Thinking of India, the first things that come to mind is chaos and safety. India is a heavily populated country with millions of tourists flowing in every year, and travelling in India can give anyone jitters. Being an Indian native, I will present how to travel in India with insider tips and keeping safety a priority.
There are various mediums available throughout the country to ease our way through the different states. Be it trains, buses, or flights, travelling was never this easy in India before. The premium trains, the Volvo buses, and the high & low-end flights have made travelling from one place to another comfortable.
The ultimate guide on how to travel in India
When I take you through my guide on how to travel in India & having used all mediums, I present my best tips, know-how & recommendations on how to travel in India. So, let’s start with the modes available!
Travelling by aeroplane is one of my favourite means of travel in India. Thinking about how to travel in India, I mostly prefer flights. I find it not only convenient but also time-saving. Travelling on roads or trains will take almost double the time that flying will take. With airports in almost every major city or connectivity nearby, taking a flight will save a lot of hassle. It might not be the most responsible way of tourism, but it is great for those who are new to India.
Low-cost airlines like Spice-jet, Indigo and GoAir are some of the India-based corporations providing airfares at an almost similar price to a train ticket. The airlines’ sales & discount offers save a lot of money too if planned well in advance. Air travel has picked up in India in the last few years since these low-cost airlines came into the picture.
When coming to India, you will probably land in a metro city like Delhi, Mumbai, Jaipur or Cochin. These cities are well-connected to surrounding cities through trains & buses and also domestic terminals. The point to remember is that domestic terminals usually cater to low-cost airlines. Major airlines like Air India & Jet Airways also fly from here, but they mainly use International terminals.
If Sky-scanner is your go-to app for booking the cheapest flights, then Make My Trip is the best one available for India. All the current deals, along with MMT discounts, this is the site I recommend when booking an air ticket.
With one of the longest rail networks in the world, travelling via train is another one of the best ways to travel in India. If you’re one of those who love scenic train rides & are contemplating how to travel in India, trains should be your pick!
I have been travelling via Indian trains since childhood and have experience with different types of trains. So, I’ll put forward my best tips about the train types, and how to book and board the trains.
Every small town or a big city is well-connected through Indian railways, eg, Delhi itself has more than 5 railway stations. Train tickets can be booked through the counters at the station & online via the official site of IRCTC as well. Since IRCTC came into the picture, online booking has made the traveller’s life easier. Even foreign nationals can also book tickets through the site, though a set of rules apply to them. You can refer to the document on the official site here.
Moving on, there are various categories in Indian trains –
1. 3rd AC, 2nd AC & 1st AC – AC sleeper berths, in the sequence of prices going up. 3rd AC has 3X3 berths, 2nd AC has 2X2 berths and 1st class is the premium of all with a cabin of 1X1. They are the best options for overnight and long journeys with a pantry available at no extra charge.
2. Executive Class – AC sitting class but with a wider berth, more like the premier economy. With pantry availability at no extra charge, the executive class is the best bet for shorter durations of less than 10 hours.
3. Chair Car – AC sitting arrangement like the economy class in fights.
4. Sleeper – The class with sleeping berths but non-AC. Mostly used by locals, but I’d not recommend travelling through keeping security in mind.
5. Second Class – The sitting class, & non-AC.
6. General – Cheapest and extremely crowded. I never recommend travelling through the General class especially if you’re not from India.
Remember, only Executive class, 2nd AC, and 1st AC classes are available for foreign nationals.
Tour agents also arrange to book through IRCTC or Paytm (another app for booking), but I recommend trying through IRCTC first. Agents charge extremely high, especially on short notice. IRCTC has improved a lot since its start-up days and I also use it with ease.
Most of the long-distance trains in India usually stop at every small town. So, if you’d like to save time, opt for premium trains –
- Rajdhani – for a distance of more than 10 hours and pantry available with no extra charges.
- Shatabdi – for a duration of fewer than 10 hours and pantry charges included.
- Duranto – High-speed long-distance AC trains, but no pantry.
- Garib Rath – High-Speed long-distance AC trains, but for much cheaper than its counterparts. The pantry is not available in Garib Rath.
Travelling for shorter durations of 10-15 hours by road is optimal as the road network is well-organized in India. Every city has its main bus terminal, where one can easily locate the timetable and get tickets right away. Various websites have also come up now for effortless bus travel with online booking facilities. Sites like red-bus, make my trip provide services ranging from the timetable to online booking. So, to answer how to travel in India, buses are the easiest way to travel.
There are various types of buses as well, non AC, AC, Volvo, deluxe, semi-sleeper, & sleeper. If you plan to travel overnight, prefer a sleeper or semi-sleeper.
Tips when planning to travel via buses
• Buses are used extensively by locals and operate at all times, even starting overnight.
• Paytm is the widely accepted medium now, and you can use it to purchase tickets online & also at the ticket counter.
• If you plan to get the ticket at the terminal, carry some change, not all local operators accept cards or Paytm.
• Better to keep track of the timetable before heading to the terminal, as the buses might be fully booked.
• Reach at least half an hour prior to the departure time to avoid any issues.
• Sites like red bus and other online services display a seating chart, & some even highlight if the seat booked is by a female. So, booking online has its perks.
• For Females – If you travel solo & travelling overnight, know these things before choosing your pick –
1. Your next seat will be allocated to a female only & ticket operators are well aware of this. In case of any diversion, talk to the bus operator before the bus departs.
2. If you’re not comfortable sleeping next to a complete stranger even a female, opt for a semi-sleeper bus.
If you’re wondering how safe is your luggage & have heard of various scams in India, I hear you. So keeping your luggage closer to you might be the safest bet. I usually carry the smallest suitcase or a backpack. Here are some of the best travel backpacks for you to have some ideas.
Various private car operators are also available in India for renting cars for road trips. Zoomcar is one of the renowned ones who charge nominal and provide cars in a nice condition. Every city & town have some local cab operators as well and they usually charge on per kilometre basis. The local cab operators provide drivers as well as charging daily wage (approx 300 -500 INR per day) as well.
When travelling in the Himalayas, I recommend renting an SUV for more than 3 people and the same goes for higher altitudes also.
These are various by which one can travel in India comfortably. I recommend choosing the ones wisely and mixing them up on your India trip. All the mediums will bring a lifetime of memories & unique experiences.
Following these tips and tricks will help you travel in India like a local! Enjoy the victory of Indian travel.
HAVE YOU TRAVELED TO INDIA? HOW DID YOU TRAVEL TO INDIA? Like my tips about how to travel in India? WHAT DID YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT IT? TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!
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