1) Bring your own water bottle
Especially if you are staying in India longer than a week. While everything is significantly cheaper for you, you can bet you are probably being overcharged for water. If you are staying in India long term, you will realize that many places offer reverse osmosis treated water for cheap or free. The paid guesthouse I am staying in offers free drinking water. I have used old disposable water bottles to fill again and again, but it's not the best option. As the bottle gets hot, it can cause a chemical reaction within the plastic. I'll be investing in a glass water bottle before I come to India again.
2) Carry newspaper with you
I learned this trick from locals the second day I was in India. A man on the train unfolded a newspaper and used it as a placemat. Newspaper can be handy for cleaning up messes, preventing you from making messes, it can act as a placemat to keep from spilling food, kindle for fire and many other things.
3) Make friends with locals
Because it's good to make friends anywhere you go and a culture exchange is sure to follow. Otherwise, friends can be extremely helpful in helping you communicate, get the best deals when visiting places or shopping, and help you get anything you need as fast as possible. It's also nice to have someone to teach you about society and culture, especially in moments where you are so confused you feel dizzy.
4) Bring your own clothesline
Before coming to India, my little brother gave me a bracelet that unravels into a clothesline. It's meant for camping and survival circumstances, but in many ways it came in handy. In India, you wash your clothes and then hang them to dry. Some places provide a place for you to hang your clothes, but some don't. Bring some clothesline just in case.
5) Learn Hindi words and phrases
In case you have no translator or local friend to help you out, chances are you will come across a situation in which you can't communicate with a local. Most people speak or at least understand English, but not everyone does. It's helpful to know a few basic phrases in case you do not.
6) Bring your local friend shopping with you
In case you make friends, and hopefully you do, bring your local friend shopping with you. Many people are honest, but some people will try to take advantage of foreigners or travellers. It's helpful to either know the expected price of everything on your shopping list, or just bring someone who lives locally. Another benefit of bringing a local friend shopping with you is they may be able to strike a bargain for you.
7) Cover your skin
It's not just about culture and respect, it's also surprisingly about being comfortable and protecting yourself from the sun. Many times I had made the mistake of not covering my arms before leaving the house. I thought it would be okay and I would feel cool. However, within moments of being outside, my skin would burn. I quickly realized the logic in covering your skin in the heat.
8) Don't take too much luggage
Another lesson learned. If you are coming to travel, bring only what is necessary and remember that you can buy many things you may need, here in India. Especially if you plan to travel by train, bus or walking, do not bring anything that is not necessary.
9) Act confident
If you want to avoid being a target of manipulation, theft or other dangerous situations, avoid looking like a tourist. Dress respectfully and according to culture. Avoid looking around in wonder or confusion when you exit the airport/train station/bus station. Act like you know where you are and what you are doing. Not every moment is a picture opportunity. Yes, capture memorable pictures, but if you want to blend in, try not to take pictures of everything. (Always ask permission before taking anyone's picture.)
10) Bring your own soap and/or hand sanitizer
Don't let the bathrooms scare you. The toilet on the floor is not hard to use, but the cleanliness of the bathrooms is always questionable. There is not much of an opportunity to use public bathrooms, but when you do, there may not be any soap available. Bring your own soap and some hand sanitizer.Add this article to your reading list