It has been a year since I visited India, and I am finally ready to go into full depth about my whole life changing experience. Going to India was a big leap for me. I would be travelling there alone and meeting up with my partner in Delhi, however, the whole process of flying alone gave me severe anxiety during the weeks prior to my departure. On numerous occasions, I felt like cancelling the trip as the fear of being lost overcame my confidence. Sounds silly right? Fear of getting lost in the airport? Trust me, the fear was real!
Step 1: Finding the perfect plane tickets
In preparation, I used multiple websites to be able to work out the cheapest fare for flying there. I ended up choosing China Southern Airlines to fly with. This made me slightly nervous as I had never personally heard of the airline beforehand and knew nothing about their reputation. I can honestly say that after travelling for many hours to India and back with China Southern, I have full faith in their company. The hospitality I received from the staff was above anything I have ever experienced. Their dedication to ensuring their passengers are relaxed and taken care of went above and beyond. I will definitely fly with them again when I have the chance.
Step 2: Applying for the tourist visa
After the tickets were booked, I had to find out how to get my visa. This process was a little daunting as the actual visa website was all over the place. I was very lucky that my partner was able to help me understand it all. The visa should last for minimum 3 months for a tourist. The process, once I knew how to do it, was fairly straight forward. The cost was reasonable and I had 2 options on how to get the visa put into my passport. You could either send it in to the office and they mail it back to you, or you could go in person to get hand your passport over for the visa to be applied and then they send it back. I decided to go in person as I was a little tight on time, and there was less risk of my passport getting lost in the mail on the way there!
Step 3: What to pack…
Packing for India was a mammoth task. I have done a YouTube video on my channel on what I packed prior to actually going to India, but now that I have been there and experienced it all, I feel that I can give an honest account of what I found essential to have. My first mistake was not checking the weather of China (where my stop over was), and Delhi. I knew that Delhi would be cool, but I didn’t know China would be below 6 degrees celsius! When I was leaving Australia, it was late January which is the middle of summer, so naturally I dressed in summery clothes. When I arrived in China, it is fair to say that it was the worst experience for me. Not only was the airport packed, but I was also the only idiot to be wearing flip flops in the ice cold conditions. So, if I could go back in time, I would 100% remember to check the weather!
Carry On Essentials:
- Passport and any other legal documents.
- Pens (to fill out legal documents).
- Copy of travellers insurance.
- Book to read (most people watch movies or sleep, so I think 1 book is more than enough to pass the time, or your bag may get too heavy).
- Headphones (the headphones provided on planes are useless, I suggest bringing your own).
- Small toiletry bag: Toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush and hair ties. Moisturiser! I would say this is a must as the cool air in the plane will dry your skin out! If you would like to wear makeup when you land, I recommend carrying the bare minimal in a small toiletry bag so it is easy to use in the tiny bathrooms without dropping everything. Also bring a mini roll on deodorant because no one wants to be a stinker on a compressed aircraft full of people.
- Medication that may be required such as asthma puffers & pain killers etc.
- Chewing gum! We all know that the changes in air pressure when landing can cause severe ear and head pain, so chewing on some gum can help relieve some of that pressure.
- Neck pillow – this will change your life.
- Jacket, socks & underwear. Planes do get cold, that is just how it is unfortunately, so I found that having a jacket and socks were a great way to keep warm. Also, I don’t really enjoy wearing shoes on the plane, so socks are a good way to protect your feet. Underwear because… you never know, plus it is a good feeling to change before landing so you feel fresh.
- Tissues and baby wipes (face wipes). I usually don’t have a runny nose, but for some reason, it plays up on planes. I am assuming it might have something to do with the high altitude. Instead of having to get up and get toilet paper to wipe your nose, bring a small packet of tissues. Face wipes are good to have as they are multi-purposable. You can wipe your face down to feel fresh, wipe your hands after eating and also clean any items that may have been dirty.
Luggage Essentials: (For the colder months)
- Cotton underwear – the reason I say cotton is because they are harder to ruin when they are washing, they are quick to dry as the material is breathable and they are comfortable. What more could you want.
- Socks! Especially if you are going during the colder months. I found myself wearing 2 pairs of socks at one time and I still couldn’t feel my toes.
- Comfortable pyjamas. This is a no brainer. Try wearing pants to bed just incase of any creepy crawlys.
- Beanies & scarves. I couldn’t even leave the hotel without a beanie and scarf on around my face.
- Daily clothes: India is a very modest country and as a tourist you should always do your research on their customs. I decided to take very basic clothing that I could wear in different styles. This included plain long sleeve shirts, black full length tights and long jumpers/jackets.
- Few pairs of shoes – sneakers are good to have as you do a lot of walking. Boots are ideal as the cold is harsh, however, shoes are rather cheap there, so I recommend going to the markets and finding a decent pair of boots to wear. I also found a pair of flip flops handy to have for walking around the hotel and in the shower.
- Toiletries: This purely depends on your needs. Obviously men and women have different needs, but I will list what I found most helpful to have. I went through a lot of moisturiser on the trip as the cold air dried out my skin quite a lot. I think it is better to bring in products with you that you will be placing on your face as you never know what ingredients you might be putting on your face if you buy products from the shop. I say this because I have combination/oily skin and it does not react well to a lot of products. Other toiletries are fairly straight forward, such as things for your period, skin care and makeup. Body wash can be bought at any convenience store.
- Hair dryer – this is not essential as you can buy one there, but as we didn’t stay in proper hotels, there was never a hair dryer available. We ended up buying one (which was horrible) but it did the job after using it for a solid 30 minutes… fair to say that my arms were exhausted after drying half of my hair!
- Adaptor – the power points are different in India, so if you need to charge your camera or phone, an adaptor is essential.
- Journal – this for me was an important part of my journey. I wrote about nearly every major memory, kept all the tickets for places we visited and also used it as a way to keep track of flight details.
- A copy of all your personal details – this should be kept in a safe place in your luggage. This is just incase you happen to lose your passport or insurance. Also, many hotels in India require a copy of your drivers license or passport before you can stay there so extra copies are good to have.
- Head scarf – this is purely optional, but I did stay in an Islamic community in Delhi & Kashmir and I wanted to be respectful as well as modest. It also really helps with the cold weather!
This post is already rather long, so I think I will leave it there. These are just the few items I found extremely handy to have. Everyone is different and require different things of course, but hey, doesn’t help to offer some advice from personal experiences! This is part of a series of blog posts I will be making about my trip to India. I visited so many wonderful places and I want to share a full detail post about the main areas I went to. I hope you found this post helpful and I will always recommend that every person should visit India at least once in their life. I can’t wait until I go back!
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