India is amazing beyond words, but can also be overwhelming with plenty of challenges to navigate this place- which is honestly part of the adventure. So after exploring for a couple months I’ve learned a few things I wish someone had told me before I left. So if you're thinking of going here is a good jump start to your research.
VISAS are a whole thing (and can take a long time) so plan ahead.
I have never had to put so much thought into getting a visa any time I have ever traveled before. But so if you want to come to India you have to prepare your visa as soon as possible, an online visa can take weeks or even months (depending on your nationality). There are a few ways to do it - first is the online one - use this link here, and be carful as there are many fraud visa websites. This one is completely legit. When you do this application you will typically get only a 2 month visa. It varies per country but, Americas can actually get up to a 10 year visa, however you have to go to the US Embassy in your country in order to do so.
You will never be able to do everything, so don’t try.
India is a massive country (bigger than the US) with endless things to do. Many first time travels bite off way more than they can chew and spend too much of their time stressed and in transit.Being in transit is the most exhausting part of India, so limit it in whatever way you can. I would recommend to stick to a certain region - many people either do the north or south, or if you want to travel around the country give yourself about a week in each area as it takes so much time to get around and adjusted.
Don’t over plan your trip - let India unveil itself to you. .
I swear every traveler in India will tell you that you might go to India with a plan but India has something completely different plan for you. There will be plenty of moments of travel delays, mishaps or random cows getting in the way of you going to your next destination. So my best advice is SURRENDER. The unknown mishaps can be part of the adventure of India. The best rule of thumb is to simply have a north star or intention for your trip and roll with whatever "obsticals" come your way because I can promise you they will likely lead to more exciting and beautiful adventures - I know they did for me.
Yes you can get sick from the food, but heres how to avoid it.
So sanitation is something that is extremely different in India than in the west - go there knowing this and it won’t bother you. However, you have to be careful of what you eat/drink in order to avoid getting sick. I can say I stuck with these couple rules of thumb and never got sick.
Do not drink the tap water - not a drop. Westerns do not have a tolerance for this kind of water - depending on where you stay sometimes I even used bottled water to brush my teeth. You can always ask if water is filtered or mineral and it should be fine.
Avoid eating salad or fresh fruit as they have likely been washed in tap water, mainly on the street, I would eat plenty of fruits at hotels and restaurants.
Avoid eating most street food, especially fried. I was told you can get sick from the oils as they don’t change them vey often.
Don’t be scared of authentic India restaurants - they are amazing! Just be sure to go to the ones that typically have more people at them or ask for recommendations from travelers, locals or the people running your hotel - they will know where to send you. When you order Indian food be sure to say NO SPICY - many westerns, even those that like spicy food can get sick from the crazy spices.
If you order a smoothie or fruit juice be sure to ask for no ice and no added water unless it’s mineral/filtered.
Never think in western dollars - always Indian Rupees.
Its important to understand how money works in India - if you do, your money will go a lot further. Get familiar with the exchange rate - during my travel it was about 70 Rupees to $1 US dollar. As you begin to move around make it an intention to understand what should be a base price for whatever you are buying - because trust me plenty of locals will do their best to get as much money from you as possible - so know the hagglers and know when you are getting dooped. There were many times I felt like something was reasonable in US dollars - like $25 for a purse when I found out later I should never have paid for than $10. They will always start high, and if they think you are fresh off the boat then they will start at a crazy price that seems like a good deal back home, but it is a total rip off there.