Based on our experience, we have accumulated a few tips that will make your trip to India more enjoyable.
- Make sure your US Passport is current. The wait for passports has improved. Still allow 6 weeks.
- You will need an Indian Visa to enter India. The India Embassy in the U.S. has outsourced the visa process to Travisa Outsourcing. You complete the application on-line, choosing a “tourist” type, term of 6 months to 10 years, and the address where you will be staying. Print and sign the application, include your passport, 2 additional passport type photos, and a copy of your driver’s license and use UPS 2nd Day to send to Travisa. It only takes 5 business days to process.
- For up to date information about traveling in India, check out the U.S.
Department of State web site. U.S. citizens are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration web site. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency.
- Check with your doctor or a travel clinic regarding vaccinations you should be current on. (Possibly Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, MMR, Polio, Tetanus, or Typhoid) Also, ask which anti-malarial drug is recommended for you. The CDC web site is a good place to check for India travel health updates.
- Some tips about avoiding germs on your plane trip: Where Germs Lurk on Planes
- The Melatonin Strategy – To help minimize jet-lag use this strategy provided by an MD who recently traveled to India with a Fishhook team. Traveling to India, take 3 mcg of melatonin midafternoon on each of the 3 days prior to travel and then on the day of travel. On the return take 3 mcg of melatonin midmorning on each of the 3 days prior to travel and then on the day of travel.
- Use hard-side suitcases with locks for security and durability. Suitcases should always be locked when checked at the airport and left in a hotel room.
- Pack light by bringing quick drying (i.e., nylon) clothes that can be hand washed. Don’t bring any clothes that you value.
- Check to sure that your electrical appliances are 110-220V to avoid needing a transformer. Then all you need is an A/C Tip Adapter for US-Asia (2 blades on female side and 2 round posts on male). You can buy inexpensive adapters at Wal-Mart or Target, or a higher quality version at Brookstone.
- A passport pouch that can be worn under your shirt is a secure way to carry your passport, currency and other important papers.
- Here’s a good printable summary provided by the TSA describing what you can and can’t pack in your carry-on or checked bags.
- $200 in cash should be plenty for meals while traveling and other airport needs. We recommend taking an ATM card to get rupees once on the ground in India. Credit cards can then be used for other purchases including gifts. Foreign currency exchange fees on ATM and Credit Cards are usually around 3% and you get the current exchange rate.
- Band-aids, Prescriptions, Tylenol PM (for Overnight Flights) or whatever sleep aid works best for you.
- Comfortable and Sturdy Sandals for walking, hiking.
- Light Weight Bible, Journal.
- Hand Sanitizer.
- Protein Bars, Gum and Candy.
- Kleenex (Toilet paper is often not available in public restrooms).
- Clothing should be modest. Bare legs and shoulders and tight fitting clothing are inappropriate in India. To ensure packing clothing suitable for the weather, check the norms and forecasts for the time and places you will be traveling. South India is generally very warm and humid, but the north can dip into the 40’s at night in December and January.
Departing from Airports in India
- Check the total weight of your bags to make sure they are under the airline’s maximum limit. Individual bags should also be checked for weight limits.
- When you first arrive, you are responsible for taking your bags to be scanned first and a seal is placed across the opening. Then take your bags to check-in.
- Every time you check in make sure each carry-on bag has a new airline tag. As you pass through security the bag will be scanned and this tag stamped. EVERY bag, including purses and passport pouches must be tagged. Putting all these smaller things into your large carry-on is a good shortcut. DO NOT remove the smaller bags from the larger one until you board as security will check for this tag on each piece as you board.
- Security operates a separate line for women on one side or the other. Everyone is frisked.
- Expect delays due to fog at the Delhi airport from December to February, the winter months.
- Good Domestic airlines are JetAir and Kingfisher. Both have great service and reasonable prices if booked in advance. These guys provide hot towels, full meals, and nice planes. More like Business Class for an Economy fare .
- Do Fanny Squeezes every hour or so on Long Flights to relieve sore backs.
- Use a Dual Time watch to help track time at home.
- All of India is in the same time zone. It is 10.5 hours ahead of EST (9.5 hours during DST).
- Don’t count on regular Internet access. Leave your laptop at home, web mail is usually available.
- Remember gifts for your Hosts and treats for kids at schools or orphanages.
- 50 rs is adequate for porters at airports.