Travel Tips for India
This year the GOAL conference is being held in Chennai, India. The GAA staff have collected tips and information for those attending the conference as well as for any international travelers who may be traveling to India in the near future. These tips are from the GAA staff’s personal experiences as well as current findings on the country. Happy traveling!
General Tips for Visiting India:
Be sure to check with a local travel clinic before traveling to India. Vaccination recommendations vary depending upon where you are from, where you have been and your personal history.
The exchange rate is roughly 70 INR (Indian Rupees) to 1 USD, or 76.50 INR to 1 EUR. The least expensive way to exchange money is to use a debit card at an ATM in India. That holds the best exchange rate and the lowest fee for services.
Transportation Around Town
Uber India exists, but it can be complicated to use. Customers are not able to pay online, and all requests are confirmed through a phone call from the driver, who often doesn’t speak English. The best solution is usually to ask the hotel concierge to “contact an Uber” for you. Requesting a taxi driver from the concierge is also an option.
Just in Case
It is a good idea to leave a copy of your passport, medical and credit cards in a safe place at home in case any issues occur while you are abroad. It is also a good idea to keep copies of your passport in each piece of luggage you carry or check.
Tips Specific to Those Attending GOAL:
Apply for your visa online using the new India eVisa system. The application process is efficient, and it only takes a few days (or less) to receive your visa. For most travelers, you do not need to surrender your passport to do so. It is highly recommended that you wait until the GOAL conference is fully registered with the Indian government and apply for the eConference Visa. If you use a different type of visa (like a tourist visa) and the authorities at the airport learn that you are there for a conference, there is a good chance that you will be turned away at the airport for an incorrect visa type.
Airport-to-hotel transfers are being sponsored by Mazzetta Company. Upon landing, look for the GOAL Welcome Desk where attendees there will take care of your bags and lead you to your car with a small arrival gift for your comfort.
It is wise to travel with over the counter medicines you are used to, so that, in an emergency, you can reach for what you know will work for aches, pains or an upset stomach. The GOAL office onsite at the Leela Palace will have a small collection of simple remedies, and you are welcome to request assistance from them on the second floor of the Leela Palace if needed. Don’t forget your personal medications.
While staying at The Leela Palace, a full international breakfast buffet is available for guests to enjoy. As usual, GOAL lunches, dinners and receptions will offer a full range of the flavors of India as well as international cuisine. The food in Chennai is delicious, but as in all countries, street food is generally less favorable for foreigners to sample.
Water Usage & Consumption
While spending time in Chennai specifically, be aware of your water usage, as the city is experiencing a serious water shortage and has been for a few months now. The city has been importing water on a daily basis through a cargo system that travels four hours to make the delivery. As for drinking water, it is safest for you to drink bottled water, as tap water can cause sickness.
Tours for companions
Tours will be available for companions to Chennai city (temples, museums and parks) and to Mahabalipuram, a temple area about an hour outside of Chennai.