Tips for Homestay

Tips for Homestay

Yearning to explore the forbidding foothills of the Uttarakhand Himalaya, but not sure where to start ? These expert tips from a seasoned Traveler will help you dodge the newbie mistakes and ensure your journey exceeds expectations.

Design an itinerary

Don’t be too ambitious with your itinerary. Allow plenty of contingency days for acclimatization, inclement weather, porters that disappear without notice for half a day, village celebrations, or taking an extra day to savour a stunning campsite. Understanding the Himalaya would take lifetimes to achieve, so don’t expect to master the mountains on a single trip.

Thorough planning (or lack of it) can make or break a trip, so take the time to master your budget, time your trek and assemble the perfect itinerary. So you made it to the mountains; here’s how to protect your gear, pace yourself and befriend the locals.

Be positive and pace yourself

Being in the right frame of mind is equally as important as your physical preparation. High altitudes aren’t the place to unleash fraught emotions, so try to keep calm during frustrating moments, and leave enough leeway in your itinerary that you won’t feel flustered if your plans go awry. Keep your trekking to the same pace as the locals. Your trekking mantra should be ‘short steps, deep breaths’, particularly when ascending steep passes or completing long uphill stretches. And don’t cross rivers or swift flowing streams barefoot: your boots will always dry out, but sprained ankles equal end of trek.

Keep your essentials at hand

Always carry your water- and wind-proof jacket with you, together with a dry pair of socks and a spare sunhat (or two – they’re all too easy to leave behind after a rest stop). A supply of stuff bags is a good investment, to ease the constant cycle of packing and repacking. Buy an umbrella locally, not just to keep off the sun and rain, but also to shield your modesty during mountainside bathroom breaks.

Be courteous and flash a smile

Get into the habit of saying a Salam, Namaste or Julay while on the trail. Remember that the local people are always interested (or amused) that you have travelled half way around the world to meet them. Carry a few photographs from home to show them your family or friends, and that will help to break down the cultural barriers. But don’t assume you can get snap-happy with local people: photography in some remote regions can cause offence. Wait for permission (a smile at least) before bringing out your camera.

Safety first

Your travel planning needs to go beyond government travel advisories. Trekking is a specialist activity so read up on acclimatization (it could save your life) and don’t assume you can realy heavily on your GPS when you’re out there. Even the most detailed contour maps tend to be unreliable in some remote areas, so your best investment by far would be hiring an experienced local guide.

Respect the environment

Don’t start wood fires or pollute water sources – you might be thousands of miles from home, but the smallest careless actions can be disastrous for local ecosystems and people. Plan to leave with the rest of the trek crew to ensure that your campsite is cleaned up and garbage carried out (it’s eco-conscious, and also avoids the possibility of any of your belongings being accidentally discarded).

Medical matters

Bring your essential medication, but be selective about taking other medicines along with you. Many brands can be purchased without prescription in India. But whatever your medical background, do not treat local people. Except in extreme emergencies, you will do more harm than good. Supplying antibiotics may seem helpful, but it may discourage the patient.