Traveling to India itinerary guide
So now you have made the wise desition to come to India you will now have to decide where to go and for how long? In my Traveling to India itinerary guide, I will be covering everything you need to know about answering that for you. Its a big question as even if you have a year, you still won’t see very much. I have been travelling on the Indian subcontinent for five and have still only seen a small fraction of what this incredible country has to offer the intrepid traveller.
To make things worse, India is like many countries all wrapped up into one. Each state is radically different from the next so no matter how much time you have on your visa, you will still need to put some real thought into where to focus your time. It can seem perplexing to contemplate this, but it comes with the territory I guess. You cant see it all after all.
I will not be giving suggestions for itineraries in this post as I dont feel that will help this incidence. Instead, I want to show you how how to create your own. If you want to know some of the routes I have recommended take a look at my post called how long should I go backpacking in India. You will find it is packed with suggestions for routes based on the time you can spare. There are quite a few things to consider when deciding how to get the most out of your time, so let’s take a look, shall we?
Considerations to make before you travel to India.
The first thing to do is accept that you can’t have it all, no matter how fast you try and push your time. Once you have excepted that you could say well I only have this many days so what should I do with them. You could have 30 days, or it could be 300, but they are finite. So how do you best to spend your time then? Well, what do you want to see? Ask yourself that and really think about it. Obviously, the longer you have, the more you can see, but it is all relevant.
India has it all, and it is a very personal decision to decide what you want. Are you there for the incredible wildlife? Perhaps you want to experience the rich and varied culture. Some of us may be about to embark on a personal spiritual quest with the intent on finding one’s self. Some of us want to get our adrenaline pumping on a long hike in the mighty Himalayas. Ask yourself what it is you want most and aim at that.
Maybe it is a combination of many of those things as it is for many travellers. No matter what it is, I would suggest you get a guide book and have a browse. The Lonely planet will always be a good choice as they are easy to use and come with decades of experience. I can’t overemphasise the importance of planning your travel. You really need to have a good understanding of where you are going, so you dont spend too much time backtracking and wasting time. Planning your trip will also stop you from wasting money, and you will have a better idea of how much all this will really cost you.
The next thing to think about is how do you get the most from your experience? The answer to that is don’t try and move to fast and don’t try and have your budget too low. You should also have an idea of how you will get from one place to the next. They are the three key things many travellers do wrong by not considering them before they decide to visit, so let’s look at them briefly.
Time management during your travel to India.
When I speak to other travellers, I can’t help but notice many of them have far too much on their itineraries. It looks so easy on paper to spend two days here and one day there. The truth is it just does not work like that. You will find things dont move as smoothly in India as they do in many other countries.
There is a very high chance that there will be delays to your travel for reasons that are far out of your control such as there being no transport, which may well last days depending on where you are. Just to make a point here and I know it an extreme example, I once had to wait two weeks for a bus in the Spiti Valley because a glacier had melted and created a fast-flowing river that cut right through the only road. The Indian army eventually fixed the problem, but it was a very long wait indeed.
Look at this way. On my next trip to India, I will be there for seven months. During that time I will visit the Northeast, Odisha, the Andamans, and that’s it. that’s it. It is not that I dont have more to see. Its that just how long it takes to see them. If I try and move faster, I would miss things or miss part of my own itinerary.
What happens if you like somewhere more than you imagined? Or found something you wanted to do that you didn’t get budget in your itineraries? You may find the opportunity to try something you have always wanted to such as rock climbing or birdwatching that you didn’t realise was there. Who knows what new passions you will discover that you didn’t even know you had. For example, I went to Hampi with the sole intention of seeing the legendary ancient ruins. I thought I would only spend a couple of days but wound up spending a week and I could have spent far longer.
Be generous when you budget your time in any chosen destination, and if you spend less, then that’s a nice surprise, isn’t it? You could spend it elsewhere. As a general rule, I budget four days in each major place of interest and thee in a minor one.
Budget your travel to India.
Here is the second area that many travellers make mistakes with. Essentially the more money you chuck at your time away, the richer your experience will be. I think that’s a rule that doesn’t just apply to travel though right? You dont have to go nuts with your budget to have fun, but keeping things too tight will greatly affect your experience.
I have read some blogs who say it is possible to travel for $10 a day. That is an irresponsible thing to tell people as that is not even vaguely possible in India today. They tend to be hugely popular because they tell travellers what they want to hear. However, it is woefully unrealistic. Lets put it into perspective, shall we? Many of us will be planning a trip to the iconic Taj Mahal in Uttar Pradesh, and I think that’s a fair assumption. The current entrance fee is a little over $17 per person so how what that work if your daily budget is $10?
Not many other countries offer such amazing value for money, but be realistic with your expectations. As the country marches forward into the future, the cost of just about everything increases.
I have made the mistake of not budgeting enough money before, and it crippled my travel. I was always trying to keep to my budget but wound up going over every day. The end result was changing my flights because I didn’t have enough money for my whole trip. Please dont make the same mistake I did. For a realistic look at what your money will actually get, look at my in-depth post of budgeting money in India.
Transport in India.
How you get around India is the third way that will affect your experience. I would implore you to put some thought into how you will be getting around the country while you are backpacking. it is a good idea to sketch your proposed route on a map, pick up the lonely planet and look at how to get from place to place. Make that route as circular as possible to avoid backtracking and spending more time than you need to on a bus.
If you plan to go from one end of the country to the other, I would recommend you fly to not waste any time. The Indian subcontinent is vast, and train journeys can take days. There really isn’t much difference in the cost, so it’s worth investing in one of the many budget airlines for the really long haul journeys. This is especially true in the far north of the country where flights can save you quite a few days because of the adverse terrain.
If you are travelling overland, the mighty Indian railway’s reign supreme. Just getting on one of these is a quintessential Indian experience in itself. They are both efficient and cost-effective. I would recommend the 2nd class sleeper class for the full experience. It is like a market with everything on sale from cups of sweet chai to plastic crocodiles. It an all Indian experience and one not to be missed.
Long haul journeys can seem tiring but they have a distinct advantage as overnight journeys can double up as your hotel. What’s more, if you travel in the cheaper classes it is almost always cheaper than your night’s stay would have been anyway. Plus they are quite comfortable in all fairness. Even in the cheaper classes, each alcove is broken down into six berths and there is more than enough leg room considering what you pay. Once you start paying for AC beds they will come with crispy clean sheets as well. What more can you ask for?
To book your trains, you can use the irctc reservation website link. This is a convenient way to book trains but getting hold of the tourist quota is tough. That’s a huge advantage when you are moving around the country. So whats the tourist quota? Well, the Indian government holds a certain amount of seats on any given train with a heavy tourist flow. The tourist quota can only be accessed the government outlets, and while that link I gave can give you access what you need, it is surrounded by so many regulations that almost all tourists give up on that idea.
It is a far easier way to find one of the many government offices while you are on the road and book through them. If you have an idea where you are going, you can book the next four or five tickets simultaneously. It is worth it as there is little waiting and its a jam-packed service. Yet they can magic train tickets from thin air for you. To find out more about this check out my post on getting around India.
Trains do not reach everywhere in the country, but busses do. They seem relentless in their ambition to get you from one city to the next no matter where it is. The beauty of the bus is that they are so frequent. It leaves you the chance to leave whenever you wish. This is not a luxury you will have with train tickets. The main thing is to know where you are going next. Plan, Plan and plan again if you truly want to forge your dream trip.
In summary of my post Traveling to India itinerary guide.
As my post is coming to an end, I hope I have made the message of this post clear. That message is to plan! Not only will this give you the motivation to get out of bed when you are working your jobs and living your normal lives. Not only that when you have your backpack on and actually on the road, but you will also save money and time.
India is my passion, and I want you to get the most out of your time. This post was never about suggesting itineraries for you. I already have a post for that, and many posts that tell you where I think is some of the best places to visit on the whole subcontinent. This post is aimed to tell you how to build your own and to appreciate the pitfalls that you may face you when drawing up your dream trip.
Some people think it is a good idea just to turn up and see what happens. Please don’t do that as you will almost certainly waste your time and money. Learn from my mistakes as its always better to learn from someone else’s if it is possible. We work so hard for this, after all.
I think that is a good start to helping my readers get an idea of how to plan. It is not everything, but I need to keep this post digestible for my readers. I want you to know I am more than happy to help you answer any questions you may have about this or any other travel issues to this incredible country. Just leave them in the box provided or alternately you can email me. I am here to help, so just let me know. With that said I think that’s enough for now so until the next time my fellow intrepid traveller’s happy planning.
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