DUE TO SUBSCRIBER DEMAND, OUR kerala looms & lores tour and south indian threads tour are now sold out!

The answers to all your important questions

SAFEGUARDING YOUR PAYMENTS

To be emailed after booking

Before you travel, we recommend that you visit the FCO website at www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice for up-to-date travel advice.

We trust that you will thoroughly enjoy your holiday and sincerely hope that the experience will ensure that you will book with us again. We have detailed below and in the accompanying pages, some guidance notes that we hope will help you to enjoy your time with Textile Travels.

Please read the Booking Conditions carefully as this forms the terms and conditions of the contract between you and Textile Travels. The Booking Conditions detail our responsibilities to you, and yours to us, and provide guidelines to cover circumstances which may arise.

HOLIDAY TRAVEL INSURANCE

It is a requirement that all our customers have travel insurance that covers them for adequate medical treatment and repatriation should the need arise. We also recommend taking out insurance at the time of booking to also cover cancellation in case you’re unable to travel for any reason. Please check with your insurance provider about their cover restrictions due to the Covid19 pandemic.

We will ask for your emergency contact details on our booking form, and we will need to have copies of your travel insurance certificate emailed to us before travel. We will also require you to bring a printout of your insurance summary with you, so please have it on hand on the first day of your tour.

ARIVAL AND DEPARTURE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORTS

Kochi International Airport is only one hours travel to your first destination, Fort Kochi. Transfers from the airport are included on the first day of the tour, and one of our representatives will be there to meet you holding a TEXTILE TRAVELS signboard. Flights arrive in general from a Middle East hub in the morning around 8.00am to 9.00am. Airfares to Kochi seem to be cheaper than to elsewhere in Kerala and the airport is the first one in India to be fully powered by solar power!

If you are coming by road or train, we’ll still be there to meet you on arrival on the first day of the tour. If you are arriving before the start of the tour we will advise on transport from the airport to your hotel. Individual arrangements will be confirmed before the tour start date. We will give you full instructions with regard to connecting with our representative at the airport in your Trip Documents.

For your return flight we include a free transfer to the nearest departure airport or railway station to our final tour destination.

FLIGHTS

If you are booking a flight directly online, Skyscanner website compares prices for most of the available flights to India and is a good guide on what to expect pricewise. 

ARRIVAL INFORMATION

Before arriving in India, you will be given an immigration form to fill in on the flight. Details of how to complete this form will be sent to you beforehand with your Trip Documents.

When you proceed to collect your luggage, free luggage trolleys are available, in the baggage collection area.

For anyone travelling on an e-tourist visa, look out for the counter as soon as you come into the Immigration area as there is a separate counter for e-tourist visa holders. There will most probably be a queue for this counter.

IMMIGRATION AND PASSPORT CONTROL

On arrival at your place of entry into India, you will be taken through immigration and your visa will be stamped into your passport once you have shown your passport and your PRINTED VISA if you are travelling on an e vsia, otherwise your visa will be already in your passort. 

Then your biometric details will be taken. These are your fingers and thumbprint and your iris pattern. This is the normal procedure for entry into India.

All passports are now required to have 6 months validity from the date of your entry into India. You must also have at least two blank facing pages in your passport.

Please bring one copy of your passport and visa, in case of emergency loss and keep somewhere different from your other docs, along with two passport sized photographs. These are sometimes required for obtaining an Indian SIM card if you need one.

ACCOMMODATION

As an overall ethos, wherever possible we aim to use characterful accommodation that enhances the overall travel experience, not just offers a bed for the night. This can obviously vary dramatically from place to place. On this trip we will be staying in comfortable character properties as well as standard hotels of 3 stars or more.

Please note that the accommodation mentioned in the itinerary is intended as a guide only and is always subject to availability. We are committed to using only hotels that are Indian owned and family run whenever possible, although due to the size of the group this may not always be possible.

It should be noted that due to the smaller size of some of the properties used it may not be possible to give everyone in the group exactly the same standard of room. If this happens, your tour leader will do their very best to allocate rooms fairly throughout the course of the trip, so we thank you for your understanding of this impossible job in advance! Unless otherwise stated, accommodation is in standard twin/double rooms.

INSECT LIFE

In the tropics, be prepared to encounter insects (e.g., mosquitoes, ants, spiders and occasionally cockroaches) in your hotel room, especially at beach resorts where they are a natural occurrence and do not reflect the standard of hygiene and cleanliness. As a general rule, mosquito nets should not be necessary as great care is taken to exclude them from your rooms, but bringing a plug-in type mosquito deterrent is a good idea. Please keep your room doors and windows closed from around 4.00pm to help stop mosquitos getting in.

Not all our accommodation provides mosquito nets so if you do suffer badly from mosquito bites, you may wish to bring a pop up mosquito net. For example,

https://www.gooutdoors.co.uk/15910119/lifesystems-arc-self-supporting-mosquito-net-15910119/?istCompanyId=c2ec8a5d-93c1-4850-a97a-f4d89d7c99c8&istFeedId=2755fba0-7dfe-46a9-bfd0-09b37aed8b93&istItemId=irqxaxxla&istBid=t&gclid=Cj0KCQiA4L2BBhCvARIsAO0SBdaSjk353P38weUqq_M5DX-lczWuQ6JI6yWTLMBshVccVZhzuCLIWI0aAgoTEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

PRE AND POST ACCOMMODATION

Although we don’t book extra nights accommodation through our company, we can advise on arranging extra nights’ accommodation both before and after your tour.  We highly recommend arriving a day or two early to give yourself time to get over your travels, adjust to a new time zone and generally get settled before meeting your tour leader and fellow travellers on the first day of the tour.

TRAVELLING SOLO & SINGLE SUPPLEMENTS

Our prices are typically based on twin-share accommodation. Single supplements are required for the solo traveller. If you had preferred not to pay a single supplement, we suggest sharing a room with another solo traveller of the same sex,

AGE RESTRICTIONS

Minimum: The minimum age is 18 at the time of travel.

Maximum:  We have no upper age limit though we ask you to consider your personal health and fitness to undertake one of our holidays. We remind you that India can be physically demanding, (e.g., uneven footpaths and steps and at certain times extreme heat), and passengers must ensure that they are suitably fit to ensure you get the most out of your experience. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you would like to discuss any particular concerns you may have.

It is your responsibility to ensure that you obtain proper and detailed medical advice at least two months prior to travel for the latest health requirements and recommendations for your destination.

GROUP SIZE and TRANSPORT

Our tour group will normally have a  minimum of 8 travellers and a maximum of 12

OPTIONAL EXPERIENCES AND EXCURSIONS WHILE ON TOUR

While we would love you to choose your activities or adventures before you arrive in India, of course you are welcome to add on experiences once you are here with us.

TRANSPORT

On this tour we will be using an extended 26 seater Tempo Traveller air-conditioned minibus for smaller groups or a 29 seat air conditioned coach for bigger groups., with a dedicated driver throughout. 

Masks and hand sanitisers will be availble  onboard for those wishing to use them although there is only an advisory now in India with regard to Covid safety. 

ELECTRICITY SUPPLY.

At times, the demands on the local supplies of electricity may exceed the supply, with resultant power cuts. Wiring standards do always meet local safety standards, on occasion they may be lower than those applicable in the UK. It is advisable to carry a battery power pack for charging your phone and devices and a torch or even two – a head torch and a lantern type that can stand on its own.

The Indian plug adaptor can be a three round pin adaptor which fits most plug points, but sometimes only the two-pin adaptor, like the Northern European large two pin plug, will work in the sockets. I always bring a selection! Check online for suitable adaptors. If you have an electric toothbrush, the two-pin plug will fit directly into the Indian plug point.

PHOTOGRAPHY

It is essential to ask permission before taking a photograph of a person or a child. If you have any doubt about the propriety of taking a photo then it’s best to be on the safe side and don’t take it.  You may also be asked to have your photograph taken with people you meet as a selfie but be prepared for that to be published on social media websites. Do NOT take photographs of airports, bridges, government offices or military buildings.

PUBLIC AND RELIGIOUS HOLIDAYS AND STRIKES

Please note that services may be curtailed or limited during public holidays, and certain religious holidays, and strikes. Such strikes, or ‘hartal’, can be called at very little or no prior notice.

TIPPING

Tipping is customary in many parts of India, but please note that it is entirely discretionary and we recommend that you only tip if you feel that you have received good service. Your tour leader will advise on the current rates advisable.  We will ask you to contribute to a Tip Pot at the start of the tour for all tips to our hotels and our driver and guides. 

SAFETY OF POSSESSIONS

Crime against people and property are a fact of life throughout the world and hence it is important to be extra vigilant when visiting foreign countries. You have the same responsibility for your personal safety and possessions abroad as you do at home. Avoid drawing attention to yourself by wearing expensive jewellery, carrying expensive camera equipment, publicly displaying large amounts of money etc. Do not leave valuables unattended, and, where possible, store them in a safe.

You will need to obtain a visa to travel to India. Depending on which country you are resident in, may be able to obtain an eVisa which is downloadable online, or you may have to apply for an in-passport Visa which takes longer to process. Please check your local Indian High Commission for full details. If you are applying from the UK, an eVisa is the easiest option. You can apply for one at  https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/ Please be sure that the web address ends in .gov.in, as there are numerous websites that charge you a fee on top of the visa fee.

TIPS ON APPLYING FOR THE eVISA

Please apply for your eVisa at least three weeks before travel. An Indian eVisa application can be quite daunting, so work slowly and carefully through it, noting down your Temporary Reference Number carefully as you apply, in case you want to exit the application process and pick it up later. Once you have finished the application and submitted it, you will receive a Visa Application Reference number. Keep this safely as you may need it later.

Photographs – The Indian visa requires a square format passport photo that I always have taken locally at any high street photography shop, although the latest photo booths in supermarkets do cater now for the square visa photo.  Plus, you will receive three more photos to bring with you to India. (See Connectivity).

Remember that the date the 12 month visa commences is the date that you APPLY for the eVisa, not the date that you are entering India. If you are applying for the 60 day Tourist eVisa, then the start date is the day you enter India.  

You should receive an email within 3-5 days informing you that your visa has been approved. Because there are so many pitfalls in applying for the visa, you may be asked to submit further information or you may have filled something in incorrectly, so be prepared for your application to be rejected the first time and for your fee to be lost! This is why being thorough when filling in the application form is so important.

VISA APPROVAL

If and when you receive the approval email, your visa should be attached at the bottom of the email as a separate document that you can download onto your computer. You will need to show this document at check in/ baggage drop at your departure airport, so PRINT IT and keep it with your flight tickets. You will also need to show the printed visa at immigration on arrival in India.

If you do not receive a visa approval email from the Indian High Commission within 3-5 days, please check your VISA STATUS on the https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/ website using your Application Reference Number.  This will tell you if your visa has been approved, is being processed or if there is a problem.

If approved, you can download the visa straight from this section of their website. This situation rarely happens, but it happened to me, so it’s not unknown

We’ve made some adaptations to our textile tours to keep you and our hosts in Kerala as safe as possible.

  • We will organise testing for any guests feeling unwell and organise suitable solutions should any guests test positive.**
  • Hand sanitisers will be provided on our minibus, in workshops and during visits to weaving centres.
  • For sustainability reasons we request that you bring with you a good supply of re-usable masks. We will have an emergency supply of disposable masks available but would prefer not to have to use them.
  • Most of our cultural activities will be held outside.

Our Joint Responsibility

We will all need to work together to ensure the Health and Safety of everyone concerned.  As such we request that anyone who exhibits symptoms of Coronavirus kindly inform our tour leader at the earliest opportunity and self-isolate. 

We will assist in organising PCR testing and in the unfortunate instance of a positive result we will provide all and any assistance we can to reschedule arrangements and ensure that everyone who may have come into contact with the affected member has access to testing.

**While we will absorb any costs within our control, any charges payable to external parties for rescheduling of arrangements will be passed onto you for potential reclaim from your travel insurance.  

A Our general advice to all clients before travelling is to always remain informed about the entry requirements and health advice for your destination of travel, as well as being aware of what your travel insurance will cover. 

  • The National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) – https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/ – The UK-based source of health-related information to help you prepare for foreign travel trusted by GP’s and Travel Clinics

INDIAN GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REQUIREMENTS

Please check the latest UK government guidelines for travel to India:https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/india/entry-requireme

WI-FI

  • Throughout your tour there will be free access to Wi-Fi in all our hotels, although sometimes it will only be in the hotel lobby, and in some restaurants and cafes. Connection speeds vary and can be very spotty in some areas.
  • Some restaurants offer free Wi-Fi, but rather than rely on that, if you really want to be connected (and have access to Google Maps which is a huge help for the modern-day traveller) we recommend purchasing some data on a local SIM card for back up when Wi-Fi is not available.

WHATSAPP GROUP

  • On our tour we’ll be using Whatsapp as our default phone app to form a tour group communications hub to be able to share information and to keep in touch with each other.
  • We’ll send you updates of timing changes of any events and reminders about upcoming activities.

MOBILE DATA

  • To ensure the best possible connectivity we recommend purchasing a roaming package of data from your mobile company before the tour starts enabling you to use the internet.
  • Alternatively and possibly more economically, we recommend purchasing a local pay-as-you-go SIM card which includes a data package. Having the ability to use Google Maps on your smart phone is invaluable for walking explorations and for keeping in touch with our tour group Whatsapp
  • We also recommend bringing a spare mobile with you if you have an old one at home. This will be useful for storing your home country SIM card unless you have a dual SIM on your mobile. 

LOCAL SIM CARD

  • We will endeavor to help with buying a local SIM card for anyone who wishes to have an inexpensive mobile connection whilst in India. Please have a square format passport photo available for this. 

CHANGING MONEY

It is against Indian law to bring rupees either in or out of India so they are not available outside the country. When you arrive at your destination airport there are official bank outlets such as the State Bank of India where you can change cash in your home currency to Rupees. It’s advisable to change money here as anywhere as the rates are not that different to other facilities in Kochi.  Once you have checked in at your hotel in Fort Kochi, we will direct you to convenient and suitable ATM’s if you wish to withdraw extra cash. 

USING ATM’s

ATM’s are plentiful, but many charge INR200 – 250 per transaction.  In our experience the largest sum you can withdraw is INR10,000 (approximately AUD200, USD155, EUR145, GBP96) in one transaction but you can usually make two transactions of 10,000R in one ATM visit. Check with your own bank as they may also charge a fee. The only ATM’s that I’ve found will accept international cards are Canara, ICICI, HDFC or State Bank of India, most of the others are for domestic customers only although you can try your luck with them!

Lots of restaurants and larger shops will accept credit cards – Visa and Mastercard. However smaller vendors and markets will only accept cash. If you wish to bring currency from your home country and exchange it here, that is possible, but we have always found the easiest way to get cash is via an ATM apart from on arrival at the airport where the exchange rate is surprisingly fair. 

BACKING UP CRITICAL DOCUMENTS

Please take these steps to back up all your cards, passport and visa in case of loss.

  • Bring at least two debit/ credit cards with you. I usually have my debit card, a Wise card and two credit cards. The credit cards are from internationally recognized banks like Barclays or Virgin works well too. There are various providers now who don’t have charges for withdrawing cash from foreign ATM’s or for purchases, although I’ve found that the smaller banks aren’t recognized by the ATM’s in India.
  • Keep the one or two spare cards separate from your main payment card at all times. I always keep them in a money belt when in transit.
  • Scan into your computer/ mobile all the payment cards that you are bringing with you and email them to yourself and to your emergency contact in your home country. Carry a printout of these with you as well.
  • Do the same process with your passport. 
  • Repeat this process with your Indian visa. Print out a copy to carry with you. Keep one with your spare cards when in transit in your moneybelt.
  • Your passport is your one most important document so please keep in in a safe place, preferably in a moneybelt, on your person, whilst in transit.a Wise card 

MEALS

Most meals will be simple South Indian fare, mainly vegetarian, although meat and fish are often available. South Indian food can be quite spicy but it’s often possible to ask for a less spicy version as most meals are cooked to order from fresh ingredients. The word ‘hot’ is taken in India as the opposite of cold, not to denote heat in the food. ‘Spicy’ is the word that Indians use to denote ‘hot’ tasting food.

Keralan food tends to be quite complex in preparation and based on coconut, egg, banana, rice, pulses, various vegetables including beetroot, cabbage, carrots, jackfruit, onions in combinations of curry and salads. Always interesting and delicious. Fresh fish is generally small and fried in spices including prawns and other seafood.

Food in Karnataka is similar but probably more recognisable as what we know in the West as Indian food. The dhosa and thali or South Indian meal are probably the two most iconic dishes of the region.

It is an Indian custom to eat with the fingers of the right hand only. This is an art that you may wish to learn! However, you will usually be offered cutlery. There may be occasions when cutlery is not available so you might wish to bring your own. 

DRINKS

Tap water is definitely NOT DRINKABLE in India

We will provide all bottled filtered drinking water while travelling in the tour vehicle, which will be taken from a portable water filter  for your water bottles.  Or you can purchase a tap water filtering bottle such as:https://www.nomadtravel.co.uk/travel-store/travel-hygiene/water-purification/aqua-pure-traveller-filter-bottle

Bottled water will be provided when you are at your workshops and is available everywhere should you not be able to refill your water bottle for any reason.

All of the restaurants we recommend will serve filtered water which is safe to drink. Best thing is, if in doubt, always ask first. Reverse Osmosis is the filtering system generally employed, so ask if the water is RO filtered. No matter what time of the year you come to India, it is imperative to stay hydrated so expect to drink a lot of water. 

Plastic straws are now banned in India, so you will be given a paper straw with your drinks, that may unravel while you’re drinking! You may want to bring your own re-usable straw.

Our favourite thing is to have a tender coconut at every opportunity, or at least once a day.  They are available everywhere, on almost every corner and have lots of natural electrolytes to keep you hydrated, not to mention tasting great. Fresh lime or lemon juice or soda is a thirst quenching alternative available everywhere.

ALCOHOL

Kerala is not a ‘dry’ state but alcohol sales are restricted. Government approved shops and a few hotels in most large towns sell most varieties of alcohol. Queuing for alcohol at these shops is common and it can be expensive to buy branded spirits if available at all, although beer is relatively inexpensive.

Indian wine is a rarity and very expensive though becoming more common.  This means that when we eat out, in many restaurants you will not be able to buy alcohol to accompany your meal. Mysore on the other hand, in Karnataka has no such restrictions and alcohol is available in most restaurants although women drinking alcohol in public can be frowned upon in some areas.

VACCINATIONS

We recommend that you visit your doctor to discuss your trip at least three months before you travel if possible. They will have the up-to-date information on vaccinations and be aware of any personal health issues you may have that need to be considered. If you’re travelling from the UK, for any vaccinations not covered by the NHS, we recommend https://www.nomadtravel.co.uk/ for all your vaccinations, advice and anti-mosquito products. Please check on current health requirements for travel to India in consideration of the Covid19 pandemic at https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

MALARIA

Kerala and Tamil Nadu are zero risk and Karnataka a very low risk area for Malaria.  Some cases of Dengue Fever have been reported, so it is best to discuss this with your doctor so that you can make an informed decision. If you are travelling to other parts of India other than those visited while on your Textile Travels tour, please be sure to check advice for each area as there as some areas in India where Malaria is a high risk.

HEALTH FACILITIES

South India has very good doctors, dentists and opticians.  Should you become ill on your holiday, we will be there to advise the best facilities nearby.  Please don’t forget that travel insurance is compulsory for very good reasons, so be sure to arrange it before you leave home.  We suggest you arrange it as soon as you book your holiday.

HEALTH INSURANCE

As the Covid 19 situation is still a threat and changing all the time, you should consult a reputable holiday insurance broker to source the very best holiday medical insurance possible. A number of holiday insurers provide full medical cover for Covid19, including repatriation to the UK if necessary. Please contact your insurance broker or search online for a policy that will give you comprehensive Covid19 cover on top of the usual medical expenses.

SAFETY 

Whilst we only contract with reputable suppliers in India, it is important to note that some suppliers do not match British health and safety standards. The applicable safety standards and regulations which apply overseas are those of the country concerned and as a result, general standards of safety, hygiene, fire precautions etc. can be different to those we take for granted in the UK. You are therefore advised to take great care when first venturing into unfamiliar buildings or surroundings and are advised to bring solid, toe-covering, flat sandals for walking on uneven and unpredictable surfaces.

EATING AND DRINKING

Upset stomachs are a common occurrence whilst abroad. Sensible precautions need to be taken especially about raw food, drinking water and ice in drinks. We take your safety very seriously. These are some of the actions you can take to minimise any risk. 

  • Don’t drink the tap water – it is NOT drinking water. Do not allow water to enter your mouth whilst showering. Keep all open wounds covered in the shower.
  • Always use filtered water where available or bottled water when brushing your teeth and rinsing your toothbrush after use.
  • Avoid ice in drinks
  • Accept only drinks that you have seen poured directly from an unopened bottle. It is a good idea to make sure that the seal on the bottle is still intact when given to you as there have been instances of bottles being refilled with tap water.
  • Avoid eating salads unless you are sure that they have been washed in filtered water.
  • Scoop ice cream is generally OK if bought in a reputable ice cream parlour or restaurant. Avoid scoop ice cream from a vendor to be on the safe side.  Commercial, prepacked ice creams are safe.

TRAVEL MEDICAL KIT

Please bring a travel medical kit which includes antiseptic spray or cream, sticking plasters and pain killers and other basic items, as we are not qualified to provide you with these.

Although a seriously upset tummy has happened to me only once in seven trips to India, it is advisable to travel with an upset tummy kit; Nomad Travel have a very good kit. Only carry Imodium for absolute emergencies as it tends to contain the infection within the body rather than allowing it to flow through the system.

Re-hydration tablets or powders such as Dioralyte or ORRS are essenrtial to combat the dehydrating effects of tummy upset and can help with the effects of heat on the system.

http://www.nomadtravel.co.uk/p/2952/Diarrhoea-Self-treatment-Kit-(POM)

It is strongly advised that you bring suitable car/ air sickness remedies for the hairpin bends on the mountain roads.

Please keep these remedies with you at all times.

SWIMMING

  • Swimming is undertaken entirely at your own risk. Swimming along many coasts can be dangerous due to strong undercurrents and other elements.
  • Please seek the advice of the Tour Leader before venturing into the sea and avoid swimming in deserted areas.
  • Do not let non-swimmers jump into a swimming pool unsupervised without first checking the depth and means of exit.
  • Take care around pool sides as maintenance of floor surfaces around the pool can sometimes be less than perfect.

COVID 19 PROTECTION

Please see our Covid 19 Protection section for further details.

WHAT TO WEAR

We wish to be sensitive to the customs of the country we are visiting so we strongly urge you to take into consideration our suggested dress code. Women can wear short sleeved tops, but will sometimes attract stares if wearing tops that do not cover the groin area.  The most comfortable form of dress is a lightweight tunic, sleeveless or with sleeves, over loose lightweight trousers, or long/ calf length dresses or skirts. 

Munnar only – Lightweight jacket or sweater for evening. Plus bedsocks if you get cold feet! (Night time temperatures will be typically between 8C – 14C January / February) but could be lower. )

Sun hat with brim.

Lightweight sarong / shawl for covering the tops of arms during temple visits and covering up on the beach.

Flip flops or other types of slip-on sandals are useful for taking off easily when visiting shops, houses, temples.. 

A modest swimsuit, or two piece – bikinis are becoming more acceptable now.

 Mid-calf length trousers. Long trousers or long skirts and dresses for evenings to protect from mosquitoes. 

Shorts for women, except bermuda length, are not recommended.

Very light weight – long sleeved tops, or ¾ length for visiting temples and evenings to combat the mosquitoes.

Sandals for off-road and for workshops that offer toe protection. A good quality walking sandal with closed toe is ideal as well as sliders/ flip flops for ease in removing for beach, temples, shops etc. Sandals are known as ‘chappals’ in Kerala in case you’re asked to remove them!

USEFUL ITEMS TO PACK

Cutlery, Cup, plastic or metal for teeth brushing and toothbrush rinsing. etc.

Small ultra-lightweight nylon day sack that folds into a small pouch invaluable for everyday sightseeing, carrying water.

A super lightweight rain jacket

Umbrella for showers or to protect from the sun.

A money pouch for the neck or waist to be worn under clothing.

Head torch

Battery power pack for charging devices

Spare batteries for torch or rechargeable.

Adaptors as described above.

Travel towel, for the beach, quick drying microfibre preferably.

Rehydration tablets

Mosquito repellent (30% DEET minimum if you are OK with DEET or take Vitamin B compound extra strength, 4 days before travel and every day of the tour. )

Tiger balm or bite and sting cream – Antihistamine

Sun screen, as it’s not readily available in India or very expensive, and after-sun.

Sunglasses

Travel sickness remedy – for winding mountain roads – I always take them.

Universal sink plug – no plugs in India that I have seen! Hand washing can be done in the bucket that’s provided in some shower rooms as Indians often prefer to have a bucket bath, rather than a shower so you can pour water over yourself from the bucket with the provided jug. Often it’s more satisfactory than the showers!

Small homemade medical kit.

Concentrated travel wash – laundry services can be hit and miss in some locations. Be prepared to handwash intimate items and tops.

Essential – A WATER BOTTLE that can be re-filled with filtered water en route, or at the hotels we are staying in. 

RECYCLING

For hundreds of years in India household rubbish was burned or fed to the animals belonging to the household. With the introduction of plastic to the packaging of nearly everything in the last few years, rubbish has become a massive problem in India.

Regular recycling collections are only available in major cities and limited recycling facilities elsewhere. A growing awareness of the problem however has led to the banning of all plastic bags in shops as well as other initiatives to reduce the amount of plastic waste.

CARRIER BAGS

Rather than your purchases being handed to you in a plastic bag you will be offered your purchases either in a pretty cloth bag, one made from folded newspapers or asked to pay for a calico bag in some shops.

Alternatively, you can bring your own packable nylon tote bag or use one of our lovely Textile Travels hand woven cotton tote bags made locally in Kannur, Kerala by a small local company. You’ll be given one as part of your introduction to the tour.

We’re also encouraging visitors to try to place fruit and other purchases directly into your bag to avoid collecting lots of packaging waste.

DRINKING STRAWS

To aid the recycling effort, India has banned the use of plastic drinking straws, so please either bring your own reusable stainless steel or bamboo straw or be prepared for a paper straw that could go soggy as you drink and gradually unravel, depending on the quality.

WATER BOTTLES

Water bottles are probably the biggest source of plastic waste in India.

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/use-of-plastics-in-india-growing-but-nearly-80-pet-bottles-recycled-5772614/

Although all plastic bottles now have to be recyclable by law, we aim to reduce our consumption of bottled water as much as possible by providing drinking water while travelling in our tour vehicle, from a portable water filter if possible. In some instances such as restaurants and our workshops, bottled water will be provided instead. In this way we will be helping to cut plastic waste in India.

Where you do have to dispose of rubbish, please try to keep it with you until you find a suitable bin to put it in of which there are usually a good selection, sometimes in the form of concrete animals to tempt the children to throw away responsibly!

CULTURE

ELEPHANTS

Elephant camps are a regular tourist destination on many tours of Kerala. Ceremonial temple elephants live in these ‘camps’ and are catered for individually by their mahouts or carers.

There can be cross cultural differences involving keeping animals such as elephants in captivity as we learn more and more about their social groups and life in the wild.

In India this conversation is only just starting, and the use of temple elephants for temple ceremonies in Kerala is now under discussion at least.  Elephants and humans have been working together here for centuries and the elephant is revered in the form of Ganesha, the Hindu god who helps to overcome all obstacles.

Due to this cultural divide, and a wish to be responsible travellers, we have made the decision not to visit elephant camps on our tours.

RESPECTING OUR HOSTS

We think that you will want to show respect for the some of the customs and traditions of our host country. Ways we can do this are:

  • Removing our shoes when entering our hotel rooms, most shops, people’s homes and temples where we are allowed entry. If you don’t wish to wear bare feet, then please remember to pack a pair of lightweight socks to wear inside.
  • Wearing a shawl or sarong around our shoulders if we are wearing short sleeved or sleeveless tops when we enter a temple (Karnataka and Tamil Nadu only, as foreigners are not allowed entry to the inner sanctum of temples in Kerala).
  • Wearing trousers with a knee length tunic or dress over when visiting temples.
  • Wearing modest clothing as above while sightseeing and shopping
  • Wearing a modest one-piece bathing suit while on the beach.
  • Washing our hands in restaurants before eating. Washing facilities are always provided at the back of the restaurant or outside. 
  • Using our right hand only for eating if we are trying to master the tricky art of eating Indian style with our fingers.
  • Using our right hand only for handling money and paying for purchases.

 

 

KERALA

The weather in Kerala is tropical but not very humid. On the coastal strip of Kerala temperatures in the dry season between November and May tend to vary between 32C in December and 35C in May. January and February are perfect times to visit as humidity is low and sunshine every day as a rule. 

If you travel up into the Western Ghat mountains, the temperatures drop considerably. In the tea gardens of Munnar temperatures are around 16 – 18C in January in the daytime and 21 – 24C in February. Night time temperatures can drop into single figures in January and 14/16C in February, with the odd shower or mist on occasion. You will definitely need your travelling layers for Munnar. 

Inland, temperatures can be hotter than on the coast as there is always a pleasant breeze to mitigate the heat on the coast.  So, the hottest part of our Kerala tour will be the Pollachi/ Otappallam section. 

MYORE/BANGALORE

Weather in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu is much less humid than Kerala. Pollachi in Tamil Nadu has a dry arid climate with temperatures matching Kerala. Whereas Mysore and Bangalore temperatures tend to be much more temperate with a year round temperature range of 30C in November up to 36C in May. Again, January and February are great times to visit. It’s the dry season with temperatures around 31 – 33C and a dry atmosphere.