Contributed by Rohit Agarwal
Introduction by Tracey Benson, Editor: Rohit’s article about avoiding touts in India is extremely useful for travellers not just to India but to many parts of the world. The article underlines that just by following some simple guidelines you will be more aware and able to enjoy your journey, with an understanding of how to manage some tricky situations. We welcome Rohit to Geokult Travel and hope that we will be able to share some more of his insights in the future.
Some Tips To Deal With Touts In India
Vacation in a country like India has its own pros and cons. The advantageous aspect of it is, being a spectator to the natural world of beauty and serenity and on the contrary being a prey to the wrongdoings of the touts that target the tourists from outside India. One of the major “tout-abused destinations” in India is Agra – which manifests the Taj Mahal.
A lot of wrong practices being followed by the natives of this country have created a horrifying image for foreign tourists. But these practices are not only phenomena in India, but have been evident at many other tourist destination countries. So, should one stop travelling? No! The better answer is to be alert and aware of these practises and prevent yourself from falling prey. Below are some tips that you should keep in mind while travelling to India:
1. Do not rely on ticketing agents
India is a developed country with equipped cybernetics! One should thus not fall prey to some touts who ensure confirmed reservation tickets for travelling through flights, trains or buses in India. It is always a better option to either book your travel tickets online or manually receive tickets from ticket windows available at every airport, railway station and bus stand in India. Generally, tourists avoid the long waiting queues outside these windows and fall an easy trap to these touts who ensure confirmed tickets at some nominal extra charges. These touts are mostly fake and one can be easily duped during peak tourist seasons.
2. Beware of being guided to a cloak room
Wherever you travel, the Indian railway stations provide with cloak rooms for your luggage to be deposited. These cloak rooms are also available at some major bus stands and places of tourist attractions like monuments, temples, etc. One should thus avoid being guided by a tout to a separate cloak room which seems abandoned or is at a faraway place from the tourist attraction. It is always safe to lock your luggage properly before depositing it at any of the cloak rooms. These public cloak rooms take a minimal amount for luggage deposit and give you tokens or slips in return.
3. Be cautious while appointing a tour guide
As a tourist, we all go inquisitive about the history of a tourist place and would love to know the ins and outs of the place we visit. For this we usually hire tour guides, who enable us with a lot of information about the place. As a foreigner, we need to be alert and aware that there are some fake tourist guides in India, who may mislead you and rob you of your money and luggage. It is always a good practise to hire a tourist guide through the ticket window and also ensure to check and take a mobile-picture of the identity card of the tour guide.
4. Stay away from touts ensuring hotel reservations
If travelling to India during peak tourist season or during festivals and vacation time, you might face the challenge of getting a hotel check in. It is always a better idea to do your hotel bookings prior to your travel during these days and if you miss to do so, please do not (NEVER, EVER!!!) trust the touts who ensure room availability in a hotel, guest house or a lodge nearby. It would be worth to move on a self-hunt (or online-hunt) for room availability rather than being trapped by these vaunts who either charge extravagant or deceive you of your belongings.
Let your travel to the scenic beauty of this country be a memorable one, rather than being frightful. ‘Prevention is better than cure’, remember this and always plan ahead and be alert during your travel and do not be fooled by touts, who could ruin your beautiful journey. Always be aware in visiting major tourist destinations in India like Delhi, Jaipur, Chennai and Goa where one can encounter touts of different varieties – from a child to an old man/woman trying to make some extra bucks by misguiding/misleading information. Always be smart and enjoy your travel while being alert!
Rohit is an architect by profession and travel blogger by desire; who loves his country and believes that the tourists coming to visit India should only carry the tender feelings of contentment, eyeing the beauty and serenity of this country and not the overwhelming feeling of fear of being duped by touts. He thus shares, through his articles, some basic tips to make your journey worth recalling.
Street Vendor in India Trying to Sell Product – Photo credit Rosipaw, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Tout Warning Signboard at Mamallapuram, near Chennai – Photo by Ashley Bristowe, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0