Travelling to India - Early Oct, opinions?

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Olav2
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Travelling to India - Early Oct, opinions?

Post by Olav2 » Mon Aug 30, 2010 4:12 pm

Hi all,

I am early 30s and planning to travel to India with an indian friend I met in the US. The best part is, he knows the geography and language, so it will be an amazing experience!

The thing is, I have a new 3 month old baby at home, and my wife is not so hot about me going to a country with rampant diseases like Malaria, Dengue Fever, Hepatitis, etc, and bringing something back to the baby. My health, she is less concerned about :).

I realize this is most likely my only opportunity to have this vacation, and this friend is a great guy and will be a lot of fun.

We're planning for 2 weeks, and going to Kerala, Goa, Bombay, Pune (where his family lives), and the Taj Mahal.

So, the airfare alone is about $1100, not too big a deal, and he says travel, lodging and food expenses in India should be relatively cheap, even though he won't permit me to eat food off the street vendors or drink non-bottled water. :)

Has anyone travelled around India? I'm a bit of a hypochondriac, so I'm already planning to cover myself in DEET and geting the insecticide (pyrethrin?) spray to impregnate your clothes, and carrying a mosquito net for sleeping. That will hopefully stave off Malaria and Dengue. But, I still need to get whatever vaccinations I can. I'm forgoing the Malaria medications since I hear the side effects are pretty severe. I figure the bug repellant should be enough.

Time is getting short, though, for my planning.

Am I being paranoid? Is there something else I should be worried about? Any suggestions? Any must see places that I forgot?

Thanks!

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Dan Moroboshi
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Post by Dan Moroboshi » Mon Aug 30, 2010 4:32 pm

I haven't been to India... yet.

I may go to Hyderabad next year for a medical mission trip.

The CDC has information about recommended vaccinations and other precautions. Here's their page for India:

http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/india.aspx

Do not count on insect repellents alone. Malaria is terrible. You'll need to take anti-malarial drugs before, during, and after your trip. I took Atovaquone/proguanil (Malarone) for a trip to Haiti, and didn't experience any significant side effects. It is a PITA to take the medication on a daily basis, but I didn't want to have to take a once-a-week drug for a month after I returned (I didn't want to take the risk of forgetting, and then contracting malaria).

My county's public health department had all of the vaccines required for a nominal fee, but my health insurance did not cover them. You could call your primary care physician about obtaining vaccinations, but they may or may not order them for you.

I'd ask your doctor to prescribe a broad-spectrum antibiotic to bring, just in case you contract a food- or water- borne illness. (I brought levaquin and flagyl, but ended up eating MREs and Clif Bars during my trip, so they were unnecessary.)

Permethrin spray for clothing works great. I got the huge 24 oz Sawyer spray bottle at Dick's Sporting Goods. It was actually cheaper than the price on Amazon.

Image

dbltrbl
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Post by dbltrbl » Mon Aug 30, 2010 4:33 pm

Enjoy. Your friend is right no food from vendors. No cold food only hot or really cold refrigerated stuff only. As for diseases that's little hyperbole. As for other sites, depends on your interest and time. It is a big country and many parts have their own charm but you can not cover it in 2 weeks.

Enjoy it.

ayitey
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Post by ayitey » Mon Aug 30, 2010 4:40 pm

I've spent six weeks in India for work and had no issues with malaria. Note that malaria-carrying mosquitos come out at night. Thus, avoid the outdoors at night and ensure that wherever you sleep is well sealed from mosquitos. Otherwise, sleep with a net or take anti-malaria prophylactic. There are several options that do not cause bad side effects; just avoid mefloquine/Lariam. If you do get malaria, seek medical attention quickly, because as has been said, the effects are very unpleasant.

If you have a newborn, your wife may not be all that happy that you took a 2 week vacation. That would be a big consideration in my book. You'll probably have another chance to go to India. Indian friends always return to India at some point.

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kramer
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Post by kramer » Mon Aug 30, 2010 10:07 pm

Just study the CDC page. You should have most of these vaccinations anyway for future travel and everyone, even non-travelers, should have the hepatitis vaccine (which is given to all young people for several years now).

For anti-malarial, personally I prefer Mefloquine (Larium) because it is just once a week, but it gives a few people side effects (about $5 a pill at Walmart). Malarone works for many people although it is the most expensive alternative. The problem with the third alternative, Doxycycline, which is also the cheapest, is that it makes a lot of people very sun sensitive. This happened to a travel partner of mine in Myanmar and she had to stop taking them. It is sometimes better to start taking your anti-malarial soon enough before leaving so that you might see side effects and could change medicine before leaving. Study the CDC malaria maps, they map by region.

That being said, your biggest dangers far and away are stomach sickness from food that you eat and traffic. Yes, your doctor will subscribe you some anti-biotics to carry with you (like 500 mg Cipro tablets). I just carry my own that I buy in other countries.

Thoroughly read the CDC web page and be informed before you see your doctor or travel nurse.

Kramer

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Hat
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India

Post by Hat » Mon Aug 30, 2010 10:15 pm

I also took Malarone (malaria medication) and had no side effects.

Don't drink tap water or beverages with ice. Order only bottled water, insist on opening it yourself, and make sure the seal is there.

Zithromax (azithromycin) is one of the most commonly recommended antibiotics for India, but be aware that some people experience side effects that are similar to traveler's diarrhea. Select an antibiotic with fewer side effects if this is a concern.

Take pepto and immodium for traveler's diarrhea.

Take a credit card with low or no foreign currency conversion fees.

penumbra
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Post by penumbra » Mon Aug 30, 2010 10:28 pm

I was recently in Cambodia and Vietnam. I took doxycycline for malaria. I used sunscreen and had no problem with sun sensitivity; my daughter was with me and did likewise. Its benefit is that it's real cheap, simple to take, and has few side effects. I'm a physician myself, and researched the alternatives.

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robolove
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Post by robolove » Tue Aug 31, 2010 5:44 am

Been to Bombay. What an intense city...

I wish I had a buddy that offered to show me around India.
The thing is, I have a new 3 month old baby at home..
Your wife must be really awesome to let you go on vacation and leave her and the 3 month new born at home.

vtalyan
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Post by vtalyan » Tue Aug 31, 2010 6:54 am

Drink bottled water, wash your hands regularly, and eat food from reputable restaurants and at home.

October is a good time to go to India, you will have fun.

Angeline
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Post by Angeline » Tue Aug 31, 2010 7:47 am

No side effects at all with Malarone. We have taken it on trips in Asia & Africa, including our 12 year old son.

You should be fine in India if you follow all the precautions others have mentioned. Absolutely no raw foods or ice. Recognize that your friend may have resistance to food-related bacteria that you won't, so don't just assume you can eat and drink whatever he does.

Enjoy the trip. We went in October a couple of years ago to Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, and it was a great experience, and perfect time of year to travel in India. The food was great. We didn't take Malarone for this trip - never even considered Malaria - and we didn't experience mosquitoes in the areas we visited.

Angeline

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R-Man
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Post by R-Man » Tue Aug 31, 2010 4:47 pm

I've been to Mumbi and Bangalore several times and can attest do not drink the milk either even from bottles!!
Wag More, Bark Less.

metacritic
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Re: Travelling to India - Early Oct, opinions?

Post by metacritic » Tue Aug 31, 2010 7:48 pm

Whatever you get is not likely to be transmitted to your baby. Get your shots, take you meds (not larium preferably as a number of people have significant adverse reactions, largely in the form of psychosis). When I was hospitalized in India on one of many, many trips I was told that a substantial number of inpatients were treated for larium reactions. Dengue comes from daytime mosquitos so a net won't suffice (but it is largely an urban disease in areas of high density and significant poverty).

Kerala is great. I especially recommend Surya Sumudra if you can afford it. A houseboat is also worth the expense, as is a day trip down the backwaters. In Mumbai do get out of the touristy areas. Check out Bandra, Kings Circle (where you can get safe Bombay snacks/street food in decent restaurants), Khala Goda, etc to get a real sense of the city. Oh, and do not fail to eat at Trishna and try the black pepper crab, one of the greatest dishes you can have anywhere (and which the former editor of the NY Times called one of the ten best meals of his life). All of the seafood there is spectacular.

Enjoy and happy travels! Of your itinerary the Taj Mahal is least essential believe it or not. If you go there make sure to also go to Fatehpur Sikri and the nearby bird sanctuary (though I'm not sure what's there outside the winter months so you might read up on it).
Olav2 wrote:Hi all,

I am early 30s and planning to travel to India with an indian friend I met in the US. The best part is, he knows the geography and language, so it will be an amazing experience!

The thing is, I have a new 3 month old baby at home, and my wife is not so hot about me going to a country with rampant diseases like Malaria, Dengue Fever, Hepatitis, etc, and bringing something back to the baby. My health, she is less concerned about :).

I realize this is most likely my only opportunity to have this vacation, and this friend is a great guy and will be a lot of fun.

We're planning for 2 weeks, and going to Kerala, Goa, Bombay, Pune (where his family lives), and the Taj Mahal.

So, the airfare alone is about $1100, not too big a deal, and he says travel, lodging and food expenses in India should be relatively cheap, even though he won't permit me to eat food off the street vendors or drink non-bottled water. :)

Has anyone travelled around India? I'm a bit of a hypochondriac, so I'm already planning to cover myself in DEET and geting the insecticide (pyrethrin?) spray to impregnate your clothes, and carrying a mosquito net for sleeping. That will hopefully stave off Malaria and Dengue. But, I still need to get whatever vaccinations I can. I'm forgoing the Malaria medications since I hear the side effects are pretty severe. I figure the bug repellant should be enough.

Time is getting short, though, for my planning.

Am I being paranoid? Is there something else I should be worried about? Any suggestions? Any must see places that I forgot?

Thanks!

p_qrs_t
Posts: 97
Joined: Wed Jul 28, 2010 2:02 pm

Re: Travelling to India - Early Oct, opinions?

Post by p_qrs_t » Tue Aug 31, 2010 8:08 pm

Olav2 wrote:Hi all,

I am early 30s and planning to travel to India with an indian friend I met in the US. The best part is, he knows the geography and language, so it will be an amazing experience!

The thing is, I have a new 3 month old baby at home, and my wife is not so hot about me going to a country with rampant diseases like Malaria, Dengue Fever, Hepatitis, etc, and bringing something back to the baby. My health, she is less concerned about :).

I realize this is most likely my only opportunity to have this vacation, and this friend is a great guy and will be a lot of fun.

We're planning for 2 weeks, and going to Kerala, Goa, Bombay, Pune (where his family lives), and the Taj Mahal.

So, the airfare alone is about $1100, not too big a deal, and he says travel, lodging and food expenses in India should be relatively cheap, even though he won't permit me to eat food off the street vendors or drink non-bottled water. :)

Has anyone travelled around India? I'm a bit of a hypochondriac, so I'm already planning to cover myself in DEET and geting the insecticide (pyrethrin?) spray to impregnate your clothes, and carrying a mosquito net for sleeping. That will hopefully stave off Malaria and Dengue. But, I still need to get whatever vaccinations I can. I'm forgoing the Malaria medications since I hear the side effects are pretty severe. I figure the bug repellant should be enough.

Time is getting short, though, for my planning.

Am I being paranoid? Is there something else I should be worried about? Any suggestions? Any must see places that I forgot?

Thanks!
First,

Have a great trip. Are you sure you don't want to go to India with your family when they can join you and remember? And, if you can convince your friend to go during the festival of Diwali (first week of November) you may have an even more remarkable experience.

I'm second generation Indian American. I've been to India at least 20 times, often for 1-2 months (going to India over the summer was our camp). I'm also a cardiologist, so I have some knowledge, (but by no means perfect knowledge) of infectious disease.

I have never taken malaria prophylaxis and have never had malaria, but I never really strayed too far from the large cities (Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta, Jaipur). Generally speaking, DEET and other anti-mosquito sprays are helpful. Mosquito nets are helpful, although I have not really used them except in Lucknow.

I agree with a previous poster, it is highly unlikely for you to get any infectious disease that you will be able to transmit, once you return to the States, to a close contact.

Boil all your water, and when you can't boil it, make sure it is bottled. I wouldn't trust water from a restaurant that comes from a bottle-- ask if you can use your own bottled water. They shouldn't be offended, and if they are, walk out. Stick to the piping hot food-- it has been effectively sterilized.

Good luck and have a great trip!

Anuj

anakinskywalker
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Post by anakinskywalker » Tue Aug 31, 2010 10:21 pm

get chlorine tablets (I forget the brand name; maybe someone else remembers). if you drop a chlorine tablet into a big flask of water at night, you can safely drink that water the next day.

having those tablets will help in case you buy water that can't be trusted to be good (yes, even bottled water is not always to be trusted), or if you can't find bottled water at all (eg. in case of strikes that cause all shops to be closed, or if your car breaks down in a remote area, or if you travel to a remote area).

those chlorine tablets produce hydrochloric acid when they hit the water. no bacteria or virus can survive that. over a few hours the chlorine escapes and the water becomes drinkable (i.e. no longer containing any significant quantity of hydrochloric acid).

the water will smell of chlorine though. hydrochloric acid in small-enough quantity (that may be residual in the water) is not harmful: the human stomach actually produces hydrochloric acid which is used to break down food as part of the digestive process.

Anakin

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ram
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Post by ram » Tue Aug 31, 2010 10:43 pm

Have a great trip. I have travelled to many countries and india many times. Follow the CDC guidelines.
- No street food.( especially avoid Lassi , panipuri, bhel)
- Eat hot food or fruits that u remove the skin yourself (bananas)-
Oct to feb is best season, cooler weather
- Try to go around Diwali if possible. , Nov 5 to 7.

The real concern is viral diarrheal diseases, which have more of a nuisance factor.
Ram

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