Around 5 months before our trip to India in March-April 2016, we booked the flight and planned our schedule with Mahendra as I explained in my previous post: “Preparing my trip de INDIA part 1”. 1-2 months before the flight we got together to make sure we have everything ready, of course, opening a WhatsApp group with the travelers to go through every detail. Here are some tips to prepare your trip to India:
Look for accommodation and internal train/airplane tickets
In our case, we sent an email to Mahendra after buying the flight tickets and he booked everything for us. In Delhi we stayed at the Metropolitan Spa Hotel, in Jaipur in Lemon Tree Premier Hotel, in Agra The Blu Radisson Hotel (totally recommended) and in Varanasi in the Ramada Hotel. Except for the Lemon tree, we had a good experience in all of them.
You can check the rates and comments and also book your hotels at www.booking.com.
Mahendra also booked our train in first class from Agra to Varanasi and our flight from Varanasi to Delhi with SpiceJet.
We went to India in March, high season, according to Mahendra, if you go in April-May you can safe around 30% with the competitive prices, but it could also be really hot and if you go to the North you might not be able to scape from the monsoon. You can check the Indian Daily Weather here and also check here for recommendations on when to go to each of the major cities of India. As you can see there, March is a good month to visit the Golden Triangle (+ Varanasi).
At this point, I already have almost all the vaccines to go around the world. In case of India is important to have the following ones: measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, varicella (chickenpox), polio, yearly flu shot, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Typhoid and Yellow fever if you are coming from a country with risk of yellow fever. This also depends of the places you´ll visit in India and the time you spend in it. I only went for 10 days so the Doctor didn´t suggested any pill for Malaria.
The best option is to make an appointment in the international vaccine centre of your country, in case of Spain here is the link. Also, remember to travel with the certificate of all your vaccines, the authorities could ask for it in some Countries (specially Angola).
First of all, be careful of scams, there are few pages that offer the visa for 20 euros, showing you videos on how to apply, they looked pretty real. We were lucky we called the embassy first and they gave us the right web page.
There are two ways to apply for a tourist visa from Spain. One, is going to the consulate with all the requirements (very simple), pay around 75 euros (including shipping) and then receive your passport with your visa at home in a couple of days. The other options is to apply for the online visa and they will stamp the visa on your passport at arrival.
I took the first option and it was very simple. Here is the link for Spanish residents. If you live outside Spain, I recommend you calling the Indian Consulate in your Country.
Please, DO NOT TRAVEL WITHOUT INSURANCE! If you do, you can end up paying lots of money if something goes wrong, and trust me, India is not easy, specially for your stomach.
Also, make sure you have the international and local number in case you need to contact your insurance. In my case, I have SANITAS, luckily I have never used it outside Spain.
First Aid Kit
The first and most important thing is something for your stomach. I always start taking YOBALEX 4 days before my trip and during my trip, which is a Symbiotic (probiotic: Bifidobacterium longum+ prebiotic: Inulin and Rye) that helps educate your bowel naturally. It contains a high concentration of fiber that helps maintain normal bowel function.
These are the recommended items for a personal medical kit according to Lonely Planet:
- Antifungal cream, eg clotrimazole
- Antibacterial cream, eg mupirocin
- Antibiotic for skin infections, eg amoxicillin/clavulanate or cephalexin
- Antihistamine – there are many options, eg cetrizine for daytime and promethazine for night
- Antiseptic, eg Betadine
- Antispasmodic for stomach cramps, eg Buscopam
- Decongestant, eg pseudoephedrine
- DEET-based insect repellent
- Diarrhoea medication – consider an oral rehydration solution (eg Gastrolyte), diarrhoea ‘stopper’ (eg loperamide) and antinausea medication (eg prochlorperazine). Antibiotics for diarrhoea include ciprofloxacin; for bacterial diarrhoea azithromycin; for giardia or amoebic dysentery tinidazole
- Ibuprofen or another anti-inflammatory
- Iodine tablets (unless you are pregnant or have a thyroid problem) to purify water
- Migraine medication if you suffer from migraines
- Pyrethrin to impregnate clothing and mosquito nets
- Steroid cream for allergic or itchy rashes, eg 1% to 2% hydrocortisone
- High-factor sunscreen
- Throat lozenges
- Thrush (vaginal yeast infection) treatment, eg clotrimazole pessaries or Diflucan tablet
- Ural or equivalent if prone to urine infections
Read more: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/
I use the XE Currency app, which works offline and it updates the rate daily if you are online. When I was in India, the change was 1euro x 75 INR. Mahendra found us a guy that gave us 1 euro x 73,5 INR, no commissions. The hotel was giving us a lower rate, so we stayed with Mahendra´s option.
Decide what to pack
Because we were going to travel most of the time by car and sleep in 4-5 stars hotels, I decided to travel with my carry-on instead of my big backpack, and I ended up taking more or less the same things as I did for my China trip last summer. The essentials here are:
- A scarf to cover your head and shoulder in the temples
- A bag to put your shoes while you enter in the temples, so you don´t have to pay for someone to watch them
- Socks in case you don’t want to walk barefoot in the temples
- Most of the time the european plugs work in the different hotels, but take a universal adaptor just in case
With all of these we are completely ready to go to India…or am I forgetting something?
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