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Exchange Rate and Travel Tips

Submitted by Navin Pathak on Tue, 04/21/2015 - 10:51pm.

The following is the checklist that I follow before and during my trip to India.

  • Check the expiration date on your passport and visa
  • Leave copies of your passport, visa, and itinerary with a friend/relative
  • Put a hold on your Mail delivery or have a friend/relative collect your mail
  • Determine if you can save money by reducing your Internet, and phone service during your absence 
  • Check travel, medical insurance coverage 
  • Leave your house keys and your India contact numbers with a friend/relative 
  • Determine if you need to notify your utility providers like gas, electricity, and water of your absence
  • Determine if you need to winterize your house if traveling during cold months
  • Inform your bank and other credit card companies about your trip to India and possible use of credit cards and cash withdrawal 
  • For money matters, I do two things 1) carry adequate cash and 2) If I need cash in India, I use my online account with either of the three to transfer funds from my US bank: Western Union, Moneydart and Transfast.
Submitted by Navin Pathak on Wed, 04/15/2015 - 11:49pm.

If you are planning to travel to India and avail its Visa-on-arrival facility, then you must know that you need pre-authorization of visa prior to your travel to India.

General thought is that the Indian visa is granted on arrival but this is a wrong presumption.

Under the e-Tourist visa scheme, a foreign tourist would apply for a visa online by uploading his photograph and passport and also paying his visa fee online. The visa authorities would then process his application and send him an electronic travel authorization, or simply e-visa, via e-mail within 72 hour

The e-visa scheme presently covers 45 countries and can be availed across nine international airports. With the expansion of the scheme by June, the list will go up to 76 countries and 16 airports.

Among the countries whose citizens will now be eligible for e-visas are Argentina, Armenia, Aruba, Belgium, Colombia, Cuba, Guatemala, Hungary, Ireland, Jamaica, Malaysia, Malta, Mongolia, Mozambique, the Netherlands, Panama, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, St Lucia, St Vincent & the Grenadines, Surinam, Sweden, Tanzania, East Timor, Turks & Caicos Islands, the UK, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Submitted by Navin Pathak on Sat, 03/21/2015 - 9:01am.

Are you planning to travel to America without buying travel insurance? Think again! You can’t deny the fact that mishaps can happen anywhere at any time, which is why it is important to be protected with a US travel medical insurance plan when visiting loved ones in the United States or traveling on a leisurely US trip.

Healthcare in the US is a high-cost industry. If you travel to the US without health insurance, medical costs for treatment and advice, medical emergencies, hospital visits, doctor’s visits, and diagnostic tests can put a huge dent in your bank account. International travelers and B2 visa holders traveling to the USA are advised to buy an adequate visitors insurance policy to make their trip to the US one that’s worry-free.

Travel medical insurance plans sometimes go by other names such as visitors medical insurance, visitors insurance, overseas travel insurance, and travel health insurance. A US travel medical insurance policy provides medical and travel emergency coverage for visitors throughout their entire stay in the United States. Visitor visa holders can choose between limited plans and comprehensive plans. Depending on the plan you buy, insurance policies not only cover medical expenses, but also provide coverage for travel emergencies like baggage loss, in-flight emergency, trip cancellation, and trip interruption. Coverage benefits typically include:

  • Hospitalization due to sickness, injury, or accident
  • Emergency medical expenses
  • Emergency medical evacuation
  • Repatriation of mortal remains in case of accidental death
  • Surgery and dental charges
  • Cost of medications and prescription drugs
  • Flight accident
  • Accidental death & dismemberment
  • Emergency medical reunion
  • Brief return to home country

Recommended for foreign visitors to the USA, travel insurance also offers coverage for non-medical expenses including passport theft, trip interruption and cancellation, wallet theft, and baggage delay, among other travel benefits depending on the plan.

The visitors health insurance premium depends primarily on the type of coverage, age of the visitor, duration of health coverage, destination, and insurance deductible. You may either opt for comprehensive coverage plans or limited coverage plans, depending on your travel insurance needs and budget. Most of these plans do not cover pre-existing conditions, though a few may offer limited coverage under certain circumstances.

Where to Buy Visitors Travel Medical Insurance Plan

A number of insurance companies offer visitors travel insurance USA plans with competitive premium rates. However, since the prices of plans vary from one insurance provider to another, the best way you can save money on your travel insurance premium is to compare plans before you purchase. You can buy travel insurance for visitors to USA online using a travel insurance comparison site like www.visitorscoverage.com, which is one of the best source to find the most competitive insurance plan quotes. Most insurance companies issue an e-Policy, which makes it easy for you to purchase your preferred policy online using a credit card – even after you have landed in the United States.

While searching for the best travel medical insurance quote, be sure to verify the insurance provider’s credentials and compare plans and quotes offered by different companies so you get the best visitors insurance policy to suit your needs and budget.

© Copyrights VisitorsCoverage Inc

Submitted by Navin Pathak on Sun, 01/11/2015 - 1:17am.

You will have to check with your insurance provider to see if they cover unforseen medical expenses during your travel. U.S. medical insurance is generally not accepted outside the United States, nor do the Social Security Medicare and Medicaid programs provide coverage for hospital or medical costs outside the United States. If your insurance policy does not cover you abroad, it is a good idea to consider purchasing a short-term policy that does. There are health insurance policies designed specifically to cover travel. Many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas including emergency services such as medical evacuations.

Submitted by Navin Pathak on Fri, 12/12/2014 - 10:30pm.

Auto-Rickshaws are also called three-wheelers and are available in plentiful for traveling within Delhi NCR. These are very cheap to hire, almost 1/3rd the cost of taxi charges, but you must negotiate the rate before you sit in them.  Availability is one thing but getting drivers to agree to take you to your desired destination is another.  Of course money talks better than your argument with them but when in need make sure that you are polite and show your emergency.

Though every auto-rickshaw is equipped with a rate ‘meter’ ,the authorized way of charging for the services based on distance traveled, sometimes its better to negotiate the price beforehand, else there are high chance that you are taken through a longer route. You can only appear smart by knowing your way, otherwise, there is no recourse to the extra money paid.

Auto-rickshaws are certainly not for the faint-hearted. Drivers can drive them in any lane, against the opposite traffic, and turn without any signal.

Open from both the sides, traveling in auto-rickshaw in colder months can be very dreadful if you are not well packed.

Safety can be a concern in an auto-rickshaw since they are open from both the sides. The sudden brakes can throw you off the street and often the drivers drive the rickshaw in the nights without head-lights.

For complaints regarding service charges, you may call +91-11-2331-9334

Submitted by Navin Pathak on Sun, 12/07/2014 - 9:01am.

India is a signatory to the International Custom Convention and the ATA Carnet Convention and allows import of motor vehicles into India without payment of customs duties.

‘Triptique / Carnet De Passage en Douane’ is a travel document for the purposes of temporary importation of private road vehicles into India by a tourist, free of duty. This document is issued by an approved Automobile Association abroad. Carnet de Passage and Triptique are identical in purpose, except that Triptique is meant for a single country while the Carnet is for more than one country.

This facility allows you to bring your motor vehicle into India free of customs duties for a period of six months. The motor vehicle has to be re-exported from India within this period. Import of Tourist Buses is also allowed subject to certain conditions.

Extension of the Retention period: Only the Central Government has the powers to extend this time frame of retention of the motor vehicle in India and this extension is very rarely given and that too under exceptional circumstances. The initial period of six months is extended for another six months only if the Carnet book is valid till such time.

The tourist’s passport will be endorsed when a vehicle is cleared under Carnet/Triptique. Such an endorsement will also clearly mention the exact date by which the vehicle is to be re-exported.

If tourist has to travel out of India temporarily, the vehicle must be deposited into a customs bonded warehouse. When the tourist returns, such vehicle will be handed back to him. Under no circumstances, can or should a tourist leave the country leaving behind his vehicle unattended or with a friend or relative.

Documents Required for Customs Clearance:

  1. Importers Original Passport
  2. Original Carnet book / Triptique
  3. Original Shipping Documents (Bill of Lading/Air Way Bill)
  4. List of any extra fittings in the car along with their values.
  5. A letter addressed to Commissioner of Customs for Non Gainful Employment.
  6. Insurance Policy.

If the motor vehicle is not re-exported for any reason the customs will demand duty, fines, and penalties as applicable. Re-export of badly damaged vehicles shall not be required in case of fully authenticated accidents, provided the vehicles:

  1. are subject to import duties and import taxes to which they are liable.
  2. are abandoned free of all expenses to the Exchequer of the country in which they are imported.
  3. are destroyed, under the official supervision at the expense of the importer as the Customs authorities may require.

Author of this tip Mr. Yogesh Thakker is based in Somerset, New Jersey (USA) and is an expert on ’relocation to India’.  For any questions, you can reach Yogesh at info@21crinc.com.

Submitted by Navin Pathak on Mon, 11/24/2014 - 10:19pm.

One of the best uses you can make of your travel to India is to get a preventive health check-up done at a very meager cost.

Preventive screening is often not covered under medical insurance plans in US and it is very expensive.   While most insurance plans allow basic tests such as blood pressure, cholesterol level etc., they do not cover advanced procedures such as High Definition CT Lung scan, CT-scans of the heart to detect calcium buildup in arteries that can signal heart disease, Colon Cancer Screening,  advanced Blood tests to detect early stages of disease, and Nutrition and Fitness assessments, etc.  In US, the preventive physicals that are offered by clinics like Princeton Longevity Center, Canyon Ranch and the Mayo Clinic cost anywhere from $2,000 to $7,000.

Same quality health check-up can be done in India at very affordable 6-8th of the cost in US. Not only can you get advanced screening and wellness assessment done but can also enjoy a relaxing holiday at a culturally vibrant and historically rich place.

Here we list some of the top executive health check up service providers in Delhi.  At these facilities, an inter-disciplinary team of physicians working together will assess your current and (near) future health & risk factors and design a program.  It normally takes a day for the tests to be conducted.  Once you are back to US, you can show the reports to your general physician and create your action plan.

We highly recommend that you make use of this opportunity during your visit to India. If you need help in planning, signing up with a service provider or with the follow-up program, please fill up the Contact Us form on the site.

Preventive Health Checkup Service Providers in Delhi:

  1. Escorts Heart Institute and Research Centre Limited –  Okhla New Delhi – 110025 +91-11-2682-5000
  2. Max Devki Devi Heart & Vascular Institute - 2 Press Enclave Road Saket New Delhi – 110017 +91-11-2651-5050
  3. Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals - Sarita Vihar Delhi Mathura Road New Delhi – 110076 +91-11-2692-5858
Submitted by Navin Pathak on Wed, 11/12/2014 - 10:11pm.

Not one, not 2 but there are tens of fraudulent tourism centers in Delhi and all of them portray as if they are Government run.  These fraudulent centers are mostly located around Central and Old delhi.  For many, Delhi is the traveler’s first experience of India and for an unprepared traveler it can become the worst experience.  How you talk and look for your ways around are the easiest give-aways to the scammers. Handy with some basic information & contact numbers you can really help yourself not ruin your entire trip.

There is only one India Tourism Center under the Ministry of Tourism: +91-11- 2332-0342 or visit in-person at 88 Janpath, Connaught Place, New Delhi.  This center can also provide you with the list of Tourism centers in all other states and cities in India.

You can also contact Delhi Toursim office at +91-11-2464-7005 or click http://delhitourism.nic.in for details.

For travelers from US: You can reach Government of India’s India Tourism centers in US for any travel related guidance at: +1-212-586-4901 (NY) or +1-213-380-8855 (LA) or visit www.incredibleindia.org.

Submitted by Navin Pathak on Mon, 11/03/2014 - 11:11am.

The Indian consulate to which you shall apply for visa depends on the State you live in.  Other than  Indian Embassy there are 4 Indian consulates and they all have their own state jurisdictions.

A) Indian Embassy

Consular Wing, 2536  Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington D.C. 20008; +1-202-939-9806

Consular Jurisdiction: Bermuda, Delaware, District of Columbia,  Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia 

B) Consulates

Consulate General of India – New York
3 East 64th Street
New York, NY 10065
+1-212-774-0600

Consular Jurisdiction: Connecticut, Maine,  Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virgin Islands

Consulate General of India – San Francisco
540 Arguello Blvd
San Francisco, CA 94118
+1-415-668-0662

Consular Jurisdiction: Alaska, Arizona,  California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming

Consulate General of India – Chicago
455 North City Front Plaza Drive
NBC Tower Building, Suite No. 850
Chicago, IL 60611
+1-312-595-0405

Consular Jurisdiction: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin

Consulate General of India – Houston
4300 Scotland Street
Houston, TX 77007
+1-713-626-2148

Consular Jurisdiction: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Texas

Submitted by Shilpi Mahajan on Tue, 10/21/2014 - 10:52am.

Indian belly can ruin your trip if you let your taste buds run amok.Indiahas one of the best foods for your drooling palette and some basic steps ensure you stay safe, whilst you engage in self-indulgence. Here are three basic rules I can swear by. I have traveled toIndiamany times with my small daughter and I swear we never fall sick. Here is our mantra:

  1. Drink and drink only bottled water. Go to any shop and ask for Bisleri, the first bottled water brand, it is now a generic term for bottled water. If you don’t have access to bottled water, you can have RO water (RO being reverse osmosis), a process to purify water. You can also boil water for about 20 minutes and then consume it within 2 days.
  2. Avoid raw foods especially, salad. Most Indian dishes are served with vinegar onion (yum) or cucumber yoghurt. Control!!! Its a luxury you can’t afford. Avoid it at all cost. You can have anything that’s cooked and is still “warm”. Remember, India's a tropical country and it doesn’t take time for microbes to multiply. That is the reason you need to have hot, cooked food.
  3. Avoid milk for the first week. Indians drink buffalo’s milk and cow’s milk is a rarity. Start with milk products like yogurt and then try and stick to toned milk. Indian yogurt is the best I have tasted so far. You can also have the ubiquitous Indian tea. Its boiled, healthy and if herbal, aids your digestion.
  4. Stay odomoized to keep the mosquitoes at bay. Odomos is a local mosquito repellent brand. Don’t try and carry mosquito repellents from the west. Indian mosquitoes are thick skinned much like India itself .
  5. It might be worth it to invest in soft Lucknowi cotton kurtis. They will keep you covered and safe. You can get them for as low as $3 from Chandni chowk. Whats better than a slice of the old world with some shopping indulgence?

Stick to these simple rules and you will have a fun and safe trip…

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