What to be prepared for

Tilt shift photo of a young girl with red luggage exit from Mila

1. Jet Lag

India has an interesting time configuration: The country’s only timezone, India Standard Time, is 5.5 hours ahead of GMT/UTC. That means the whole Indian subcontinent is 9.5 hours ahead of Eastern Daylight Time (New York City) and 12.5 hours ahead from the West Coast (PDT).

2. Squat toilets in remote areas

Although sit-down toilets are found commonly everywhere now, and most definitely in upper-end hotels and tourist restaurants, you’ll still encounter plenty of squat toilets in public places such as monuments, temples and remote areas in the mountains.

Many of these toilets are frequented by the general public and extremely gross, to say the least.  So a little planning goes a long way in avoiding such situations.

Carrying toilet paper, hand sanitizer, wet wipes and feminine products in a fanny pack (an apt name 🙂 ) comes in handy in such situations.

3. Carrying cash

You’ll find ATMs in most urban and tourist areas in India. Avoid using remote ATMs at night when you may be followed while carrying a large amount of cash.

Card skimmers are a problem throughout Asia. Be mindful of the card slot on the machine; some are rigged to capture your credentials as the card passes through. If it looks tampered with or modified, move on to another machine. The safest ATMs to choose are the ones in busy areas, especially the ones with armed guards.

When possible, horde your small change and accumulate some. Enter odd amounts in the ATM to receive smaller denominations. Small shops and vendors will have difficulty making change for large banknotes.

4. Hot water issues

Older hotels in India may not have centralize hot water; you’ll need to switch on the small hot-water tank in your bathroom to warm the water at least 30 minutes before you shower.

The breaker switch may be in the bathroom, outside the door, or even outside your room in the hallway! The breakers save power and are also a safety feature.

5. Power Outlets

In India the power plugs and sockets are of type C, D and M. The standard voltage is 230 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz. Big hotels should have universal sockets.

(source: https://www.power-plugs-sockets.com/india/)

Check the chargers and transformers for your electronic devices to ensure that they work in this range and won’t produce fireworks. Most modern devices with transformers or USB chargers are dual voltage; they’ll be fine. Watch out for hair dryers and power-splitting implements with built-in surge protection.

The power can sometimes be unreliable with surprise outages and surges. Be cautious about leaving electronics to charge when not in the room. Power surges when generators are switched on can damage sensitive electronic devices. When you see the lights dimming and brightening, unplug!

6. Checking into hotels

shutterstock_1023529213.jpgHandling check-in is not as arduous as completing the Indian visa online application, but it’s still very bureaucratic. Checking into hotels and guesthouses often requires a good 15 minutes of paperwork due to government regulations. Copies will be run, signatures are required, and paperwork gets stamped and stapled.

You’ll need to keep your passport handy, even if you have the number memorized, for your India visa number and issue/expiry dates. Have it available so you don’t have to lift a shirt and dig through your money belt at reception!

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