Interview with globetrotter girls

Dani and Jess, the globetrotter girls have kindly shared experiences of their holiday in India. Jessica is an American freelance travel editor and writer while Dani is a German freelance photographer. Their passion for travel is really amazing. They have travelled extensively throughout Asia, Europe, Latin America and the United States.

India for kids
Dani & Jess at an Indian train station
Dani & Jess at an Indian train station

The Interview of globetrotter girls: Dani and Jess

When did you visit India?

We visited India in April – May 2012. We spent five weeks there.

Which parts of India did you see?

We only visited Kerala, Goa and Karnataka – three states in Southern India. We wanted to start with the south, which we had heard is less chaotic and easier to travel than the north. We took our time in these places rather than rushing through and trying to see all of India during one visit.

What was your first impression of India?

Our first impression was that it was LESS hectic, crowded, loud and dirty than we had expected! We flew into the city of Kochin in Kerala and stayed in the old fort and fishing village area. This felt very different to the rest of India, sleepy and slow almost. Other first impressions were how crowded the streets are with people, that the women’s dresses were so colorful, there is more honking than we could have imagined and there are so many cows roaming the streets!

Jess in an Indian tuktuk
Jess in an Indian tuktuk

What would you advice someone travelling to India?

If you are traveling through all of India, you could consider starting in the south, where it is easier to settle in to a more laid-back side of the country and then travel north once you’ve adjusted. Definitely always make sure to always book your train tickets well in advance. We learned that the hard way, when all the seats in sleeper class we wanted to book had been fully booked months ahead and we ended up standing squeezed in between hundreds of people in the dangerously overcrowded Second Class cars.

Even though you might not expect it, you might be the only foreigners some people have ever seen. Many Indians will stare at you, others will want to be in a photo with you, take your photo or touch your hair (especially if you are blond).

What souvenirs did you buy?

Souvenirs are cheap, though the quality varies. We bought some Kashmir scarves, bags, some silver, T-shirts,a gorgeous leather bound photo album, beautiful handmade pillow cases and a duvet.

A houseboat in Kerala backwaters
A houseboat in Kerala backwaters

Which items would you never travel without to India?

Hand sanitizer and PeptoBismol. If in doubt about anything you’re about to eat, take a little pink Pepto pill first and it settles your stomach even before you eat. We avoided Delhi Belly the entire trip. Hand sanitizer came in handy many times when we traveled on dirty buses or trains and went long periods without time to wash our hands. If you can bring hand wipes, they also come in handy, as would a little knife and fork set if you are eating in local places where people eat with their hands and you’re not comfortable with that.

And of course bring your camera – India is just so photogenic!

Did you try Indian food and what did you think of it?

Of course we tried Indian food! Indian food was one of our favorite foods long before we went to India, and we were excited to finally have ‘real’ Indian food! We were surprised to see how different Southern Indian cuisine was, which involved much more fruit like mangoes in a curry and lots of coconut. We loved homemade chapathi bread and all the eggplant dishes were to die for! Other favorites are PalakPaneer (spinach and Paneer cheese) and Daal, a lentil dish. We also like Indian Thalis.

Dani & Jess eating a South Indian "Thali"
Dani & Jess eating a South Indian “Thali”

Did you find India hot?

Yes, VERY hot! We were visiting during the hottest months of the year though, in April and May. The humidity was unbearable at times.

What did you think of the Indian people; honest answer please?

We found Indian people to be very friendly, curious and welcoming. No matter where we went, people were waving at us, smiling, asking to be in photos and having conversations with us, no matter how simple, just to say hi. We did not feel at risk or a target for crime, even though we stood out as being obviously very foreign.

Dani with Indian family in Hampi India
Dani with Indian family in Hampi

What was your worst experience of India?

Jess got rammed by a cow in Goa, which resulted in a trip to the emergency room and her being unable to walk for our remaining time in India.

What was your best experience of India?

Cruising on the backwaters in Kerala – we rented a houseboat for three days and just glided along the countless waterways of the backwaters, which was just pure bliss!

Dani & Jess at the backwaters of Kerala India
Dani & Jess at the backwaters of Kerala

Did you see beggars and how did you deal with them?

We did see beggars and it was hard to take sometimes. The extreme chasm between rich and poor was the biggest challenge for us, emotionally, as there are many Indians, both middle and upper class, that have enough money to live and travel comfortably, while others are so incredibly poor they can not afford to meet even their most basic needs and sleep out in the open or on the side of the street. We gave them a few rupees, which is nothing for us but ends up to be a lot of money for them.

What modes of transport did you use in India? What are thoughts on them?

We used trains, buses, planes, taxis and tuktuks. Indian trains in sleeper class were not luxurious, but are easy to travel on. However, sitting in second class felt unsafe, overcrowded and in the event of an emergency would be a nightmare. We had to even get off the train once at an unplanned stop because the second class journey was just too much for us to take.

The buses seemed all to be very old, and lurched back and forth unpredictably, but they got us from A to B. Tuktuks are an easy way to cover small distances, and taxis are really cheap to cover middle distances as well. We flew a few times as well, and the airports and airlines were all up to an international standard.

Please give your best tips for travelling to India?

Plan ahead, particularly with trains.. We can’t stress this enough! If you can’t reserve a ticket, think about if you really want to get on that train – especially when it is a long train ride.

Be flexible and patient, very patient. Reasons will not always be clear, languages get muddled and travel days especially can be confusing. Smile and laugh through it as much as possible and you should be fine.

Be open-minded and willing to try new foods and drinks.

We also found that India is a great place to splurge – if you are looking at a hotel room for $10 and a hotel for $20, the difference can be astonishing, so go for the $20 for a healthy amount of ‘luxury’.

Indian Thali
Indian Thali

Finally, would you visit India again?

We will return to India for sure! We haven’t been to the north yet, where a lot of places are that we’d like to see: the TajMahal, Jaipur, Jodpur and the Golden Temple in Amritsar, to name only a few. I would also love to return to Hampi.

29 thoughts on “Interview with globetrotter girls”

  1. Really enjoyed reading about your experiences. I remember visiting a remote village and one lady nodded at me as if to ask if she could touch my hair. I nodded my agreement and in what seemed like just a few seconds I was surrounded by women stroking and gently pulling my hair. It was a rather strange but interesting experience to be the subject of such curiosity.

    • Dear Kathryn, that’s India for you. As long as no one pulls your hair out, than I suppose that’s OK. Even we as Indians can get sucked in to it. I remember going to the villages to my in-laws and some women wanted to oil my hair. I agreed and found myself surrounded by many who wanted to oil and massage my head. You see how funny we are! I suppose thats what makes us unique.

  2. I wish I had done some more exploring around southern India, but I never made it past Goa. I simply got stuck there and used up most of my visa, but when you can get up early and step out your door directly onto a completely deserted beach for a refreshing early morning swim, it gets hard to leave and give that up.

    And I just read about your alleged encounter with the local wildlife in Goa…hilarious (sorry, but it was)!

  3. Moving from southern India to the north is definitely a great idea. But to add to it i would suggest you start your trip sometime in December and end it in and around the Himalayas sometime in May. That will be a perfect 5 months spent traversing the country.

  4. Hi Shalu ji,

    It was an interesting article which offered the perspective of the guests who visit our country each year. It is delighting to hear that both of them enjoyed their stay in India.
    “Take your photo” That sounds like a scary proposition. I hope both the hosts and the guests took it in the right spirits. 🙂
    Lovely interview, hope that India lives up to its reputation of ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’

    Happy New Year Shalu ji.



  5. Hi Shalu,

    What a delightful interview. Thanks for introducing us to Dani and Jess, they sound like a really adventurous pair of gals.

    One thing that stood out for me was what they said about the food (maybe because it’s lunchtime and I’m getting hungry):)
    I never think about coconut and mangoes when I think of India. Now I know to get my hands on a supply of Pepto before coming that way.

    Have a Happy New Year Shalu and I wish you have continued success with your blog in 2013!

    • Hi Ileane, mangoes and coconuts are used quite extensively for Indian food specially in pickles and chutneys. I am not aware of Pepto, is it some kind of pain relief? Thank you for comment, hope to see you again here.

  6. HI Shalu Jee

    This is a great interview. The guests really enjoyed their stay here and only concern I could make out is the beggar community.

    Thanks for sharing this great piece of interview. Wishing you and your family a happy and prosperous New year.



  7. Looks like you had a great trip. I never went to the South in India but only did the golden triangle (New Delhi – Agra – Jaipur) it was amazing. The south looks very beautiful as well.

  8. Hey Shalu,

    What an interesting interview, those ladies are brave.

    Of course I’ve never been to a foreign country like India so I do think it’s best to get as much information as you can before setting out. A lot of people though do love spur of the moment. I just don’t happen to be one of them.

    Sounds like they definitely enjoyed it though and as they said, would return. That’s good to know that their experience was a good one.

    Thank you!


    • Hi Adrienne
      Dani and Jess together have done a lot of travelling. I agree that they are brave and that is how we women should be.
      Thanks for your comment and hope to see you again.
      Best wishes

  9. Hey Shalu,
    It’s always a pleasure reading the travelling accounts of the travellers. Residing in the country. it gives immense pleasure to see India from the eyes of a foreigner. I enjoyed reading through the post. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Wow amazing post thanks for this post……….Nice blog about travel experience of girls thanks if you want more read about travel visit my web site

  11. Hi Dani & Jess…..
    Thanks for visiting India……I felt very sorry that Jess hit by a cow…….

    Its good to know that you find India a good place to visit. I would like to invite you to visit Northern Part of India but I would advise you to visit it during Nov to Mid march as this is best time to visit Northern part of India.
    You will like some famous Indian cousins as well like – Tandoori Chicken

  12. beautiful interaction… and pleasure for us to read 🙂
    PS:- it is little awkward when i wanted to post my comment it gave a message “not enough words on comment, so go back to type more”! how logical it is when sweetest human emotions are best expressed in shortest sentences?]

  13. Hi
    Have been looking at going to India for a couple of years now. It is quite hard to get an honest opinion so this was quite refreshing. I like to get off the beaten track when travelling to get away from the majority of tourists and see more in depth the real country.

    India is definatly on my travel bucket list lee

  14. Hi Shalu
    Thanks for replying to my comment. I want to do a tour and take in as much as I can and get away from the touristy parts so I can see the real India for myself and not just what the tour books are trying to sell you.

    Thanks lee

  15. when traveling the rural area of India and when you are on a mission to understand the local culture , food , people and to study all this thing you must start with public transport


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