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Seeing India by Rail: A Budget Traveler’s Guide
Seeing India by Rail: A Budget Traveler’s Guide

Jess Signet is a travel writer and regular backpacker. She loves exploring the globe and enjoys sharing her travel insights and tips.

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 planning and executing a train trip through India.

Step One: Choosing your Route

The first step, as in any traveling situation, is to decide where you want to go. Most trains run from one city center to another, so simply choose a city that you want to see, and you can reasonably expect the train to stop in the very heart of that city. Then, once you have a city chosen, take a look at 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, don’t hesitate to call India Someday and have them handle it for you!

Step Two: Packing What You Need

Train travel is a very special experience, but as any experienced train traveler can tell you, it does require some special preparation. The key to traveling 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 to always bring your travel documents, such as your passport and your visa, wherever you travel. 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 trains. While this trend has subsided a bit, many lines have created “women only” cars on trains to prevent gender-based violence.

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, and locating the proper station is as easy as asking directions from a local, or ask India Someday to book you a taxi. Make sure to arrive to the station early so that you can be sure to get your seat and get settled before the train takes off for your destination. Especially if you are traveling with a less expensive, and therefore less fancy, train line, you can guess that things might not 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 train lines do not offer refunds if you miss the train, so to protect your train ticket investment, it’s best to arrive early to the station!

Step Four: Sharing Your Experience

Finally, you’ve made it to your destination, but 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 on the train to look out the window, capture the scenery passing before you, and share it with your friends. Even though the internet is pretty free in India, it’s always a good idea to have a VPN or similar service on your internet device so that you can be sure to connect to all of your favorite 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 at least one person knows where you are at all times.

In conclusion, traveling by rail in India 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 all over the Asian subcontinent!