Bhakti Yoga Retreat Tour
India Travel Tips
The below India travel tips have been compiled to help make your journey more pleasant. For additional points, read the section on Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).
India Travel Tips: General Travel
- Although it seems obvious, make sure you have a valid passport and valid visa for India. Click here for more information on how to obtain an Indian visa in th US. Otherwise, this link from the Indian Government may be helpful if you live outside the US.
- Before landing in India you will be given a customs landing form on the airline. To make filling this out easier, write down your passport and visa number, date and place of issue, and date of expiry and keep this information accessible so that you don't have to look for your passport. You will also need to list the city of your departure and the airline and flight number. Click here to familiarize yourself with the Indira Gandhi International Airport.
- After you leave the plane, you will check through customs, (where you will show them your completed landing card) and proceed to the luggage carousels. There is no charge for use of the luggage carts. After you collect your luggage, to the left and right of the exit doors, you will see companies and banks that exchange money. You will get the best exchange rates at the banks. As you exit the customs and luggage area, you will be asked by policemen to show the luggage check-in tags issued by the airline. As you exit this area, keep walking straight until you see someone holding a sign with your name on it. This person will escort you to your taxi.
- Please remember that you are responsible for all your luggage at all times. A moment of carelessness could result in someone stealing your belongings. Only trust yourself and those designated by your tour guides.
- Make 4 copies of the first and photo page of your passport, as well as your Indian visa. Keep one copy at home with family members and two with yourself in two different places in your luggage. Give one copy to your friendly tour organizers.
- Put your airline itinerary inside your luggage as well as in the outside pocket.
- Besides putting a name tag on the outside of your luggage, place it on the inside as well.
- To avoid extra baggage charges, make sure you stay within the baggage allowance. You may find this information useful, but is always good to double-check with your airline.
- Keep hand luggage light, packing the majority of your belongings in checked baggage.
- As much as possible, do not travel with your valuables. If you have any, keep them in your hand luggage along with any medication you may be taking and other important things.
- Tie a distinctive ribbon or put a distinctive mark on the outside of your checked baggage so that you may recognize it from a distance on the conveyor belt.
- Travel light. You can purchase many necessities in the local markets.
- We highly recommend purchasing travel insurance to cover any unexpected loss, accident or emergency. Click here for an example of one US-based vendor. Search for "travel insurance" to find the best pricing and company for your needs.
- You may wish to bring an expandable bag for carrying shopping purchases.
- Departure from India: Give yourself at least 4 hours to check-in for your departure. When you arrive at the airport, there are at least 3 main doors you may enter through. Find a luggage cart outside, and proceed to one of the doors. You will need to stand in a cue and show your e-ticket and passport to the guard at the door. Once you are in the airport, proceed to your airline counter. After checking-in, you will need to fill out an exit form for customs. These forms are located prominently in front of the customs area. After you have passed through customs and security, you can exchange any remaining rupees you have to dollars - but purchase snacks and food first!
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India Travel Tips: Currency
- The currency of India is the rupee (INR). Click here to see current exchange rates for your country's currency.
- You can exchange your country's currency into rupees at the airport after arriving in New Delhi.
- Avoid converting currency into rupees on the street (i.e. unauthorized by the government), since it is illegal to do so.
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India Travel Tips: What to Wear
- Dress modestly, especially since we are going to be in rural (and more conservative) areas, and most importantly because we will be visiting pilgrimages places, where it may be considered a great disrespect to dress inappropriately.
- Women do not generally wear shorts. To avoid becoming the center of interest in the marketplace, it's best to keep your legs and chest covered. Before coming, we recommend you purchase traditional salwaar kameez (long tunics and matching pants) or saris.
- Only little boys wear shorts, so men should only wear only long pants in public. Another option is men may wish to purchase cotton kurta (long tunic) and drawstring pajama pants, which are extremely comfortable. Otherwise, shirt and pants are most appropriate.
- Bring one pair of sturdy plastic sandals or flip-flops for use in the bathroom, and another pair for walking in the ashram. Click here for a time-proven sandal style.
- Wear comfortable, closed footwear such as athletic or walking shoes and cotton socks for our walks.
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India Travel Tips: Food for Thought
- The food prepared in the Ashram is simple, clean and safe to eat.
- The water in the Ashram is filtered. Use this to fill your water bottles.
- Never drink water from any tap outside the Ashram.
- The Ashram does not provide artificial sweeteners. Pack these if you use them in your tea or coffee.
- Resist the temptation to eat food from street vendors unless we recommend a particular vendor from past experience.
- Although the food and water you will be given is safe, your body may go through its own adjustment to them. You may wish to pack an over-the-counter diarrhea medication and any other medication you prefer for temporary "tummy upsets" - just in case.
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India Travel Tips: Weather
- November to February is the winter season in the part of India we are visiting.
- Daytime temperatures are quite comfortable but nights can be chilly. Click here for the current weather conditions.
- Bring along a sweater, a couple of pairs of socks and a shawl, but don't overdo it. It's not Antarctica.
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India Travel Tips: Electronics
- The electrical standard in India is 220 volts. Click here to see what your country's currency standard is and the type of plug used in India.
- If your devices are dual-voltage (110-240V) from North America, or 230V from Australia, New Zealand or the UK, you will only need a plug adaptor for Indian outlets.
- If your devices are 110V and not dual-voltage, you will need to bring a voltage convertor and plug adaptor for Indian outlets.
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India Travel Tips: Health Tips
- Keep a good supply of antibacterial hand wipes with you for use throughout your trip.
- Water is available in Indian toilets in place of toilet paper. If you are unfamiliar with this process, your may find the greatest India travel tip by clicking here. If you feel you may be uncomfortable doing this, you may wish to bring your own toilet paper or baby wipes.
- Packing small, capped bottles of liquid hand soap is a good idea, as you may not find soap in public toilets.
- Antibacterial gel is another option for times when you are without soap as well as water.
- If you purchase drinks outside the Ashram, do not take ice - which is undoubtedly made from tap water.
- Dogs, cats, monkeys and other animals are not considered domestic pets in India. They may carry disease. In general, they will not bother you, but do not pet them or feed them, and keep a safe distance.
- You may wish to visit the Center for Disease Control to see what vaccinations/inoculations are recommended for India. Consider getting a tetanus booster if you are due for one.
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India Travel Tips: Be India Savvy
- Street beggars will try their best to make you feel sorry for them. If you give to one, ten more will come.
- It is normal behavior for men to walk with their arms around each other or to hold hands.
- It is inappropriate for a man and woman to hold hands, even if they are married to each other.
- Public displays of affection will draw stares, and would be disrespectful to the Indian culture.
- Always accept food with your right hand. The left hand is considered unclean since it is used to clean oneself after using the toilet (as described above).
- If you were served food and you want more, do not serve yourself, and do not place the plate you have been eating from on top of any pot that contains food that is being served. Wait to be served.
- It is considered rude to blow your nose loudly while eating.
This is brief collection of India travel tips. We will keep appending this section with your suggestions.