I am REALLY glad that we traveled to India before I got pregnant. A bionic sense of smell is a major pregnancy symptom, and given the infamous odors of India, that would have been a problem.
Yes, it is true that India has more smells– both delicious and noxious– than any other country you may visit. Why? See the photo above for four reasons: street animals (and their resulting dung), vehicle traffic, piles of trash, and random street vendors.
Still other India odors exude from the sheer number and density of people in India (1.24 BILLION people in a far smaller area than the U.S.), the many markets (yummy food both cooking and rotting), and the prevalence of public urination (or even… defecation).
What Colin and I weren’t prepared for during India travel, however, was the crazy odor situation in certain luxury hotels. You see, in an effort to make their hotel as “sanitized” and “fancy” as possible, several of the high-end hotels we stayed in sprayed odor-saturated chemicals like crazy, and the result… stunk.
Most shocking was our luxury hotel in Agra, where we stayed the night before seeing the Taj Mahal. Upon entering the glittery hotel, our nostrils were accosted by a chemical stench equivalent to nails on a chalkboard.
Sleeve tight over my nose, I ran to the management. It turned out the smell was because the hotel doused its entire property in industrial strength insecticide “as a service to its guests.”
When we entered our room and realized the smell was just as bad in there, we tried to open the window, but it was locked. I called downstairs to see if the hotel could help unlock the pane and get us some less chemical-y air.
With delightful five-star service, a knock came at our door in two short minutes.
“I am here to help with the smell!” a hotel employee declared, striding into the room and whipping out… a bottle of cleaning chemicals, which he began spraying into the air.
“Wait!” I squeaked, choking on the chemical particles. “Can you please just open the window?” Confused, the employee ceased his spraying and unlocked the portal to fresh(er) air instead… but not before we saw the name of the cleaning chemical, pictured above: Colin. Who knew that my husband was also a fresh yellow spray?
Resources to assist your nose and lungs:
- Click here for useful reviews of India hotels. Indeed, reviews for the one we stayed at did mention the smell, so we should have looked it up beforehand!
- Consider packing something to protect your nose like this face mask or this light scarf to filter out air particles (oh, how I wish I’d had this during that hour-long auto rickshaw ride, surrounded by exhaust!)
- Look into packable air purifying products for your hotel room, like this travel air purifier, or this air purifying bag.
All this aside, know that travel to India is SO worth it. Click here to see all my India articles, and glimpse how gorgeous and fascinating the country is. Happy travels!
The author, Lillie Marshall, is National Board Certified Teacher, fitness fan, and mother of two who has been a full-time public school educator since 2003. She launched Around the World “L” Travel and Life Blog in 2009, and over 3.7 million readers have visited this site over the decade. Lillie also runs Teaching Traveling Global Education Community and Drawings Of… Educational Cartoon Site. Subscribe to her monthly newsletter, and follow on social media with the links below!