recommends seeking the guidance of a professional travel agent/agency for further information on a specific destination. On your next trip, whether to another province or country, ensure you have travel insurance as it may assist you in cases of unforeseen medical emergencies and other types of mishaps that can happen while you travel. Travel insurance does not cover everything, please always refer to the policy document for full terms and conditions, including limitations and exclusions. Allianz Global Assistance is a registered business name of AZGA Service Canada Inc. and AZGA Insurance Agency Canada Ltd.

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