Culture Shock: How to Avoid It When You Travel To India for the First Time

Photo by: Bigstockphoto
Photo by: Bigstockphoto

Traveling is fun way to expose yourself to different cultures. Most westerners experience culture shock when they travel to India for the first time. This is completely normal and more common than you think!

India is a feast for the senses. It’s a beautiful country; incredibly diverse albeit confusing to many tourists. To avoid culture shock, it’s best to know what to expect when you’re travelling to India for the first time. Today, we are listing down five of the things you have to prepare for prior to your Indian trip:

The Humanity

Your personal space won’t be as personal once you travel to India. There are more than 1.1 billion people living in the country. Expect to be shoved, pushed, bumped, and be within close proximity to the locals. It’s fairly common for locals to shout in your face and get a little too close for comfort, especially if they’re selling their goods. Indian people are friendly but there are cases wherein they could be extremely harassing so prior to your trip, learn how to stand your guard and protect yourself.

Also, if you’re from the west, you will stick out like a sore thumb in the crowd. You are likely to be targeted by scammers, pickpockets, etc. Research about the different ways locals will try to dupe you. However, don’t let this ruin your trip. Just stay alert, be mindful of your surroundings, and assert yourself when you have to.

Traffic Jams

Don’t expect rolling hills, endless roads, and relaxing rides when you’re travelling in India — at least not when you’re in the city. Because the population is dense, transportation is extremely challenging! In fact, in New Delhi, locals follow these three traffic rules: good brakes, good horn, and good luck. You can expect to be stuck in traffic most of the time, see large trucks swerving on the road and motorcycles used as minivans. If you’re driving, always stay alert, keep your eyes on the road, and do not use a car with bad brakes. Also, be extra patient with crowds crossing the streets and random locals pushing their luck by darting on and off the road.


For all its beauty and allure, India does have a huge garbage problem. Trash is everywhere in the place. In some places, trash is part of the city’s spiritualism. Case in point: the Ganges. The place is littered with filth and it’s meant to be that way. If you’re travelling from the west, it’s important to learn how to cope with the depth of filth that you will see in India. Trash is often concentrated on urbanized areas. Most rivers in cities are extremely polluted too.

From the air to the water, pollution is everywhere in India. We recommend that you always buy bottled water, especially if you’re staying in the city. Do not let the tap enter your mouth. Even the littlest of tap water that gets through your mouth from showering could give you an upset stomach. Flies are also everywhere so if you’re eating out, you should be mindful of that. Bring a reasonable amount of medication for diarrhea and stomachache before your trip just to be on the safe side.