Taj Mahal in the Late Afternoon Light (Above Photo)
After several trips to India over the past year, I thought I’d share some travel tips that I learned during these trips. India is a wonderful country to visit. Each state has its own culture and cuisine that makes traveling across India exciting.
Tips for Traveling to India
Airline Baggage Restrictions
Domestic Indian airlines have some tight restrictions on airline baggage. For example, Air India limits checked baggage to 15 kgs (33 lbs). Much less than the typical United States limit of 50 lbs. Air India carry on baggage is also limited to 8 kgs (17.63 lbs).
Paying for the overage can be a hassle as well. You typically will need to leave the check in line and go to a different counter to pay, and then return to the check in line to finish your check in.
Also, make sure you understand whether the Indian domestic airline has an affiliation with your international carrier and will honor the luggage limits from your international flight. The Indian domestic airline may not honor the higher limit especially if you have an overnight break in travel due to a delay in connecting flights.
Buy Outlet Plug Adapters for India
Make sure you get a luggage tag for all your carry on bags when you check in. These tags need to be stamped by security. Security will check that you have a stamped tag on your bag when you board the plane. If you don’t have a stamped tag, you will need to return to security and have your bag scanned and tagged prior to boarding the plane.
Security checks are different in India that in the United States or other countries. You can leave your shoes and belt on. However, cell phones and wallets need to be removed and all electronics including cameras need to be removed from the bag.
Also, everyone gets “wanded” when going through security. There is a private screening area for ladies.
Golconda Fort, Hyderabad
Tipping in India
I generally tip 50 to 100 Rupies for someone handling my bags. Tipping at restaurants is more of a flat rate and is usually given in cash even if you pay using a credit card. Here is the scale that one of my Indian friends passed on to me. If the price of the meal is less than 4,000 Rupies, tip 100 Rupies. If it is over 4,000 rupies, tip 200 rupies.
Money can be exchanged in the hotel front desk. It isn’t the best rate, but its cheaper than the airport and convenient.
Driving in India
I would not recommend driving in India. To the foreigner, the traffic and driving in India would seem chaotic with no rules. Although the Indian drivers seems to understand these unwritten rules when they drive.
Hotel cars or renting a driver and car from a well know car company are good choices. If you speak English, make sure you ask for a driver that speaks English or have someone in your party that speaks Hindi or the local language to the region.
Driving in India
Of course, bring along any prescription medicine that you need. I would also bring along Immodium D and an antibiotic for travelers diarrhea. I’ve taken many people with me on trips to India and it is not uncommon for people to get sick for a day or two.
Malaria is present in India. I take a daily malaria pills when I travel to India. The pill is taken daily 2 days prior to leaving, during the trip, and 7 days after you return.
I would also take along cold and allergy medicine just in case you get ill during the trip.
Elephant Rides, Amer Fort, Rajasthan
Bottled Water and Ice
Make sure you only drink bottled water during your stay in India. You should also brush your teeth and rinse any mouth apparatus such as mouth guards and retainers with bottled water.
I usually store any opened bottles of water in my locked luggage while I’m away from the room. This ensures that the staff does not refill the water bottles from the tap. 1 or 2 bottles of water is typically complementary in most hotels.
Do not drink ice in your drinks while in India. Most hotels say the water is filtered but for me, it’s not worth the chance.
Written by Martin Belan