If you are traveling to India for the first time, you may be wondering where to start to plan out the details of your travel. Here we share some initial tips which may be helpful. Once you register, our knowledgeable staff will provide you with additional information to assist with your planning.
Passport & Visa
You must have a valid passport and Indian Visa to enter India!
You will need to have a passport that is valid for a minimum of at least 6 months and a tourist visa. The easiest way is to apply on-line for a Tourist Visa on Arrival (TVoA). It is quick and easy, but it is only good for one entry and for not more than 60-days.
If you think you will be traveling to India often and need a visa good for a few years, you can apply for a 10-year, multiple entry visa. You must go through an authorized, third-party visa service such as Travisa or Travel Visa Pro, who will walk you through the requirements and guarantee the delivery of a visa.
Many independent companies offer Trip Insurance. If you choose to obtain such insurance, ensure that the policy has, as a minimum, high levels for Medical Expenses and Emergency Transportation, and coverage for cancellation due to a Travel Advisory issued by the U.S. State Department (many policies do not have this clause). You may research insurance policies online at www.insuremytrip.com
Customs & Immigration
You are allowed to bring in all personal effects “which may be reasonably required” without any customs charges. Official custom allowance includes a camera (with 20 rolls of film) , a pair of binoculars, a laptop computer, one music system (e.g. a CD player or MP3 player), jewelry, a video camcorder (with 12 video cassettes), any special camera equipment and lenses, one cell phone and one electronic diary. You must take all of these items out of the country when you leave . They may check upon departure and if any items are missing it is a serious offense. Items that are prohibited to import are drugs, live plants, unstitched cloth, gold coins, gold and silver bullion and silver coins not in current use. These are either banned or subject to strict regulation. It is illegal to import firearms into India without special permission.
There are no immunizations required for India. However, be sure you are up to date on your desired vaccines such as tetanus and influenza.
We are not traveling during the malaria season, so this is not a concern. However, dengue fever is always in season, so bring bug-repellent.
If you are arriving in India from Sub-Saharan Africa or other yellow-fever areas, Indian health regulations require that you present evidence of vaccination against yellow fever. If you do not have such proof, you could be subjected to immediate deportation or a six-day detention in the yellow-fever quarantine center. If you transit through any part of sub-Saharan Africa, even for one day, you are advised to carry proof of yellow fever immunization.
The Zika virus is present in India, and women who are pregnant or expecting to be pregnant are not advised to travel to India.
If you require any prescription medicine, bring it with you in bottles from a pharmacy that show the doctors name. Remember these should be on your hand luggage in case your suitcase is delayed.
Try to pack as lightly as possible because space will be tight on the Yatra. It is very important to have locks for your luggage and it is a good idea to bring a spare. For our internal flights, we will send our luggage ahead by trucks to avoid expensive over-weight charges.
What to Bring
India is a very modest society and it is important to dress accordingly. It will be the late fall while we are there and will be warm during the days and cool-cold at night.
No tank tops, undershirts, low cut shirts, tight tee shirts, sheer shirts or pants, or short skirts. If you can see any of your undergarments in any way, it’s inappropriate in India . Yoga pants, leggings and t-shirts or tunics are perfect. Ready-made Indian clothing will be available for purchase at reasonable prices. Bring a long scarf that you can drape over your shoulders.
Please note that head coverings are required not only for meditating, but also for entering temples and Gurdwaras. It’s a good idea to bring a head covering that you’re used to and that will easily stay on your head.
In India shoes are taken off very frequently, so sandals and slip-ons are the most convenient footwear (not flip-flops). Be sure to bring a backup pair of shoes, as having your shoes disappear while you visit a temple can happen.
Travel as light as possible without depriving yourself of your needs. Here is a compiled list of things one might bring to India.
- Comfortable slip-on shoes and a backup pair
- Flip flops for use in the bathroom and shower
- Enough graceful clothes to last until we reach Amritsar
- Headcovers – you will use these most days
- Travel sizes supply of shampoo, hair conditioner, toothpaste and other toiletries
- Sunscreen and lip balm
- Feminine hygiene supplies
- Kleenex packets
- Hand sanitizer – wipes or gel
- Money belt (ones that can be used for either money, credit cards and passports)
- Electrical adapter ( most common sockets in India)
- Small power bank (you do not want to run out of batteries)
- Lock for all your bags, and a spare
- Warm sweater or vest and a meditation shawl (very easily purchased there, but good to bring one)
- Snacks! Trail mix, power bars, granola, tea, etc. This will come in very handy during our adventurous travels.
- small travel umbrella
- Medical supplies for common aches and stomach upset
Money & Valuables
Leave your valuables at home. Only bring what you are willing to carry with you at all times. There will be safes in the hotels and valuables can be locked in your suitcase at Anandpur Sahib. However, in Sultanpur Lodhi you will need to carry your valuables with you at all times.
The currency in India is the rupee. For the current exchange rate check an internet site such as www.x-rates.com. ATMs are very unreliable in India and it is advisable to bring the cash you need. Fortunately, credit cards are widely accepted in New Delhi and Amritsar
There are several currency exchange kiosks in the arrival hall of the New Delhi airport. As you wait for your luggage to come in, it is good to take a moment to exchange your currency here. Hotels will have a limited capacity to exchange currency.
If someone approaches you and says they can give you a higher rate than the banks, do not do business with that person. It is called exchanging on the black market and is highly illegal. You can be arrested for doing this.
Internet and Telephone
You are welcome to bring your smartphone – it is essential as a camera, flashlight, and alarm clock. You may be able to get an international package from your cellphone provider. But if not, you can still use your phone through “WhatsApp” when ever we have internet connection. You will have internet everywhere, except Sultanpur Lodhi.
We will stay in touch with the group and send messages through WhatsApp. Be sure to download this and set up your account before you leave.