In just a few weeks, I'll be heading to India for the very first time. I know that I already love the people, the food and the culture, so even with a lot of other things to do in the period before I go, my excitement is already reaching a huge peak.
But there have been some horror stories in the news about India for travellers - especially women - over the past few years, so I've been researching and taking note of a lot of different advice for staying safe during my trip.
Here are my selection of top tips from some of the best sources I came across if you're planning your own trip to India. Or to a range of other places too, as much of the best advice is reasonably universal!
AVOID BEING VULNERABLE
One of the best ways to keep yourself out of trouble and ensure you don't encounter problems when travelling is to keep away from situations where you may be vulnerable. For example, finding yourself in deserted places alone or in big crowds (especially demonstrations or protests).
Without sacrificing the experience of the place and its culture, the consensus is that this is good advice to follow for a trip to India. The likelihood of running into issues is massively reduced if you are conscientious in ensuring the circumstances you're in are as safe as possible, and you aren't leaving yourself vulnerable unnecessarily. There are some excellent practical tips on this point for both men and women available here.
PREPARATION IS EVERYTHING
Basic home comforts are really important for the majority of people when they travel. Even if you're not fussy, it's important to remember that in India, those basics usually include things like water and toilet paper. When you arrive, find out where the nearest supermarket is and keep important items like this in plentiful supply at your hostel or hotel.
Although this is very simple advice, it's much better to think about it beforehand than find out the hard way. Nobody wants to spend their trip getting to know the hospital staff because of contaminated water or feeling disgusting for the day because the public loo didn't have any toilet paper. More great advice on getting the most out of your trip to India via this link.
RESPECT LOCAL CUSTOMS
Women seem to have a hard lot when it comes to respecting local customs whilst travelling. Whereas men can often get away with showing their shoulders, ankles, calves and even a bit of a midriff, the same features in a woman's clothing choices come under enormous scrutiny under local laws or traditions.
In India, a number of websites and forums recommend covering up and wearing a wedding ring (even if you're not married) to avoid unwanted attention. For more advice for women travellers, visit the dedicated FCO webpage here.
Follow Lauren's adventures in India and other destinations via Instagram here.