Wanderlust Much? Here’s Your Complete Travel Guide to India

Dawn Yager
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Dreaming of India for your next travel adventure? Ready to leave your everyday life behind and take a yoga teacher training in the birthplace of yoga, mother India?
 

India will give you new eyes through which to view the world, and never again will you be the same.

 
Or maybe you just want to explore the country that is so enchanting and mysterious. Whatever is inspiring you to embark on an adventure to India, it’s important to be prepared. India is a different animal and even if you’re a savvy traveler, it’s crucial to know what to expect.
 

Here’s Your Complete India Travel Guide

This article shares tips and guidance I’ve learned from my experience traveling to India. I will include personal insights as well as the standard protocol to help you be as prepared as possible for your adventure!
 
The first thing I learned? Be prepared for everything . . . and do so ahead of time. I started planning my trip 4 months out from departure, and this is a good window of time.
 
The only caveat is that you may want to start looking into flights a bit sooner, depending on where you’re coming from and what time of year you’re planning to travel.
 

Your India Travel Guide Checklist – Follow These 7 Steps:

Step 1. Get a Passport

First, do you have one? If not, that’s where you begin, immediately. If you already have your passport, check the expiration date.
 
You will also need an Indian Visa and in order to get one, your passport must not expire within 6 months of the current date. You’ll also need a few extra pages at the end of your passport. If you don’t meet this criteria, you’ll need a new passport.
 
 

Step 2. Get an Indian Visa

The process of getting an Indian Visa is what caused me the most amount of stress from the entire trip. Thus, I advise you to start this process ASAP because there’s a possibility you’ll face delays. There are two types of tourist visa’s you can apply for:
 
The first option is an e-visa, which is electronic and less cumbersome to get. However, this visa will only work if you’re staying less than 30 days (and those days include the day of entry and exit into the country).
 
The second option is a 10-year visa and that takes a bit longer with more paperwork. But the benefit is not having to repeat this process again for 10 years!
 
If this is your choice, I recommend using an American agency (like CKGS) – as opposed to applying through the Indian government website. The benefit of using a visa application site is that you’ll have help every step of the way.
 
 

Step 3. Book Your Flight

But repeat after me . . . I will only search for flights from a private browser!
 
Here’s the deal – every time you search in your open browser, it knows you’re looking at that same flight again, so the price increases. To avoid this, open a private browser each time you look at flights.
 
Other things to look for when booking your flight: If you live in a big city, there’s a chance you can find a direct flight to New Delhi. If that’s available to you, I’d recommend that. For most of us however, your travel to India will require somewhere between 3-5 total connecting flights.
 
Here are a few tips to help you choose the best flight option:

  • The airline makes a huge difference in your experience, so I recommend reading the reviews since it’s such a long flight.
  • If you’d like to have extra time between flights, try to arrive at your layover destination in the morning and leave in the evening or even the next day. I made the stop in Amsterdam and enjoyed museums, a canal tour and amazing food. It was the perfect pitstop to ease the transition into India.
  • If you’re a female traveler (and especially if you’re flying solo), do not arrive in India late at night. If you must arrive at night, be sure to book a hotel that has an airport shuttle service and arrange pickup in advance.
  • Upon arrival to a major airport in India, you’ll have the following transportation options: car, train or plane to your final destination. The easiest is to take a smaller plane. For the quintessential India experience, take the train (but be sure to upgrade your ticket) and if the other two are not available take a car (but as a last resort).

 

 

Step 4. Book an Appointment With a Travel Doctor

Once you know when you’ll be leaving for India, book an appointment with your travel doctor. Will your doctor scare you about every possible outbreak and hazard in the country you’re traveling to? Absolutely.
 
But you’ll also stock up on all the necessities that help you recover from things like “Delhi belly” (also known as traveller’s diarrhea) because that’s almost guaranteed to happen.
 
 

Step 5. Research Your Accommodation Options

Before committing to a hotel or yoga teacher training program (if that’s your purpose for going) in India, read the reviews and email ahead of time with any questions.
 
Pro tip: Be sure to keep those emails to refer to because often once you arrive in the event of any communication difficulties.
 
Compare several different accommodation options in the area you’ll be staying for best prices and offerings. Some hotels offer breakfast included in your stay, transportation services, etc.
 
All of these aspects play a role in your budgeting and planning, so it’s important to know what you’re getting and what you’ll need to do separately.
 
 

Step 6. Make a Packing List

It’s official! You’ve made your travel arrangements, and now you’re ready to make a packing list. Start by checking the projected temperature and weather during your trip. Before shopping, Google the Indian culture and what’s appropriate in the area you’ll be staying in. In the East, the clothing customs are not only for modesty but also for protection from the harsh elements.
 
Here’s what you need to pack to be prepared, comfortable and dressed appropriately:

  • A wrap according to the season. You’ll use it often to cover your legs, arms, shoulders and your head as well. I also used it to cover my mouth and nose to protect me from the flies and smells (welcome to India!).
  • Two pairs of shoes. One that has a covered toe to wear on longer treks or wet days and one that has a open toe you can slide on quickly and easily. Dark colors will help to camouflage how dirty they will get. In the cold season boots and athletic shoes are a must.
  • Loose and lightweight cotton clothing is best for the summer months. For the winter months, pack clothes that you can layer and very warm socks, gloves and a hat.
  • A cross shoulder bag that can be worn close the body and easily accessed with multiple pockets.

 
Aside from clothing, here are your additional packing essentials:

  • Outlet adapter (with surge protectors)
  • Dry shampoo
  • External battery for your phone, plus a phone plan for India (at least for data and texting)
  • Currency exchange ahead of time (ATM’s in India are somehow always out of money)
  • Make copies of your passport, health insurance, and credit cards and keep them separate from your actual documents to be extra safe

 

The Final Word on Traveling to India

Be open to changes of plans, delays, illness, confusion and any other unplanned moments, because in those moments is where you’ll find the beauty and lessons of Mother India. In the best ways possible, India pushes you past your boundaries.
 
India will give you new eyes through which to view the world. Never again will you be the same – think about that. The ancient yogic culture is there just waiting to be expressed and carried home with you. It’s almost like the moment you touch the sacred land of India, it is downloaded into your DNA.
 
India isn’t for the weak of heart – she is for the wanderlust and the seeker.
 

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Dawn Yager

Dawn Yager, affectionately known as Swami (ordained in 2012 in the Kriya yoga lineage), has been teaching for over 16 years. Dawn teaches at her own studio in Myrtle beach while traveling the east coast to teach workshops. She also helps to run a domestic abuse shelter for women and children in the suburbs of Detroit.

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