Roughly four months ago, we booked our flights to Amritsar in the north of India. Now we have been here for nearly three weeks but it took quite a lot of preparation. I visited India once before and having to rush to London, two days before we left, to get a passport and visa is something I did not want to repeat.
Aside from pre-trip preparations, we don’t have much of a plan and are slowly moving south towards the sun. We have done lots of yoga, long walks, temple visits, seen lots of monkeys and cows, and eaten amazing vegan food – including a cooking lesson.
To help us with out planning I used lots of really helpful blogs, which I will link to in this post. As planning for a long or short trip to India can be quite overwhelming I have put together a little timeline to help anybody else looking to organise travelling to this huge country.
8 weeks to go
With two months to go it is really important to book an appointment with a travel nurse. If you are in the UK, the best place to go is your local doctor’s surgery as this is the least expensive option. Some vaccinations are free on the NHS, others you have to pay for. They will recommend which ones are necessary for your type of trip and also advise whether you need anti-malaria tablets. Currently, most places in India do not require you to take them.
We had hep A and B, tetanus polio and typhoid vaccinations. The nurse will also recommend the rabies vaccination and Japanese encephalitis which are quite expensive but it is up to you.
4 weeks to go
Now for the visa application. We used this wonderful guide from Hippie In Heels, a travel blogger who is currently living in Goa in south India. We had absolutely no problems using this guide and received our visas within 10 working days. The guide is for a long trip (more than 60 days). If you are travelling for less than that you can apply for an e-visa.
Having gone to the London embassy and used the postal application service, I would definitely recommend the latter. You fill out the application online, print it, attach photos, send in an envelope with your passport and include a pre-paid return envelope for them to send it back.
Some things to take note of:
- You must choose UK-London as your jurisdiction for all postal applications (even if you live closer to the other options).
- You must attach two 2×2 photographs. Do not use a passport size photograph. This is what messed up my application (and nearly my whole trip) last time I went to India so do not make this mistake.
- It is worth applying for a multi entry 12 month visa as it does not cost any more than the single entry six month visa.
- Include a pre-paid self addressed envelope in your application as this costs less than the service provided by the centre.
- We did not understand how/when to pay as it was not clear at any point during the application. We received a phone-call a couple of days after our application was received and paid over the phone with a debit card.
- It was also difficult to find the address you post your application to so here it is:
Indian Visa and Consular Application Centre
The Vista Centre
First Floor – Part A Block 50
- Your passport must have at least 180 days left on it or you cannot receive any type of visa.
- You will need to book your first hotel to use as a reference in the application. We used booking. You do not have to pay anything upfront and can cancel with no cost.
3 weeks to go
We had quite a lot of things to order at this point to make our trip a bit easier. This included mosquito nets, packing cubes, water2go bottles and filters, medicines and a travel money belt. I have included a packing list at the bottom of this guide to help, with links to where we got things from.
2 weeks to go
The most common way to travel India is by train and, once again, having problems with this last time I thought I would get organised before the trip. I have not booked any transport but have set up an IRTRC and Cleartrip account. Once again, I used a Hippie In Heels guide (what would I do without these?!). It was really easy with these instructions and now all we have to do is login to Cleartrip online and we can book train travel, without having to queue at the train station and without having to pay fees to booking agents in cities.
Long-sleeved top x 2
T-shirts x 3
Leggings x 2
Underwear – enough for seven days
Teva sandals – they are so comfy, good for long walks and you can wear them in water
Big scarf (although I am sure there will be lots to choose from at the markets)
Toothbrush with cover + toothpaste
Towel-off shampoo foam
Bar of soap – lasts longer than gels/liquids and easy to store in a sandwich bag!
Passport and visa copies
2×2 passport style photographs
Micro fibre travel towel
Sleeping bag liner
Travel first aid kit and medicines – painkillers, re-hydration sachets, immodium
Water2go bottles – they can filter all water and no plastic waste, best items we bought!
Travel money belt
Packing cubes and laundry bag – makes it so much easier to find things in your bag
All packed in a 55L backpack from Mountain Warehouse
If you have any questions or need advice please leave a comment 😊