It’s that time of year, globetrotters. If you plan on ducking out of winter’s way and making a pilgrimage to India this year, we have a few tips for you to keep you well-adjusted. Traveling to India can be one of the most mentally and physically exhausting, yet exhilarating, trips you can ever make in your lifetime. If you keep an open mind and you take things in stride, this vacation will be a pleasurable one for you. Plus, remember, preparing for your trip to India is quite different from traveling within the United States or to European countries, so Good Indian Girl has come up with a handy game plan to help you prepare.
Get Your Visa
The Indian Consulate suggests that you receive your Indian travel visa before you book your plane ticket. The process is actually completely straightforward; if you read the instructions on their website, it really doesn’t take that long to put your application together – gather a few classy passport photos and some personal information and you should be on your way. A trip to the nearest Indian Consulate is recommended, but if it’s too far, you can mail it in. Also, companies like Travisa can help speed up the process if you’re in a hurry.
Pack Your Meds
Don’t spend your entire trip in the bathroom! Take preventative measures and check the CDC travel website to see what necessary shots and meds are recommended. Make a trip to your trusted doctor and ask if there are recommended prescription meds you can take with you in case you are in need of antibiotics. The change in weather, the exposure to pollution, and the thousands of people in close proximity can knock anyone off his or her chapals. Be sure to stock up on some basic OTC meds too, just in case.
2 Bag Limit
Although it is tempting to bring different outfits to India, there’s a good chance that you’re going to buy a lot of souvenirs for your friends and family. Though international flights are gracious with their restrictions on checked in baggage, domestic flights in India do have restrictions. Look up these specifications online so you can plan in advance. We recommend packing an empty duffel bag in your suitcase, so you have a whole bag to fill of souvenirs, custom tailored clothes and fancy Indian clothes.
Play It Safe (Clothing)
In some states, women wearing shorts or short skirts will draw unwanted and unnecessary attention (we know this is a tough pill to swallow, but we recommend playing it safe while you’re there). So even though you’ll be melting in your salwar, you at least won’t have to deal with unwanted glares and groping dudes. Since this is a short trip and your goal is to stay safe, pack practical clothing items that won’t make you stick out. Bigger cities are more open to shorts, skirts, but our recommendation is to feel it out and then decide.
A good pair of Chucks is compulsory for your travel experience to be a pleasurable one. You’ll want to walk around a lot so make sure your feet won’t be your enemy. Aside from the shoes, don’t forget your hand sanitize, a TSA lock and key for your luggage, and a 230V outlet converter so you can charge your phone without blowing a fuse.
The currency conversion of dollars to rupees is fantastic, but when you convert the price of something to dollars, it really is not that different from what you would pay here. An iPhone or a name-brand product like Coach or Prada will actually be more expensive in India than in the US. Keep track of your finances. If you’re using your credit card, it’s a good idea to call the bank in advance so they know that you will be traveling and using your card.
Call your mobile service provider to find out whether or not your plan supports calls from India. You may have to subscribe to an international roaming feature before you depart to ensure that you can make and accept calls. Make sure you check the price for these calls, because the time you spend telling your family and friends you miss them might end up costing the same as a flight back home.
Say No to Tap H20
This is one of the quickest ways to get sick. Be mindful when ordering food at restaurants- go for hot, boiled, foods and avoid food that is sold on the streets (even if it smells and looks amazing). It’s unnecessary to lug hundreds of plastic bottles of water from the US; they do sell safe, drinkable, bottled water in India. Pack a few in your checked in luggage so you don’t have to go shopping your first night in India. You’ll be tired so think ahead.
Lost in Translation
Regardless of where you travel to within India, rest assured that most people do speak English. But if you’re feeling ambitious, buy a travel book from your local bookstore or download a language app and study it on your flight. No one expects you to be fluent in Hindi, but it doesn’t hurt to make an effort; the locals will appreciate it even if your pronunciation is slightly off.
The Final Stretch
You’re exhausted and jet-lagged, but you have to make it through customs, immigrations, and baggage claim in your port of entry before you can crash on your wooden bed. Getting through this process is exhausting, but don’t worry. You only have to do this twice during your whole trip to India. Have your paperwork ready and in hand, open up the pages of your passport to the one with your photo and the one with your visa so the officer does not have to spend time searching for it. And stand right in front of the officer. He will analyze your passport photo so if you’re wearing contacts in the picture, it’s a good idea to remove your glasses during this process. Make it easier on yourself.
Are we forgetting anything? Let us know in the comments sections!