We were quite daunted about our first trip to India, partly because we had read too much online about other peoples horror stories. Below we have gone through how we approached the begining of our trip.
Step 1: Visa – we paid a company to do our e-visas for us. The fee wasn’t that high and was worth the cost to avoid the ball ache. We used Visa Genie and they came through in a couple of days. Our biggest issue in doing the application ourselves was supplying a suitable format photograph, which is requested in a file size which would fit on a floppy disk.
Step 2: Book Hostel – on our last day in Sri Lanka we tracked down some reliable wifi and booked our first 3 night’s worth of accommodation, two in Delhi and one in Agra. We were nervous enough about arriving without having to faff around trying to find somewhere to stay last minute.
Step 3: Book Trains – the trains book up early so you may get waitlisted and you probably shouldn’t wait as late as we did (1 day before travelling), the smart person swaps steps 3 and 2 around. We won’t go in to the Indian Train ticketing system because someone has already done it marvellously; check out The Man in Seat 61, he is our hero and we are very much indebted to him. They do release tickets last minute, but why have the stress if you can avoid it.
Step 4: Book outbound flight – We were not travelling on a return ticket and so needed to have an exit flight as they don’t let you in without proof of leaving. We knew where and when we wanted to go so we were happy to book our tickets for real. If you are unsure on when you want to leave check out some other heroes, Goats on the Road, for some work arounds.
Step 5: Buy suncream, wet wipes and hand sanitiser – we brought these with us because we didn’t know when we would be able to find them in a shop and they are absolute essentials.
Step 6: Print everything you will need to get through immigration: Visas, onward flight details.
Once we had made it to India we wanted to get oursleves a local sim card. You have a couple of options:
- Pick up a free one in the airport, though we have heard this can be a nightmare to top up.
- Buy one in a local shop. According to the blogs we read this was going to be a nightmare but armed with the right paperwork it was not that bad when we got an Airitel sim card. Turn up with:
- Passport photo
- Photocopy of passport and visa stamp
- Details of hotel/hostel address and phone number, and pre warn them to expect a call
Our sim activated after 12 hours and the credit started working after 24 hours, which was not that bad compared to the horror stories we read. Based on our single experience Airitel have our vote.
We were then all set to enjoy the experiences India had to offer.