Those who follow our journey know how we like to travel. Buy a flight ticket, have a rough idea what we want to see at the destination, eventually book a rental car, take off and everything else will evolve on the way. This is how we started to plan our India trip as well – but soon we found out this is not how it works.
Choose your destination
First of all: India is huge, you have to take a decision which area you want to see not to make the trip too hectic. We decided to focus on just a few locations: the Golden triangle, Rajasthan and then a break on the beach – most probably Goa (this much flexibility we left ourselves to make a last minute decision). There are certainly other beautiful and interesting destinations, but you just have to make a choice – and hopefully we can return in the future and see other regions. :)
Plan your itinerary and mode of transport
In India – according to experienced friends, family, fellow bloggers and guide books – you don’t want to drive yourself. Streets are extremely busy, roads are apparently in bad condition and most of all: the driving culture is completely different from what we know.
So the best you can do is to get a car with a driver – which you get for more or less the same price as if you would rent a car for your own. There are many people making a living form driving travelers around, so there is a big choice. We googled and asked for recommendations and found a small company who looks reliable and very customer oriented. (We will let you know how it worked out)
The only weak point was that our request “a driver with a car for 2-3 weeks, with the flexibility on the exact route” did not seem to be possible. A rough itinerary was needed: for the price quote, for organizing accommodation for the driver, etc. The promise is, that if we change our mind we can stay longer in certain locations, or skip others – let´s see.
You can of course also rely on public transport, (train, bus, plane). It is quite well developed in India and probably cheaper. However, we opted for the flexibility and comfort of a private car. For European measures it is still very low cost.
Apply for a VISA to India – and take the instructions seriously!
Don’t forget to check Visa requirements
As usual: check the VISA requirements for your country – citizens of most countries need a Visa to enter. For us (Austrian and Hungarian) it was rather quick to obtain it. You have to fill out an online form, print it, sign it, add a photo and submit it for approval. But – take the instructions seriously. We had to make a 2nd visit to the embassy, just because our pass photos were not the correct format…
But the process is not too long, within a couple of days we got our passports back with the Visas
Learn a couple of words of Hindi
To connect to locals it is a good approach to be able to say a couple of words in their language. Hindi is the official language of India, together with English. It is also the most widespread one, about 30-40% of the population speaks it (or one of its numerous dialects). Therefore at the moment we are in the process of learning some basic phrases in Hindi. Here are some of the most important ones we try to memorize:
And of course we were also busy with the usual stuff on our to-do lists. The most important ones we have already collected in a previous post: 10 things you should do if you plan individual travel.
Ready to leave
And now we are ready, heading soon to the airport and dive into the colorful world of India. We are expecting to experience beautiful architecture, stroll around colorful markets and observe rituals. We want to submerge into the crowds in the cities, meet hospitable people and maybe see some tigers in the reserves.
It will be for sure a contrast to the 2 months we spent in Africa in many ways. Botswana, with its myriad elephants and wildlife. Namibia with the amazing landscapes and desolate areas. And South-Africa with its amazing National Parks. A lot of nature, much less people and some art in the areas where Nature pure
We will keep you updated on the highlights of this trip. Keep checking back, or if you have not subscribed yet, don’t forget to do so. :)
Do you have any recommendations for our stay?