Recently the fine people from Jet Airways and Yourway2go invited me on a trip to India. Together with five other bloggers I visited Mumbai and the southern region of Kerala on my first visit to this wonderful country. I have always been curious about India as it is such a unique place in so many ways: visually, culturally, historically and let me be honest: I have always loved curries and couldn’t wait to especially try different styles!
I also have to admit that flying Jet Airways’ luxurious Première class ( aka business class) raised my enthusiasm to an even higher level. The entire trip to India was such a new, different and exotic experience to me, that I hope it helps you if I share some tips about planning your first trip there.
1. VISA //
The most important thing is to plan a bit ahead as you’ll need to get a visa before traveling to India. Most of this has to do with security reasons, so be prepared for the longest list of questions you’ll ever have to fill out for a visa application. There are surprising questions like your visible identification marks and names of your parents, but it’s all handled online so it’s actually not that time consuming. The visa fee is about 50 dollars and the payment can be made with credit card. Here is a link to the application page.
2. MONEY //
The currency used in India is the rupee. Obviously, the more upscale establishments accept credit cards, but a huge part of the fun in India is visiting local markets and small shops and then it’s most practical to have some cash with you. There are ATM machines available in practically all cities. Sometimes the ATM’s didn’t work with my cards or sometimes they where empty, but In Mumbai there were plenty cash points around so if you go down a block or two, you will find one that works.
Tip: As with most trips to countries you don’t visit regularly, I advise to inform your bank that you are leaving for India. I have experienced that my credit card got locked automatically when I visited the Maldives for the first time, so make sure you call your bank and your credit card company.
3. INTERNET //
Internet is available in most modern restaurants but when I travel, I try not to settle for just wifi availability. Being the blogger whose first stop in a new country is the telecom booth at the airport. I did some research before I left for India and read almost everywhere that it was difficult to get a prepaid SIM card. According to the interwebs, to buy one I was supposed to supply passport photo’s, a photocopy of my passport, my visa for India and proof of where I would be staying in India.
So perhaps we just got very lucky, because it turned out to be extremely easy to buy a SIM card at the airport from the Airtel kiosk after customs. They only made a photocopy of my passport. I paid 1600 Indian rupees, about 20 dollars, for a 12GB data pack on 4G, including 200 rupees for voice and SMS. It took a good 30 minutes to complete the paperwork and activate our sim cards, but we could immediately use them.
Tip: If you plan on traveling to several locations in India, be sure to choose a provider (like Airtel) with a wide coverage throughout India. Otherwise, you will have to buy separate SIM cards at every new place that you visit. And although we where lucky, I would suggest to bring all the necessary documents, better to be safe then sorry!
4. ELECTRONIC DEVICES //
To figure out what kind of plug adapter you should pack for India, depends on where you’re from. Most of my devices have European style plugs and for these you don’t need an adapter at all. The voltage in India is 220 Volts, same as in Europe. If you use electronic devices from the United States (which work on 110 Volts), you’ll need both a voltage converter and a plug adapter. But in most of the hotel rooms where I’ve stayed there were only one or two open plugs for use. Don’t stress about getting a plug adapter before you leave, It’s much easier and cheaper to just buy them there. Any market will have them.
A power strip, or a multiple socket plug box, with an extension cord is truly a travel accessory you can’t travel without. It means you only need one adapter and you can charge several gadgets, at least three usually, at the same time which solves the problem of not having enough sockets in a hotel room. But choose one that is relatively small and light for international travel!
5. VACCINATIONS // ( and not getting sick )
As I lived in Bali for years I already had most of the recommended vaccinations for the south of India. Vaccinations for travel can be expensive and unnecessary so it’s important you do your research. You don’t want to have unnecessary ones, but you also don’t want to get sick from something you could have easily prevented.
When I travel to Asia, I usually get sick in the first week. And as our trip through India was only short, I didn’t want to get sick. Without being overtly concerned, I made sure to use only bottled water for brushing my teeth, and keep my mouth closed while in the shower. No singing in the shower on this trip! I used a hand sanitizer and disinfectant hand wipes when I wasn’t able to use soap and water and didn’t eat food served at street stalls or more downscale restaurants. And this time, I didn’t got sick at all 🙂
Stay tuned for my next posts with a list of must do’s and sees in Mumbai and Kerala!
Details: Watch by Kapten & Son