After being home for a couple weeks now and telling friends and family all about my experiences, I have realized that my stories do not give justice to what I actually saw/did or what India is actually like. To really understand and completely comprehend “Incredible India,” you must experience it yourself. I agree with Heidi when she said India has made a permanent impression on us. We now have so many memories from India that will impact our lives forever.
For future travelers to India, I would not be able to fully prepare you, but I would like to give you some advice to ease your worries. First, BE PATIENT. Delhi’s population is over 16 million people, which is 11,300 persons per km2 (Eau Claire’s population density is 56/km2). Transportation and scheduling can just not be as clear cut as we are used to at Eau Claire. Second, BE FLEXIBLE. Understand that being in a big group in a foreign country things are bound to come up that cause plans to be changed causing events to be cancelled or rescheduled for a later date. Third, BE OPEN. Don’t be afraid to try new things or take opportunities. You may only be in India once in your lifetime so make the most of the experience. Be prepared to expect the unexpected and learn to just go with the flow.
Some tips for future travelers to India:
- Bargaining: Know that the shop keepers are trying to get the most out of you. They know you are a tourist right away, there is no way you can fool them. Bring your Indian buddies; they can help you get good deals. Otherwise, follow this rule: Whatever the first price they give you, counter that with one-third that price or less. There were multiple times at the market where shop keepers would say 500 rupee and we would counter with 100 and get it for 150 rupee. Some average prices of items we bought were 100-150 rupee for scarves, 200 rupee for sandals, 100 rupee for earrings, and 10 rupee or less for postcards.
- Travelling: The metro is the best mode of transportation in Delhi. Travelling from one side of Delhi to the other costs less than 20 rupee (40 cents). Always bargain with taxis, autos, and rickshaws BEFORE getting in the vehicle. Make sure you know what you will be charged before going anywhere. A short rickshaw ride (15 minutes) should cost 10 rupee, max 15 (especially around campus, don’t pay more than 10).
- Packing: It’s hard to know what to pack for a 3-week trip. For toiletries, I brought a 3 oz. bottle of shampoo, a 3 oz. bottle of conditioner, a 3 oz. bottle of body wash, a 2 oz. bottle of face wash, 2 travel size tooth pastes, 1 travel size shaving cream, 1 travel size hair spray, a 3 oz. bottle of lotion, and a bottle of liquid hand soap. I had plenty of everything for my 22 day trip. I recommend bringing lots of travel size tissue packets, hand-sanitizer, and wet-wipes. Many public bathrooms do not have toilet paper or paper towel. Washing hands before eating is a must and most easily done with hand-sanitizer or wet-wipes. For clothing, bring lots of dark socks (you have to take your shoes off in many places), clothes that layer easily (I had a fleece and a track jacket that were life savers on chilly mornings), and shoes that are comfortable and that you won't be upset if they get dirty (lots of walking and streets are very dusty). Number one piece of advice for packing is PACK LIGHT. You will buy many souvenirs and need somewhere to put to bring them home. Pack your suitcase a few days in advance and then pack it again taking out anything that you may not need. Items in India are cheap so if you forget something, don’t worry because it can be purchased there.