This is a Guest Post by Nick & Dariece of Goats On The Road: A Travel Website For Budget Backpackers. If you like it and want to see more, check out their Bio at the end of this post!
India. This is a country that has left it’s mark on the hearts, minds and souls of many backpackers. When people think about their travels, they think about what places really stood out, what country they had the most profound experiences in and where they felt like we were truly off the map and for many, Indiaalways ranks at the top. It has it all. The sights, the smells, the colours, the cuisine, the people, the awe factor and the “oh my god, did that really just happen?” moments. We’ve been to India 3 times now and like many other backpackers, we are still craving more. This is a place truly locked in time. A place where cows and monkeys rule the streets; a place where slums are built beside high-rises; a place where festivals and culture are top priority; a country built on community and family; and a history like no other. It’s a place that needs to be felt and not just seen. A place that cannot be explained in words. Yes, you must go to India, it’ll shake you to the very core of your being.
Man enjoying his chai, Rishikesh, India
Most people who visit India have a love/hate relationship with the country. There will be days when you’ll want to just throw your hands up in the air and give up. Travel days can be extremely trying. Indian people have no sense of personal space, everything to them is communal. They like to be close to people and everything is shared – everything from food to babysitting duties of complete stranger’s children. You’ll be sick to death of bargaining for overly priced transportation or goods and every time you go to cross the road you’ll wonder “will this be the last time I ever cross a road?”. You’ll be horrified by some of the unsanitary conditions in restaurants, on the streets, in bathrooms and on trains. You’ll have so many downs that you’ll wonder: are there any ups? Let us tell you, there are a thousand more ‘ups’ than ‘downs’.
school kids on the back of a cycle rickshaw, Delhi, India
You’ll witness people who have barely a dollar to their name offer you their food and chai. You’ll be the highlight of many, if not all, sites. People will come up to you and ask about your personal life all day long…as they wag their head side-to-side with a big grin on their face. You’ll find yourself smiling while watching the light reflect off of one of the many beaded saris worn by the Indian women. A highlight to any day would be watching children at their happiest hour as they fly homemade kites in the air as the sun sets. Indulge in some of the most flavourful food on this planet and wash it down with a milky tea spiced perfectly with cardamom, nutmeg and cinnamon. Wander down alleyways and lanes and watch the way the local people go about their day. No matter how many times you round the same corner, there will always be something new and exciting to see. Join in with the locals as they throw colourful powder all over each other at the Holi festival. Buy yourself some fireworks, head to the streets and fire them off with the other children and adults to celebrate Diwali, the celebration of lights festival. Dodge traffic in the big cities, or head out on a camel safari and experience the deafening silence of the Thar Desert.
View of Jaipur from the Hawa Mahal Palace, India
Besides all of the astonishing things India has to offer, if you are a budget backpacker, this place is definitely for you. Here you can cross the country by train for as little as $15, you can have an all-you-can-eat meal for $0.80, you can sip on a glass of chai for $0.25, budget rooms range from $5 to $20 and the memories you will take home with you will be priceless. As you hoist your backpack on your back at the start of a new day, you’ll wonder “hmm, what will India show me today?” Chances are it will be something so fantastic and outrageous that you’ll be want to write home about it. The most important thing we can suggest as you backpack your way through this diverse country is to spend hours, days even, just chillin’ out and people watching. This is one of our favourite past-times while in India, just sitting on a street-side curb somewhere with a little cup of chai watching India go by. We like to say: “just sit back and let india come to us”.
Enjoying a chai while people watching. The old city, Jaipur, India
But whatever you choose to do while in this incredible country, make sure you do it with an open heart and an open mind. The beautiful, gracious people of India have their own ways of doing things, ways they have been doing things for many years. Some people may not understand it, but who are we to say what is the right way and wrong way of doing things? We’re not trespassing in their country to make them conform to our ways of life, we are simply bystanders soaking up all that India throws at us. India chews you up and spits you back out as a completely changed individual. You’ll find yourself travelling to India with a “plan”… but as soon as you land on the tarmac, your well thought out plan becomes dust in the wind. India has its own plans for you, and we suggest you go along with it and enjoy the ride.
Nick & Dariece have left everything behind in search of cultural experiences, beautiful beaches and off the beaten path adventures. They call themselves Goats On The Road and their website for budget backpackers encourages others to pack their bags and leave the ordinary behind. Visit Goats On The Road and get excellent tips for the adventurous budget backpacker! You can also follow along on their adventures on Facebook & Twitter.