This is the first post of a series that I’m going to write about my backpacking travel to India.
I haven’t had lots of experience of backpacking than my first one which was last August (08/2015) when I traveled Western-Central Europe, so these posts are comments, notes, remembers and things which I’ve learnt on the way; I thing that some of them may be useful for people who wants to do a similar travel to India, but my first aim is telling friends and family my lived experience, than writing these series to give hints and tips because Internet is already full of them.
I visited a big part of the European countries with my family through organised travels, which are good to have a strict defined plan with comfortability at a good price, if you book in the right moment and spend a little bit time looking for deals; however with those you almost miss to meet locals and how they live; this is the main reason because I wanted to do that and not increase my bill too much or even decreasing it.
Why India? Fist of all India is one of the countries that I wanted to visit due the crazy stories that I’ve heard, secondly I bought a very cheap flight for last August (2015) after a fiend did the same and told me about the deal, but it ended it up with a pretty bad experience with BudgetAir.co.uk , so because I’d already got the VISA I decided to buy a new cheap one for October/November to make it happens before the VISA expired.
This travel wasn’t about to have “luxuries”, I assigned to my self a tight budget as I did in the Western-Centra Europe travel, which cover the things which can make the travel more efficient, for example Internet access because I did some work through travel and I would avoid to spend time in queues or paying travel agents to book travel tickets. My aim was to walk into the place where the local are and see their living conditions and how hard is their lives and being ripped to learn how to manage those situations, hence put in practice all the theory which I learnt through the time.
Before arriving I had to say that I have a long travel; my flight was from London to Istanbul and the flight from there, to India was 21 hours later and I decided to spent those hours in the Airport working remotely due I didn’t want to have a second 12 hours Istanbul visit and make more worth of my time.
When I reached Mumbai (India) was 4 something in the morning, after security and visa checks and get my backpack I sat in the airport to browser what cheap hostel/hotel options were around it.
I knew that India is cheap for Europeans and taxis, tuk-tuk have a miserable price in comparison with Europe, however what is miserable? prices that people have told you about their experience that they had from a few years ago may have change a bit; as well know you can negotiate the price in advance but again, without a current reference it’s difficult to see if the price is a bargain or a cheat.
At the end I decided that I would walk to the hotel because it was 2-3 km away only.
When I went out of the airport, as you may image, you have a few of dudes approaching you, telling you that they will carry you to a cheap hotel; being honest it’s very attractive to take them because it’s the easiest and most comfortable option and at the end for Western people may not be too expensive, but my travel wasn’t about that so I ignored them and moved on.
On the other hand, walking to the hotel I didn’t only skip them, I had the chance to get an introduction to a crowded Indian city and in the first main streets I’ve got approaches from the drivers in the road and getting ready for the 3 weeks travel.
The lesson which I learnt: whenever I stop in a new place that it’s usual place where tourist stop, I will move away from that point to find a taxi or whatever transport to use; it isn’t a bulletproof no to be cheated but I think that it will be easy to negotiate than trying to do in those stops where every tourist goes for the same purpose.
When you don’t have any reference about the cost of the things, try to avoid as much as you can to deal with touts, or if you need to do it, try to ask different ones which are close but not next to each other.
This is all for now. Any question? drop me a comment.