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Planning a Trip to India | Travel Guide Step by Step!

by TheWanderingQuinn

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India is on so many peoples bucket lists and wishlists- it’s crazy, it’s exotic, it’s testing, it’s spiritual, it’s beautiful and it’s huge!

You want to go to India too, but where do you start with planning a trip to India?

Here is my step by step India blog post and India travel guide on how to plan a trip in India with my first-time travel tips for India, from the early stages of working out where to go in India and when to go to India. To the later stages of India trip planning like what to pack for India and what scams to watch out for in India! So let’s go, or ‘challo’ as they say in India!

How To Plan A Trip To India.

India Trip Length

How long do you have to spend in India?

India is a big country and the tourist places in India are spread out by a few hours by train or car at least. In fact, many tourist cities and towns require an overnight journey to get to them so keep this in mind when planning your itinerary for India.

Can you see India in 2 weeks? I believe you can, yes. Just don’t try to see all of India in 2 weeks!

Equally, you can easily spend up to 4 months in India, and people like myself, do that too!

Here are my related post to help you work out where to visit in India:

2 Week North India Itinerary.

2 Week South India Itinerary.

2 Month North & South India Itinerary.

4 Month North & South India Itinerary.

Hawal Mahal pink building in Jaipur | planning a trip to India

Jaipur, the Pink City of India in Rajasthan is close to Delhi and therefore is popular on most India itineraries!

Best Time to Visit India

When do you plan on visiting India?

India is not a country you can visit all year round. The summer months bring the monsoon season to most of India. Therefore October to April is a good time to visit India.

With that being said, based on my trip to India, the very North East and North West of India gets cold during winter months and is often inaccessible due to snow, these are places that are better visited in the Spring and Autumn. Be sure to think about the weather in India when you’re thinking about your trip to India.

ellie quinn at christmas on backwaters of Kerala | planning a trip to India

Christmas is a great time of year to visit North and South India. I spent Christmas 2018 in Kerala.

Independent or Group Travel to India

Do you want to visit India alone or go on a tour of India?

It is perfectly fine to travel to India alone, even as a solo female traveller in India which is how I did my India trip.

However, if you are short on time, for example, you just have 2 weeks to spend in India, you are not an experienced traveller, or you need help on how to plan a trip to India, an organised tour of India is a good idea.

In fact, I think this is such a good idea I have organised 2 India tours for 2020 and I will be releasing more India tour packages in 2021.

To travel to India with me on an India tour, have a look at my tours page here!


Where to Visit in India

What is your Priority?

When it comes to places to visit in India and where to go in India, I think you should think about what attracts you to India? What do you think of when you think about your trip to India? The Taj Mahal probably, but do you think of the beaches of Goa or the Yogi scene in Rishikesh? The Mountains in the North or the majestic Culture of Rajasthan?

People visit India for so many reasons, more reasons than they visit Sri Lanka or Thailand, for example. People visit India to see the major places like Delhi, Agra, Varanasi, Jaipur, Jodhpur, but also to spend time in an Ashram or on a yoga and meditation retreat.

Here are my blog posts that will help you decide where to visit in India and if you’re visiting for a specific reason:

24 Places to Visit in India On Your First Trip to India!

The Best Places To Do Yoga In India For Foreigners.

The Best Beaches in Goa for Foreigners.

Is It Worth Visiting The Taj Mahal?

Varanasi River Ganges Boat Trip | planning a trip to India

If you want to experience a spiritual side of India, Varanasi is a great place to visit in India!

Visa for India

India Visa Cost.

Remember that you will need a visa to visit India so keep this in mind, especially when working out the cost of a trip to India. The visa process for India has changed a lot over the years but is now easier than ever to get.

For most nationalities, you apply online for your Indian e-visa, it costs $100.00 USD, gets approved in a few days and is valid for one year with multiple entries.

Here is my Step by Step Guide to Apply for the India Tourist E-Visa in 2020!


Itinerary for India

Work out a Rough India Itinerary.

Based on the answers above, as to what you want to see in India and how long you have to spend in India, start looking into itineraries for India. Although India is huge and there are so many different routes and places to see in India. Generally, there is a common route through North and South India for travellers and backpackers that makes sense based on the location of each tourist Town and City. You’ll see this especially if you are working out an itinerary for Rajasthan.

Here are my India itineraries to help you plan your trip to India:

2 Week North India Itinerary.

2 Week South India Itinerary.

2 Month North & South India Itinerary.

4 Month North & South India Itinerary.

Taj Mahal India and blue sky | planning a trip to India

In my opinion, the Taj Mahal at sunrise, must be on your itinerary for India!

Booking a Trip to India

Book a Flight.

Now you know where to go in India and when to go to India, the next part of your trip planner for India is to book a flight to India!

As this is your first time in India, Delhi and Mumbai are the most popular places to start a trip to India unless you want to start a trip to India in South India, in which case Goa, Chennai and Bangalore are good cities to fly into in India.

Delhi is the most popular city to fly into in India for foreigners but it can be a culture shock so be sure to read these Delhi travel blogs:

10 Delhi Travel Tips to See & Enjoy Delhi as a Tourist!

Where to Stay in Delhi. Best Hotels & Hostels for all Budgets!

Here is my video with Delhi Travel Tips to help prepare you if you land in Delhi:

You will need to show an outward flight from India when you check-in from your departing airport, you can either book a cheap flight out of India if you don’t know when you’ll leave and lose a small bit of money, or you can fake an onward flight ticket using my travel hacks here:

How to Show Proof of an Onward Flight WITHOUT Paying for a Flight!


Getting Around India

Best way to travel around India.

Trains are the best way to get around India and to help you piece your India itinerary together, I recommend looking into the train schedules to ensure you can get to everywhere you want to go before fully confirming your itinerary around India. After this, you can make your train bookings in Infia.

There are different ways to book trains in India. You can do it on the official Indian Railway System which I recommend getting your head around if you are going to India for more than 2 weeks. Or you can use a third-party site like 12GO Asia or Make My Trip India.

Trains in India book up quickly, especially the overnight trains so I do recommend booking trains in India as soon as you know your set dates.

Travelling India in a private car with a driver is another popular way to get around India. Especially around Rajasthan and the Golden Triangle India. A private car is convenient and relatively cheap compared to other Countries. This will give you the freedom to explore a lot more, within reason. Although keep in mind travel days will need to be during the day and Indian drivers can be crazy and the roads can be bumpy!

Finally, there are tourist buses and local buses in India that you can use. You can book tourist buses on 12GO Asia too which is how I recommend you check routes and availability.

Here are my posts on transport around India which I wish I had to help me plan my trip to India.

How To Book Trains in India as a Tourist Online.

How To Register On The Official Indian Railway Site As A Foreigner.

How To Take A Local Bus In India And What To Expect.

india trains | planning a trip to India

Patience is key when travelling around India by train. I warn you now.

Accommodation in India

Accommodation is generally booked online in India. There are a few places where you can turn up with nothing booked like on the beaches of Goa and in Rishikesh but generally it’s all done online and there are so many accommodation options available in India.

I would recommend getting all your accommodation booked in advance if you are visiting India for 2-3 weeks, especially if your transport is all booked as you’ll know where you need to be.

However, if you are backpacking India for longer you can be more relaxed. Although some hotels and hostels book up in advance, there will always be accommodation available last minute (although keep in mind holidays in India like Diwali and Holi as accommodation for celebrations in India books up faster).

Hotels in India

From small hotels and guesthouses in India, fancy Heritage Hotels in India, 5-star hotels in India and resorts in India, there’s a lot of hotels on offer! 

If you have the budget to spend on your trip to India you can get really high-quality accommodation in India for much less than you pay in other countries.

I recommend booking.com to book your hotels in India and if you’re visiting Delhi, be sure to see my post on the best places to stay in Delhi!

Hostels in India

Hostels are really common in India now with lots of big, chain hostels in India on offer with good facilities and helpful staff. The best hostels in India include Zostel, Moustache, Madpackers, GoStops and Backpacker Panda which are in all the major cities. They offer dorm rooms and most hostels offer private rooms too.

A big first-time travel tip for India is to stay in hostels, even if you stay in a private room as most hostels offer city tours, group dinners and have really friendly staff, as well as being great places to meet other travellers. Hotels in India lack this. 

I use Booking.com to book hostels in India as I like how many options they offer and their flexible booking conditions.

Airbnb in India

Airbnb is common in India and you can book many different places like these gorgeous houses in Jaipur! To get $30.00 off your Airbnb stay(which is 1-2 nights free accommodation in India!), open a new account using this promo code!

moustache hostel new delhi female dorm room bunkbeds with curtains | planning a trip to India

This is Moustache Hostel in Delhi. A lot of dorm rooms in India come with curtains around the bed now.

Travel Insurance for India

The best insurance for India.

Do not forget insurance for India. I am covered by World Nomad’s and I really recommend them for their great customer service, their choice of policies and the fact that they were created by travellers for travellers!

Get a free quote while you think about it here:


Packing List for India

What to pack for India.

What to wear in India is something you will need to consider, especially for female travellers to India.

I recommend long trousers and skirts or at least items that cover your legs and not to wear anything skin tight. I also recommend t-shirts over tank tops and good quality shoes as you’ll walk a lot in India.

To help you work out your India packing list see my posts for packing for India:

Packing List For India & What To Wear in India as a Female!

20 Backpacking Essential Items That Will Save You Space, Time & Money!

ellie quinn at Pushkar Lake https | planning a trip to India

A playsuit like this is perfect for India to keep your legs covered and a shawl adds colour and covers your shoulders.

Things To Know Before Travelling to India

How to get a Sim Card in India.

It’s getting easier and easier to get a sim card for India and thankfully you can get a lot of data in India for a cheap price!

To help you get a sim card in India, see these posts:

How To Get a Sim Card in India as a Tourist.

How to Get a Sim Card in Delhi Airport.

Travel Scams in India.

Scams in India are not as popular anymore I think, but because it’s your first time in India, be sure to read this post to help you avoid being scammed in India.

Top Tourist Scams In India & How To Avoid Them.

Finally, if you would like to speak to me about your trip to India so I can help you plan your itinerary or put any of your worries about travelling India at rest, have a look at my travel planning service page or email me on thewanderingquinn@gmail.com.


For all of my Travel Guides for India and more of my India Travel Planning Posts have a look at:



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Alice December 11, 2019 - 10:24 pm

I would totally love to visit India and have wanted to for a while now. I love that you visit so many destination that a lot of people are afraid to – it’s so inspiring! Can’t wait to read all your 2020 adventures! 🙂

TheWanderingQuinn December 14, 2019 - 5:02 am

Hi Alice,

Thank you so much for reading my post and saying that. I hope you make it to India. Maybe one day on one of my tours too! 🙂

Sam Patel March 26, 2020 - 10:46 am

This is the best blog for planning a trip in India, there are lots of best famous and beautiful destinations in India for travel. Thank you for sharing.

TheWanderingQuinn April 7, 2020 - 2:46 am

Thank you


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