Arrival Information

Major FAQ India

Room and Food

What kind of food do we eat?

While volunteering in India, we provide three Indian meals per day (breakfast, lunch and dinner). The Indian foods include chapattis, rice, paratha, lentil soup and a pickle with seasonal vegetable. If you are allergic to any type of food, please let us or the host family know the first day you arrive.

Does the accommodation (hostel or host family) have Internet? Electricity?

No, you need to go to the Internet café located nearby. It will cost Rs.30 per hour, but it is relatively fast.

Do we get a hot shower in our accommodation?

No, there are not hot showers available. With 9 months of heat the cold showers are welcomed, in the winter months it is a bit cool, but still manageable.

Is the water safe to drink or do we need to buy bottled water?

Generally, the water at the host home is safe, but we request that all the volunteers buy bottled drinking water to avoid water-born diseases.

Is it an issue if I am vegetarian? I am wheat allergic. Would it be a problem to the host family?

No, it will not be a problem if you are a vegetarian or have food allergies. Please let your country coordinator know in advance so that they may plan accordingly.

Do I get my own room?

Volunteers may share a room with 2-4 per room. Accommodations have Western-style and squat toilets, cold showers, running water, electricity, fans etc… it is a family oriented, hostel-like environment.

Do the members of the host family or the projects speak English?

Yes, they speak English, but only a little bit. They can communicate well enough to take care of the volunteers.

If I arrive with my friend, or girlfriend/boyfriend, can we stay together?

Yes, shared accommodations can be arranged.

What are the bathrooms and toilet facilities like?

Bathrooms and toilets are basic. Some of the host families have western toilets and some of the host families have squat toilets. It depends on where you are placed. The bathrooms are big so you can take a shower inside. There is also a bucket to wash your clothes, but volunteers have to bring their own soaps or detergents to do laundry.

What are the laundry arrangements?

The accommodations do not have washing machines; therefore, you will need to wash your clothing by hand. If you wish to have your clothing professionally laundered please visit a launderette in the city, or you may be able to compensate a family member.

Can I use appliances if I bring them from my home country?

Yes you may, however you may need an adaptor.

What are the bedding materials like? Do I need to bring a sleeping bag?

All the volunteering placements have a bed and a pillow with a blanket for winter. Volunteers do not need to bring anything, however a sleeping bag is suggested for winter. Some volunteers will bring their own bedding, which is appreciate. You will not be sharing a bed, but may share your room with fellow volunteers.

Arrival Information

Which airport do I need to fly into?

You fly to Indira Gandi International Airport in New Delhi.

Do you organize airport pickup?

Yes, we arrange all airports pickups. Volunteers will see their name on a card sheet upon their arrival. In the event that you do not see your greeter, you should immediately contact your country coordinator. Please provide all flight details prior to your departure to India to allow for ample time to arrange your transportation.

Where do I go from airport?

Volunteers are transported to the hostel from the airport. Generally, volunteers will stay on in the hostel where there will also be a short orientation regarding the program and Indian culture. From the hostel you will be transported to your project or accommodations either by taxi or by bus depending on where the project is located.

What happens if I missed my flight or arrive late?

Volunteers should inform their country coordinator immediately of any delays or changes in their flight plans so that they may plan accordingly.

Who will come to pick up me? How do I recognize the person at the airport?

Our driver or coordinator will come to pick you up. Volunteers will see their names on a card sheet upon arrival. In the event that a volunteer does not see his or her name, they should call their country coordinator.

Can you give us the direction for the meeting point?

Upon crossing immigration, please collect your baggage and head toward the exit gate. You will see greeters displaying name cards and your name will be on one.

If my assignment begins on Monday, when should I arrive?

Please coordinate your arrival for the preceding Sunday or Saturday, we understand traveling internationally can be expensive, therefore if it is more affordable to arrive earlier we can work with you on accommodations for an additional $20 (USD)/Day.

If I want to arrive earlier than when my assignment begins, where do I stay and who will organize the accommodations? Does it cost me extra?

The Sunday night accommodation of your arrival day is part of the program. Volunteers who arrive earlier than that are welcome, but they will need to pay US$20 for each additional night, which includes food and accommodations at our hostel.

Who will bring me to the airport for my departure?

Airport drop off is excluded and volunteers are responsible for their own return transfer. However, for a fee of US$20, we will arrange transportation for you 24/7.

Can you help us arrange our flights? Do you recommend any cheap airlines for flying to India?

Volunteers are responsible to arrange their own flight to India. You can use Google search to find the cheapest flights.

Visa Information

Can you please provide me the visa information? What kind of visa do I need to apply for?

Volunteers joining an India volunteer program must get a visa before traveling to India. Participants joining the program for less than 180 days may arrive in the country on a tourist visa, but you have to have the visa in advance. You can get it from an Indian Embassy closer to your hometown.

How do I apply for the visa?

Volunteers apply for the tourist visa at the nearest Indian Embassy in your country. Some countries have online facilities or travel agents that can help book it for you.

How much does it cost for the visa application?

The cost of the visa will vary, it is best to consult the Indian Embassy closest to you.

Do I need any documents to apply for the visa?

No documents are needed to apply for a tourist visa; you do need a reference address: Hosue no. 169, Sector 10, Faridabad, Delhi NCR. Pin 121006.

How long does it take to get the visa approval?

Please check with the embassy while applying for a visa, it can take anywhere from 1 week to 1 month.

Can I extend my visa while I am in the country? Can you help me with this?

No, it is not possible. You have to obtain a visa for the required length in advance of your trip. It is difficult to do it if you are already in India.

Safety

Is it safe to travel to India?

India is generally a safe country for tourist living and traveling there. There are very rare cases of tourist being harassed. However, to have a stay that is free of trouble, please take note of the guidelines. Some of them are common sense and apply even in your home country, while others may be new to you. Heed the advice of travelers and locals with an open mind and a pinch of salt. Please follow the safety guidelines provided by our pre-departure file.

What are safety measures you take for the volunteers? How can you guarantee volunteers’ safety?

We have an arrival orientation where, amongst other topics, safety is covered. It is important that volunteers follow our safety guidelines, but no one is responsible for volunteers’ safety more the volunteers themselves.

How can you help volunteers in the case of an emergency? Is there someone we can get hold of in case we need immediate help or support?

Yes, our local staff is available to help you. Local contacts are given upon arrival. Furthermore, the host families are there to look after you as well.

Is it safe to travel alone?

Yes, but it depends on how you travel and where you travel. We request that our volunteers travel only during the day and not at night if the volunteer is alone. Please talk to us when you plan to travel, and we can advise you.

Money

Are ATMs easily accessible?

Yes, ATM’S are easily accessible in India and most local communities. Most ATMs will accept cards with the VISA and MasterCard logo.

Where should I exchange my money?

From the moment you step off the plane, you'll start seeing travel exchanging counters. Also, all the banks in India can exchange money. The banks are generally open from 10 am to 3:30 pm, Monday through Friday, and 8.30 am to 11 am on Saturdays, but the currency exchange counters are open 24 hours at the airport.

How much money should I bring with me?

Food and accommodation are included in the program, so it depends on how lavish you plan to be with your spending or whether you would like to bring presents back home. Delhi is expensive city so generally, US $300 a month is sufficient.

Communication

How do I contact to the local coordinator?

You will be provided contact information for your corresponding coordinators.

How do I contact my family and friends once I arrive in India? How can my family members contact me?

There are a number of ways for your friends and family to keep in touch with you while you are abroad. They should try to contact you directly by phone or e-mail. Public phone booths are widely available and can call everywhere in the world. Local calls are relatively inexpensive, but international calls can be pricey.

Can I bring my mobile phone from my home country? Does it work?

Volunteers can bring their international phones to India and purchase a local SIM Card to have their service activated.

Buying a SIM card for your cell phone: Pay-as-you-go cell phone packages are the easiest way to get set up. India has introduced a registration process when buying a SIM. So, please bring passport-sized pictures with you. Having a SIM card is an easy, cheap way to be in touch with your family and friends back home and in the country.

Climate

Please provide detailed information on year-round climate in the country (which consists season you have, average temperature, and average rainfall in each month).

The climate of the country varies from region to region. Northern India enjoys cold climates in the winter months, between November and March. The coastal areas have a tropical climate throughout the year, while the plains and most of the central and southern regions of the country are hot in the summer months, from April to June. Most of the country has a vigorous monsoon season, which lasts from July and October.

Health and Safety

What are the principle health risks in India? Is there any mandatory vaccination we need to take?

Before you set out to travel anywhere in the world, check the health requirements for your destination. Look at the potential risks and plan the precautions you need to take, both before you go and once you are away. These will depend not only on the countries you may be visiting but also which parts, the length of your stay, the time of the year, and the location at which you will be staying.

When arriving in India from Africa, Latin America, and Papua New Guinea, yellow fever certificates must be shown. Other shots, although not officially required, are advisable. Typhoid, Polio and Tetanus are important. A gamma globulin injection for hepatitis immediately before departure is also advisable. Many countries require arrivals from India to have an up-to-date cholera vaccination.

A Vaccination against rabies is now available, but you must still visit the nearest hospital immediately following any bite from a dog or monkey for a further course of injections.

Malaria is still widespread in many parts of India. Advice as to which pills to take is constantly being revised, but, at present, one suggested regime is Niva-quine (or Avloclor) twice a week and one or two paludrine daily. Both courses must be continued for four to six weeks after leaving an affected area.

Most modern medicines are available over the counter in India, but it is wise to have your own small reserve stock. If prescription drugs are required, bring enough for the duration of your visit. It is advisable to keep a second stock of these packed in a separate bag in case you lose your baggage. A small kit should include a remedy for 'Delhi-belly' (upset stomach), some antiseptic cream, lip salve, mosquito cream, suntan lotion for log days on Goa' s beaches, water purifying tablets if bottled water is not available, elastoplasts, etc.

Many tourists develop problems on their second or third day because of 'climate shock' (heat exhaustion, rather than contaminated food and water), but if an upset stomach persists, you should seek medical advice (big hotels have a doctor on call). Many people in India advise drinking lots of fluids (boiled and filtered water with a little salt and sugar) and keeping to a diet of rice and yogurt for a couple of days There are a few things to be careful of in India, health-wise: drink plenty of fluids but never drink tap water, avoid fresh salads, even in restaurants; and do not eat street food until you know how much you can abuse your body for the sake of your palate. For more information, please consult your travel doctor.

General Questions

Where can I use Internet? Is there a place where I can use a phone to make a call to my family and friends?

There are plenty of Internet cafes near the host families and projects. Reliability and hourly rates are very cheap, but connectivity may be a lot slower than you are used to. You may have to purchase a data card, which is easily available with the help of your host family and the staff. Furthermore, you can call your family and friends from the SIM you buy in India or by using the public telephone booths available around you.

What kind of gifts would be appropriate to bring for the host family and the project?

You may decide that you want to take some things for the community where you will be living. We recommend that you take things to give to the children. Pens, crayons and pencils are always good gifts. Other items could be photos of your family or postcards from your hometown. Indians will find your background just as interesting as you find theirs! Giving small gifts will assist you in introducing yourself to your host family by providing a window into your world. It will also give you something to do during awkward moments in the first few weeks at your placement and when you get unexpected visits from the community! The community (including the projects) where you will be living will be able to use most donations, such as learning aids, educational toys and books. However, it may be more useful to buy gifts after you have actually been to the project, so you can see for yourself what would be most useful to the community.

Could you please provide me the packing list?

Most importantly, do not bring too much! You will find that you can buy many things at the market or in the shops in India. What you should bring:

  • good shoes for walking (sport shoes or good sneakers are okay)
  • A flashlight (torch)
  • A hat to protect you from the sun/sunglasses/sunblock lotions
  • First aid kit and emergency medical travel kit
  • A pocketknife (but don’t put it into your hand baggage when you get on the airplane!)
  • Towels
  • Copies of important papers (passport, insurance, vaccination passport, etc.)
  • Insect repellent
  • alarm clock
  • a backpack and passport-size photographs if you want to travel
  • travel guide books
  • list of important addresses (Embassy, doctors, emergency telephone numbers etc.)
  • sleeping bag

Arrival Information

  • Which airport do I need to fly into?

    You fly to Indira Gandi International Airport in New Delhi.

  • Do you organize airport pickup?

    Yes, we arrange all airports pickups. Volunteers will see their name on a card sheet upon their arrival. In the event that you do not see your greeter, you should immediately contact your country coordinator. Please provide all flight details prior to your departure to India to allow for ample time to arrange your transportation.

  • Where do I go from airport?

    Volunteers are transported to the hostel from the airport. Generally, volunteers will stay on in the hostel where there will also be a short orientation regarding the program and Indian culture. From the hostel you will be transported to your project or accommodations either by taxi or by bus depending on where the project is located.

  • What happens if I missed my flight or arrive late?

    Volunteers should inform their country coordinator immediately of any delays or changes in their flight plans so that they may plan accordingly.

  • Who will come to pick up me? How do I recognize the person at the airport?

    Our driver or coordinator will come to pick you up. Volunteers will see their names on a card sheet upon arrival. In the event that a volunteer does not see his or her name, they should call their country coordinator.

  • Can you give us the direction for the meeting point?

    Upon crossing immigration, please collect your baggage and head toward the exit gate. You will see greeters displaying name cards and your name will be on one.

  • If my assignment begins on Monday, when should I arrive?

    Please coordinate your arrival for the preceding Sunday or Saturday, we understand traveling internationally can be expensive, therefore if it is more affordable to arrive earlier we can work with you on accommodations for an additional $20 (USD)/Day.

  • If I want to arrive earlier than when my assignment begins, where do I stay and who will organize the accommodations? Does it cost me extra?

    The Sunday night accommodation of your arrival day is part of the program. Volunteers who arrive earlier than that are welcome, but they will need to pay US$20 for each additional night, which includes food and accommodations at our hostel.

  • Who will bring me to the airport for my departure?

    Airport drop off is excluded and volunteers are responsible for their own return transfer. However, for a fee of US$20, we will arrange transportation for you 24/7.

  • Can you help us arrange our flights? Do you recommend any cheap airlines for flying to India?

    Volunteers are responsible to arrange their own flight to India. You can use Google search to find the cheapest flights.

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