How Do I Book a Train Ticket in India?
Well that, my friends, is a loaded question! Let me tell you why. There is a way to book a train ticket in India on your own, however, it is such a hassle!! After booking it ourselves in attempts to save money a couple times, we decided to give a travel agency a go! And OH MY! They were wonderful. They made our lives so much easier, not to mention, they ended up becoming some of our greatest friends from our trip! I highly suggest booking your tours, trips, and tickets through Invicta Travel Agency in New Delhi, India. You can get in touch with them here. Now, that being said. It IS possible to book your train ticket on your own, but there is some risk! If you purchase it as a tourist, they put you on a waiting list and don’t tell you until last minute if you are able to be on board for the trip or not. When you book through an agency, they are able to get you a for sure confirmation of your ticket and seat on the train. So worth it! If you are anything like we were in the beginning, we wanted to give it a go on our own. For that to be done, you need to create an account at www.irctc.co.in There, you will choose your location, destination, departure date/time, and class. In the end, we loved working with the travel agency so much better, so if you want the easier route, try Invicta!
We personally chose class 3AC, which is technically third from the best. 1AC has four people in a cabin, giving you more of a personal bubble, 2AC usually has 8 people per cabin, but there are sheet curtains to have a little privacy and separation. 3AC, the one we chose, also has 8 people per cabin, but no curtain. However, it is significantly cheaper than the other two and it has air conditioning in that class, which is basically all that I need. 🙂 We checked out the other classes, and they didn’t seem much better! Choosing 3AC seemed like the best way to go!
There is a lot! It may seem complicated on your first go round, but these tips should help prepare you! Once you figure it all out, it is quite enjoyable! I actually think train rides are my new favorite means of transportation, especially in India! For starters, don’t be afraid to ask workers or friendly locals for help and advice. (It would be wise to ask more than one person though to be sure it is accurate). The signs in the train station are primarily in Hindu, so you obviously NEED to ask for help/guidance. (Google translation can usually do the trick too!) Make sure you know which side and platform your train will be arriving at so that you are prepared to jump aboard quickly. The train won’t wait for you! It is important to arrive early to be sure you won’t miss the train.
On board, get to the correct class section if you are not already there. (Each class section is all connected and accessible through swinging doors, so no worries) Find your seat, put your luggage under you, and get situated. Depending on if it’s day or night when you arrive on the train, someone may already be in your seat/bed, and you will have to find another one! The seat benches are somewhat free for all until the night comes around, then the benches pop out and suddenly you have your sleepers! Sheets, a blanket, and pillow are provided for each person. The beds are not soft or comfortable in any way, shape, or form, but after my second time on the train, I actually got used to it!
During meal time(s), you will not starve! Unless you are a picky eater, of course. There are workers who walk up and down the aisles announcing which food they are offering to you. However, they are speaking in Hindu and they pass by really fast! You have to be quick and either take a risk at what you are choosing to eat, or you can go in prepared and KNOW A FEW HINDI FOOD WORDS. Food on the train is not the freshest…but it is better than starving, especially considering all of our train rides were over 20 hours long! On the bright side, the food they offer is very inexpensive!! Mainly because they are offering “Local prices” which are very reasonable. Ok, actually it’s dirt cheap!! They are catering to locals, but because of that, it also means spicy spice!! Yikes!
Bathrooms on the train are sketch, of course. Indian toilets are basically a whole on the floor where you squat and aim. HAHA. There is a little bucket and faucet to rinse your bum bum! I don’t know about you, but that is not the method I prefer!! Be sure to always have your own, personal toilet paper or pouch of tissues on hand if you don’t wanna get stuck in the bathroom with a bucket of water and your hand! …Let’s move on from this topic, shall we?
Keep track of your estimated time of arrival. It was personally hard for me to see the names of the train stops along the way, not to mention they usually weren’t in English! Again, find a local near you who speaks English and will help you get off on the right stop! Don’t be afraid to ask! I can honestly say that we would have missed our stop all 4 times of riding the train if it weren’t for the help of the locals on the train! Grab your luggage and jump off quick!
Hope this paints a clear picture of what to expect on your train ride in India! Don’t stress, you’ll figure it out as you go! Enjoy the ride!
Here is some footage of our experiences on the train!
Stay Wild, Moon Child