How to plan your trip to India
So you have decided that you want to travel to India but you do not have a clue where to start. That is why we have written this guide to help you to plan your trip to India.
You will often hear people tell you that planning a trip is a waste of time and that a trip should be spontaneous in nature. They are both right and wrong. Yes, your trip should be randomly spontaneous, but you should also have a good idea of what is going on at all times. Imagine staying in a small town in the Himalayas and not knowing that there is a giant waterfall just an hours hike away. Or visiting a city and missing all of the best sites.
Research and a bit of planning can make your trip reach its full potential.
Decide when it is that you want to travel
India is a giant country, where in one part there will be monsoon rains and in another it will be all smiles and sunny weather. Take into account what the weather will be like in the month that you choose to travel. Though do not worry to much about the monsoon rains. Normally they arrive in the evening and only stay for an hour or so, washing all the humidity away and leaving everywhere glistening with rain drops.
The heat of the high summer can be a little unbearable, however this is a feeling that most will never get to feel. If you would like to see what 40+ temperatures feel like then head to India in April and May. These are the two hottest months.
Most people will tell you that November to March are the most temperate months in which to visit India, as these are the most comfortable, neither too hot nor cold.
For more information on the best time to visit India, take a look at our article on the subject here Best time to visit India: The weather
Decide where you want to travel and for how long
This is a great way to figure out the budget that you will need. It is also a good way to inspire yourself. Once you have the set goal in your mind, it will keep you driven when you are worrying about leaving your comfort zone stepping out into the unknown.
Once you have decided how much of India you want to see and for how long your trip will last. It is time to work out your budget. Here is our price guide for India, everything that you will need to know about all of the costs that are coming your way. India travel budget: the costs Here you will see how you can travel India for as little as £10/$14 dollars a day.
Start saving now
This is one of the most important steps on how to plan your trip to India. No matter how much planning and researching you do, you are not going anywhere without money. Some are lucky enough to decide one day that they have had enough, quit their jobs and begin a life of adventure. Most of us however are not that lucky and will have to scrimp and save to be able to afford to get out and see the world.
Make a list of all of your current expenses and see what you can live without. That coffee that you have every morning could save you $25 dollars a week alone.
Research, research, research
Like we said at the beginning, your trip should be spontaneous but you should also know everything that is involved with traveling through the country.
You should learn all about the accommodation costs, so that you do not get taken advantage of, also all of the tricks and scams, so that you do not lose all of your hard earned money. Here is an article on all of the scams that you can expect in India. Scams in India to watch out for
If you learn all of this, you will have a far better time traveling than if you just wing it.
Check your bank’s foreign ATM fees
Some banks charge extortionate fees when you use your card abroad. Check your fees and if they are high consider moving to a no fee travel card or open an account with a bank that does not have foreign transaction fees. There is nothing worse than having to give all of your hard earned money away.
Here is a great article on how to choose the best travel credit card. How to pick the best travel credit card
Buy your Visa
All visitors require a Visa to visit India, apart from citizens of Bhutan and Nepal. Most travellers to India do so on a 6 month tourist Visa. Which you have to apply for in advance, usually from your home country but it’s also possible to get them in Indian Embassies in the capital cities of most countries. You should apply for your Visa 1 month before you are leaving as the it starts from the issue date, not the entry date. Also if you wish to visit Nepal or Bhutan while you are in India, you should get a double entry Visa as they will not let you back into India if you do not have a double entry one.
Get your vaccinations
Before you travel you should make sure all their usual jabs are up to date. See your doctor and get vaccinated for Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Tetanus and Typhoid. Also get vaccines for Cholera, Diphtheria, Japanese Encephalitis and Rabies. If you live in the UK most of these shots can be had for free on the NHS. Just get in touch with your doctor and they will do the rest.
Also do not leave this until the last minute, go to your doctors 6 – 8 weeks before traveling, as some of the vaccinations require a course of treatment spanning several weeks.
Here is a link to the NHS website that you should read before you travel anywhere, this will give you all of the vaccination information that you need. NHS Fit For Travel
Stock up on Mosquito spray
Malaria is not as dangerous in India as in Africa. It is highly unlikely that you will catch Malaria while you are visiting the country. Your doctor will want you to take Malaria tablets with you and that is your choice. We did the same on our trip. However we soon realised that the side effects were just not worth it. Use DEET based products to repel the mosquitos and you will be fine. Here is a Malaria map for India for you to get a general idea of the where to be more careful.
As you can see, most of the country is a Low to no risk. It is not worth the side effects from the Malaria pills. However you should always speak to your doctor yourself and make your own decision.
Book your flights
This one is a bit of a tricky one. Normally we would tell you to book your flights in advance to get the best deal. However, with the Indian Visa starting from the day that it is issued, buying your flights before you have the Visa can be a bit risky. If you are absolutely certain that you will be accepted, buy your tickets early. But if for some reason you think there is a chance that you will be denied, do not take the risk.
Here is an article which we wrote in order to share the secrets of budget travel. The secrets of budget travel
If you use these sites to buy all of your tickets you can compare and save hundreds of dollars.
Our favourite website for booking flights is Momondo. This is one of the best flight comparison websites that there is. A little tip: turn off your browsing history when checking comparison websites. If you keep checking the same flights, the price magically increases.
Buy travel insurance
Never go traveling without travel insurance. Many choose not to buy insurance thinking that they will be fine and that nothing will happen to them. Freak accidents happen all the time and you never know when they could happen to you. Many times we have seen people injure themselves and have no insurance. If you do not want to spend the next few years paying back the money that you owe, then buy travel insurance.
Travel insurance doesn’t just cover medical bills, it also covers cancelled flights, broken electronics, stolen money and many other invaluable things.
We can not stress this enough, buy travel insurance. This is one of the most important things when you plan your trip to India. Even if it is the cheapest choice, buy it. It only costs a few dollars a day and for this you will be protected against all the unforeseen disasters that can befall even in your normal daily life, never mind traveling.
Here is a website where you can compare travel insurance quotes Comparethemarket.com
Book your accommodation
It is always a good idea to book your first few nights accommodation before you arrive in a new country. This way you know that you already have a place where you can rest and recover from your flight. If you are traveling alone and wish to meet new people, book yourself into a hostel for the first few days. This way you can meet fellow travellers and also find some people to travel with. If you use the The Secrets Of Budget Travel you will be able to find cheap accommodation for any city in India.
Once you have settled into India however, we advise you to forget about booking accommodation as it is very easy to find in every town village and city in the country. Also the more cheaper rooms are often not on websites.
However if you are going to a festival or planning on spending Christmas in Goa, do book in advance as you might end up in one of the worst rooms in town.
Here is another article to show you how to travel the world on a budget. Using these tips you will always keep your budget low. Backpacking tips: How to travel the world on the cheap
Choose your backpack
There are a thousand and one articles on the internet dedicated to finding you the best backpack, so we won’t go into this to deep. Our pack of choice are Osprey Packs, because they are high quality and will not let you down.
A tip before you buy: try not to get a top loading pack. A top loading pack is one that can only be entered through the top. If you are trying to grab something at the bottom this can be a bit of a pain. Try to find a bag that has a zip which goes all the way round and opens up like a suitcase. These are the bags that we choose and can save you a lot of hassle.
Also make sure before buy your pack that it fits correctly and that it is large enough. For example, if you are going on a trip which will be months long, you will want at least a 50L backpack. The L stands for litres, a 50L backpack can carry 50 litres. This is an ample amount. Do not forget that you will be carrying this on your back for long periods of time. Do not be THAT person who travels with a truly giant pack and never stops complaining.
Also do not forget to also buy a day pack. This is a pack that you will use in the day when you have left your big pack in the hotel. A normal sized backpack is enough, just make sure that it is comfortable.
Choose what to pack
When packing, try not to take anything that is too sentimental. Take nothing that can never be replaced. If the ring that your nan gave you means a lot to you, then do not take it with you. Most travelers do not experience theft or disaster, however some do so to be on the safe side, leave you most treasured possessions at home.
Keep in mind that you will be carrying your pack with you everywhere that you go. Keep it light, you do not need three pairs of jeans, two pairs of trainers, shoes to go out in. All of this weighs you down. Take as little as possible and if you travel with a laptop, try to take a notebook instead. Also another good tip to save weight if you are a reader is to book an e-book reader. This can save you a lot of weight on your journey.
Take a smartphone
Not only when you plan your trip to India, but also during your trip, a smartphone is a must have. Smartphones without a doubt have made traveling the world accessible to anybody, they have revolutionised the game. No longer do you need to carry big maps or book accomodation months in advance. Everything can be done on your little magical phone.
Your smartphone will become your life. You will use it to book your flights, accommodation, manage your money, call back home, even check the weather. Also everything that you need to know about the town that you are in, is in your smartphone just waiting to be read.
If you also have a smartphone with a great camera this could save you some extra money. Phone cameras have really improved in the last few years.
Download all offline routing maps for India and that way you can use your mapping anytime and anywhere.
Prepare yourself for what is to come
Now that you know how to plan your trip to India, you must prepare yourself.
Landing in India and walking out into the chaos can be daunting. Read up as much as you can. In our other articles on India, we explain more about the pros and cons of traveling through India. Also take a read of Backpacking India, The Ultimate Guide.
We hope that you have a great time traveling through mystical India. If you need any more advice on how to plan your trip to India, do not hesitate to send us a message. To message us simply hit the drop down bar in the about section of the menu.