What to carry when you travel / travel to Himalayas

  • Dehydration salt (electoral) packets
  • Water bottles
  • Small scissor / knife
  • waterproof matches / lighter
  • Down Jacket – one
  • Warm thick pullover – One
  • Warm thin pullover – One
  • Warm pants – Two
  • Light loose cotton pants – Two
  • Warm windproof jacket – One
  • Cotton full sleeve T-Shirts – Four
  • Thermal under pants/long – Two
  • Thermal vest / warm full T-Shirts – Two
  • Rain coat with hood/ Poncho (should be roomy) – One
  • "Broken - in" pair of ankle high walking boots & one extra shoe laces
  • Light tennis shoes & light rubber sandal
  • Warm woolen socks-4
  • Large cotton or silk scarf-One
  • Warm gloves
  • Soft paper tissue and handkerchiefs – Plenty
  • Monkey cap and Sun heat - one each
  • Towels (one big, one small)
  • Neoprene Powder and cream
  • Heat balm for muscles/joints
  • Vicksinhaler/vapourub
  • Dry Fruits/snacks
  • First Aid Kit

General Info about India

All passengers entering or leaving India by international flights pass through Customs whose basic role is to ensure that any passenger is not carrying on his personal /handbag or accompanied baggage, high valued dutiable goods more than the permissible quantity/value which is not declared for duty payment or he does not try to smuggle any prohibited or banned or sensitive goods which may adversely affect interests of the society/economy.

The airlines generally provide the Disembarkation Card to the passengers in the aircraft itself. Every passenger must fill up the Disembarkation Card clearly mentioning the quantity and value of goods that he has brought. On his arrival the passenger is first cleared by immigration, which retains the Immigration portion of the Disembarkation Card. Thereafter passenger takes the delivery of his baggage from the conveyer belts & passes through Customs. At all international Airports in the Customs Areas in our country the passenger has the option of seeking clearance through the Green Channel or through the Red Channel - a practice/facility available at most other major international airports in the world.

The Green Channel or Walk through Channel - without any question being asked by Customs is meant for passengers who have nothing to declare and are carrying dutiable goods within the prescribed free allowance. The passengers can simply walk through the Green Channel with their baggage on the basis of their Oral declaration/Declaration on their Disembarkation Card.

The Red Channel is meant for passengers who have something to declare or are carrying goods in excess of the duty free allowance. The passenger hands over the Customs portion of the Disembarkation Card to the officer on duty at the channel. In case the card is incomplete the Customs officer helps record the Oral declaration (O.D) of the passenger and thereafter he countersigns/stamps the same, after taking the passenger's signature. In order to identify the frequent short visit passengers the Customs officer also generally scrutinizes the passport and other travel documents of the passengers. The declaration of goods and their values is generally accepted and duty assessed. On payment of this duty the passenger is allowed clearance.

There may be occasions when the passenger may not be in a position to clear his baggage for any reasons e.g. inability to pay up the Customs duty demanded. In such a situation, the passenger may request the Customs to detain his baggage either for re-export at the time of his departure from India or for clearance subsequently on payment of duty. The detained baggage would be examined before being taken in the custody of customs.

There are numerous occasion when the passenger baggage gets lost or mishandled by the Airlines. In all such cases the passenger is required to obtain a certificate to that effect from the airlines and get it countersigned by Customs indicating specifically the unutilized portion of the free allowance. This would enable the passenger to avail the unutilised portion of the duty free allowance when his baggage is delivered by the airlines.

On the departure side, the principal task of Customs is enforcement related. These include checks to prevent narcotic drug trafficking, smuggling of other sensitive items such as Indian / foreign currency, wild life products, antiques etc. It is therefore important for the public to know their obligation & entitlements. In order to facilitate the re-import of the high valued articles including jewellery, being carried out of the country, the departing passengers may request Customs for issue of a re-export certificate at the time of his/her departure from India.

There is no value limit on the export of Gold jewellery by a passenger through the medium of baggage so long as it constitutes the bonafide baggage of the passenger.

Export of Indian Currency is strictly prohibited.

Tourists while leaving India are allowed to take with them foreign currency not exceeding an amount brought in by them at the time of their arrival in India. As no declaration is required to be made for bringing in foreign exchange / currency not exceeding equivalent of U.S. $ 10000 (check with the latest information), generally tourists can take out of India with them at the time of their departure foreign exchange/currency not exceeding the above amount.

About Indian Culture & Lifestyle

Indian lifestyle and culture is totally different from the West. India has many, time honored traditions. While you won’t be expected to get everything right, common sense & courtesy will take you a long way. If you have any doubt about how to behave, watch the locals or simply ask them.

Dressing conservatively wins a far warmer response. Refrain from kissing & cuddling in public. Nudity in public is not on. Bikinis are also not accepted.

Here is list of some important dos and don'ts for hassle-free and enjoyable travel in India:

  • A proper VISA to enter and stay in India is a must.
  • Travelers should get properly insulated against Yellow Fever if coming through infected regions.
  • It is advisable to cover yourself with travel insurance for thefts, loss and medical claim.
  • Refrain from smoking & drinking alcohol in public.
  • Carry proper maps of the places proposed to visit, as signboards are often absent. Try to reach a station during daytime if travelling on your own. In any case avoid persistent touts and taxi-wallahs at airport/stations/bus stand to help you. Always use tourist assistance desk for proper advice.
  • Women travelling alone in certain deserted places should avoid walking at odd hours.
  • Don't ever enter a temple, mosque, tomb, dargah or Gurudwara with shoes on and/or insufficiently dressed. Before entering a holy place, remove your footwear (tip the shoe- minder a few rupees when retrieving them). Don’t wear shorts or sleeveless tops. Loud & intrusive behaviour isn’t appreciated. Check if the photography is allowed. One should cover his/her head with a cloth while in a Gurudwara or Dargah. So carry a scarf jus to be on the safer side. Parikrama or walking around the sanctum sanctorum should always be in clockwise direction.
  • Religious etiquette advises against touching locals on the head or directing the soles of your feet at a person / religious shrine /image of a deity. Religious protocol also advises against touching someone with your feet or touching carving of a deity.
  • There some sites that don’t admit women & some that deny entry to non devotee of their faith – inquire in advance. Women may be required to sit apart from men.
  • Participating in a social occasion or visiting a home requires conservative dress codes.
  • Indians traditionally greet with hands put together in front of the chin saying` namaste’ or `namaskaram’. Do not shake hands especially with ladies (unless they offer you the same first). A normal handshake may not be accepted by women and rarely by some traditionalists, but there is no offence meant. However nowadays, the handshake is reciprocated by most people in most places.
  • Always pick up a thing and eat with your right hand. Take only as much as you can eat, do not leave anything uneaten over the dish.
  • Do not point your finger at any person. It is taken as a sign of irritation.
  • While changing money, insist on getting encashment certificate.
  • Do not encourage beggars
  • Enquire about the rate before availing the service. Cross check the bills before paying.
  • Do not leave your cash and valuables ( including passport ) in your hotel rooms; leave it in the safe deposit lockers of the hotel. Divide keep your cash in different pockets.
  • Take care of proper disposal of your rubbish always whether you are exploring desert, or Himalayas or beaches or anywhere else
  • Don't buy antiques more than 100 years old.
  • Selling and buying ivory and wildlife article is a crime.
  • Buy at genuine shops only. Bargaining is a popular practice in India and necessary too.
  • Don't ever believe in lucrative offers of antique dealers in which they offer you to carry a parcel of some other buyer back home with your own margin described. Entire transaction should be legal and transparent so that you may claim later if dissatisfied.
  • Don't eat anything offered by fellow travellers on train or road travels. It might have sleeping pills. Always travel reserved class in trains.
  • Always chain and lock your luggage under your berth in a train. Don't keep anything valuable near the window. Always carry plenty of water, fluids in trains. A lone woman traveller may request to be accommodated near other women travellers.
  • Don't photograph women without permission.
  • Don't accept offers of visiting anyone's home unless you are confident of the person.
  • Use licensed guides for sightseeing.
  • Always use strong suitcases/baggage, as mishandling is common at airports/stations.
  • While travelling, don't act confused

While going into a restaurant please check whether they serve non-vegetarian food as for large number of Hindus, eating meat is a religious prohibited. Eat non-vegetarian food only in good restaurants since the hygiene factor may not be good in the smaller places. Beef is not available in most Indian restaurants as the cow is considered a sacred animal by Hindus. Pork too is not readily available in Indian restaurants except in some places serving Chinese or similar cuisines.

It is the Indian tradition to give and take anything important using the right hand. This tradition is firmly rooted across most of the country. Be it business or eating, the right hand is what is used. The right hand is used while handing over money or anything important.

People should be addressed by their last name while meeting for the first time. Use the honorific and their last name e.g. Mr. Ahmed, Mrs. Dubey etc. Whenever speaking with somebody older, try to be as respectful as required.

India can at times present a disorderly and noisy face. There is usually a queue for everything – public transport, entrance into tourist spots etc. But what could be daunting for the tourist is the tendency of many to break the queue and rush in. But don’t get overly perturbed as it is usually limited to good-natured jostling to get ones work done faster. Try to maintain the queue or if it becomes a free-for-all, you might as well join in and get your work done. In certain places there is a separate reserved side/line for women eg. public transport, train tickets etc.

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