Category Archives: India

How my travel insurance saved the day

Have you ever made any totally irresponsible decisions? You know, the kind that seem like no-big-deal at the time, but in retrospect were a terrible idea? Mine was traveling without travel insurance. Not purposefully, mind you. But it’s still not very smart, to say the least.

Luckily, this isn’t a horror story. Those few times when my insurance lapsed, where long-term travel got the better of me and I forgot to renew it, in those moments I got lucky and nothing too bad happened. When I did get struck down by illness in India, thankfully I was covered – albeit by a travel insurance company I had never tested before, one of which has mixed reviews online. So, what happened?

Choosing the Right Travel Insurance Company

Selecting travel insurance can prove a challenge. It’s one of those things that you (hopefully) rarely need to use, and sits as a safety net in the background while you travel. However, when things go wrong, they can go really wrong. In fact, over on the World Nomads blog they’ve got an awesome selection of customer disaster stories, if you’re in the mood for a good tale!

Everybody has different priorities when it comes to insurance, but long-term travelers face different needs and challenges from your regular holiday makers. Continue reading

Travelling Sleeper Class in Rajasthan

How do you prepare for travelling sleeper class in an exotic country? Chances are you might not have laid eyes upon something as well-run and efficient, yet so insane and chaotic, as the Indian railways.  In true Indian style their railways, like everything else, are a land of contrasts.
As dusk started to take hold we were barreling out through the outskirts of the New Delhi slums. The evening breeze coming in through the windows cooled the muggy carriage air and the elderly Indian lady began reading my book along with me over my shoulder. Life is for sharing in India, and time spent on the trains highlights exactly that. Young men played cards on the higher berths, leaning over my head to pass playing cards to one another and high-school kids jostled to get selfies taken with me – something I got told later they would probably use to prove to their friends they now had a wealthy Westerner friend or girlfriend.

During my time in Northern India I spent around 40 hours navigating the overnight Rajasthan railway systems, and I can happily report I had (mostly) wonderful experiences, and it was the best way to really experience Indian culture and life. The key is to be well prepared in advance, and know what to expect. It makes all the difference, and seriously arms you for an enjoyable rail journey around the state of Rajasthan (or anywhere in India, for that matter!) 

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Rooftop Surfing in Jaisalmer

Sleeping on rooftops in the city of sandcastles is a surreal experience and a taste of daily life for the locals of Jaisalmer. A middle-eastern-esque city dolloped out in the Thar desert, Jaisalmer resembles somewhere plucked straight out of Arabian nights.

As many explorers of the Golden Triangle do, I made my way to the Golden City via train from the Pink City of Jaipur. An easy train ride on sleeper class that took around 12 hours. The JSL express was my choice of train, and like most trains heading this direction it travels daily.

With temperatures in September soaring well past the 40 degree (celsius) mark, and dropping only as low as the late 30’s right before sunset, if you don’t have air-conditioning (aka locals and super-budget travelers) then you’re pretty much screwed.

There is one solution though – get creative and head for the rooftops!

Sleeping under the stars in Rajasthan

Despite being the hottest place during the day, the rooftops of Jaisalmer transform into the most pleasant by night – especially if a breeze happens to blow through. There’s something magical about sleeping under the stars in the desert, hearing the world go by around you and peeking out over the edges to see sleeping strewn across the nearby building tops.


Extreme Budget Travel in India

If you happen to search online for accomodation in all of Rajasthan, and order it by price, Jaisalmer is where you’ll end up. For as little as 50-1oo rupee a night, hoteliers and guesthouses will happily set you up a mattress (and a tent during different seasons) on the rooftop each night, and let you use their communal area and showering facilities during the day. Rooftop surfing is some of the cheapest accomodation in all of India, and can’t be done so easily in many other cities due to humidity, pollution, rain and monkeys (yep! you heard me.. no monkeys in Jaisalmer!)


Downsides to Roof Surfing in Jaisalmer

A once in a lifetime experience, this is an experience I will remember for the rest of my life. There are some downsides though, taken from my own personal experience:

  • If that breeze doesn’t come through, it can still be intolerably hot!
  • The full moon is akin to sleeping with the lights on
  • You don’t have a bedroom to rest in during the day (although some places provide comfy spaces you can rest)
  • It is not always this hot and clear in Jaisalmer – from what I understand, they get a rainy season too, so check that out before you get your heart set on a night under the stars.
  • I visited in September, which is both HOT and low season. I would expect prices to vary at different times of the year, and perhaps it won’t be so cheap during the tourist peak times.

Golden Marigold Hotel

I spent much of my time in Jaisalmer sleeping on the rooftops of the Golden Marigold Hotel, and enjoying the super cute chill-out space with fabulous views during the day. The staff here are exceptionally friendly and all too happy to help with anything, and even provided a fan-cooled room for us to store our belongings and take a nap during the day if needed. What I paid? 100rs per night. Check them out on Agoda here

Not Always Listed Online

Many of the guesthouses and hotels in Jaisalmer offer rooftop sleeping, they just don’t always advertise it on the reguar accomodation booking sites and apps. It never hurts to pop your head in and ask around, you’ll almost certainly find somewhere very quickly.

Sleeping on the rooftops in Jaisalmer was a unique and wonderful experience, and something I don’t think many travelers to Rajasthan even know about – definitely something worth trying on your next tip to Northern India and an authentic way to sample desert life in Rajasthan.

Have you slept on a rooftop before? Know of somewhere good to stay? I love hearing about unique places to sleep.. Let me know in the comments