Sunday, 19 December 2010

Backpacking trip to India next year, our travel planning

Just to give you some idea how we make up a plan I will use our up and coming backpacking trip to India as an example.

Firstly we knew we wanted to leave Australia late January and had to be back in England mid May as that is when our 1-year travel insurance runs out.  We find Air Asia  take some beating on price so when they had their last sale on we got in quick.  I had already checked out the weather in India and realised we needed to start in the south and leave the north for the latter part of the trip.  We booked to fly into Cochin and out of Delhi.  We had no intention if trying to see the whole country but to discover a few selected areas.

I checked which was the most recent travel guide out of Lonely Planet and Rough Guide then shopped around on line to get it for the best price.  Once this arrived I began reading in earnest.  Starting with the Kerala area and moving on from there.  As I read I highlight points of interest (and also highlight the town name on the map) so I can find them quicker on return to that page.  A shortcut is to use one of the Lonely Planet travel plans as a base.  For us the latter part of their "sand, sea and sacred sites" would get us as from Cochin to Chennai on the east coast.  These plans generally combine the highlights of the area into the most economical travel route and make a very good starting point.

I then read up on Chennai and realised it was possible to fly or take a ferry to the Andaman Islands.  These are a very expensive holiday destination for Europeans so this would be a good chance to include it in the plan for minimal cost.

From the Andamans we can fly to Delhi and there do an extended "golden triangle" plus Amritser and a few other points north.  I have checked on line and saved the websites that deal with internal flights so I can get back to them quickly.

I usually try to allow roughly double the time they recommend for the tours allowing us to put in extra stops or stay longer at each of the places.

Next I began checking Couchsurfing hosts to see if there were any in the areas we planned to visit that sounded compatable.  I also check out backpacker options through Lonely Planet accommodation and hostel bookers to get an idea on prices etc.

Although we rarely book ahead our flight arrives in Cochin late in the afternoon so this time it is preferalble to have the first night or couple of nights accommodation secured and many of the backpackers offer an airport pick up service at a reasonable price.  Whislt our first choice in a new area is a Couchsurfer if we cannot find one suitable we will book a hostel. 

Again using Internet I have established that buying and using a SIM card is comlicated mainly because they are linked to each state and once you move into a different one you pay higher rates and also for incoming calls.  We will probably just rely on Skype and paying for local calls as we go along.

Trying to observe local customs I will need to have my knees and shoulders covered so have visited the "op shops" to pick up a couple of outfits to get me started knowing that if I need more I can buy them cheaply at the local markets.  

That's about as much as we do before we set off.   Of course this is just a starting plan which will no doubt change in many ways but still feel this is worth doing.  We still feel that doing this limited amount of advance planning saves you time and money overall and avoids missing nearby things en route.

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