While on a tour through Karnataka, I met Siobhan Carrick and Chandell Kelly. I’d briefly spoken with them on Instagram, and I knew they followed my blog. We had some amazing times together on the Chikkamagalur loop of the goMowgli tour & they kept me cracking up telling me stories from their last two months in India. Backpacking India two months in one go is tiring but you can see and do so much in that long amount of time.
By far the best (and worst) was when Siobhan shared how sick she was on a local bus that after puking out the window, she actually laid on the floor of the bus with her cheek on the ground. It was a new low. Even I hadn’t been that sick! Although it sounds terrible, these stories are things travelers love to share with one another…. and it got me thinking, why not share their trip with you? So I’ve asked them about their highs and lows, booking advice, and what they wished they’d known before coming to India.
If you are coming for just a month, I have a similar post from friends who break down their month here in India in huge detail. You can read it here.
Before coming to India do not forget these three very important things:
- Journey Insurance. I use World Nomads which is what Lonely Planet recommends
- a VISA. You would be surprised how many people email me saying they showed up without one and got sent home. If you’re staying less than 60 days, here’s how to get a tourist e-visa for India. If you’re staying longer than 60 days, I have step by step guides to get a visa for India from the USA and get a visa for India from the UK.
- Your phone needs to be unlocked to add a SIM card. Many USA phones are not. You can buy a SIM card in India. Trabug is a travel phone that you can have shipped to your hotel in India. This phone has the internet and all kinds of India travel apps on it. It’s more expensive than a SIM, but SIM cards are sometimes a huge hassle for foreigners in India. You don’t want to be in India without access to the internet.
- Start with this post to see how to plan a trip in India from scratch step by step the easiest way possible.
PS: stayed tuned to the very bottom, because this post is FULL of great photos all taken by them.
at the river Ganges, Varanasi
relaxing in Hampi on one of the many boulders
touring around in a Kerala houseboat
Backpacking India Two Months Itinerary & Tips
- Dates in India: Sep 19th – Nov 20th (this is just before peak season and the PERFECT time to travel India)
- The flight to India was booked through Kayak on Air India (they flew Toronto, NY, to Mumbai)
- The flight home was actually from Colombo, Sri Lanka and booked via Skyscanner on Sri Lankan Airlines
- Flight cost: 700 to India and 450 back
- When booking, they didn’t have a set plan therefore didn’t book a round trip. In the end, they got a better price than I ever have (da fuk!?).
- Budget: On average about 1000-1200 bucks per month. They weren’t on a typical backpacking budget with a few splurges like: Hostels (new and can be a splurge in India compared to a cheap guesthouse), safaris, Elefantastic in Jaipur, and a GoMowgli tour. All in all, they were pleased with the amount they spent.
with a Sadhu in Varanasi
camel safari in Jaisalmer
playing around in front of the Taj Mahal
2 month India itinerary
These chicadees saw SO much in their time in India! It’s amazing. They traveling at a nice pace being sure not to wear themselves out, but also continuously sought out unique experiences rather than just wandering aimlessly. Here is the cities they went to in order (with links to articles I’ve written about them):
- goMowgli tour in Karnataka
So, I asked them some more questions…
When asked which place was the worst: Agra. See Taj Mahal and leave same day.
Which place could you have spent less time: Jodhpur no more than a day. See the fort and get out if possible. Also, a week was too much in Goa. It was too westernized and they missed the chaos of “real India”.
Which places were favorites and needing MORE time: Hampi and Udaipur
Where they wished they could have gone but didn’t make it: Ladakh (parents worries kept them away)
the blue alleys of Jodhpur
painting elephants with Elephantastic! in Jaipur
Backpacking India Advice
I asked them quite a handful of questions about their time in India including their highlights and low lights. If you’re considering coming, I’m sure you realize it’s not always an easy place to travel. This whole post is filled with photos from their trip which I think serve as excellent inspiration to plan your trip to India.
Highlights of traveling India:
Friendly people, culture shock (the good and the bad!), experiencing and learning about spirituality and religion, camel safari, Dharamsala, Varanasi, elefantastic! in Jaipur, Udaipur, Chandell loved the food while Siobhan didn’t as much, and “gaining perspective on how much we have in the western world and appreciating it while also reflecting on how we sometimes forget the simple and important thing in life.”
Lowlights of traveling India:
Couchsurfing (from rachel: I wrote about my experience with Couchsurfing in Delhi), train stations/bus stops…essentially transportation is by far the biggest challenge, as well as lack of cleanliness and lack of respect for the environment. Particularly the Agra train station was difficult with many children begging and there were lots of adults really invading space.
crammed on a sleeper class train
the photo to the left is a time when a man sat his baby down without a word and wanted a photo so before he left they asked for one themselves. The second one is what it looked like out the bus door when arriving in Hampi -chaos!
What they wished they’d known before backpacking India:
“You’ll never be clean, “Anything is possible!”, and you will be riding the emotional roller coaster of india (the struggle is REAL!), and you should have a well rested day before you venture on the sleeper train- your patience WILL be tested!”
The mosquito net they packed went unused. Other than that, they feel they packed well. Here’s a backpacking India packing list which they saw before their trip.
Staying in Hostels in India
Hostels are new and exciting here in India. Over three years ago when I backpacked, I didn’t stay at one and couldn’t even find one online. The girls are keeping me hip, explaining that there are brand new ones popping up! Since they told me, I check out Zostel Goa which was very cool. They stayed at a few and LOVED it. Editor’s note: for all you need to know about Goa, check out my ebook, the Insider’s Guide to Goa! Click here to buy it.
- Jugadus Eco Hostel in Amritsar. Amazing! So friendly and organize all tours
- Stops Hostel in Varanasi. An awesome refuge from the craziness, organized tours to avoid the bad bits of the Ghats
- Jungle Hostel in Vagator. Bare bones, full of hippies, was okay
- Vedanta Wake Up Varkala & Allephuza. Both were great
They say hostels were the main way they met other backpackers. When I traveled, I rarely met other friends, so it seems hostels may be the new way to go! They didn’t stay at Zostels Hostel but they said they heard good things from backpackers.
Food In India isn’t for everyone.
While Siobhan didn’t love Indian food as much, Chandell was obsessed and had about 3 thalis a day! Lucky for us, she photographed them. Here you go!
More of a Sneak Peek into these girls’ Indian Adventures!
monks in Dharamsala
cows and pigs eating trash
sunset on the camel safari, Jaisalmer
kids in Kerala
a common site in Rajasthan
goat in a blanket, not so common!
I spy the tourist
when I finally was lucky enough to meet these gals at Jog Falls
sometimes, this is what you have to work with.
Highest peak in Karnataka
Happiness all around!
Laundry Ghats in Bombay
Chai & Henna… perfect day!
a view across the river, a burning at the Ghats
giving a cow water?
a sign on Om Beach, Gokarna
To end, a sunset in Karnataka, near River Tern Jungle Lodge
Huge thank you to Siobhan and Chandell for letting me share your stories and photos with my readers! We appreciate you and you’re helping other people get to experience India!
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