India: The Golden Triangle
Know Before You Go
For an epic trip with zero stress and infinite holy s#!t moments, get familiar with the information below. Seeing the world should be fun, not stressful, which is why we’ve written this guide for you and are available 24/7 so all you have to do is travel. Now, it’s time to do a happy dance and make this trip ULTIMATE.
Complete Your Checklist
Before heading to the airport, complete the tasks below and check them off in your Online Account Checklist. If you have any questions, give us a call at 800-766-2645. We’re available 24/7 to make sure you have the Best. Trip. Ever.
- Verify your passport: In order to enter India, U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport with an expiration date of at least six months after the date of re-entry. A visa is also required - see Visa Information below for more information.
- Join the Facebook group: Join your private Facebook group now! It’s how you can meet other travelers and see announcements from your Tour Director. Call us at 800-766-2645 if you’re having trouble joining.
- Request a roommate:: Double check with us and your Tour Director that they have your rooming status on file. We will assign a roommate for you if you do not submit a specific request.
- Personalize your trip: Travel Insurance is not available for purchase on tour, and the price of Optional Excursions increases after departure. We suggest logging in to your Online Account now to add these items.
- Call your bank: Let your bank and credit card company know of your travel plans so you can withdraw cash and use your debit/credit cards abroad. Otherwise, you risk your account being blocked.
A Visa is required for all U.S. travelers going to India. It is your responsibility to apply for this visa and obtain all necessary travel documents. EF Ultimate Break will not complete this process for you, but we’ve provided additional information below regarding this application process:
- U.S. and Canadian passport holders must obtain a visa in advance in order to enter India. You may choose to apply directly to the Indian consulate or use a visa provider, such as our partner company, VisaCentral. Obtaining an Indian visa will be an additional cost.
- An E-tourist visa on arrival is an available option, but note that this process takes significantly longer when you arrive at the Delhi airport and we do not encourage this option.
- In order to enter India, U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport with an expiration date extending at least six months beyond the date of return.
- We recommend having at least two blank passport pages for entry stamps
- Make a copy of your passport and visa to carry with you when you leave the hotels, you can store your original passport and visa in your hotels’ safety lockers.
Stay Healthy in India
There are no major health risks associated with traveling to India, however it is very common for travelers from the U.S. to experience gastrointestinal issues (nausea, diarrhea) when traveling to India. We recommend you consult your physician or local travel clinic, and the CDC (Center for Disease Control) at lease 60 days prior to departure for the latest updates and entry requirements. See more tips below for staying healthy in India:
- Drink bottled water only. Avoid tap water even when brushing your teeth, showering, or if your drink is served with ice! We do our best to provide water bottles each day, but in preparing for limited opportunities to purchase water throughout the tour, we recommend travelers purchase bottled water when given the chance (in major cities at supermarkets, when the Tour Director suggests, etc.). DO NOT refill your water bottle with tap water
- Take proper care with sun exposure, the sun is very strong in some of the areas you are visiting
- Travelers’ diarrhea is one of the most common illnesses among travelers to India. Bring a small first aid kit, including antacids, anti-diarrhea medication, motion sickness medication, and any prescription medications in your carry-on bag.
- Avoid eating fresh fruits and vegetables unless you can peel them yourself or wash them in bottled or disinfected water.
- Certain medications (both over-the-counter and prescription) are banned in foreign countries. Consult your physician at least four weeks prior to departure to make sure any medications you want to bring with you are legal.
- Prevent bug bites, as they can spread a number of diseases in India. Use insect repellent each day, and try to cover exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts, pants, and hats.
- Public restrooms in India can be quite bare. We suggest carrying bathroom tissue and hand sanitizer with you.
Avoid “Delhi Belly”: For the best chance at avoiding Delhi Belly, a common case of travelers’ diarrhea for visitors in India, follow these tips: Do not drink tap water, wash your hands, ask for no ice in your drinks, brush your teeth with bottled water, stick with hot and fresh food, and don’t eat cut-fruit. Instead, purchase fruit with a peel that you can peel yourself.
Pack Like a Pro
India is a conservative and hot country, so if you want to pack the right way for this trip, forget the rules you usually follow, and keep these key phrases of packing in mind: Long sleeves, loose-fitting and breathable clothing, modest dress, scarf, comfortable shoes, bug spray, sunscreen, dry shampoo, medicine, and water bottle!
Your airline ticket includes one checked bag (typically 27" x 21" x 14") but double check the luggage size requirements on your airline’s website. We recommend traveling with one small backpack or purse, and a smaller carry-on suitcase (22” x 14” x 9”) or bag. See a comprehensive list below:
- 1 lightweight sweater or jacket
- 1 pair comfortable closed-toe shoes such as sneakers
- 1 pair flip-flops or walking sandals
- 1-2 long skirts, 1 maxi-dress
- 1 pair loose or khaki pants (2-3 pairs for men in lieu of skirts/dresses)
- 1 long-sleeve, cotton button-down shirt
- 3 shirts
- 1 tank top
- 2 tunics (likely buy in India - 1 short-sleeve, 1 long)
- 1-2 nicer outfits for the Welcome Dinner, Farewell Dinner
- 1-2 scarves (or buy them in India)
- 1 bathing suit
- Sunglasses, hat, and sunscreen. Pro Tip: Bring two travel-size sunscreens in your carry-on
- At least 5 pair underwear, socks, 1-2 bras
- Toiletries, medicine. Pro Tip: Bring dry shampoo for times when there may not be enough hot water in the shower for a full hair wash
- Hand-sanitizer, toilet paper or wipes
- Reusable water bottle
- Phone or camera.
- Passport, Visa
- Debit / Credit cards and cash
- A power adapter – type “C” or “D”, or a staff favorite is the “Targus World Power Travel Adapter” ($20, Amazon.com)
Note: Pack lightweight, loose-fitting clothing you can easily layer to accommodate high and varying temperatures. Also note that all travelers are required to cover their knees and shoulders in sacred places like mosques or other religious sites.
International and Domestic Travel (Flights)
When preparing for your international flight to Delhi, check your online account 30 days prior to departure for your flight itinerary and confirmation number. With this information, you can check in to your flight 24 hours prior to departure. If you prefer to check in at the airport, plan to arrive 2.5 – 3 hours before departure.
- If your flight is cancelled or delayed: Don’t worry! We design the first day of tour as an arrival day in case of flight delays or cancellations. Work with the airline to get re-booked on the next available flight, then let your Tour Director know your new arrival time
- If you slept in and missed your flight: You should still talk to the airline and see if they can get you on the next available option. Tears may help in this case.
- Long Flights: Travel from the U.S. to India can be a lengthy process (10-20+ hours travel time total). Bring a book, watch a movie (or five), and drink plenty of water!
Arriving in Delhi
When you arrive in Delhi, a representative from EF Ultimate Break will meet you at the airport and take you to your hotel. Please remain in the arrival lounge, as the representative might be escorting one of your fellow travelers to the bus at the time of your arrival. If you booked flights with EF Ultimate Break, your transfers to and from the hotel when you arrive in and depart from Delhi are included.
Note: If you have difficulty finding your group or representative to bring you to the hotel, just give our team a call at 800-766-2645.
Your Tour Director
Your Tour Director will tell you best way to communicate with them during the trip; they will be with your group from start to finish so if there is anything you need, connect with them.
Phone, Internet, & Electronics
We recommend you get an international data plan from your cell phone provider. The most common options are the Travel Pass with Verizon, or purchasing a personal hot spot with your carrier. Read on for additional connectivity must-knows:
- Wi-Fi will be in some hotels, restaurants, and bars, though charges may apply and it may be slower than in the U.S.
- Wi-Fi is not available on the bus
- For your cell phone and any other electronics you bring abroad, you will also need a converter/adapter.
- The strength of the air conditioning in Asian hotels is often not as strong or as cool as what one might be used to in the U.S. or Canada. When air conditioning is available, it is usually regulated seasonally and controlled centrally by the hotel.
Note: India operates on 230 volts and uses a type D plug with two small, round pins and one larger round pin. A staff favorite adapter is also the “Targus World Power Travel Adapter” ($20, Amazon.com) which is compatible to all countries.
On The Ground
Money and Tipping
The currency of India is the Indian Rupee (₹). Cash is the preferred method of payment across India. Some larger vendors may accept international debit and credit cards, such as MasterCard and Visa, though it is uncommon and a minimum payment is generally required. We recommend you bring a debit/credit card with you, which you can use to withdraw cash at local banks if needed.
- While better exchange rates are usually found overseas, it’s worth ordering some currency from your local bank to use when you first arrive
- Cash is king in India, but you should take debit and credit cards with you to withdraw cash at local banks as needed (be wary of fees). It’s extremely useful to have a supply of local currency in small denominations for this trip for shopping, restaurants, taxis, bathrooms, and more.
- Budget around $40-$50 per day for meals, drinks, souvenirs, and tips or extra activities
- Bargaining is a way of life in India, especially at markets and most shops. Try your hand at haggling, but keep a sense of humor and agree to a reasonable price! Pro Tip: You should agree to a price with a taxi before the ride.
- We recommend tipping your Tour Director $54-$63 at the end of the trip, plus additional tips recommended for local guides listed below. Tipping is an important part of India’s local economy and you may also be solicited to tip locals who assist you in public places, including taking photos. We recommend having small bills in USD or local currency for this purpose.
- Bus Driver Tips: 2 USD per day
- Bus Helper Tips: 1 USD per day
- Local guides: 1-2 USD per activity
Note: Inform your bank and credit card company of your travel plans so that they won’t confuse your international purchases for fraudulent charges.
Transfers Between Cities and Sightseeing
On this trip, you’ll take a private bus between cities which can take anywhere between 2-8 hours depending on distance, local traffic, and bathroom or photo-stop breaks. The beauty of travel is that you get to explore a new place, but note that it takes time and energy to see everything worth seeing!
- Prepare to walk between 2-5 miles per day, especially when sightseeing. We’ve packed a lot into this trip, so be ready for a fast-paced adventure!
- Remember it will be HOT in India, so keep your water, hat, and sunscreen close!
Note: We recommend you bring a book or download music ahead of time for transfer days. Maybe download Spotify’s latest Bollywood playlist? Or, catch up on sleep during those early morning departures!
Optimize Your Free Time
If you did not purchase EF Ultimate Break Optional Excursions before the trip began, you can log into your Online Account and do so on tour. You can also talk to your Tour Director on tour and they can help you get enrolled. If you’d like to plan something else during your free time, connect with your Tour Director before doing so; they sometimes arrange extra activities for the group during free time. Prices for these optional excursions will increase on tour, so please check your online account for available add ons.
Food and Drinks
In the north, you’ll encounter a great deal of flavorful meat dishes, as well as kebabs and biryanis. In tandoor cooking, probably the most popular cuisine in this region, vegetables, paneer (Indian cheese), or meat is marinated in spiced yogurt and cooked over coals. As many Indians are vegetarians, meat-free options abound. Meals are usually served with rice or bread, such as unleavened roti or deep-fried puri. You’ll sample a variety of local dishes on your trip, but read on for tips when dining in India, and delicacies you must try:
- Masala Dosa: A crepe made of rice and lentils is then cooked on a skillet and typically filled with potato and onion cury, then dipped in chutney
- Hyderabadi Biriyani: Famous for its method of cooking, this is a punchy combo of rice, meat, yogurt, onions, and many many spices
- Chaats: Also known as savory snacks, chaats are popular street food such as kachori, pani puri, bhel puri, and masala puri. Usually these are a bas of puffed rise and peas, veggies, and spices
- Makki ki Roti: Roti, or bread served with a mustard leaf-based dish makes this a staple of the Punjab region in India
- Smoked Pork: Prominent in northern India, smoked pork incorporates bamboo plants, hot chillies, and rice
- Dhokla: For our vegetarian friends out there, this is a savory snack made from rice and chickpeas, which are fermented, steamed, then served with mustard seeds and coriander.
Note: Vegetarian options will likely be available but let your Tour Director know of any dietary restrictions ahead of time so they can plan accordingly.
Local Customs & Culture
Prepare for a country brimming with ancient traditions, artistic heritage, mind-blowing landscapes, and world-famous cuisine. Read on to learn more about Indian culture and specific tips to help you make the most of your trip:
- Local Laws: Please refer to the U.S. Department of State’s page on India for specific information on the country’s latest regulations and alerts, and remember you are subject to the laws of the country where you travel.
- Stay Savvy: Major airports, train stations, popular restaurants, and tourist-sites are frequently used by “scam artists” looking to offer cheap deals or help with luggage as a method for overcharging or sometimes stealing. Keep an eye on your belongings at all time and decline any help you might be suspicious of. Stay with your group and tour director especially in crowded areas.
- Dress Code: India is a conservative and religious country so be respectful with clothing choices. We recommend long-sleeve, loose-fitting skirts, pants, shirts, and dresses. It beats the heat and respects the culture
- Water: We said it once but we’ll say it again. Do not drink the tap water. The tap water is not safe to drink, brush your teeth with, or indulge in ice cubes (made from tap water).
- Sanitation: Carry toilet paper and hand sanitizer with you, and always wash your hands when possible. Most public bathrooms do not provide toilet paper, though, so come prepared.
- Haggling: Bargaining is common in India; at the markets, try it out and start by asking for a price that’s half of what’s initially offered! Keep a sense of humor in the process until you land on a reasonable price
- Photos: Be considerate when taking photos of locals, and know that some people, especially women, might not want their photo taken at all, or will ask for a payment in return for the photo. When in doubt, just ask the person if you can take a photo of them
Women in India & Safety
Gender roles are more defined in India than in Western countries. Because of conservative practices, religion, and a more traditional society, women are expected to dress more modestly, and adhere to certain behaviors. Read on for a few additional tips if you are a woman traveling to India:
- Female travelers should be prepared for some degree of cat-calling and harassment from local young men in India. EF Ultimate Break and the Tour Director will do everything in our power to prevent and preempt this kind of behavior. We understand it’s easier said than done, but ignoring most verbal harassment is usually the best policy. Act confidently and keep walking forward,but always exercise caution and stay with a buddy or group.
- Modest Dress: Local Indian women are expected to dress modestly, especially in more rural areas. Visitors aren’t necessarily expected to dress like locals, but showing respect for the local culture goes a long way
- Going Out: Female travelers especially should avoid use of public transportation after dark, and limit nightlife to well-known venues, trying to avoid any isolated areas. Always travel with a group of friends, and repeat after us: Buddy system.
With a global presence of more than 46,000 people in over 115 countries and regions, we’re fully committed to your safety. But, it’s equally important for you to maintain your health and safety while abroad. From your first flight all the way through to your farewell dinner, drink plenty of water, get sleep when you can, and don’t hesitate to reach out to your Tour Director or your Trip Consultant if you need a helping hand. Keep these extra tips in mind so you can #travelsmart:
- Again, remember you are subject to the laws of the country where you travel. In some countries, consensual same-sex sexual activity, public gathering, or dissemination of pro-LGBTI material may be illegal.
- Keep your bag/purse in front of you and your phone zipped inside when you’re not using it. Leave your laptop at home, store valuables at the hotel in locked luggage or the safe deposit box. Refrain from carrying large sums of money or wearing valuable jewelry.
- Use the buddy system. Stay in groups and watch out for each other, especially at night—no one gets left behind!
- Before you go out, grab a business card at your hotel so that you always have the address handy for getting back later.
- At the end of a night out, consult your Tour Director and stick with your group to use trusted transportation back to the hotel
- Be smart about alcohol consumption. Watch your drinks and don’t accept drinks from people you don’t know. Don’t leave the bar alone with someone you just met.
- Save our 24/7 number in your phone: +1–617–619–1411
We’re so glad you chose to travel with us and are now part of the EF Ultimate Break family! We'll look for your post-card in the mail, and your #thisisultimate tags on Instagram. Cheers to the Best. Trip. Ever.