First trip to India


Jul 30th, 2012, 09:24 PM
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First trip to India

I'm currently planning a 30-45 day backpacking trip throughout India. I'd love some suggestions on itineraries and must see destinations. Is strictly train transportation do-able or is some air travel necessary to cover as much territory as possible? Also worth noting I am a 28 year old woman traveling alone. I'm from NYC with street smarts but no Asian travel experience to speak of. Any and all advice, recommendations, tips, etc appreciated!
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Jul 30th, 2012, 09:35 PM
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For the kind of trip you're planning, I think you'll find much more useful information on the India Mike site. It's chock full of posts from backpackers--and generally younger travelers than the Fodor site posters. The Fodor site is terrific, but it's not as geared to backpackers and younger travelers. I also think The Rough Guide is an excellent guide for your kind of trip.

Best of luck.
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Jul 30th, 2012, 10:10 PM
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I think there are a number of us here that travel on a budget. Maybe a wheeled suitcase rather than a pack but I think the basics are much the same. I'm older than you but also travel often on my won.

Rather than thinking in terms of covering "as much territory as possible" I'd urge you to consider staying longer in fewer areas. I think you'll have a much more satisfying experience if you do. I generally use the trains with an occasional flight. Travel in India is not particularly efficient so if you spend longer in fewer areas it will save you some frustration in trying to keep moving and I think you'll find it's satisfying in other ways as well, getting to know a town or neighborhood a bit, seeing familiar faces and relaxing in a country that may be harder to get things done than you're used to.

My first trip to India worked well because I confined myself to the northwest and Rajasthan. On subsequest trips I've visited the northeast and south and it worked well for me doing it that way.
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Jul 31st, 2012, 06:02 AM
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This is a good site for you to look at for train travel in India:
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Jul 31st, 2012, 07:36 AM
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And this one:
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Jul 31st, 2012, 07:58 AM
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Mme Perdu is absolutely right - go for quality of experience rather than miles covered. Choose your destinations carefully, and plan to spend some time at each place.
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Jul 31st, 2012, 12:01 PM
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"world’s largest blackout ever..." NY Times

This is a perfect example of why I suggest you confine your travels to a smaller portion of the country:

You'd fare much better in this and other more usual circumstances if you were willing to stay put for a while and why plans in general may not proceed in as orderly a fashion as you're used to. Were you to be confined by fate to a small area you might find it the highlight of your time in India. The faster you travel, contrary to what some believe, memorable moments become less likely rather than more. Putting on the brakes means you may slow down enough to notice the really good stuff.
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Jul 31st, 2012, 03:58 PM
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Have an itinerary and book your hotels ahead of time so you're not showing up hoping to find a room. It's advisable to travel during the day light hours. Indian roads, sidewalks, and train platforms are dimly lit - not at all to what you're used to in the US - and navigating in the dark can be tricky to dangerous (ie you may not see a step and fall). Keep an ultrabright small flashlight with you.

What time of year will you be there? Weather can have a big effect on what you can do each day.
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Jul 31st, 2012, 04:30 PM
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An observation on Jaya's post, one cannot always choose when to travel on the train, day or night, as the trains run at all hours, 24 hours, and many of the long distance trains leave or arrive in the middle of the night. We should not get her hopes up in that regard. But I wouldn't let that worry you Asa, it's just how it is and I've never fallen or felt it was dangerous. It's a simple matter to have your guesthouse send someone to pick you up at any hour.
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Jul 31st, 2012, 11:31 PM
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I found starting in the south and traveling north to be a good plan for myself. Ameliorated the culture shock somewhat. I could have stayed in Kerala forever.
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Aug 3rd, 2012, 05:14 AM
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India is a huge melting pot, and you really need to sort out what you are looking for first (beaches/culture/nightlife/history/sightseeing etc)

The other way around is obviously not knowing whats in store, which is why i travel.

However as a keen traveller myself, i suggest you do look at the following states more seriously than the others, they are widely spread but can be covered with a mix of air (usd 120 - 200 dollars return)train (usd 20 - 50 need advance booking mostly):

Rajasthan (HIstory/culture), Kerala (backwaters/solitude), Goa (beaches and nightlife), NOrthern Uttar Pradesh/Uttaranchal ( misty mountains/ tradition, religion & culture)

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Aug 3rd, 2012, 10:01 PM
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Hi I have been following along on the blogs,as we are planning a trip of our own. Any particular activities or venues in Kerala that really made a difference to you julia1? We are also thinking of traveling there for a week in December.
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Aug 6th, 2012, 02:11 AM
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Fly into Delhi. Spend a few days exploring Delhi. Visit nearby Agra, Amritsar (Golden temple), then on to Rajasthan the land of palaces and forts (Udaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Jaipur - pick 2-3 cities). You could also consider visiting some places in the foothills of Himalayas, or maybe some trekking in Lahaul, Spiti? Then maybe a few days in Goa to unwind in the lovely beaches, a few days in bustling Mumbai before you fly out?

I have deliberately excluded the southern states though they have much to offer because trying to cover both the south and north of India in one trip would just make it a hectic blur!
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