Airports & Domestic Flights
To enter any airport in India, you must show an original ID proof and a copy of your air ticket. While a digital read-out of your e-ticket on your phone or tablet may work, it is best to carry a print-out.
Some airports in India require you to scan your checked-in baggage in the concourse area before you proceed to the airline counters for check-in.
All hand luggage must carry an airline luggage tag, which is available at the check-in counters.
Meals on board are generally of average quality and high cost. So it is best to try and eat something in the airport lounge before boarding your flight. The bigger airports have excellent food courts with a wide variety of cuisines to choose from.
Railway Stations & Trains
At the railway stations, porters normally charge between Rs 50-100 per piece of luggage. Negotiate a price before you start. If your station is on the main terminal platform, it is not difficuly to wheel your luggage yourself. If on another platform, it means negiotiating steep footbridges and surpisingly long walks (forget elevators or escalators!). A porter could be handy in such situations.
Keep your entire luggage locked on overnight train journeys. The bigger bags can be stowed away in the space under the bottom berth. Valuables and small handbags, phones, must be kept under your pillow or with you on your berth.
The carriages are manned by attendants who will distribute linen free of charge. A variety of snacks and drinks can be ordered at an additional cost. On the Shatabdi Expresses, the food and drink is of a high standard and included in the price of the ticket. On other trains, it is best to buy branded packaged snacks, peelable fruit, or pre-purchased meals.
Toilets are shared and come in western style and in squat-style. Cleanliness is highly variable, so carry toilet paper and hand sanitiser.
Staying in Hotels
All hotels in India require a copy of your passport and visa as per Government regulations.
Most hotels will need your credit card details as a guarantee against extra expenses. You can settle your bills by card or cash.
Avoid changing foreign currency at hotels as their rates are very high.
Your Car And Driver
Your driver is one of the most important service providers on a road trip in India. Building a good rapport with him is key to enjoying a good holiday, as he is your cultural guide, bodyguard, and companion for most part of the day. This does not mean that you have to exchange personal information, but Indians love to talk and they love to know about where you come from and what your country is like.
Most drivers are provided free or subsidised accommodation at the hotels you are staying at. In some cities, drivers will seek their own inexpensive accommodations outside of your hotel. No extra payment is necessary for this. However, in some remote locations, there may not be any suitable accommodation for drivers. In such cases, the driver will choose to sleep in the car. This is a common practice in India and you should not be alarmed by it. Many drivers prefer to sleep in the car as it allows them to watch over their vehicle and also be close at hand in case you need their services.
Eating & Drinking Healthy
Good dining practices in India can ensure you stay healthy and have an enjoyable holiday. Milesworth as a practice, only books accommodations on a bed & breakfast basis. This allows you to explore and experience local cuisine and support local businesses. If you take a few precautions on your Indian gastronomic adventure, you will be rewarded.
For the first 2-3 days, we recommend taking the strongest precautions with how and where you eat. Your immunity will be low and you will need to replace the flora in your gut replaced with their Indian equivalent. It is best to eat at high quality or quick service chain establishments or even at your hotel. Do not eat street food or get adventurous. Avoid raw vegetable salads, uncooked food such as pickles and chutneys, or meat cooked rare. Keep spice levels low and consume lots of live-culture yoghurt (the best way to add food acclimatise in India.) Ramp your food adventure quotient gradually and you will be a happy and healthy traveller.
In general, a few more tips for food are: (a) Wait to be seated when entering a restaurant. (b) Pork and beef products are of average quality - so avoid, unless you are dining at recommended restaurants. (c) If you eat with your hands (and we recommend it!), try using only the writing hand to eat. Do ask for a finger-bowl to wash after a meal. (d) Check the bill thoroughly, and tip if necessary.
Tap water in India is unfit for consumption. Always use bottled water. This comes in two types – mineral water (expensive brands such as Evian or Himalaya), and packaged water such as Kingfisher, Bisleri, Aquafina, Kinley (safe and inexpensive).
Currency, ATMs, & Credit Cards
The Indian Rupee is available only in India. All major currencies are easily changeable upon arrival at airports, banks and your hotel. The Indian currency is Rupees and Paise (100 Paise = 1 Rupee). Coins come in denominations of 50p, Rs 1, Rs 2, Rs 5, and Rs 10. Notes are commonly available in 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000.
ATMS are widely available across the country. Before you use an ATM card, make sure your bank has been informed of your travel plans, so that they do not block your card. Most ATMs are manned by guards. Wait until the ATM room has become free and then step in to use it. Follow standard precautions. In some cases, you may find another customer or security guard hovering near you or coming inside at the same time. Politely and firmly ask anyone inside the ATM room to leave, while you are conducting your business.
Credit cards are widely accepted across the country. Some establishments may add-on a 1-3% service charge for accepting cards. While this is illegal, it is a common practice. When using your credit card, always ask for the charging to be done in your presence. Most places have a wireless card machine.
Begging is inevitable in a country like India with a staggering population and many people living below the poverty line. You are most likely to see begging in the cities than in the villages. Those begging for alms are displaced and homeless people in the city (usually migrants from the villages) or disabled people. Begging has a legitimate place in Indian society as it gives you religious merit.
You are under no obligation to give alms, but if you should choose to, do it from the car and not on the street as this will attract more attention. Alternatively, we recommend engaging in travel philanthropy by participating in tourism experiences offered by non-profits that raise funds for social development projects. Or by donating educational supplies to needy schools.
Once you confirm your trip with us, you will receive a travel information kit, which contains our pick of important advice for you while you travel in India. Below is a sample of some of the advice you receive in your information kit: