How to Prepare for a Trip to India

India is one of the world's largest, most populated, and most culturally diverse countries, and one that attracts tens of thousands of visitors each year. Preparing for a trip to India involves carefully planning your itinerary, making sure you have the necessary travel documents, and obtaining vital immunizations in order to protect your health during your India trip. In addition, you'll need to know what to pack, what form of currency to bring, and what precautions you can take in order to travel safely. Read the following steps to find out how to prepare for a trip to India.

Steps

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    Plan your itinerary, but be flexible. India is a large country, and most people spend a few weeks traveling in order to enjoy its beauty and varied cultures. However, its infrastructure isn't of the best quality in all regions, so you should always plan your itinerary before you leave.
    • If you're traveling with an organized group, you can skip this step as the travel organization will take care of everything.
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    • For all others, make sure you have a good and current map of the country and reserve any flights, boat trips, train rides, and rental cars ahead of time.
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    • Also make your hotel or hostel reservations before you embark on your India trip, or at the very least have a list of addresses where you can stay.
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    Apply for your travel documents. You'll need a valid passport to travel, as well as a 6-month tourist visa for India.
    • You can apply for a passport at your local post office.
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    • You can contact the Indian embassy in your country to apply for a tourist visa. You will be asked to supply a list of regions you'll be visiting, as well as addresses where you'll be staying.
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    Visit your doctor for immunizations and other travel-related medical treatments. The vaccination requirements for the different regions of India may vary from time to time, so you should always discuss which immunizations you need before you travel, though usually tetanus, typhoid, and cholera are advised. You should allow up to 6 weeks for any vaccinations to take effect. Other medical issues to be prepared for are malaria and diarrhea.
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    Make a packing list. Though what you need to bring with you will vary greatly depending on the types of activities you plan to do and the areas you plan to visit, you should always bring enough clothes, sunscreen, insect repellent, a sunhat, a first aid kit, and a money belt.
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    Prepare your finances. Though India is very affordable by Western standards, you should also realize that you'll need lots of cash, as many places don't accept credit cards or checks. Bring travelers' checks, which you can cash in at many stops along the way, and make a note to get rupees as soon as you land in India.
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    Educate yourself about food and drinking safety. The rule of thumb in India is to only drink bottled water, never eat uncooked foods, and never drink beverages with ice in them. If you live by this rule during your travels, you stand a better chance of not getting sick.
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    Go to the Incredible India website. This has a number of useful resources under the "Trip Planner" drop down menu that will help you plan your trip, including an extensive calendar of festivals so you can either find out what's going on while you're in India, or plan your trip around a certain festival. There are also more helpful tools under the tab "Traveler Tools" on the right sidebar of the page.
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    Understand how to communicate with the locals. As always when traveling, safety should be your primary concern. Most rickshaw drivers and vendors expect you to haggle over prices, but you should also remember to tip. In addition, never go anywhere with somebody you don't trust, or allow anybody to take care of your personal belongings.

Tips

  • Try public buses, if you can, or else, use the conveyance provided by the hotel, if you are staying at one.

Warnings

  • Avoid travelling at night, even in the big cities like Delhi and Mumbai.
  • Do not get on auto-rickshaws alone. If it is an urgency, ask the driver's name before embarking, and also note the licence plate number. Then call someone and give these details. Do so audibly, so that the driver can hear you. This will serve as a warning to him that now authorities will be able to track him down in case anything goes wrong.
  • Tight-fitting clothes and short skirts will attract lewd stares. So avoid those. Preferably, try something Indian women wear, e.g. salwar kameez.

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Categories: Asia | India