India is not the place for the faint-hearted traveller – is a statement that you will not miss if you are making fundamental research for your trip to India. Going to one of the toughest destinations in the backpacking circuit, excites me even more to venture the new experiences, pre-trip and post-trip and everything else in between.
Let’s just talk about the pre-trip preparation.
1. Visa – Application of visa at the High Commissioner of India in Malaysia. You don’t need to go to the High Commissioner Office as you will not be entertained unless you want to apply for a diplomatic visa, which I don’t think you would. The place you shall be heading to is the Straits Building which is next to Industrial Court, it’s located inside Bangunan Sultan Abdul Samad. You need to bring 2 passport photo with white background, the application form, passport and cash of RM168.00.
2. Vaccinations – For travellers going to India, the recommended vaccinations are Hepatitis A & B and typhoid. And if you are most likely to engage with animals, you are better off taking the jab for rabies. With the rise of H1N1 pandemic flu, you might as well set an appointment with the nearest government hospital to take the vaccinations for the price of RM1.00.
3. Travel Insurance – You should consider taking any of the travel insurances. Have I not say, it’s a real tough destination to go to? If you have a normal insurance, read up the policy as some requires you to inform the insurance company should you want to travel before you are entitled for claims.
4. Flight Tickets & Train Tickets – Plan well, less hassle. I already booked my flight well in advance and please don’t hate me for flying to India at the price of RM33.00 all-in from Air Asia. I have read numerous times that purchasing train tickets in India is not as easy as you may think. For sure you don’t want to be looking lost in an Indian Railway Station being subjected to local insistent touts. I have been using http://www.cleartrip.com to book my tickets. If you encounter some problems purchasing it with Malaysian credit cards, wait until 12a.m. Malaysian time then you’ll be able to get through. Three train tickets confirmed.
5. Verification of Credit Card Usage Abroad – call your credit card provider and inform them you will be using credit card in India. Sometimes your credit card get blocked for fear of fraud.
6. Alternative Money Storage – While I prefer cash, I am still going to buy a traveller’s cheque just in case of emergency.
7. Clothes – India is what Katy Perry would say, you’re hot then you’re cold. While the world known bouldering site of Hampi may heat you well at the temperature of 40 degree Celsius, up north you may experience temperature as low as -5 degree Celsius. You basically need two sets of clothes.
8. Network – minus the unwanted male attention (for woman only). It helps to talk to people who has travelled to India, they are rich in experiences.
9. Savings – this is the tricky part of constant travelling. It might be hard if this is your first time. Once the travelling bug is eating you alive, you will learn how to live your daily life debt-free and to some extent living frugally. You definitely have no idea how I scrimped and saved for all my trips.
10. Research – Be sure of the purpose of the trip. Set some goals but to no limitations. Please be forewarned nothing could ever prepare you for a trip to India. You will be caught in surprises most of the times.
Before I am on board the plane to Bangalore, before I am on my mark, to get set and go… I have approximately three weeks to prepare myself mentally.