In my latest blog post you would have read about our unpleasant 13 hour train journey from Delhi to Shimla… Here are a few things that I found essential for this journey as well as some tips to ensure you have a pleasant experience.
1. Take/buy a few litres of bottled mineral water and drink it! Obviously, water is essential. Please be careful with drinking tap water, brushing teeth and eating certain foods as a lot of the water is not fit for consumption and can make you extremely ill. Our lovely tuk-tuk driver Gopal stressed the importance of us making sure we buy/take the water ourselves because you never know if sometimes the bottles can just be refilled with tap water. So always be sure to check the seals! The same goes with food, you could potential be on a 8 hour train for 13 hours so pack a little snack for later. The
2. Take plenty of Buscopan, Immodium and Vitamin C. For nearly 5 days points 1 and 2 are literally what kept us at a degree of comfort if you could call it that. Chemists sell near enough everything for everything! And they are cheap. So stock up in advance and make sure you have enough at close reach.
3. Always carry back up! I often carry a small pack of baby wipes in my day pack aswell as a small pack of tissues or toilet roll. Going to the toilet in India is like a spin of the wheel, you really never know what you are going to get so for me personally carrying these things was a godsend. Also, plane sick bags… they are free and super handy. So take them.
4. Maintaining personal hygiene is a must in these situations, so in addition to the above being very helpful you should also think about taking some alcohol gel and a little bar of soap with you. You need to wash you hands often to minimise the risk of getting sick, especially after going to the toilet, touching money and around food. A little squirt of alcohol gel and you’re good to go!
5. Wear comfortable, light-weight clothes and shoes… and don’t listen to your partners advice! I wore a loose strap top, loose long sleeved top, loose harem/yoga pants and my walking boots. What Zak advised I wear was jeans, a hoody and trainers… Hell no! That’s comfort to him but that really is not to me so if you know what makes you comfortable, do that. With the circumstances that we found ourselves in, I am very happy to have listened to my gut on this one. I also packed a hoody and a spare change of pants and socks. Ya’know, just in case.
6. This is mainly aimed as the ladies but as a female I have found it extremely handy to carry a light weight sarong or scarf with me. This way, you basically have a portable blanket, you can cover yourself quickly and easily where necessary and you can also fashion many things from a top to a bag by tying a couple of knots in it. On 2A/C we were supplied with a blanket and a cushion, whereas in 3 tier sleeper class you do not have this luxury so I would always take one with me.
7. Take some kind of entertainment/distraction. I would recommend taking a small book, some music or even a camera with you for the journey as it is loooong. It is nice to be able to relax in a situation where you are stuck for a few hours. I am gutted to have missed out on staring out the window and looking at all the views along the journey to Shimla but I just could not manage it. I found myself thankful to shove in my headphones and listen to a bit of relaxing chakra music to try and alleviate the contraction-like pains in my stomach.
8. Stay smart! Every single person that we have met or interacted with so far have been so pleasant, welcoming and friendly but it’s important to stay aware. You never know when an opportunity may be seized so make sure you use a bit of common sense when traveling around via public transport. I would 100% recommend getting a money belt, keep this on you with your valuables secured inside along with any cash. Keep your bag within sight or reach where possible, I often sit hugging mine or use it as a massive lumpy pillow. Also, take a padlock or two for times where you think you need it, if anything I find that a padlock acts as a deterrent. I always carry a bobby pin just in case I lose the key! Us girls always have at least one bobby pin on us whether we know it or not.
9. Be careful in future. No one likes being sick, so to be honest I was thankful to have gotten sick so soon into our trip. Lesson learnt. I will be a lot more careful in the future now.