India is so far the hugest country I’ve been to. It has mountains, deserts, rainforest and the ocean. Initially I wanted to spend there 2 months but due to its size I needed one more month to explore (and I still didn’t cover everything).
The fastest and most convenient way to travel around is of course a plane. In few hours you can get from one side to another. However as I’m a backpacker with a very low budget and I have “plenty of time” I can allow myself to travel by land. There are several ways how to move across the country. You can hire a taxi which is I think even more expensive than a plane but if you share it with other people it might be not that bad as it is quite comfy. What is more comfy however is a train. There are very few cable car trains, mostly it’s a combination of sleepers and general class trains. I’ve traveled however only sometimes by train although I really preferred this way of transportation.
The problem here is that you have to book your ticket, sometimes even weeks in advance. I was so lucky to have friends who booked online the tickets for me so I never had to hassle at the railway stations. I’d do it myself but only Indian cards are accepted. If you still wanna travel by train there is another option – go to the tourist reservation office and buy the ticket there- I’ve been told that they always have some amount of tickets for tourists. You can also go to the travel agency to book the tickets for you, remember however that they will want from you a commission fee for doing it.
When all tickets are sold out, do not worry as there is still a chance to get you on that train you wanna go. How? There are two possibilities- either you book a TATKAL ticket (emergency ticket) which is more expensive but available from 24h before the departure OR you can buy the simple general class ticket and pay extra to the conductor for finding you a seat in higher class.
But as I’ve already mentioned, due to my backpacking I never knew how long I should spend in every city as people were always sending me to a new places (which is nice) and I couldn’t plan my trip properly.
The last traveling option (apart from hitchhiking) is to go by bus. Buses are surprisingly more expensive than trains and due to the size of the country, the distances are very big and so is also the journey from one place to another. You can book the tickets online at www.makemytrip.com or www.redbus.in. Even if the tickets are sold out at one website please do check the other one as it is possible that there will be some left. Happened to me, I’m speaking from my own experience. Yet here is also required an Indian credit card. So either you book it again at the travel agency and here another tip: go to more than 3 agencies – they have signed contracts with different companies and have different buses with different fares. If you don’t want to do that you can always ask someone– a friend, a host, anyone – to pay with their CC and you can simply give them back the money.
And at the end of my post my last tip for you: Always choose the night bus. Even if you sleep bad, it’s dark and at least you’ll have a short nap. There’s nothing worse than traveling by daytime, believe me. After short time you’ll get bored by the views outside, you’re battery on the tablet will go flat and besides, it’s much hotter than at night. My 8h trip from Jodhpur to Udaipur was much worse than 15h over the night. And don’t be scared by 12 or 15h bus trip, there are breaks for toilet, breakfast, lunch and dinner during every ride. So you won’t starve at least
And last but not least, if you are not happy with any of the options I have mentioned before, you can always try hitchhiking! It´s really super easy in India, I never waited for longer than 10 minutes for a ride! Or maybe I was just lucky?
Have a safe trip and happy journey!