From one first-timer to the other

#1 Feb 9th, 2015, 07:33
Join Date:
Nov 2014
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Johannesburg, South Africa
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  • george203 is offline
#1
I've recently got back from India and this is my advice to other first-timers:
Clothing

Take enough underwear and socks. Maybe like a week's supply. Whether you washing yourself at nights in bathroom or giving it to the hotel to launder, wearing the same stuff for more than a day makes you feel disgusting.

Take two pairs of flip flops. One cheaper one for wearing in the bathroom to shower. Thats if you staying in anything non-5 star. Take a nicer pair for normal use.

Take a dark-coloured sneaker for everyday wear. Laces dark too. Your shoes get dirty easily there.

Take a good running sneaker type shoe instead of a casual all star type. You walk a lot in India and you will appreciate a more solid base.

Take hard-wearing jeans with. Something like a Levis 501. Something you dont mind getting dirty or losing.

Take shirts with front pockets. It comes in handy for things like cash or cards or train tickets.

Take a hat with. Baseball hat or Walter White type. You will be spending a lot of time outdoors.

In general about clothing, dont think you will get the stuff there, Rather take what you need from home. You waste time looking for essentials, time you could spend doing other things like having a chai or talking selfies.

Also if you're a Mr Big like I am, finding sizes is a mission. Size eleven shoe size is unheard of in India. The biggest shoe size there is like an 8UK. I thought I'd find bigger sizes at the malls, but there too, the biggest the Puma shop had was 10UK.

Pants the biggest is like 34, if you're lucky you'll find 36. Shirts and t-shirts in South Africa I wear a Large which is available everywhere. In India the biggest is 3XL, and that doesnt fit me.

Toiletries, personal use items

Take enough medication with, but dont overdo it. Medication in India is easy to come by. There are pharmacies all over the show, and it is cheap. And prescription medication is available OTC, so even that is an issue not to be stressed about.

Take hand sanitiser with. A few bottles, carry size.

Take your usual toiletries. If brands are an issue, take enough for your whole stay. If not, then just take one bottle. India has a lot of international brands anyway, gilette, palmolive, colgate, pantene. The Himalaya local brand is beautiful.

Take a roll of toilet paper or two with. Hotels there dont have it in bathrooms as standard. It is available in shops to buy though.

Electronics
Take your smartphone with. For travellers, an app we used a lot was tripadvisor. We used the GPS alot. We used the camera alot. The railways, metros in Mumbai and Delhi all have apps which we used.

I took by old Blackberry Bold with because I thought that the BIS fixed price internet would be nice and cheap there for getting all my emails on the go. But then when I seen all these app things that my friends on their S5's were doing, I realised that my BB wasnt as wonderful as I thought, and so I started looking for an Android smartphone.

All the homework I had to do wasted time. Looking at different models and comparing specs and prices wasted time. Time I had to spend looking at forts, drinking chai, and taking selfies. If you want to buy a phone there, because phones are generally cheaper there(Atleast cheaper than in SA), then do the homework from before-hand on the internet. Flipkart.com is an online store where you can get a good gauge of prices in India.

Remember though that the India warranty will maybe not be valid in your country. Find this out if this is an issue for you.

Take your local sim with. We got Indian sim cards which we used there because its cheaper. But when I wanted to purchase something online in India, I realised that I couldnt because the one time pin was sent to my SA number which I left at home. Also when you want to access your email and have 2-step verification activated, the code is sent to your phone number. That type of thing.

Unless you are a real cameraman type, then dont take your expensive SLR and DSLR camera with. It is a mission to look after. If you're happy with the quality of your phone camera or entry-level digital camera, just take that with. In the end of the day, you know deep down in your heart, that all you really want is a nice selfie to post to instagram.

I dont know how it is in the rest of the world, but it isnt this way in SA. In India, there is one plugpoint on the wall in the room. With this plugpoint is the light switch, the fan switch, the geyser switch, the bathroom light switch, all in one place on the wall as you enter the room.

Get a usb cellphone charger, one of those where you can pull out the usb cable, not a fixed type like the old type. Then what you do is get a usb extension cable like a meter long one, and plug your charger usb cable in there to extend it. This becomes helpful in that you can sit or lay on the bed and whatsapp or whatever instead of having to stand at the door all the time while your phone is charging.

If possible, get a dual charger. By dual charger I mean the usb type charger with two usb cable outputs on one. Like I explained above, the one plug in a room story, if youre not travelling solo, this is really handy.

If you're taking a laptop with, get a backpack laptop bag. So that you can carry your laptop with you easily when you have to. Especially helpful when you're in transit.

Your power bank will be useful in India. Bring it with if you can, otherwise get one there. They cost anywhere from Rs120 to like Rs3000 depending on size and brand. They quite popular in India so it shouldnt be a problem getting one there.

General
Pack as light as you possibly can. The lighter you pack going, the more you can pack coming.

Dont take water purifiers or chlorine tablets with, unless they're cheaper and cost is an issue to you. Water is cheap in India. Between Rs20 and Rs40 for your two liter fix per day.

Dont fill your bag with snacks and food and stuff. Biscuits, potato chips, sweets, chocolates are plentiful in India. International and local brands are good.

Marlboro, Benson & Hedges, and other local brands cigarettes cost Rs190 per 20-pack. Do the math, if it is cheaper buying in your country, take it with. If duty free is cheaper, buy there. I bought two cartons in Dubai. It was cheaper and it was nice not worrying to buy cigarettes every day. If I remember correctly, you can only take one 10 pack carton per person into India though. Just make sure with the duty free guys.

If you going on a budget, take a sleeping bag with. It helps when you staying at a hotel where it looks like the linen isnt clean, and you start worrying about bed bugs. It came in handy for us. When we came to a hotel and didnt trust the hygiene there, you just lay the sleeping bag down on the mattress. My friend called it his cocoon. I suppose this helped us stay in crappier places, and have more money to do other things.

As I've mentioned before, the stuff you can take from home, take it from home. It wastes time running around there looking for things that you knew you needed. Essential stuff like clothes, underwear, shoes, electronics, toilet paper, toiletries, etc.

Take your drivers license with. You will most likely not use it, but if you do end up in Goa and rent a bike or scooter and a cop stops you, he will accept your license. I say this because we were stopped by the cops in Goa, and he accepted by South African license.

Take more than one bank card with. One of my cards didnt want to work there. Luckily I had another one. I also had a credit card, but didnt end up using it. Dont forget to let your bank know you will be abroad, otherwise they will block your card when you try to use it there.

Take some of your local currency with you. It helps when you arrive back home and want to buy a coke or get a cab.

Dont take drugs with you. If you look in the right places, you will find it in India.

Dont forget to take your best manners with, and leave the politics at home.

Oh yes, and no need to take Chai with. You find plenty there. Drink one for me too please.

I must have forgotten something. But I hope not. Enjoy and much love, me.
Last edited by george203; Feb 9th, 2015 at 08:59.. Reason: Mistyped something
#2 Feb 9th, 2015, 13:25
Join Date:
Oct 2013
Location:
Almaty, Kazakhstan
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  • arunapril4 is offline
#2
Quote:
Originally Posted by george203 View Post Dont forget to take your best manners with, and leave the politics at home.
Good One george203.

ARUN...
#3 Feb 10th, 2015, 01:40
Join Date:
Aug 2009
Location:
North Carolina, USA
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  • sam78a is offline
#3
Let me give you my suggestions based on what the OP said. To make it easier, I am not quoting him.

1. SOCKS/UNDERWEAR: totally agree with this, especially socks. They take a beating since shoes come off all the time when you are in temples and houses. Your socks will turn black or at least dark brown after a few hours.

2. SHOES: Mainly correct. I just take one pair of shoes which is hiking-style and rugged. You will be stepping on rocks, uneven surfaces etc.. Shower shoes are helpful. Most hotels which are less expensive are a bit dirty on the floors.

3. PANTS: I am not a jeans wearer, but I took a combination of shorts and pants. The easily dryable kind are the most helpful. As a photographer, I take a photovest with me, but any kind of travel vest can work as well. It holds my guidebook, some money, and has other pockets for stuff. For me, this is the most important peice of clothing I have, and of course, it holds my camera lenses. The rest of my money is on my body either in a moneybelt. I carry my passport with me as well.

4. TOILETRIES: The combination of shampoo and conditioner and bodywash is helpful. I just bring that from home. I also bring plenty of hand wipes, as I dont want to eat food with my hands after a few hours in India. Toilet paper is essential. A little bit is always in my vest.

5. ELECTRONICS: I know nothing about SIM cards, so I won't comment on that. For me, my Amazon Kindle is most useful for train rides and downtime. I also listen to music on my smartphone and have internet via wifi on it. Noise cancelling headphones are a plus. I also found the plug converters useful. You will need at least one of those.

6. OTHER STUFF: The comments about credit cards is common sense. Bringing some food is helpful in an emergency situation. stuffing 20 or so bars in your bag is helpful and useful. Also, you will want to bring earplugs and a flashlight and extra batteries. A sleeping bag is very helpful (or some kind of blanket) so you can lie down with a cover on a sleeper-class train, or if you dont trust the Rs500 hotel for the cleanliness of the bedsheets. One guesthouse I stayed at had no blankets in the hotel! There are plenty of oppertunities to get laundry taken care of, so dont overpack clothes, except for socks

Also, you should be able to easily fit everything in a backpack. Really, it is not that much stuff you will be taking and all the toiletries can easily fit in a toiletry bag. Duct tape is also useful, especially to make sure shampoo bottles are properly closed, but are also helpful for just about anything. If you wear eye glasses, bring a spare pair or two.
#4 Aug 8th, 2015, 01:13
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  • Brightmaw is offline
#4
Great post. Thank you!
#5 Aug 9th, 2015, 05:22
Join Date:
Mar 2009
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Green grass of home
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  • Wildhorse is offline
#5
Quote:
Originally Posted by sam78a View Post
4. TOILETRIES: I also bring plenty of hand wipes, as I dont want to eat food with my hands after a few hours in India. Toilet paper is essential. A little bit is always in my vest.
Restaurants (incl. cheap dhabas) have a wash basin, hence water. Instead of hand sanitiser or the likes, I carry a small bottle (50ml) of liquid soap. One drop suffices to wash my hands, so it will last for a long time.

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