The great loo roll debate – should I take loo roll to india

One of the mistakes I made the first time I travelled to India was to take the advice found on many blogs regarding taking toilet roll to India – What was I thinking ? Yes there were occasions where I needed some tissue for the bathroom but had to fish into my suitcase / rucksack for the messy unravelling loo roll. And how discreet was that ? Not. I learned from this and now make sure I pack lots of small packs of 12 tissues. They fit easily into pockets, rucksacks, daypacks bumbags and inside shoes and corners of your suitcase/backpack – and if you have them tucked away everywhere you are not going to have to be searching around for them. I did not encounter any squat toilets during my travels – all were flush toilets – but I did encounter the spray hose ( spray wash yourself clean) and also the jug ( to be filled with water and poured over yourself to clean).

Indian toilet spray

Often there was also an option of loo roll but not always. I did use both the spray and jug methods – hygienic I guess but I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to dry myself afterwards – so still needed tissue.  It is easier if wearing a skirt than trousers – I will have to research the logistics of using these methods a little better for my next visit! By the way – you are supposed to use your left hand for all toilet business – and your right for eating. Mostly there were hand washing facilities but again not always. I would recommend taking hand sanitising gel – I usually have a small one of these wherever I go even in UK. Although cheaper per ml to buy larger size bottles – again I would take several smaller bottles – I buy mine from Aldi – a small 50ml bottle is less than 50p. These again can be tucked into pockets, handbags, bumbags etc and if you have several you will always find one. For the journey home they are so cheap you can leave all but one bottle in India so that you have plenty of room to bring back all your favourite Indian souveniers. I will go into detail in a later blog about items to take and leave in India.

If you have a compromised immune system or you are working in an environment where a more professional hand sanitizer is required – or you just want to be extra careful , I would recommend Purell which comes with a handy lanyard to hang around your neck. I recently voluteered at Mother Terasa’s in Kolkata and used this system.

 

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Almost as small as a lighter – travel pack size tissues and hand gel
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Loo roll v tissue packets – this pack of 12 tissues cost £1 from B&M stores (September 2016)

Visas

  1. Indian Visa from UK

To travel to India you are likely to need an Indian Visa – you certainly need one if travelling from the UK. The good news is that as of August 2015 British citizens holidaying in India can now apply online for an e-tourist visa  instead of applying by post or visiting an application centre via vfs global . Actually I rather enjoyed my visit to the application centre in London – not least because there is a great Indian supermarket on its doorstep. The older visa is attached in your passport where as the new e-tourist visa is e-mailed to you to be printed off and carried with you. There are 2 tourist visas via vfs-global – a one year visa £109.44 or a 5 year visa £309.44. You can leave and enter as many times as you like but each stay must not exceed 180 days. To help you decide which visa process to chose from as a word of caution read my blog post INDIAN E-TOURIST VISA BIOMETRICS PROBLEMS .

The online e-tourist visa shows up on my bank statement as £49.37 and an additional 99p non-sterling transaction fee – this is for a single entry to India and is valid for only 30 days from the date of arrival in India . The application process for the e-tourist visa was not straightforward – read some tips here in my blog post FILLING IN THE INDIAN E-TOURIST E-VISA VISA .

For either visa you will need to have at least 6 months left on your passport at the time of your arrival in India. There are many websites offering to secure an Indian Visa – they charge a fee on top of the visa fee – it is not necessary to use these services – the two websites on this page are the official websites – there are telephone numbers on both if you need more information.  This information refers to tourist visas – if you are travelling on business you must apply for a different visa – details on vfsglobal website.

http://www.vfsglobal.com/India/UK/

https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html

visa application centre