By the end of October I had managed to save only a handful of days for vacation, so we could only stay in India for a long week, from Friday to Sunday. I have the feeling we made the most out of it and triggered our interest to discover more of it in the future.
We spent quite some time deciding what we wanted to see most and we realized that our priorities where visiting our friends in Mumbai, experiences the contrasts of India, see some authentic beauty and observe the rich nature. Beach time would have definitely been on the list if we hadn’t had the sunniest summer in the Netherlands.
Considering these elements (the fact that we wanted to fly direct and the short time available) we decided to visit Mumbai and Rajasthan: 3 nights in Mumbai, 2 nights in Udaipur and 2 nights in Jodhpur and then fly back to Mumbai for an extra night before coming back to the Netherlands. It worked very well and I would definitely recommend it: it gave us an introduction to extreme situations, landscapes and rhythms in a colourful environment of rough beauty.
Travelling India can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be. After coming back home, Sourena and I sat together and started listing what helped our trip to be so good.
BEING CAREFUL ABOUT THE FOOD
it’s not a secret that Indian food is among my favourites and I surely didn’t want to waste a couple of days of the trip in a toilet, so I studied carefully what to do to enjoy it as much as possible while avoiding the so called Delhi-belly. I shared the tips with my husband, we followed them and we didn’t have any problem, if not the opposite.
You can find a lot about it online, in big lines: only bottled sealed water, also to brush our teeth; vegetarian diet (we did have chicken a couple of time and fish only when in Mumbai, close to the sea); no raw vegetable, nor fruits that can’t be peeled; probiotics capsules daily and avoid over-eating. Obviously no street food.
I almost can’t believe how smooth it went, how much delicious food we still manage to enjoy.
India is a mess; it’s dirty, crowded and loud and you can’t do anything about it. Accept it as a whole package and enjoy being part of the flow. Beside being a mess, India is also very spiritual and you will find yourself more meditative if you let yourself follow the vibe. During our stay we had an Ayurveda massage in Mumbai and a sunrise yoga session in Udaipur, they were the very best way to unwind and learn to listen to yourself instead of all the chaos around us.
I can totally imagine that going in the wrong moment of the year can make it unbearable. The extreme heat or the heavy rains are surely not fun to deal with. We visited India at the end of October and I think it was perfect, hot in the way I like. This said, be aware that the hotter outside the colder the airco will, don’t be unprepared for that.
In such a short time we managed to see what we had hoped for: metropolitan, rural and traditional India.
Since it is a huge country there are many options to custom make your trip, study in advance what you are most interested and don’t worry about skipping popular destination, it has to be your trip and India surely has what you are looking for.
Plan ahead or at the last minute, it doesn’t matter. If you want peace of mind plan in advance, but be aware that you can do everything also at the last minute.
GIVING VALUE TO MONEY
Money can be confronting while in India. Being a tourist you automatically belong to the category of the rich and there is not much you can do about it. What made me feel a bit better about the confronting gap with the poorest was to value my money, every cent of it, the time that I have spent to build it and the freedom it gives me.
I still participated in the bargain because I am not a fool and I tipped good service.
CAREFULLY EXPOSING OURSELVES TO THE EXTREMES
You can choose between extremes of comfort while travelling, we personally didn’t care about the train experience so we moved between cities by plane and with a driver. Within the city by rickshaw, taxi and with our friends.
India hostels can be very basic and facilities can be limited to bucket-showers, so if you are not ready for that make your research in advance.
- You do need a visa to enter India and it’s not possible to get it at arrival, so just go through the e-visa procedure, it is extremely easy and quick. Be careful not to get fooled (as we almost did) and end up in a non-governmental website, the only official one is
- You most probably need some vaccinations. We needed two vaccination recalls: for DTP and hepatitis A. We didn’t have any side effects and got them just a couple of days in advance. Since we were not travelling in malaria areas we didn’t need to think about that as well.
- If you are pregnant (as of December 2018) don’t plan a trip to India as it is currently affected with zika virus and zika and pregnancy are not a good combination.