India is one of the most populous countries on the planet. Currently, it houses 1.3 billion residents.
This country’s vivacious atmosphere is something of a legend and as more foreign tourists begin gathering the courage to experience it, India is progressively finding more ways to support its people and share its culture with the world.
Interested in making India your next international destination? If so, that’s great!
Below, our team runs through some basic India transportation tips that will make getting around easier and will make melding with local culture more fun.
1. Know What You’re Getting with Trains
Trains are one of the most popular ways to get around India. That’s true for both tourists and locals.
Given India’s confusing train classification system though, many tourists have found themselves in uncomfortable positions that have undermined their ability to enjoy their train riding experience.
To avoid that fate, when you’re booking your train ticket in India, pay attention to these markers and what they mean:
- 2S – Second Seating Class
- SL – Sleeper
- 3A – AC 3 Tier
- 2A – AC 2 Tier
- 1A – AC First Class
We’ve arranged that list from the most basic (top of the list) to the nicest (bottom of the list) train classes that you can buy a ticket for.
2. Buses Come in Two Varietals
Much like trains, there are different classes of buses.
Local buses travel both short and long distances. Locals use them to get around on a daily basis. These buses are cheap but are extremely no-frills and are hard to navigate.
Tourist buses are typically charter buses with padded seats, air conditioning and English speakers on board. When you travel by bus and opt for this more tourist-friendly iteration, expect to pay more than you would on a local bus.
3. Taxis Are Great but Require Bargaining
One of the easiest India transportation options that you have is taking a taxi. In theory, taxis should be cheap given that local laws require them to use their meters which offer very low prices.
In reality, taxis in India don’t abide by that law and consequently, will try to charge you a flat, higher rate to your destination.
If you’re not a good bargainer, you may end up paying considerably more than what others are paying to traverse similar distances.
4. Rickshaws, Motorbikes & Scooters
If you’re looking for India transportation that specializes in short trips, we recommend looking into rickshaws, motorbikes & scooters. All three of these modes of transportation are cheap and can easily weave through India’s legendary congestion.
You will need to bargain for these services if you’re looking to get the best prices, so be prepared.
5. Always Be Cautious but Stay Open
Any time you’re traveling internationally, especially to a country that host’s more poverty than your own, you need to be cautious. Don’t let that caution keep you from being open though.
When you’re making travel arrangements, don’t be overly skeptical or rude to people that are offering you advice because you’re keeping your guard up. Always listen to what people have to say and if what you’re hearing doesn’t sound good, politely thank them and move on.
6. Plan For the Unexpected
India transportation can be unreliable at times. Bus breakdowns, rickshaws taking you to alternate destinations to try and get commissions from friends and other mishaps are well-reported.
When unexpected things happen, do your best to not lose your temper. Instead, take a deep breath and choose a course of action that will help you avoid conflict.
7. Don’t Let One Bad Experience Ruin Your Impression
As is the case anywhere, no two people are alike in India. So, if you have a negative experience with somebody, do your best to not generalize that behavior and judge locals as a whole.
It’s true that you have a higher probability of running into scams and mistreatment as a tourist in poor countries. What’s also true though is that many people, poor or not, are absolutely lovely and have a tremendous amount to share.
You closing yourself off to a group because of the actions of one or two people rob you of the opportunity to get the most out of your trip.
8. Don’t Over Pack
Nothing makes India transportation more difficult than lugging around massive bags. Lots of luggage can make it difficult to take certain modes of transportation (like motorbikes) and also puts you at higher risk of theft.
Our recommendation is to always travel as light as possible to keep your experiences open.
There’s nothing worse than traveling thousands of miles to a new place just to continue to be weighed down by all of your stuff from home.
9. Take a Moment to Learn Etiquette
A little bit of cultural learning before landing in India can go a long way.
Take a moment to learn basic words like please and thank you. Also, learn about dress violations and various ways that you may inadvertently insult somebody.
If you know how to better interact with people in India, you’ll have a lot more of a simple time getting around.
10. Leave India Better Than How You Found It
When you’re moving around India, always do your best to make everywhere you touch a better place than it was before you arrived.
Pick up trash, be kind and help support locals.
If you do that, not only will you receive a warm welcome, but you’ll also help India continue to grow out of its poverty and into the first-world.
Wrapping Up India Transportation Tips
Armed with our India transportation tips, we have no doubt that you’ll be able to enjoy a smooth experience as you traverse the country.
And hey, even if you hit some bumps during your journey, that’s okay too. Dealing with the unexpected is part of the travel experience and something that you’ll learn to love as you adventure more!
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