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Aussies Set for a Mad March in India

February 22, 2017 Insurance No Comments Email Email

From the infamous Holi and the International Yoga Festival, to the elephant pageant Chinakkathoor Pooram and bright Temple Festivals of Kerala, it’s easy to see why March is high season for travel to India.

The country is now one of the top ten destinations for Australian tourists, with a 200 per cent increase in travel there over the past decade.

Claudio Saita, Deputy CEO and Executive Director in Australia for Tokio Marine, underwriters for awardwinning World2Cover travel insurance, said that while ‘Incredible India’ is a hot choice, renowned for its bright colours and rich culture, it is not without some unique challenges.

“Figures show India was the tenth most risky destination for Aussies in 2016 for serious injury, illness or hospitalisation incidents abroad,2 including some surprising issues. For example, while Traveller’s Diarrhoea affects up to 70 per cent of visitors, many are unaware that March is also Chickenpox season, which can severely affect unvaccinated adults and people with weakened immune systems.

“Having the right vaccines and insurance policies in place before you go to any country is crucial. Financially, an uninsured traveller might feel confident as the average overnight hospital stay in India is $27.4 However, while the bed may be affordable any medicines or surgical procedures will also need to be accounted for. India is also a land of contrasts, with the quality of medical care varying greatly between hospitals.”

Decorated elephant at the annual elephant festival in Jaipur, Rajasthan in India.

Doing your destination homework and planning ahead is definitely important to help avoid unwanted travel surprises and chances of being out of pocket. Whether you’re visiting as part of a South-East Asia expedition or simply planning to experience these festivals, the team at World2Cover have provided these top ten tips to help visitors to ‘Hindustan’ have the best time.

1. Monkey Business – Rabies is present in almost every country on earth, but most human cases occur in South Asia. Monkeys are the second most common animal bite risk to travellers in India next to dogs, 5 so take care not to pet or engage with any wildlife or stray animals and seek medical attention immediately if bitten.

2. Avoid Burnout – One of the most common complaints of first time visitors is travel fatigue. India is vast, beautiful and addictive, so make sure you are realistic about how much you can fit into your trip. Take the time to wisely plan and organise transport and your route of travel to ensure you don’t miss out on your must-dos.

3. Mosquitoes – Many of Australia’s top ten tourist destinations, including Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Fiji and India, are dengue endemic countries, and 10 per cent of recorded global malaria incidents also occur in South East Asia.6 Both of these illnesses are transmitted through mozzie bites so be sure to wear long, loose fitting clothes and top up with DEET-heavy spray and plug-ins for your room.

4. Money Matters – At the moment, there is a nationwide cash shortage and withdrawals from ATMs are subject to a daily limit of 10,000 rupees ($200), although some ATMs run out within hours. Paying via bank or credit card wherever possible is advised, and ensure you take ample currency with you.

Clouds of Color at Holi in Mathura

5. Language Barriers – With numerous languages spoken and a lack of literacy across the country, it is often difficult to ask for directions. Download and utilise apps such as Google translate which can give you oral translations in languages such as Hindi, Bengali, Tamil and Kannada.

6. Temple Etiquette – Always take your shoes off before entering a place of worship and as tempting as it is to wear shorts in the hot weather, it’s crucial to keep your shoulders and lower part of your body covered when visiting a place of religious importance.

7. Risky Rickshaws – Petty theft is common in crowded areas as well as on public transport and even rickshaws. Thieves on motorcycles commonly snatch shoulder bags and jewellery so limit the items you are bringing and keep your valuables securely stored and out of sight.

8. Hands & Feet – Hinduism beliefs involve a hierarchy of body parts. Feet are considered dirty, so always take your shoes off before stepping into someone’s house. The left hand is customarily used for cleaning oneself, so never pass on anything in your left hand or use it to eat food.

9. Deadly Driving – Road accidents are commonplace in India and the number of traffic deaths is high. Buses and trains are also often poorly maintained and pose fire risks, so consider booking a driver through your hotel or reputable agent where possible.

10. Take Cover – Make sure you’re not just covered for the festival period, but for the full duration of your trip which includes the days you leave and return to your home address. Also ensure you’re covered for any of additional activities you may wish to participate in, like motorcycle riding, during your holiday. There are often exclusions or special conditions for activities with heightened risk so always read your policy to check the limits and terms and conditions.

Upcoming Indian festivals include:

 Mar 1-7 – International Yoga Festival in Rishikesh

 Mar 11 – Chinakkathoor Pooram elephant pageant in Kerala

 Mar 13 – Holi Festival of Colour, nationwide

 Mar 20-30 (TBC) – Myoko festival of the Apatani Tribe in Arunachal Pradesh

 Mar 24 – Malanada Kettukazcha temple festival, Kerala

For more information on the coverage options from World2Cover, visit www.world2cover.com.au.

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