Thinking of going to India? Here’s everything you need to know to prepare for your trip…
Decide where you want to visit
India is a pretty overwhelming place to visit and there are a whole number of trips you can take, from the short but sweet Golden Triangle tour to exploring the cities of the South. I based my trip on a recommendation from a friend who’d done the 11 day Indian Getaway group trip with Intrepid a couple of years ago and highly recommended it. The best thing about travelling like this is that you get a bit of a handhold – you see a lot of places without having to plan out the itinerary of how you’re going to get there, how much the tuk tuk should cost, and how not to get lost. Our Intrepid group leader Sana was also absolutely fantastic – friendly, knowledgable and lots of fun, and she made the trip for us.
Find out what vaccinations you need
For me this was a convoluted process because I’d had a whole bunch of vaccinations at a Superdrug pharmacy ahead of going to Shanghai a few years ago, but I didn’t have a record of them. So that involved two phone calls, two promises of emails that never arrived, and then a visit in person to the pharmacy to pick them up. Luckily it was pretty straightforward from there; I just took my record to the doctor’s and then they advised me what I needed. I was also advised that I didn’t need malaria tablets as I wasn’t travelling to somewhere high risk, but that depends on your destination of course.
Tip: You’ll have to get vaccinated at least two weeks before you travel so leave plenty of time.
Get your visa
Although the thought of getting visa seems quite stressful, thankfully this one was pretty straightforward. One thing you need to watch for is the website you choose to do it on as there are loads of scam ones out there, so I accessed it straight from the Intrepid website to make sure it was safe. All in all, the turnaround was fast and my visa was granted in about two days. You only need to bring the email confirmation that has ‘granted’ on it – there’s no other attachments required.
Tip: You’ll need a printed out copy of your visa to travel so make sure you bring one with you!
Research what clothing is culturally appropriate
India is a conservative country and so my usual shorts and vest top holiday uniform wouldn’t do. You’ll need a variety of t-shirts to cover your shoulders, one or two midi or maxi skirts and dresses, and a couple of scarves as cover ups. Slip on shoes are also ideal if you’re going to be visiting a lot of temples so you don’t have to faff around with buckles and such like. Also, be mindful that it might not be as hot as you think. I picked up a cheap black hoodie from Primark the day before I left and it pretty much became my second skin for the trip – you’ll be visiting destinations at sunrise and sunset to get the best views and it can get surprisingly cold in the evenings. Layers are where it’s at.
Figure out what essential items you need
You’ll need all the usual stuff like insect repellent, suncream, Sudocrem, paracetamol and an adapter – Indian plugs have three prongs so you’ll have to buy one specially. Imodium is a must, and while I was thankful I didn’t need it I was comforted by the fact it was there in my bag. I would bring a few packs of tissues as a lot of the toilets won’t have toilet paper and, as someone who developed a cold on the flight over, I would also make sure you have a good selection of cold and flu tablets with you, just in case. Finally, make sure you pack items like mini shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and a hair dryer as you won’t find these in most hotel rooms, at least I didn’t in the hotels I was staying in.
Figure out what non-essential items you need
Now on to the non-essentials. For me, I always like to get semi-permanent lashes before I go on holiday because it means there’s a whole lot less to do in the mornings. This time I also got my brows tinted and waxed, which saved me having to draw them on each day. With loads of early starts (on the last day I had to get up at 4am!) this was an amazing time saver. I also found a really good thing to have was a light perfume to wear during the day. My Clarins Eau Resourcant perfume was the perfect antidote to all the other stinky city smells and it made me feel super fresh.
Print your return flight details
One of the weirdest things for me was when we arrived at Delhi airport for our journey home and quickly realised that we had to queue just to get IN the airport. I’d never had to do that before. There were people at the doors checking passports and flight details and luckily I’d printed those out before I left – as we were flying Emirates we didn’t need a boarding pass or anything. So my advice would be to make sure you have a copy of your outgoing flights to make sure your return trip is stress-free. Or, as stress free as Delhi airport can ever be!