Anyone ever backpacked through India?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by jsparrow, May 12, 2008.

  1. jsparrow

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    I've been thinking lately, that, as I've never left the country, I really want to go backpacking somewhere. I think I might use next winter break to take three weeks backpacking through India. I think it would be an amazing experience to just leave alone, plan nothing but a flight, and see where it takes me. I thought about volunteering, but I think I could grow more as a person by doing this. Plus, it might be interesting to talk about in med school interviews. Anyone else ever thought about doing something like this, or done it?
     
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  3. fireflygirl

    fireflygirl The Ultimate Blindian

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    I haven't done it but my parents are immigrants from India and I have been to a lot of places and am somewhat familiar with the country. I am glad to hear that you are going in the winter because you'll meet a lot of toursists then as it is the best time of the year to go. It's absolutely beautiful out and you can enjoy a lot of things without dying in the heat. If you have any questions, you can PM me and especially PM if you are girl and are planning to go alone or with other girls because I've seen a lot of unfortunate things happen there to lone girl travelers and would have some tips for you.
     
  4. Little Etoile

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    I participated in a medical volunteer program in India for four weeks which took me to several different locations in northern India. I took a week before the program started to travel around. My last final ended at 8pm on a Friday and I left for the airport the next morning at 3am. Needless to say I didn't really have time to make an itinerary so I didn't have much of a plan when I landed. And by much I mean none at all. :laugh: It was great though. I loved the spontaneity and ability to make plans based on who I met and what areas I liked/didn't like. This is especially important in India, I think. You can make plans, sure, but India has its own agenda, really. ;)

    I absolutely *loved* India. Like you, it was my first time really out of the country. I had been to the Caribbean and Mexico, but that's a far cry from India! Because of my Buddhist upbringing, vegetarian diet and also having Indian cousins, I felt really comfortable there, but I don't know that that's the same for everyone.

    I would recommend getting a Lonely Planet guide. It has pretty much everything you need to know, including the scams to look out for. We got taken (sort of) when we first got there and when we checked the guide, it outlined the scam *exactly* how it happened to us. I don't know how we didn't see the warning when we first looked through the book.

    One thing to keep in mind is that you're not going to be happy all the time. In fact, at some points you are going to hate it. My ex-boyfriend and I found that at any given moment we were absolutely loving it or completely hating it. There was no in between. But, as our rickshaw driver once told us, "India is like an LSD trip. Either you're having a good trip, or a bad trip, but either way you're having a trip and you just have to go with it." :laugh: In other words, just take it moment by moment and know that things can and will change at the drop of a hat. We found that what turned things around for us was when we started reaching out to people around us and making friends. Getting out of big cities definitely helped with that, too.

    Anyway, if you want more info, feel free to ask! I am more than happy to share my experiences and offer any advice I can.
     
  5. TexanGirl

    TexanGirl runs away from trees

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    I've entertained the idea of being a vagrant like that -- just doing odd jobs here and there, living frugally, enjoying the new experiences -- but ultimately decided that I would like to be slightly more pampered during a vacation/traveling experience, hah. :laugh: My dad and I also entertain the idea of driving from Europe (England) to Asia (China). He's so serious about it, I just think it's crazy. I mean, just planning the logistics of it is headache-inducing...:scared:

    I think it's a great idea, although you should probably plan something and do research on the areas you want to visit. Planning nothing, especially since this would be your first time out of the country and I'm assuming you're most likely not Indian, would be really unwise and irresponsible. India's still part of the developing world, don't you forget, and you'll be susceptible to a whole bunch of sicknesses I'm sure you've never encountered before, so take the time get vaccinated (Cipro works wonders against traveler's diarrhea btw) before you leave.

    Three weeks is also not a lot of time, especially for so vast of a country, so you'll have to make some sort of itinerary of things you'd like to see. Otherwise, trust me, you will miss them. Pick a couple of "must-see's" and stick to them, and make a general outline of the travel route. Just plan something, jeez, man. You'll enjoy it at least somewhat planned.
     
  6. BabyJ

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    I've backpacked through Spain, Northern India, and South East Asia. SE Asia was the most interesting. Definently plan your trip. I know you want to go with a certain sense of freedom and just wonder around, but I don't find that to be the best way to travel. I typically read 2-4 books before I even start planning a trip (ussually Lonely Planet). After that, you will have an idea of what you want to hit up and what you might want to pass up.
     
  7. Bartelby

    Physician

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    I will be leaving alone for Thailand next week, without even a hostel/hotel reservation! I plan to stay about six weeks. I am taking one 50 liter backpack with a week's worth of clothes and a few other essentials, showing up in Bangkok, and figuring things out from there. I don't really know what it will be like, but I can tell you I'm pretty excited! I think it will be one of those real growth experiences, and for people like us who are starting medical school soon I think there is no better time (med school plus residency mean the next good travel opportunity might be when we are 30+, which would probably be a different kind of experience).

    If you have the money (you can do an extended trip in a less expensive destination like India or Southeast Asia for $2-3k or less if you travel cheap, remember the biggest expense is your ticket over) it seems like it's worth doing. Go for it!
     
  8. Bartelby

    Physician

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    TexanGirl brings up a good point-- check out any recommended or required immunizations before leaving, and also check on visa requirements/ duration of stay limitations in any countries you want to visit. For Thailand I got the Typhoid, Hep A, and Polio vaccinations (although none are required), and I know the visa rules for US citizens. Also pick up a guidebook in case you need some inspiration on the road.
     
  9. Bacchus

    Administrator Moderator Physician

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    My friend has done this and has worked in a clinic in India. She said the trip was amazing. However, she was in some rural town and got stung by a scorpion so she needed medical care. Her ambulance? A camel.
     
  10. jsparrow

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    I would, of course, get proper traveler's vaccinations. My current outline in my head is to fly into Delhi, and then have a general leaving destination. The Lonely Planet books sound like a good tip, so I think I'll pick one of those up and read it between here and there. Great input!
     
  11. EpiPEN

    EpiPEN Aegis of Immortality

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    No but that sounds so AWSOME
     
  12. Quix

    Quix Herr Professor
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    Twice yesterday. Did Everest as a warm-up.
     
  13. jsparrow

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    Oh yeah? I've heard nothing warms up the muscles quite like Everest :)
     
  14. Quix

    Quix Herr Professor
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    Well, that and soccer. ;)
     
  15. EpiPEN

    EpiPEN Aegis of Immortality

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    real men call soccer football, football rugby, and rugby allegator wrestling.

    I don't know why that last part :)
     
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  17. kypdurron5

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    I think it's a great idea, especially if you've never really been overseas. Keep in mind, however, that even living frugally as a vagrant is going to cost a significant amount of money, even if you take the plane out of the equation. Definitely choose somewhere that has a lot of appeal to you- if that's India, then fantastic. If I had any time left I would consider China or Taiwan. Also, you should come up with some kind of plan, even if it's a loose one. Going alone has its advantages, but I've found in my travels that there's nothing like having other people to share the experience with. If you do go alone, I suggest keeping yourself open to the possibility of hooking up with other backpackers you meet- it's the best of both worlds in that you can separate whenever you want, but also stay with them if you're having a great time.
     
  18. Little Etoile

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    I dunno. I lived for pretty damn cheap while I was in India and that was still leaving plenty of wiggle room to do nice things for myself and buy gifts. India is notoriously inexpensive.
     
  19. Auron

    Auron Cruisin' the Cosmos

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    India is an incredible place. It's a different world altogether, with the exotic colors, sights and aromas. You do need to know what you're doing however, and so I'd suggest you go on a reputable tour rather then explore yourself if its your first time going.

    I plan on going again before I start med school to meet friends and family, and then head out and explore the great hindustan myself. I can't wait.
     
  20. AUD

    AUD

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    Just don't eat food that has cooled down from hot or drink the tap water, and you're good to go.
     
  21. Auron

    Auron Cruisin' the Cosmos

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    Yes, drink nothing but bottled or boiled water, or you're bound to get sick.
     
  22. Hurricane95

    Hurricane95 Senior Member

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    No.

    But I have considered a mediterranean cruise, a grand tour of central and western europe and driving cross-country on a massive road trip, pampered and showered with luxury. At this rate these however will probably have to wait for elective time *cough* during fourth year or for time off before residency. As well as a little extra "educational" loan money.
     
  23. Little Etoile

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    Sh**, you're bound to get sick no matter *what*. My ex and I were ridiculously careful. We even brushed our teeth, including rinsing our toothbrushes, with bottled water. But you get hot food put on a plate that was just washed and not properly dried, or you shower and get a bit of water in your mouth.... it's almost unavoidable. As careful as we were, we still got drag-down, knock-out sick with giardia for a week. I lost ten pounds in that time period and he lost fifteen. Fortunately we were staying with a home-stay family at the time and had a comfortable place to recover, but man.. that was absolutely brutal. I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy.

    To pass the time and keep our spirits up while the other of us was in the bathroom, the one still in the bedroom had to guess whether the sounds were were hearing from the other room were vomit, defecation or wet gas. :laugh: Ah, the things you do when you're practically on your death bed. :D

    HAVE A GREAT TRIP!! Hahahaha.

    No seriously, it was amazing. It was still totally worth it, sickness and all.
     
  24. Perrotfish

    Perrotfish Has an MD in Horribleness
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    Seriously, this is the probelm with the hostel/backpacker approach. Somewhere around week 2, after the incubation period for the stomach viruses, you´re gonna want a place more hospitable than a hostel full of teenage alcoholics.

    In Peru now, just waiting for "Montazuma´s Revenge" to kick in.

    Also can you really get by without speaking the language in India?
     
  25. iamawombat

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    I have too. My parents are from India and its an insane, awesome country. How long would your trip be-its a huge country so unless you plan to backpack for a year you will need to choose an area to go. I would reccomend North India although Kerala is beautiful and pretty awesome. I backpacked through north india and stayed with families and in hostels. You won't get too sick unless you are like me and dont take malaria medicine and drink water from villages. I didn't even get too sick though. Also-if you are female you REALLY need to be careful. I have some good backpacking routes and great hostels to stay at if you are interested, as well as some great places you could volunteer at for two or so weeks if you needed a break from backpacking. PM me if you are interested =)
     
  26. Little Etoile

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    Yep. Week two is where it's AT! :laugh:

    And yeah, India is *very* easy to travel around without knowing one of the 34848639843 languages they speak. With the British colonization back in the day, most people you run into speak English fluently, if not enough to get by just fine. It was pretty rare that we encountered someone that didn't speak English whatsoever. Plus learning a little Hindi, which we did, goes a long way, as do hand gestures, big smiles and an open heart. :)
     
  27. loganhayes

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    I think it will be kind of safe there in India. But depending on the weather, it can be either too hot or too wet (rainy). Can you really handle all the spicy food that lingers way after 6 hours? Can you stand the smell of curry stuck on your clothes? Can you really go commando there? When it gets hot, people around you are sweating and they have that infamous armpit smell that will knock you out. If the answer to all these is yes, you are good to go, man.

    I will be backpacking, too, but to Japan, this summer. It is the safest destination for Americans now, if you care about that kind of stuff, especially if you are traveling alone. It is the most organized and civilized Asian country. Not to mention, clean and sophisticated.
     
  28. paranoid_eyes

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    in most parts of india, you can. in the rural places, may be not. then again, just hire a guide and he/she'll do the translating for you.
     

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