General Information

Geckoes, the little lizards in your room, are not only harmless, but also helpful, because they eat mosquitoes and other insects. Their skin is poisonous, so they should not be touched. If you have a problem understanding what is being said, you can ask the person to spell out the word, especially if it is a name. Before you hire a guide, make sure you can understand his English and he can understand yours. Many times they will say a few words that they know, so that you think they speak good English, then later you find you cannot communicate with them at all. If I cannot communicate with someone, I immediately go on to the next person and do not waste my time. Many times the word "hotel" is used for a restaurant. Shaking of the head to the side, as you would do if you were saying "no" in America, can mean "yes" in India.


Travel by Airlines

Most international flights arrive in Delhi or Mumbai. There are also international airports in Chennai, Calcutta, Thiruvananthapuram, Tiruchirappalli, and Goa. Some airlines allow travelers to fly into one airport and out from another. You should be careful to buy your ticket from a reputable ticket seller.

British Airways, Air India, and Thai Air all have direct flights from London. Aeroflot or one of the other former Soviet state airlines, usually has the cheapest tickets. I did not have a good experience with Aeroflot, and I know other people who have also had problems with them. I would not recommend them, but if cost is your most important consideration, they are not unbearable. One of the reasons their prices are so cheap is that their service is not good. A major problem with taking an inexpensive airline may come if you want to change the date of your return flight. It may be almost impossible to get a flight out of India. It may be difficult to arrange a return flight even two months before you wish to depart. Because of the low price, such airlines are usually heavily booked. Also these airlines usually have a long stopover, sometimes 12 hours or more.

Flight Reconfirmation.You must reconfirm your return flight at least 72 hours before your departure date. Any travel agency can help you with this. This can be done earlier. I have stayed in India for three months and reconfirmed my ticket back to America the day I arrived in India. If you do not reconfirm your return flight, your booking will usually be canceled, but not always.

Type of Ticket.Most tickets to India are valid for four months. This means you have to use the ticket within four months or it is useless.

Departure Tax.When you leave India, you will be required to pay a Rs 500 departure tax just before you check in for your departing flight.

Bags on Plane.I usually carry two bags onto the plane and have never had a problem. On flights to and from Europe, you are given only a 20-kg check-in baggage allowance. On flights from America, you can take two 32-kg (70 lb) bags. I have found that you can usually check in bags that are two or three kilos overweight for cheaper airlines and five or six kilos overweight on more expensive airlines without being questioned. This is not an absolute rule. Certain airlines will not allow you to be even a kilo overweight. A solution to a potential overweight problem is to take your heavy items in one or two pieces of carry-on baggage. I have carried 30 kilos onto the plane in my carry-on baggage.