(Closed) extended trip to India! any tips on short term living abroad?

posted 7 years ago in Travel
Post # 3
6247 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: August 1900

How exciting!

I read on another thread yesterday that KatNYC2011 has spent some time in India.  Maybe you could ask her?

Post # 4
68 posts
Worker bee

hi janie-janie, any news on chennai? i’ve never been there but am currently living in delhi and have traveled tons in the country. you will LOVE india, although bewarned that it can be quite a shock to a newbie, but in a whirlwind-will-i-ever-get-used-to-this-omg-i-love-it kinda way :).

a few tips: if you have must have products, bring them! india has quite a lot of everything but its always hard to get your favorites (unless they are typical store bought dove brand types). especially if you have sensitive skin, i would suggest traveling with what you know.

it gets hot hot hot in the summers in india but chennai is on the coast (so jealous!) so i would imagine its not as bad as other cities like delhi. if you are coming in summer, bring lots of light fabric clothing although be prepared to shop! the shopping in india is ahhhhhmazing and you’ll want to wear the typical stuff the women here wear – trust me.

hmm, what else? just bring an open mind, an open stomach (food is delicious!) and plenty of patience – you’ll need it ๐Ÿ™‚ oh, there’s a great site for india travel you need to check out: indiamike.com. 

let me know if you have any questions, i’m sure you’ll love every minute!


Post # 5
8738 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2011

@janie-janie:  I spent about a month in Mumbai for work. I never left the city of Mumbai so I can’t comment on where you are going but I LOVED my time in Mumbai and cannot wait to go back.

When I went for a month I packed all I needed in a carry on bag. I mainly did this because the first time I went to India (for a 3 day trip) my luggage was lost both ways. So the next time I went I figured “Screw it, I’m carrying it on!”

As for skin care products, again I don’t know the area you are going to, but I would not be confident that you could find products and brands you know there. So if your skin is super sensitive, I’d make sure you bring a supply of your stuff. 

As for travel, I’ve heard train travel can be very cramped and crowded. So if you are going to do any travel like that, I’d make sure to book in the first class train cabin. 

The food is fantastic, but be careful. Don’t eat any raw fruits or veggies unless they have a hard peel or rind that you remove (i.e. bananas, oranges, avocados, etc). Do not drink water from the tap. Don’t even brush your teeth with it. Also, be sure you get a prescription for cipro or another broad spectrum antibiotic before you go. Since you will be there 4 months it is almost certain both you and your hubby will at some point have an issue with stomach distress.

I loved my time in India, but I’m not sure that I’d be comfortable traveling across India alone as woman. Mumbai felt decently safe, but I still wasn’t walking around alone at night.

India is SO different then anything you are used to. When you first get there you will be overcome with sights and smells. The streets are very dirty and the slums are immense. However, after you are there for a bit, you notice the beauty everywhere. One of my favorite sights was the women in beautiful saris carrying goods on their heads in and out of the slum villagies. 

I’m not sure if this is true where you are going, but in Mumbai you would find the most expensive hotels and apartment buildings built right next door to huge slums.

And because I can’t resist, some photos:

Fish hanging up to dry beside the road:

Women walking into the slums:

Slum buildings:

Gateway to India:

Post # 6
8738 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2011

Also, the food is fantastic. I’m usually a big meat eater, but we had an awesome vegetarian delivery place right by our apartment and I never missed the meat.

Here’s a spread we got for delivery one night, I think it cost less than $5 including delivery and a “heafty” tip:

Post # 7
3267 posts
Sugar bee

@janie-janie:  I don’t know if it is too late, but I have lived in India (and travelled there).  When I lived there I lived in a small town outside of Chennai so visited there a few times, and have been to most of the surrounding places.

1. Chennai is modernish.  As a westerner it is difficult to think of anything as super modern in India.  Things are dirty, hectic and crazy.  But also amazing, challenging, and a real experience.  Speaking English you will be fine.  Most schooling is conducted in English and lots of people know English or will call someone over on the street corner to translate.

2. Packing for 4 months should be pretty easy.  You really only need a few things, there is washing available.  Every hotel has a dhobi-wallah (laundry guy) who washes your clothes for a very small ammount of money.  You can also buy pretty much everything you want there.  I would make sure you are packing clothes that are modest (no low v-necks, have at least short sleeves, pants, or long skirts, no shorts etc).

3. You can buy every kind of product, but not every brand.  If you are super loyal to a brand then bring it with you.  But the Himalaya brand of products is quite good and available everywhere.  Every block has 2 + pharmacies so you won’t have any trouble finding things.  Tampons are sometimes tricky, and they will only ever have OB.  Being there for 4 months though you will learn to scope out where they are available.  Bring a month or two with you to get your started.

4. In terms of safety, I have never felt unsafe in India.  You will get lots of attention as a western woman, but you will mainly just be asked to be in photos with people, touch babies, and speak to people.  One thing I have found is that Indians are not used to woman being outwardly aggressive in any way.  Anytime I felt over whelmed I would speak quite assertively and firmly and people would back right off. 

5. The trains are great.  A really good way to meet people.  If you book a sleeper car or a chair car you will have a guaranteed seat.  Only the lowest class of train is unreserved seating (and I wouldn’t recommend it, the train is very cheap).  The tickets are a little tough to book (because the Indian Railway website is tricky with codes, but you can master it or just get a travel agent to do it for you for like a buck extra). I usually booked 2nd class non AC when I was living there as the AC is actually too cold and too much of a shock when you get out.  But there is AC cars available too in 3 or 2 tier (which refers to the # of seats per compartment, not really class).

As for the water, I know another poster recommended against brushing your teeth with it.  I never had a problem.  I’ve done it all the times I have been there, and no issues.  I would recommend talking to a travel doctor and getting shots up to date.  I was working in the hosptial so I got more shots then most just travellers will need there.

Some great places to visit near Chennai are; Pondicherry, Ooty (a beautiful hill station), Bangalore, Mamalapuram, Madurai, Kovalam, Alappuza and Mysore.  The south has great culture and temples to visit.  The food is also amazing. 

Feel free to PM me with any questions I love talking India.  I actually just came back from a trip to visit 2 days ago.

Post # 8
425 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2012

I live in India! I have lived here for the past 1.5 years.

Here are some quick thoughts, PM me if you want more details:

1. I defintily wouldf NOT consider Chennai “modern.” I have never heard of it being the silicon valley of India- that would be Bangalore and Hyderabad. In fact, I think Chennai was the least modern city I have visited (out of the major ones. Of course smaller cities like Pune or Jaipure are less modern). That doesn’t mean it’s not an interesting city, it’s just not “modern” with a lot of the modern amenities, restaurants, cafes, museums, etc. 

All of India has British Influence, but Chennai actually is more influenced by the Dutch and Portuguese than the British. They were the first to arrive and colonize Chennai. Chennai is more Christian than other parts of India as a result of the Dutch/Portuguese missionaries. There ae some beautiful churches as a result. 

Chennai is SUPER hot and humid, but a laid-back city. Not as crazy as Mumbai or Delhi. Some beautiful architecture. Nightlight and restaurants are few. It’s more conservative than many cities in India, which to me is a good thing. (There is much less cat-calling and eve-teasing there than in other cities.)

2. I once did a previous 3-month trip to India with just one large suitcase. You can do it. A lot of clothes you would wear in the West is not appropriate for India, so you can bring minimal clothse and just buy kurtas and salwars here. 

3. You should be able to find Boots and such, although you won’t find the nice modern malls like you would in Bangalore, Delhi, Hyderabad, etc. Most hygeine products are available, except tampons are really hard to find. The only ones I can get are some OB ones, and they are a bit pricey. 

4. Personally I don’t like traveling in India alone as a female. I have done it a lot and have never had a serious problem, it’s just a little bit more stressful than traveling with a companion. A lot of harrassment and eve-teasing takes place. I love riding the trains, and it’s not entirely unsafe, just more comfortable if you are with another person (esp male.). I agree with a PP that Mysore is a great place, also Munnar, Kochin, and Coorg. 

Perhaps you could find a volunteering position to do while your SO works?

Have fun! India is quite an experience ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

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