Tips for Traveling by Train in India

In my 20’s I spent five months crisscrossing the UK, and zigzagging across Europe using Eurail passes. The train systems are so clean and safe that I felt perfectly comfortable traveling on my own. As my father always says, “The best plan is a flexible plan.” I was so flexible that I accepted every invitation. Spending Christmas in South-east Hungary, New Years and Three Kings Day in North-west Spain, and a few days later spending my birthday tobogganing with my friend and her kids in the Swiss Alps.


PHOTO CREDIT: http://www.flickr.com/photos/christianhaugen/3281095626/

Since my cousin and her family just moved to her husband’s native Kashmir to run his family’s hotel, we’ve started planning a trip to visit. The best way to really experience a place and its culture is with trusted locals. Who better than extended family to show off the best of their area? Because we want to see more than just their area we are planning to do some travel by rail, I’ve been asking for insight.Here are the best of the tips.

1. Book ahead. https://www.irctc.co.in/

There is no such thing as orderly queuing, so to save yourself long waits at ticket counters where you may be trampled as everyone else joyfully pushes and shoves their way to the front, book your tickets online and well in advance. Often seats are books 90 days ahead so this is not the place for fly by the seat of your pants travel. However, if the trip you want is fully booked, there may still be a way to get a ticket. Check with one of the International Tourist Bureaus http://www.indianrail.gov.in/international_Tourist.html to see if there are tickets reserved for foreign tourists.

2. Protect Your Stuff

Locals and tourists alike take precautions with their possessions. Most chain their bags to a seat or bed.Be sure to bring your own padlock from home. The ones sold at the stations all use the same key! Ideally you won’t be traveling alone so you will always have someone to watch the bags when you go to the restroom, but if not be friendly with people sitting nearby and ask someone to keep an eye on your stuff. Always carry your important documents and wallet with you.

3. Choose Your Class

Which class you choose depends on how you feel about air conditioning, personal space, and food choices. If none of those are important to you, go ahead and book second class tickets. Some travelers always book second class and then upgrade when they board, but there are no guarantees that upgrades will be available. Second class is first come first serve, and there are not always seats for everyone! Sleeper Class generally does not provide air conditioning, but since there are only 6 people assigned to each compartment it will be more comfortable. Booking in the AC Tiers guarantees much more privacy and comfort, obviously with air conditioning. 1st Tier is First Class so there are four berths in the compartment, and there is a sliding door.

If you are planning a trip to India consider visiting Glovico to explore opportunities to learn Kannada.

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