Whatever your religion, if you are a spiritual person, chances are you’ve considered going on a pilgrimage tour atleast once a year. Visiting a place of devotion that is important for your belief not only allows you to nurture your spirituality, it also let’s you reconnect with the past in order to commit yourself to your future.

Whether you’re travelling alone or with a group, this divine journey is not without certain rules of travel. While respecting the location and dressing appropriately are common, some places may test your patience with their guidelines. Here’s how to stay ahead of them and ensure a successful pilgrimage:

DO be medically fit – Most tours include hiking up off-the-beaten-track trails to locations considered as holy. Other times, walking tours will take you from location to location, walking the path tread by the deity of choice. If you are unwell or not medically fit enough to stand for hours at a time or walk most of the day, reconsider visiting. If you’re travelling with a group, be mindful not to hold them up.

DON’T dress inappropriately – India a popular country for Buddhist pilgrimage tours. Indians follow a strict dress code, but more so when visiting religious places. As a general rule of thumb, avoid short skirts, cargo shorts or any clothing that exposes your skin. Covering up will not only help you be more respectful, but also protect your from the sun!

DO be vigilant of your valuables – Overcrowded areas are prime places for pickpockets and scammers. You may be otherwise occupied, and soon find yourself robbed. Keep your valuables in a body pouch under your shirt to be safe. If travelling with a local, be sure to check with them before paying highly inflated prices for souvenirs, as vendors can scam foreigners into paying for items.

DON’T be a know-it-all. Make friends with your guide – Guides will often share interesting stories of the places you visit if they feel like you’re interested. Make them feel valued and they will even throw in extra sites that were previously not on the itinerary!

DO carry the necessities – Lighten the burden when travelling by carrying lightweight luggage, which also makes for faster transits and commutes. But be sure to pack all tour essentials like sunscreen, wallet, water bottle, sunglasses and passport/identification in easy-to-access places.

DON’T wear uncomfortable shoes – Heels and slippers should definitely be avoided. Proper footwear will make you less exhausted, so lace up those sneakers for a hassle-free tour.

DO read up before you travel – Places of worship usually have a deep and beautiful history. You will understand the importance of these places much more and enhance your own spiritual journey if you knew the legends and myths behind its existence.

Finally, DON’T be surprised if the locals don’t speak English – Most natives in popular areas will learn basic English words like ‘Thank you’, ‘bye’ and ‘That is Rs.100’, but don’t expect much more than this. If you want directions, use a map or travel with a translator (person or app). When all else fails, a lot can be said with a smile.

Happy touring!


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Willaim Wright

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