Seeing India by Rail: A Budget Traveller’s Guide
India is home to over a billion people, and the country covers more than three million square kilometers. Now that you’ve booked your plane ticket to India, you’re raring to see everything that you possibly can. With so much area to cover and so little time, not to mention your limited traveling funds, seeing India from a train window is an excellent way to soak in as much of this beautiful and diverse country as you can. Here we’ll look at the step-by-step process of seeing India by rail.
Jess Signet is a travel writer and regular backpacker. She loves exploring the globe and enjoys sharing her travel insights and tips.
Voyage through India by train
Step One: Choosing your Route
If you are backpacking in India then the first step is to decide where you want to go. Most trains run from one city center to another, so you can reasonably expect the train to stop in the very heart of that city. Then take a look at the times and fares. Be careful when checking fares: for longer journeys, there are sleeper cars which may or may not offer air conditioning and which may or may not include all of the meals on the journey. Be sure to take these factors into account, especially if you plan to cover a long stretch.
Once you’ve chosen your route, you can easily book the ticket online or go to any train station to purchase the ticket. If it sounds a bit daunting but seeing India by rail is an exploration like no other. Also don’t hesitate to call India Someday and have them handle it for you!
Sleeper trains are available if you are travelling a long distance between destinations
Step Two: Packing What You Need
Seeing India by rail is a very special experience, but as any experienced train traveller can tell you, it does require some special preparation. The key to travelling by train and saving money is to bring everything that you need with you. Prices on the train tend to be a bit steep, so bring enough water and snacks to last you for the duration of your trip. Even if meals are provided with your ticket, be wary. The new food might not sit well with you as you’re traveling fast down the tracks. If you’re prone to motion sickness, it’s a good idea to take some medicine before you set out.
Remember when backpacking in India to always bring your travel documents wherever you travel, such as your passport and your visa. There are often pickpockets prowling the trains, so be sure to stash all of your valuables on your body, or keep them in a very safe place at all times. In recent years, there have also been many issues with violence toward women on the trains. While this trend has subsided a bit, many lines have created “women only” carriages to prevent gender-based violence.
Seeing India by rail offers you the chance to take scenic routes and pass by picturesque landscapes
Step Three: Getting Onto the Train
Now that you’ve packed and prepared for your train trip, you’ve got to make it to the train station. Most of the larger cities in India have a central train station in the city center. Locating the station can be done by asking directions from a local. Also, don’t hesitate to ask India Someday to book you a taxi.
Make sure to arrive at the station early so that you can ensure a seat and get settled before the train leaves for your destination. If you are backpacking in India then it’s likely you may choose a less expensive and less fancy train line. Be prepared that things will not always run exactly on time. However, it is always better to be a bit early, even if the train may be a few minutes late. Many lines do not offer refunds if you miss the train, so to protect your train ticket investment and arrive early to the station!
Trains can be packed in cities like Mumbai so arrive early to ensure you can board
Step Four: Sharing Your Experience
Finally, you’ve made it to your destination, and half of the fun was getting there! Some of the best ideas and breakthroughs were made on train journeys. Take advantage of this time to reflect on your experiences in India – from the seemingly inconsequential to the unforgettable. Use your hours to capture the scenery passing you and share it with your friends. Even though wifi is often accessible in India, it’s always a good idea to have a VPN or similar service on your device. This allows you to connect to all of your favourite websites and social media platforms while you’re abroad. It’s also a good idea to check in with friends and/or family at each leg of your train journey so that someone knows where you are at all times.
Overall, seeing India by rail is a great way to see more of the country as you travel between destinations. Plus it’s a great way to save money as you travel around one of the largest and most crowded countries in the world. So grab your backpack and your passport, and get ready to plan, pack, travel and share your experience all over the Asian subcontinent!
Trains you will see when travelling around South India
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