This is a short post which I will add to as the weeks go by. It applies to every traveller in India and also applies elsewhere Due to failing limbs, eyesight, memory and all ailments associated with getting old, many of the tips will be much more applicable to the slightly older traveller, backpacker or simply adventurer.
- Don’t adjust contact lenses after eating curry Indian style using only your right hand!
- Do try to book at least your first night accommodation in advance to avoid the certainty of hassle at the airport or rail/bus station
- Do sit down and have a shave at a dodgy looking hairdressing stall … it usually comes complete with Indian head massage and ayurevedic shoulder arm massage (whether you want it or not!) But for Rs20-Rs50 who could complain
- Do wash everything you eat with bottled water (except perhaps for fruit n veg which you peel yourself)
- Do carry a coiled cycle lock to secure your bag during journeys on sleeper trains/buses
- Do not rock up to a hotel in a taxi and hope to have the advantage in negotiating a room rate (better to casually walk in off the street without baggage…which is another good reason for booking your first night somewhere and then going to survey the area)
- Do always negotiate/barter for even the small stuff…it’s actually fun and expected
- Do book your tickets in advance to avoid third party agent fees or emergency quota rates
- Always expect that things will not go completely according to original plans…change them and smile
The Tao say’s….”the true traveller has no fixed plans…and is not intent upon arrival”
- Don’t think EVERY one is trying to rip you off…lots are of course, but I believe that with the right mental attitude you will attract the “Good guys” (I even had a birthday pressie from our tuk tuk driver in Agra…with zero ulterior motive)
- Sometimes when you put laundry (dhobi) in and it says “same day service” there is the chance that there is a spelling mistake and it should say “SOME day service”…just make sure you get a time from them to get your stuff back.
- Check out toilet facilities both ends of carriage on a train when you first board and of course have paper available…sometimes…just sometimes, there is paper there and if you haven’t remembered yours then snaffle a few sheets to tide you over. There is “usually” a western style toilet and the traditional Asian style hole in the floor but on our last train ride we lucked out and only had the Asian version…that’s India I guess)
- Do expect a probable thumper of a head if you hammer down too many Kingfisher beers (many think this is consequent with the glycerine used in the brewing production of their beer)
- Don’t travel on Holi (a major Indian Festival of Colour)…. we arrived in Delhi expecting to jump straight on a bus to Agra..no buses..no trains..this meant a 220km taxi ride from hell…lesson learnt
- Don’t take a mobile phone or any loose item into the toilet on the train…drop anything down the toilet here and it will join my reading glasses on the track!!
- Do try to eat like the Indians but wash your hand before tucking in without cutlery
- Carry a small torch…great for checking maps and details from travel books in the middle of the night when trains or buses arrive in strange parts in the early morning
- Do not bother to pack a kilo of Tetley teabags to get your fix every morning (I did and found good UK teabags offered everywhere in India!!! There are few kettles in rooms anyway and it’s taken me ages to smoke all the teabags rather than waste them!!)
- Buy a Metro card in Delhi to cut down on queuing (about Rs100 and can be topped up)
- Do carry photocopies of your passport and entry visa…these are often required to get emergency tourist ticket allocations for trains and it can be a pain if you haven’t got copies.
- Due to diversity of bedding supplied in hotels, hostels and overnight trains it is a good idea to pack a single duvet cover which acts as a “sheetbag” and does not take up much values space in your rucksack. (this tip was supplied by Anna Skelton from London who we met in Amritsar)
- On our last night train in 3 tiered bunks I was plagued by a fluorescent light about a foot from my head so there would be little sleep without a solution. I had packed one of the new style fabric type carrier bags you get with purchases here and stuck my head in it!!! The fabric is a form of mesh so does not stop breathing and so cuts out the light…what a bonus! Furthermore, it had the advantage of acting as a mosquito deterrent. The Indians in the bunks opposite obviously thought I was a mental case though.
- If you buy a pair of harem pants for Rs150 to do your yoga in….expect them to last for the same number of hours…150. Anything longer can be considered a real bonus! (two pairs bought two pairs are now crutchless dusters)
- If you like reading or intend to carry the Lonely Planet, Rough Guide you should SERIOUSLY consider buying a Kindle and downloading these books for ease of carrying…you can stock up thousands of books before you leave or as you travel…even for old forgies this is a fantastic and easy to use “must have”.
- If you plan to visit Nepal you will need a visa and it requires a passport photograph so pack a couple of these before you leave.
- If you can, carry some different currency…Us Dollars, Uk Pounds and Euros can be utilised anywhere.
I appreciate that there are many and varied travel tips to be found everywhere on the web and in travel books and guides but if you have a corker you would like to share with the travel community then please post it in the comments at the bottom of the post and I will incorporate your tip… 🙂