How To Start A Travel Blog In 2020! Step By Step Guide For Newbies


Have you always dreamed of starting your own travel blog?

Finally, you can get your travel blog up and running today! Here is my detailed guide on how to start a travel blog (or any blog!) from scratch in 2020.

In this post, I’m going to walk you through step-by-step how to create and design a website using WordPress.org. I will walk you through all the technical and design and details to start your travel blog in the cheapest possible way just from this one post!

I also cover SEO and how you can use Social Media to drive traffic to your new blog.

This is a long post so I’ve included a table of contents below so you can easily navigate to the correct section of the post if you need to come back.

  1. Choose The Perfect Name For Your Blog
  2. Set Up Web Hosting And Get A Web Domain
  3. Install WordPress Blogging Software
  4. WordPress Housekeeping Tips Before You Start Your Travel Blog
  5. Install A Beautiful Free WordPress Theme
  6. Set Up Essential Plug-ins And Create A Child Theme
  7. How To Design Your Blog
  8. Customize Your Blog’s Look Using CSS
  9. How To Install Opt-In Forms And Build An Email List
  10. Start Creating Travel Content That Is SEO Optimized
  11. Get Social With Pinterest And Instagram!

Are you ready to dive in and start the travel blog of your dreams? Let’s go!

1. Choose The Perfect Name For Your Blog

This is most definitely the hardest of all the steps on the list when you start a travel blog. Picking a name for anything is tricky, especially when you are as indecisive as me!

Brainstorm

When choosing a name it is best to brainstorm a bunch of words and combinations of words that go well together and a relevant to travelling. I love looking for synonyms and words that start with one letter to find nice combinations of words.

Be Original

Keep in mind that you want your name to be unique and reflect the vibe of the travel blog you want to create. Also, make sure it is relevant to what you are writing about so people know what your blog is when they see the name.

Get Searching For Web Domains First

Another factor that will determine what you call your new travel blog is the availability of the domain before you start! This will no doubt require you to come up with something cool, creative and catchy.

Think Long Term

When starting a travel blog come up with a name think long term! You may just see your new travel blog as a small hobby now but you don’t know where it will go, so pick a name that doesn’t pigeon hole you too much into a small niche.

Keep Your Ideal Reader In Mind

Make sure you have your ideal audience in mind and the kind of stories you want to tell so that you attract the right people to your travel blog.

If you are a solo female traveller who wants to travel extensively in the Greek Islands you could choose to start a travel blog that focuses on solo female travellers as opposed to solely Greek tourism.

You could call your travel blog ‘Solo Sally’ instead of ‘Greece Uncovered’. This gives your blog more scope for growth while still finding a niche group of readers.

2. Set Up Web Hosting And Get A Web Domain

This is the only step you will have to pay a small amount of money to start your travel blog!

Why Web Hosting?

Web hosting is essentially like paying rent for your space on the internet. It is required when you use wordpress.org for your travel blog. You could set up a website for free through wordpress.com or blogger.com however you get very limited flexibility and customization. It’s hard to grow your blog and monetize it in the future as well.

Another option is to pay a monthly fee for a service like Square Space, however, this is much more expensive in the long run and less customisable (but is the easiest option!).

It’s difficult to migrate your site to wordpress.org in the future so I recommend setting yourself up now for your future self. There is a reasonably steep learning curve with WordPress when you have just started a travel blog but it’s such a worthwhile skill to learn even if your new travel blog is just a fun hobby for now!

Web Hosting With Bluehost

Web hosting is quick and easy to set up and inexpensive. There are a few different providers out there for web hosting. The one I recommend and personally use myself is Bluehost. Bluehost is optimized for WordPress and they also have excellent customer support which is essential when you first start your travel blog.

Their most basic plan starts at $3.95 per month and you also get a free domain for your first year when you sign up! Since you are just starting out I’d recommend going for the basic plan, you can always upgrade your plan later as your blog grows.

How To Sign Up With Bluehost

First

To get started head over to the Bluehost homepage

Once you’re there click Get Started

Second

Next, choose your plan, again I’d recommend going for the $3.95 per month plan. This price is based on 36 months of hosting. You can choose plans that are shorter however they are more expensive per month. It’s nice to buy it once and then you know you don’t have to worry about it for AGES.

Third

Add your free domain! You can search availability of your blog name here (if you haven’t already). If you already have a domain you can also add it here. If you don’t know what you want your domain to be yet you can skip this step and do it later.

Fourth

Now all you need to do is fill in all your personal details and account information. This is also where you can select to have any add ons. The only one I recommended is the domain privacy protection which protects your personal information from being available.

Fifth

Finally, enter your payment information. Once your payment has been processed you will be able to create a password.

Congratulations, you’re done! You now have web hosting and your corner on the web to start your travel blog!!

3. Install WordPress Blogging Software

Thanks to Bluehost this step is so easy!

You want to have a self-hosted WordPress account, where the software is on the host site as opposed to WordPress’s free site so you have full control over your website, be able to advertise and have access to Google Analytics.

First

Once you have signed up for Bluehost WordPress is already installed! Bluehost will ask you to pick a theme. Pick any as you will be changing this later!

After this is done you will see a screen that will allow you to ‘start building!’

Second

Next, you will be asked whether your site is for business or personal. Go on pick business! You never know where starting this travel blog will go.

Third

Now you will be taken to the dashboard of your WordPress site. Down the left-hand side, there are a bunch of options.

Here is where you can build your site by creating static pages, new posts, manage comments on your blog, change the appearance which includes your theme, menus, categories and so on. This is also where you can install plugins to add additional features to your site.

Fourth

Click on Launch your site and fill in your site’s title and slogan. Don’t stress about this you can change it anytime.

Fifth

Click next step and you will be asked if you will be uploading blog posts so go ahead and click yes. Then it will ask you if you want a static welcome page or a homepage with updates, this is up to you!

Next, it will ask for your business address, click not now if you don’t have a business address as you don’t want your personal address online!

Next, it will ask if you want to install WooCommerce to sell products online, you can hit ‘not now’ again for this step.

Sixth

To log in to your site you can either log in through the Bluehost homepage or go to http://yourdomainname.com/wp-admin and you will see the log-in page below. Type in your log-in details and you’re in.

And you’re done! Now it’s time to start building your site! Yay!

4. WordPress housekeeping tips before you start your travel blog

Here are a few things you should adjust in WordPress before you get going to get your travel blog off to the best start.

These tips are not totally necessary but will set up a really good foundation for your blog!

Change Permalinks To Post Name

Permalinks are the URLs that are entered to reach pages and posts on your site. By default, WordPress uses permalinks with lots of question marks and numbers which doesn’t look great and is bad for SEO

Doing this step will make your URL more attractive and SEO friendly. By changing the permalink structure to ‘Post Name’ your URL will end with the name of your post with dashes between each word. Like this: https://www.chasingcoconuts.co/guide-to-istanbul-in-5-days/

To do this hover over settings on the lefthand sidebar and click on the permalink option

Under common settings select the ‘Post Name’ option.

Change your Display Name

The display name is the name that is displayed as the author on your blog when you publish content.

WordPress, by default, will set your display name as admin however it is much better to have your real name as your display name! So here is what you need to do.

Hover your mouse over Users and click on your profile.

Next scroll down to the Name section. First change the nickname to what you want to use as your display name. This could be your first name.

Then underneath the nickname section where it says display name publicly as. From the drop-down select your nickname.

After this is done scroll to the bottom and click update profile.

Remove Unnecessary Plug-ins

By default, WordPress will install a number of plugins that aren’t necessary. These plugins can be useful but for a travel blog, you don’t need them. Here is how you can delete them and which ones I chose to delete!

On the left sidebar hover over the plugin and select installed plugins

Select the plugins that you do not want to use and click on deactivate under each one. I deleted the following plugins:

  • Hello Dolly
  • Jetpack by WordPress.com
  • MOJO Marketplace
  • OptinMonster API

Update Site Title

Here is how to personalise your site title and your sites ‘tagline’.

First, go to hover over settings and go to general.

Here you can update your site title and your tagline which is a general description of what your travel blog is about.

Delete Sample Page And Post

Your blog will come with a sample page and post, titled ‘Hello World’ and and ‘Sample Page’ respectively, which you will want to get rid of before you start your travel blog.

Access your posts by hovering over posts on the left sidebar and clicking on all posts. Here you will see the sample post ‘Hello World’. Select the post and move to trash.

Access your pages by again hovering over pages on the left sidebar and click on all pages. Select the box next to ‘Sample Page’ and move to trash.

Awesome! Now your WordPress Admin area is all cleaned up we are ready to install a theme.

5. Install A Beautiful Free WordPress Theme

How To Choose A Theme

Choosing the right theme can seem a bit daunting when you start a travel blog. You need to consider whether you want to pay or to just settle for a free theme at this stage. You want to make sure it is responsive, has good reviews, good support, is user-friendly, mobile-friendly and has easy navigation.

If you go for a paid theme like the very popular Divi by Elegant themes you will have a kickass site. However, you may not have the budget or the scope to pay for a theme when you first start a travel blog. There are plenty of amazing free themes that you can start out with.

You can also do some research on your favourite bloggers’ sites that you like the look of to see what theme they are using if you want to have a similar design. You can do this by putting the URL of their site into WordPress Theme Detector. Note that this will only work if their site is built on WordPress!

How To Install A Theme

In this post, I’m going to recommend a free theme that I use on this travel blog called Olsen Light. Here is how to install your theme!

Hover your mouse over Appearance and click on Themes.

This will bring you to your theme management menu where you can add new themes, change themes and search for additional themes. To add your new theme click on the Add new theme + icon in the last box.

This will bring you to the WordPress Theme Directory where you can browse through the themes that WordPress has to offer. Filter your search for themes by different features and requirements. You can also use the search function to find a specific theme which is what we will be doing!

In the upper right-hand corner where the search bar is type in Olsen Light. Before you install any theme make sure you preview it to make sure it functions how you want your site to work.

If you hover your mouse over the Theme image it will come up with a ‘details & preview’ button. Here you will be able to see a basic demo of the theme and see the theme’s user rating.

To install simply click on the install button on the top of the screen. Which will then turn into an activate button. Click the activate button. This will make the theme active on your blog.

You can preview your site at any time by hovering over the house icon and site name on the top left corner and click on Visit Site.

6. Set Up Essential Plug-ins And Create A Child Theme

Install These Recommended Plugins

WordPress plugins are pieces of software that can be added to your blog to extend the features and functionality of your site. Here are some that I recommend starting a travel blog with.

  • Easy Forms For Mailchimp
    • This will help you to build your email list
  • Akismet Anti-Spam
    • This plugin will protect your blog from spam
  • jQuery Pin
    • This allows you to have Pinterest buttons on all of your pictures you publish so people can easily share and save your content to their Pinterest
  • Google Analytics for WordPress by MonsterInsights
    • This plugin links up with Google Analytics to give you stats on your site’s traffic. Make sure you sign up for a Google Analytics account and link it to this plugin on WordPress.
  • Yoast SEO
    • This is an amazing plugin which will help you to optimise your posts for search engines
  • Simple Social Icons
    • Allows you to display buttons to all your social media pages on your site like Instagram, Facebook & Pinterest
  • WD Instagram Feed
    • This plugin will display your latest Instagram pictures on your sidebar
  • Child Theme Configurator
    • This will allow you to build a child theme

How To Install Plugins

To install the plugins hover your mouse over Plugins on the left sidebar and click add new which will take you to the Plugin page where you can search for, install and activate your plugins.

start a travel blog

Type in the name of the plugin you want to install in the top right corner search bar. Click install now on the plugin you want to install. Once its installed click the activate plugin. You will now be able to see the plugin in your plugin management menu.

start a travel blog

Configure The Plugins

Akismet Anti Spam

This prevents spammers from commenting on your blog so is very important!

Go to the Plugins menu and make sure the plugin is activated. To link this plug into your site you will need to get an API key.

Go to Akismet settings page link to go to Akismet accounting settings. Click ‘get your API key’ button where you will be taken to the Akismet homepage where you need to click on the on ‘Get an Akismet API Key’ button.

This will bring you to a page where it will take you to a pricing table for premium versions of the plugin, but it’s okay there is a free version! Just make sure you get the basic version. Next login with your WordPress account. This will give you the option to donate the creators which is totally up to you.

Click continue and then on the account overview page click on ‘activate this site’ which will update your API key and link the plug into your site. Back on the WordPress settings page save changes and it’s ready to go.

Child Theme Configurator

The child theme inherits the functionality of the main parent theme but allows you to make customisations to certain parts of the theme which will not get lost when the parent theme is updated.

This gives you the freedom to modify your site without worrying about the changes being lost when there are updates to the parent theme by the developers. Essentially allowing you to overwrite the parent theme. With a child theme, your changes will be saved but you will still have all the functionality of the parent theme.

Go to Tools and click on Child Themes which will bring you to the settings page. Select ‘Create a new child theme’, then select parent theme you are using which is Olsen Light. Then click Analyze.

After the Analysis is done a bunch of other steps will populate. Go to step 8 and check the box to make sure all menus and widgets etc are copied. Next click create child theme button at the bottom.

At the top of the screen click preview, child theme link to make sure everything looks okay. Then click the save and activate blue button at the top of the screen

Add files to Child Theme from Parent Theme to customise

We are going to be customising some CSS files later on so we need to copy these files over from the Parent Theme to the Child Theme.

Click on the File tab at the top of the screen and under the parent template section check the box next to single.php section which is the single posts section of the theme. Select Copy Selected to Child Theme.

start a travel blog

Any changes made to this file will be permanent. You can do this for any files which you want to modify in the theme. To check the files have been added correctly, hover your mouse over Appearance and click on Theme editor where you will see the code of the correct files have been added to the child theme.

start a travel blog
JQuery Pin it Button

Click on settings under the name of the plugin and adjust the visual features to suit how you’d like the button to look, to a circle etc

You can just leave everything as is as it looks fine.

Simple Social Icons

To add your social icons to your blog go to Appearance> Widgets

You should see that an available Widget is Simple Social Icons. Select the down arrow and click Blog to add it to your main blog sidebar. You can also choose to add it to your footer as well.

Now you can go into the widget and adjust the colour of the buttons and add the links to your various social media sites. That’s it!

You can also edit this in the Appearance>Customise page and select widgets.

In the Customize view, you are also able to add buttons to your social networks on the head and footer bar by selecting social networks and adding the links to your social media sites there.

WD Instagram Feed

It is simple to configure this plugin. Click on the Instagram Feed button on your left sidebar in the dashboard and connect your Instagram account.

In the customize tab you can adjust the columns, the number of images as well as buttons. You can then go to Widgets and add the widget to your main sidebar or footer sidebar.

Yoast SEO

Go to the plugin and click settings. Under the notifications go to configuration and navigate to the configuration wizard site. Follow the steps to configure the settings to suit your blog, it’s all self-explanatory! You can choose all the free options even though they have a paid option.

Don’t worry too much about this as you can always go back and change it later once your site is live.

7. How To Design Your Travel Blog And Brand

This is one juicy section that will bring the travel blog you just started life.

Create Your Blog Logo

When you start a travel blog you can easily create all your own branding and graphic designs for FREE with Canva. Canva is a web-based platform where you can create every kind of online asset you could think of. It is a true game-changer in the online world for amateur content creators like you and me!

start a travel blog

Every type of design comes with so many templates for you to use and customise to really get some inspiration if you’re clueless. If you know exactly what you want then you can also start from scratch!

You have access to different elements like photos, drawings & shapes as well as extensive fonts and colours which you can add to your branding palette.

start a travel blog

I highly suggest creating an account on Canva and playing around with it and seeing what you can come up with. It’s so much fun and nothing is more exciting than seeing your vision come to life!

There is also a paid version called Canva Pro which you pay $12.95 per month. I have started using this recently because it just opens up so many more options for stock images, fonts and other design elements not available on the free version. It’s absolutely incredible for someone with zero graphic design experience.

It also allows you to download images with a transparent background which is handy when you are creating logos for your site. They do offer a 30-day free trial for you to try it out so you might as well use that free trial to create a bunch of your assets!

You can use Canva to create your logo that will appear on the top of your website like a banner with dimensions similar to that of a Facebook Cover Photo Like my logo here:

start a travel blog

You can also create a little image or logo to use as your site icon which is the little icon on the left side of a tab. I used the Pro version of Canva for the site icon so that I could download the image with a transparent background so that the edges could be rounded and not have the white bits showing.

start a travel blog

Add Your Logo To Your Blog

The theme that we are using allows you to put your logo at the top and the bottom of your page. You can either put the logo on the top and the bottom or just the top and some other image or design on the bottom. Otherwise, you can leave it blank.

To do this hover go to your main dashboard and hover over Appearance on the left sidebar and click on Customize.

start a travel blog

This Menu is where you can make any changes and tweaks to your theme.

start a travel blog

Click on Site Identity. Once you are there you can edit your site title and tagline. When you add a logo to the header the site title text will be overwritten but your tagline with remain.

start a travel blog

Upload the logo you downloaded from Canva on the header. You can crop the picture within WordPress to ensure it is the correct dimensions. As you upload the logo you will be able to see a preview of what your site will look like.

Keep scrolling down and add your logo again to the footer if you’d like or add another image as I have. You are also free to leave it blank!

Next, add your site icon image which you can again upload from you downloaded Canva image and crop to fit in the square.

start a travel blog

You will notice that the Olsen theme displays their credits on the footer which for branding purposes you may want to remove. Click the back arrow button to the main Customize Menu and click on footer options. Untick the box that says show credits text.

Once you are happy with how everything is looking hit publish!

Configure your Social Networks

Staying in the Customization menu click on Social Networks. Here add links to all the social profiles that you have set up. I suggest having Instagram, Facebook & Pinterest as a minimum. Tick the box to have links open in a new tab so users to navigate away from your website when they go to your social profiles.

start a travel blog

I like to have my Social Icons displayed on both the header and footer bar. To do this navigate back to the main menu and click on header options and tick the box to show social icons. Go back to the main menu and do the same thing in footer options.

how to start a travel blog

Customize Your Blog’s Layout & Font

You can set up your blog’s homepage to be either a static page or your latest posts. Since this is a blog I have opted to display my latest posts. You can adjust this is the Customize view by clicking on homepage settings.

This Theme also gives you the option to display a front-page carousel which I have enabled to display my latest posts because I think it looks nice. you can enable and customise the content it displays or you can disable it if you don’t like it. This can be done from the Front Page Carousel menu option.

Under the Layout Options menu, you can adjust the layout. I have opted for the classic one-side bar. You can adjust pagination and how long your posts excerpts are here as well.

You can adjust the font on your blog’s headings and paragraphs by clicking on Typography. There are different options for fonts and sizes for each of the headings and the text.

Once you are happy with all of the layout adjustments remember to click publish before exiting from the customization view.

start a travel blog

Create A Primary Menu

This is the menu that displays on your header and allows users to easily navigate through the pages and categories on your blog.

For my travel blog, I set it up with a Destinations drop-down menu, travel tips, about me and contact me. I also have a home tab which will always just navigate back to my homepage of latest posts.

Create Pages & Categories For Your Primary Menu

For each item that you want to display on your menu, you need to create a page or a category for it. I created a page for Destinations, About Me and Contact Me. The other items in the menu are categories so when you navigate to a category on the menu it will take you to a list of all the in that category.

First to create a page go to your main Dashboard and hover over pages on the left-hand side and click on Add New and type in the page title. You can also add in some content for your About Me and Contact Me pages to publish on your site.

For my Destination page, I created Images in Canva for my main destinations and then embedded a link on the images to the Page or Category corresponding to that destination. You can add a link to an image by editing the block the image is in.

Hit publish on your pages!

Next, add categories. These can be used on your posts to organise your content into categories. They can also be added to the main menu. On the main dashboard hover over Posts and click on Categories.

Type in the name of the Category. This could be a Country, City, State, tips or anything that you might be writing content about. Add in how you want the slug to look and then simply add the category. Now when you write a post these categories will come up on your right sidebar to click on for that post.

start a travel blog
Now it is time to create your menu!

Go to the main dashboard and hover over appearance and click on Menus which will bring you to your menu management page where you can add menus and change the structure and settings.

Firstly type in the menu name- I called mine ‘Primary Menu’ and then click create menu. Next start building menu. On the left-hand side where it says pages click on the drop-down arrow and select all the pages you just created and select add to the menu.

Next, do the same for the Categories section. Add all the categories that you want to include on your main menu.

start a travel blog

Once that is done you can drag and drop the different pages and categories in the correct order, with the menu item closest to the top being the item furthest to the right on the menu. You can drag sub-categories under the main menu items to create drop-down menus. Click the boxes at the bottom that say display location on main menu and footer menu.

Below you can see what my menu looks like on the backend and on the front end.

Once that is all set up click Save Menu button.

Configure Your Side Bar

This theme has a 2 column design with the main content being to the left and a side-bar to the right where you can add various widgets and links. On my side-bar I have included the following widgets:

  • About Me
  • Social Links
  • Email Sign-up Form
  • Search Bar
  • Instagram Feed

To add in these Widgets you will need to have installed, activated and configured plugins for a Contact Form, Social Icons and an Instagram. I used Easy Forms by MailChimp, Simple Social Icons & Instagram WD Widget. In step 9 I will go over in more detail about setting up the MailChimp contact form.

Go to the Customize window and click on Widgets > Blog

start a travel blog

These are all of my active Widgets but in your view, you will see the default ones that come with the theme. You can remove all the widgets that you don’t want.

To add a widget click on the Add a widget button and a menu will appear to the right of all available widgets. Start off by selecting the Theme-About Me Widget and then configure the widget by giving it a title, adding a picture of yourself and writing a bio. You can also add a signature. I created an image using a script font of my name on Canva and uploaded it here.

Add the remaining Widgets which you should be able to find by scrolling down the menu. For the Simple Social Icons, you can configure the widget here by inserting your links and choosing the button style and colours.

For the WD Instagram Widget, you will need to first link your Instagram account by logging into Instagram through the plug-in which can be done by clicking on the Instagram Feed on the main left menu on your dashboard. You can also edit the style of your feed here once it is linked by clicking on the feeds section.

start a travel blog

Then go back to the Customize tab and add the Instagram WD Widget and adjust how many images you want to be displayed and the number of columns.

Once you have all your widgets set up you can adjust the order by dragging and dropping. Note that you can also edit widgets from the main dashboard view by hovering over Appearance and clicking on Widgets.

start a travel blog

8. Customise Your Blog’s Look Using CSS

One of the great things about WordPress is that it enables you to add your own code into a template so that you can further customise the look and feel of your travel blog to make it unique to you!

We are going to add in some code into the CSS to make the menu centred and to all change the colour scheme of the blog.

Centre the Navigation Menu

Copy the following code:

.nav li {

    float: right;

}

.nav {

    font-size: 11px;

}

Now navigate to the Customize window and click on Additional CSS and paste that code into the box starting at line 1 after removing the text that is already in there. You will see the menu move to the centre.

There is code in there for the font size which is set at 11. You can change the number in the CSS code to make the font of your menu larger or smaller.

To Change The Theme Colour

By copying and pasting the code below into the additional CSS and changing all the coding that points to the colour you can change the whole colour theme of your blog. Throughout the code, you can see the combination #f4c2c2. This is the colour code and this is the ONLY piece of code you need to change in the CSS field.

.btn, .comment-reply-link, input[type=”button”], input[type=”submit”], input[type=”reset”], button {

    background: #f4c2c2;

}

a:hover, a:focus {

    color: #f4c2c2;

}

.navigation > li > a:hover, .navigation > li.sfHover > a, .navigation > li.sfHover > a:active {

    color: #f4c2c2;

}

.widget-title {

    background: #f4c2c2;

}

.entry-meta a {

    color: #f4c2c2;

}

.read-more {

color: #f4c2c2;

}

.read-more:hover {

    border-color: #f4c2c2;

    color: #161616;

}

.entry-title a:hover {

    color: #f4c2c2;

}

I wanted my blog to have a peachy pink theme so I went and found the code for my perfect shade. I used Canva to do this. If you open a new design and for example add some text and find the exact colour you want by navigating to the colour palette and clicking the + button you can find the exact shade and the code which will be at the bottom starting with #.

start a travel blog

Paste the code into the Additional CSS and then copy your selected colour code and paste it over the colour that is already in the code. You will see all the colours on the theme start to change including all the buttons, headings and hover colours.

9. How To Install Opt-In Forms And Build An Email List

Sign up to MailChimp, which is free for up to 2000 subscribers so it is good for when you start a travel blog. They also let you create free opt-in forms and pop-up windows to help you grow your email list.

Once you are signed up you can create an audience or list for where people will be added when they subscribe through your form. Here you can input details about what email your subscribers will reply to and who the emails will be from.

Now you can configure your popup form using the Easy Forms Plugin. Click on the Easy Forms button on the left-hand side of the main dashboard. Link your MailChimp account and List and start building your form. It is really simple. You can choose which fields you want to display and what text you want to include.

start a travel blog

Once that is all set up you can go back to your Widgets and add the Easy Forms Widget to your blog sidebar. Which should already be set-up from your configuration in the plugin!

Once you have some content going and people have started signing up to your list you can go back into MailChimp and learn how to create email campaigns and newsletters to send out to your subscribers.

Now your travel blog is all ready to go it’s time to get writing!

10. Start Creating Travel Content That Is SEO Optimized

Finally, we are at the best part, creating blog posts! Creating a lot of content for when you start a travel blog is really important for you to be discoverable on Google. It can take a really long time to build up when you first start a travel blog. The more posts you make that are of a reasonable length the more searchable you will be on Google.

I suggest brainstorming a bunch of article titles that you want to write. Then go through and add some headings to create an outline for your post and then fill in paragraphs below the headings. All of a sudden you will have a well structured and easy to read post!

When writing blog posts think about a problem that you could solve for your readers like ‘How to get a visa for India’ as well as list posts like ’10 Things To Do In Rishikesh’. These seem to do really well. If you can write about something that is a niche it will be great for SEO. There will be less competition from other more established bloggers so get specific!

Remember to tick the relevant category or categories and add tags to your post. You can do this on the document editor on the right sidebar.

Make sure you set a featured image to appear at the top of your page and in the preview on your home page. If you don’t have your own photos to use you can download free stock photos from Pixabay, Pexels & Unsplash.

One SEO tip is to include your key phrase or keywords in the Alt Text of your photo which you can add when it gets uploaded or in the document block on the right side.

SEO Tools To Grow Your Travel Blog

Here are some amazing (and free!) SEO tools for you to use to help you get some traffic to your site after you start your travel blog.

Yoast SEO

This plugin is absolutely amazing, there are so many things it does! It will index your website and make the titles searchable. You can also use it to claim ownership of your site through other platforms like Pinterest.

But the main thing I use it for is the SEO & Readability functions on all my posts. If you go to the bottom of the post you will see Yoast. Here you can input a focus keyphrase for your post, add a meta description (which shows up in Google), as well as edit the post title and URL. Yoast will then analyse your post for SEO based on your keyphrase and a number of other things. You can see what you need to improve and where and when the dot goes green you know your SEO is on point!

It also has another light for readability which will help you make sure that your post reads well and people will love it! I also recommend installing the Grammarly onto your browser as this is a powerful spelling and grammar checking tool

Ubersuggest

Ubersuggest is a free and powerful SEO tool created by SEO expert Neil Patel. You can use this tool to find out the traffic and best performing keywords on your site and your competitors’ site. This can help you to find keywords that are really popular so you can start to implement them more into your posts.

It can also indicate which types of posts are highly competitive in Google and therefore less likely to land you at the top of the results. Ubersuggest allows you to get insight into the strategies that are working for others in your market so you can adopt them, improve them, and gain an edge.

SEMRush

SEMRush is an amazing tool with some free features and a free trial as well. It will give your website an SEO audit and identify any issues with your content and URLs which you can easily go and fix. It will also give you an overview of your traffic and analytics.

There are tools that do your keyword research, tracks the keyword strategy used by your competition, runs an SEO audit of your blog, looks for backlinking opportunities and lots more.

Google Search Console

Google Search Console helps you to monitor, maintain, and troubleshoot your site’s presence in Google Search results. It helps you understand and improve how Google sees your site. It will show you where there are any issues on your posts or pages affecting SEO as well as which pages and keywords are performing well so you can focus on including more of those in your site.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a powerful way to monitor the traffic on your site and where it is coming from and gives you information about who your audience is. This can help you track how well your blog is doing and tailor your content better for your audience.

11. Get Social With Pinterest And Instagram!

Pinterest and Instagram are two important social media platforms when you start a travel blog. They can help you grow your travel blog brand online. Plus it’s fun!!

Instagram

When you start a travel blog you should also start a travel Instagram account. Instagram truly is the territory for travel bloggers! Yes, there are a ton of us on there but there are also millions of people who absolutely love travel content! This is because it is visually appealing and totally inspirational! Who doesn’t want to daydream about the amazing places we get to go as travellers!

You also don’t need to be an incredible photographer with equipment and editing skills. Thanks to the explosion of presets being created by the best Instagram influencers as well as amazing camera technology on our phones, plus a never-ending supply of inspiration online, it’s never been easier to craft an amazing Instagram feed.

You can grow your Instagram account by doing the following things:

  • Post consistently good content that has a cohesive look. Use a scheduling tool like Later or Hootsuite which both have free plans.
  • Use hashtags, research the best ones based for travel bloggers and ones based on location
  • Join engagement pods to boost your posts so they become more visible
  • Write meaningful captions that get your followers to engage or answer a question
  • Use geotags and tag other relevant accounts who may then feature your content
  • Engage with your followers and people you are following- like and comment and start to build little Instagram networks.
  • Participate in giveaways if given the opportunity this is one of the best ways to grow your account fast
  • Use Instagram stories to show the ‘real’ you and to interact on a more personal level with your followers

Having a strong following on Instagram will drive people to your blog and your posts which you can share on your feed and your stories. It will also be a way for you to showcase visually where you have been which will really inspire people to travel which is why we do this right!?

Pinterest

Pinterest is actually more of a search engine as opposed to a form of social media. You can think of it as a visual search engine. It is a great way to grow when you first start a travel blog. There are millions of people on Pinterest every day searching for travel inspiration and information on specific locations. If your pins are showing up high on their feed you will get a lot of traffic to your site from Pinterest.

First of all, sign up for a business account so you have access to analytics and can claim your website. Then create your profile and your boards with descriptions.

How To Use Pinterest

The best way to approach Pinterest is to create 3-4 pins per blog post in Canva that are vertical and have an image and some writing about what the post is about. You can create a template and use it for each post.

Next for each post create a description that is full of keywords related to your post. Doing SEO on Pinterest descriptions will help you show up in results. Now get pinning, the more you pin the better and you can create many pins per post. There are scheduling tools for Pinterest with the best being Tailwind which you have to pay to get the full functionality. Otherwise, you can schedule pins within Pinterest and on Hootsuite as well.

Grow With The Pinterest Community

You can also extend the reach of your pins by joining and posting on Group Boards and Engagement Groups on Facebook.

There is a ton of information out there on how to create a killer Pinterest profile and increase traffic, the best place to find these resources is on Pinterest itself so get using! You can have a look at my Pinterest account to see how I have mine set up.

There are also Pinterest groups on Facebook for Travel Bloggers and other groups for travel bloggers. These are amazing communities filled with very knowledgeable and skilled people who are more than willing to share information. Think about joining some of these groups when you start a travel blog to learn the ropes and stay up to date with what’s going on in the travel blogger world.

This post contains an affiliate link for Bluehost. If you decide to purchase through these links, I receive a percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you. 

And That’s A Wrap On How To Start A Travel Blog!

If you made it all the way to the end WOW I’m amazed!! This is the longest post I’ve ever done. I really wanted to cover everything and give you all the specific information in one place that you need to start a travel blog in 2020!

Let me know in the comments if you have found this useful and started a travel blog. If you have any questions leave a comment or send me a DM on Instagram.

Be sure to have a squiz around my website to see everything that I’ve talked about in this post in action.

Peace out!

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The post How To Start A Travel Blog In 2020! Step By Step Guide For Newbies appeared first on Chasing Coconuts Travel.





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What To Do In Udaipur In 2 Days | Rajasthan, India


what to do in udaipur

Udaipur! The City of Lakes and the official Venice of India. It can be hard to decide what to do in Udaipur when you only have a couple of days!

I’ve been to Udaipur 2 times and both times were just for 2 days and 1 night. I’ve compiled together a list of what to do in Udaipur in just 2 days.

There is a lot to see and do in Udaipur and you will feel quite busy but it is easy to fit in all of the main sites and attractions in 2 days. You’ll have plenty of time to soak in the royal vibes of the City of Lakes.

In between running around site seeing make sure you take some time to wander through the incredible streets along the lake near the city palace. Find all the beautiful nooks and crannies and get lost in one of the most beautiful places in India!

what to do in udaipur

1. Visit The City Palace

Visiting the City Palace is an absolute must when you’re in Udaipur!

It is SO beautiful! Get there as early as you can to avoid the crowds. You will want to take 10,000 photos and you don’t want too many tourists in the way!

This city palace is kept beautifully with grand gardens, intricately detailed architecture and stunning interiors in countless rooms.

It is colourful and extremely elegant.

Entrance is just 300 rupees and it is open from 9.30am – 5.30pm.

Bonus: This city palace is very professionally run. We didn’t get hassled by touts trying to sell us souvenirs or by tour guides once we were inside.

2. Take A Boat Ride To Jagamandir Palace

Jagamandir Palace is an island on Lake Pichola. If you’re like me and don’t have a spare $1000 to spend on a room at the famous Taj Lake Palace this is the next best thing!

You can get a boat ride from the City Palace every hour to the palace and return when you’re ready. Boats are constantly coming and going.

The scenic boat ride is relaxing and has amazing views of Lake Pichola and the surrounding buildings. The palace itself is really beautiful and has lovely gardens to walk around. You can even enjoy some icy cold overpriced Kingfisher overlooking the lake.

Tickets can be purchased from the same area you get tickets to the City Palace from. The price was somewhere around 500 rupees per person and 700 rupees after 3pm for sunset.

You also have to pay 30 rupees or so to be able to walk around the grounds of The City Palace.

I combined the City Palace and the Jagamandir Palace at the same time. We ended up having to run through the city palace to get to the boat on time! Give yourself plenty of time for the City Palace otherwise visit the city palace afterwards if time permits.

3. Eat And Drink Like Royalty

If you’re a bit boujee and have a luxurious experience in India, Udaipur is the place. This is particularly relevant if you’ve been travelling around India and roughing it for a long period of time! The luxuries in Udaipur are a breath of fresh lake air.

There are SO many amazing luxury boutique palaces turned hotels and guesthouses on and around Lake Pichola. You can either splash out and stay at one of these places or just go for a drink and food.

Jagat Niwas Palace

My favourite spot hands down is Jagat Niwas Palace. It is set right on the lake with the most beautiful seating area and gardens with views to die for. All your Udaipur Instagram dreams will come true!

This palace has been in the same family for generations. The owners were lounging around enjoying their incredible palace decked out in Chanel and Gucci. They were more than happy to let us pet their dog and share the history of their hotel with us.

The service here was impeccable and the best part is their prices weren’t anywhere near exorbitant. They were really affordable especially considering the scene! I recommend setting aside a good couple of hours to enjoy your time here. Better yet set aside 2 blocks of time, because you will want to go back!

Lake Pichola Hotel

Lake Pichola Hotel is another really nice place to go and feel like royalty.

It is a large hotel right on the lake. One of the things I love about this place is that you can go for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Enjoy the ground floor restaurant for breakfast and the beautiful rooftop for drinks, lunch and dinner.

The interiors of this place are truly inspired by Rajasthani Palaces and it feels very luxe. Think high windows & drapes, antique chairs, chandeliers, crisp white carved marble and intricately tiled ceilings.

You can enjoy their buffet breakfast for 500 rupees or order off their Alacarte menu.

The prices at Lake Pichola Hotel are a bit steeper than Jagat Niwas but nothing crazy and it definitely has the WOW factor.

4. Take A Stroll To Ambrai Ghat

Ambrai Ghat is on the other side of the beautiful ‘Venice’ bridges. Take a stroll across the bridge and turn left once you reach a road and continue past the Hanuman Ghat. Continue following the footpath until you find yourself at the Ambrai Ghat on the water.

This ghat is so beautiful! not only is the walk there so nice passing through some incredible palaces, but this spot has some of the best views of the City Palace, The Taj Lake Palace and the mountains. It gives you a panoramic view of Lake Pichola!

There are lots of stairs to sit on and cool street art to look at. If you have an extra night you can come here for a really chilled sunset.

The Ambrai Ghat is very close to Lake Pichola Hotel so you can combine these two activities at the same time.

If you’re on a budget wondering what to do in Udaipur that is free then this is it!

5. Go On A Gondola Ride Up To Shri Manshapuma Temple For Sunset

One of my favourite sunset spots in all of Rajasthan is from this temple so it is a must to fit in during your 2 days in Udaipur. You can take a quick gondola ride up to the temple for a small fee (always count your change- the ticket officers are rip-offs!).

Once you reach the top walk along the pathway to the right where you can enjoy panoramic views of the Lakes and the rest of the city. Keep going until you reach the first viewpoint of the lakes with the beautiful pink Rajasthani pointed barriers.

Continue along the pathway until you reach the temple, which is still under construction! Here you can walk out onto the balcony and enjoy the sweeping views of the lakes and layers of hazy mountains. You can even see the Monsoon Palace high on a mountain from here. Enjoy the sky turning red to pink and the incredible reflections from the water.

I did see there was a path that goes up there but I’ve always just caught the gondola which is handy when you are limited on time!

6. Visit The Royal Centopaths

The Royal Centopaths are the Tombs build for the Kings or Maharajas of that city.

There are Royal Tombs in every city in Rajasthan and I highly recommend visiting the Royal Tombs in each city you visit. They are incredibly beautiful, I mean the Taj Mahal is a royal tomb! When you visit these tombs you will feel like you have truly witnessed the best of Rajasthani Royal Architecture.

Another amazing thing about the Royal Tombs is that they are usually free or very cheap to enter and not many people seem to go as they are usually located just outside of the main city.

The Royal Tombs in Udaipur are some of the largest and most elaborate. They are sadly also not very well kept or maintained. They are located at the Ahar Museum, which you can search on google maps to find the location.

It’s a bit confusing finding the right entrance that lets you into where the tombs are. There is a gated entrance off the main road on the side which may be locked when you arrive, some ‘guards’ will be nearby to let you in.

There are no tickets to get in but they will ask for money for permission for you to take pictures! I recommend paying them otherwise they will chase you around and try and take your devices! Also, take your shoes off when you are walking on the tombs.

Take your time grounds, the overgrowth of plants, flowing rivers and never-ending tombs and you will see why this is firmly on my list of what to do in Udaipur! This place is very remarkable and well worth the 15 minute drive from Lake Pichola!

7. Pig Out On Unlimited Rajasthani Thali At Natraj hotel

Rajasthan is famous for its food. Think lots of oil, sugar, heavy spice and salt! It’s not for the faint-hearted but it is so incredibly delicious you have to try to indulge especially when you are in Rajasthan!

One of the specialities in Rajasthan is the unlimited Rajasthani Thali and one of the best places to enjoy this meal is at the Natraj Hotel in Udaipur.

Now, this restaurant is local and in the hectic main town of Udaipur away from the lakes and shiny palaces. You’ll be dining alongside hoards of hungry locals!

For about 250 rupees you can get unlimited portions of multiple curries, vegetable sides, chapati, rice and fried bread. As soon as you sit down someone will come and put down a big plate and lots of little bowls on top (all stainless steel of course). Multiple men will then start coming around and fill up your bowls with all of the food!

They will keep coming around and filling up your bowls until you beg them to stop!! They serve lunch and dinner.

Do yourself a favour and try this out, even if your tum is a bit upset afterwards its all worth it!

Since this is away from Lake Pichola and close to the Ahar Museum, it’s a great idea to do this after you visit the Royal Tombs.

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8. Enjoy An Evening At A Rooftop Cafe

There are countless rooftop restaurants and cafes in Udaipur where you can perch yourself for the evening with a drink and some food to watch the sun go down. Pretty much every hostel and hotel will have a rooftop cafe for you to enjoy as well!

I stayed at Bunkyard Hostel and their rooftop cafe is worth going to even if you aren’t staying there! I visited another rooftop cafe a number of times when I was there but it isn’t on Google Maps and I have no idea what the name is… but it is up some bright colour stairs labelled with food dishes right behind a fruit juice stall. Refer to black circle on my the map for the exact location!

Yummy Yoga is also another good rooftop spot to enjoy a meal! Some of the rooftop cafes have a poor standard of food so make sure you ask for a personal recommendation from people in Udaipur on where to go!

What To Do In Udaipur: Tips

How To Get There

You can fly, bus, train or taxi into Udaipur. It is very well connected to all of Rajasthan, Delhi and Agra. Use Redbus to check for private bus routes and book train tickets with an agent in advance! There is an airport in Udaipur as well making it simple to get to.

Catch an Uber, Ola or taxi long distances in India is very affordable so this is another option for comfort and convenience if you have the budget!

The cheapest option by a million miles is local buses where you can just go to the public bus stand to by tickets however this is also by far the most uncomfortable. It is always a memorable experience if you’re up for it!

How To Get Around

It is easy to get around Udaipur by tuk-tuk and Uber. But just note that Uber is restricted from picking you up and dropping you off in the main touristy part around Lake Pichola. The options are to either walk or pay a premium for a tuk-tuk.

It is also easy and cheap to hire scooters in Udapir if you are experienced and confident on Indian roads.

Keep in mind that the traffic in Udaipur can get horrendous due to big cars and narrow roads. Factor this in when you are needing to get to a bus or train!

Withdrawing cash in Udaipur

Like most places in India withdrawing cash can be a nightmare in Udaipur! There are a couple of SBI ATMs close to Lake Pichola and the City Palace. However, I’ve found these ATMs no longer work with my international card (Mastercard). The most reliable and convenient ATM for me in Udaipur is the Indusland ATM near Lake Pichola.

ATMs usually limit each withdrawal to 10,000 rupees ($140).

A lot of hotels, shops and restaurants in Udaipur are more high end so they will accept international credit and travel cards. However, the cheaper guesthouses and local cafes will only accept cash.

Get a prepaid travel card

Get a prepaid travel card before you go and save money on the exchange rate and ATM fees. If you are in the UK, Europe or Australia I recommend Revolut. You can open an app-based account in minutes. Hold and exchange 29 different currencies and spend anywhere with no fees in over 150 countries with a contactless MasterCard or Visa. I have used their online account and prepaid MasterCard for over three years and I love it. I have saved a fortune on fees.

You get £200 of free ATM withdrawals a month (only 2% after that) and the exchange rate they give is the market rate

You also will get individual GBP and EUR IBANs auto-savings, cutting edge budgeting and analytics, which is so useful I even use Revolut for all my transactions at home when I am not travelling.

There is also a Premium plan which offers exclusive card designs, overseas medical insurance, £400 free monthly ATM and unlimited FX transfers.

Revolut has a 24/7 live chat in the app so if you have any issues someone is there to help you with your questions. 

This post contains an affiliate link for Revolut. If you decide to purchase through these links, I receive a percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you

Now You Know What To Do In Udaipur in 2 Days!

So book those tickets and experience one of the most beautiful places in India that you will remember for a life time, even if it’s just for 2 days!

Are you planning a trip to Rajasthan? Check out my other posts on Instagram spots in Jaipur and the top things to do in Pushkar!

what to do in udaipur

The post What To Do In Udaipur In 2 Days | Rajasthan, India appeared first on Chasing Coconuts Travel.



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The Top 8 Things To Do In Pushkar | Rajasthan, India


Things to do in pushkar

Are you trying to figure out the best things to do in Pushkar?

Pushkar is one of my favourite places in India, I’ve been so many times and even lived there for a couple of months at one point. Pushkar has a really special vibe.

It’s a mix of textbook Indian culture, religion, colour and madness combined with a chilled out hippy scene where it’s okay to sit around and smoke hash all day long for weeks on end. There is plenty to look at but also not much to do at the same time. This makes it the perfect place to do a bit of exploring and a lot of chilling.

I always say that Pushkar is the one place you can come and really be punched in the face with what you probably have pictured when you think of India. It is really small so much less intimidating than a huge city. There are plenty of travellers everywhere from around the world (*Israel*) and India.

Pushkar is on the Indian hippie trail and is usually a pit stop for people travelling from Goa to Himachal Pradesh in between the seasons. This means you will find a lot of wandering souls here and a lot of places to sit around and chill, not the mass tourist buses you see in Jaipur and Agra. There are also a lot of India tourists here as it is a holy city and a place of pilgrimage and worship.

All of these things combined make Pushkar such an amazing place to visit! If you are planning a trip to Rajasthan make sure you include Pushkar on your itinerary.

Here are my top 8 things to do in the holy city of Pushkar!

1. Walk Around Pushkar Lake

The first thing to do in Pushkar is to walk around the lake. Pushkar’s main feature is the small holy lake that the town is set on. The lake is lined with ghats where people go to bathe and perform religious ceremonies.

It’s fascinating to walk around and enjoy the views of the architecture, surrounding mountains and the living ancient culture.

It is also one of the best places to witness the sunset in Pushkar. There is a sunset point on one end of the lake where there are cafes, steps and chairs to sit on and watch the sun go down. There is always music, wandering cows, babas, gipsies trying to sell you henna and performing hippies! It’s quite the spectacle and one of my favourite places to be at sunset in India.

There are a few things you need to beware of before heading down to the lake:

  • Take off your shoes when you get to the ghats (there are signs and people will tell you)
  • You’re not supposed to take pictures at the lake and make sure you cover your shoulders and legs
  • There are scammers operating on the ghats where they give you flowers on the street and take you down to the lake. They will separate you from your friends, make you chant mantras (claiming to be holy men), then pressure and scare you into ‘donating’ huge sums of money to their temple. Literally they will make you chant ‘I will make big donation to holy temple.’ It happened to my parents in October 2019 so it is definitely a thing! They will scare you into thinking your blessings will be taken away or you’ll be cursed if you don’t! Moral of the story is DON’T ACCEPT FLOWERS FROM ANYONE!!

2. Wander The Streets & Take It All In

The second thing to do in Pushkar is to wander! Pushkar is a bit like a holy, hippie, clothing factory circus! There is literally never a dull moment. Think crowds, cows, dirt, dust, shit, beautiful bright saris, parades, giant frying pans of samosas, incense think in the air, ancient buildings, crumbling Rajasthani pillars and doorways, temples and endless shops.

There is all this and so much more jammed into this tiny town. There is so much to look at, it’s an assault on your senses but in a nice small town kind of way not a Delhi kind of way!

When you go to Pushkar make sure you have at least half a day to just wander around the streets, get your bearings and take it all in.

3. Shop!

Pushkar is seriously the clothing factory capital of India so of course one of the best things to do in Pushkar is to shop til you drop. All the clothes you see in every market around the country probably came from Pushkar. There are so many shops which all have massive warehouses and factories to go along with them.

It is amazing if you’re looking for some Indian or hippie attire for your traveller wardrobe. It is also very cheap and you can barter the price down even more. Pushkar is also a good place to buy silver and other cheap costume jewellery, incense, essential oils, crystals, bed ware and cushion covers and the list goes on.

Many people go to Pushkar purely for business to source clothing, fabrics and accessories to take home and sell for a huge markup.

It can be tricky to find suppliers that sell you high-quality products as it is so cheaply made often with weak fabric, bad stitching and cheap dyes that run so just be aware of that. Remember you get what you pay for!

things to do in pushkar

3. Climb To The Savitri Mata Temple For Sunset

Climbing up to the Savitri Mata Temple to watch the sun go down is a must when you are in Pushkar. The climb up is hard (there is a gondola for around 200 rupees return but don’t do it unless you have to!) but it’s such an experience. You’ll be climbing alongside old women in their beautiful saris with their families, inquisitive and cheeky kids looking for a tenner, HEAPS of monkeys and you’ll be treated to epic views of Pushkar Lake all the way up.

Once you reach the top walk up the stairs and keep walking forward to the edge and around to the left and find a perch on the rocks to watch the sun go down in between the vast desert mountain landscape.

This is one of the best things you can do in Pushkar hands down! It might be a bit crowded depending on the season but it’s busy for a reason and it’s India I mean need I say more.

There is a temple you can go inside and a little shop selling chai, drinks and snacks at the top.

4. Make A Visit To Aloo Baba

Aloo Baba is a holy man who lives at a Shiva Temple about 20 minutes from Pushkar. Aloo Baba has lived in this spot for years and all he eats is potatoes, hence the name Aloo Baba. If you go make sure you bring him some!

You can just go and sit around outside and talk to him, drink chai, smoke a chillum, ask questions and see what insights he has for you on that day. When I went there was a big group of Israeli’s there (no surprise) taking all of the attention, but it was a really nice place to just be, observe and listen.

The temple and surrounding scenery are also really nice. Plus on the drive there you will go through some small villages and get an insight into how these people live.

Mother India will always have endless lessons in store for you!

You’ll need to hire a scooter for this one which will cost you around 400 rupees for the day. You can probably arrange for a tuk-tuk, Ola or Uber to take you there as well.

5. Chill Out

This is my favourite thing to do in Pushkar! I became a bit of an expert at it while living in India. It was hard at first to let go of my conditioning to always be busy but once I got into the flow of being present and just enjoying being in the moment I found bliss! I highly recommend it.

There are lots of people in Pushkar who are just there to chill out so it’s the perfect place for some Shanti.

Here are some of my personal top picks for places to chill, drink and eat:

  • Pink Floyd Cafe (best views in Pushkar, go for sunset if you have time)
  • Deja Brew (amazing coffee & food, chill vibes away from the main strip, vegan options)
  • Little Tibet (BEST Thenthuk)
  • Om Shiva Garden Restaurant (Amazing pizza and reasonably priced beer)
  • Raju Cafe (nice views of the lake, yum budget friendly food and the owner is lovely, vegan options)
  • Sonu Juice (epic smoothies, directly opposite Raju Cafe)
  • The chai wala next to the german bakery and the main ‘square’. You’ll see what I mean when you’re there. It’s always full and the workers will hassle you to come every time. It’s a great place to watch the world go by and meet fellow travellers.
  • Chow down some Israeli food. Most cafes will serve Israeli food even on the street and it’s pretty damn good and well priced! Who doesn’t love Tahini & falafel.

6. Enjoy The ‘Specialities’

By specialities I mean bhang. Bhang is an edible preparation of cannabis which originates from India and is usually consumed as a bhang lassi. I’m not 100% sure if it is legal in Pushkar but there are ‘government’ bhang shops in Ajmer.

On the menu in all the cafes, there will be options for ‘special lassi’ or ‘special dhal’ or ‘special’ almost anything! You will notice that the price is much higher for these special things (at least 200-300 rupees).

So if you’re into edibles you’ll want to try it out in Pushkar! I had bhang lassi in one cafe and it was pretty tasty, sweet, salty and spicy. I shared it with my parents (lol) so it didn’t have too much of an effect!

7. Visit The Brahma Temple

Pushkar is a holy city and for good reason. It is the home of one of only 2 Brahma temples in India. Brahma is one of three gods in the trinity in Hinduism. He is the creator (Vishnu the preserver & Shiva the destroyer, who are both widely worshipped across India). Brahma however, is not worshipped in Hinduism.

There are a number of stories in the Hindu mythology which point to why he is rarely worshipped. One of them is that Brahma’s role as the creator is over. It is left to Vishnu to preserve the world and Shiva to continue its path of cosmic reincarnation.

The Brahma temple is the top thing to do in Pushkar by a mile. Thousands of Indian Pilgrims come to this temple every day. Take the opportunity to visit the temple and witness ancient culture and religion still alive and practised today. Take in all the energy that has been created over so many years by the people in the temple!

It is free to enter but you will need to leave your shoes and bags outside. The people in the stalls looking after them will ask for a fee. It is also nice to give some change as a donation to the temple if you’d like when you’re inside.

Pushkar itself has over 500 temples, which is crazy considering the size. So if visiting temples is your thing you will have a ball there!

8. Go To Bhajan And Witness The Festivities On The Streets.

One of the coolest things to do in Pushkar is to go to a bhajan. Bhajan is devotional singing, similar to kirtan which you may have heard of. It is always happening in the evening in Pushkar and you will find it by following the noise!

Bhajan here goes on for hours and hours with men singing at the top of their lungs and banging loudly on drums. When I was living there I could hear bhajan going all night every night. It’s incredible! The energy that they create is amazing. And don’t be shy about joining in, they will love having you there and being a part of their culture!

There are also always crazy parades and festivities going on down the streets, whether it is a festival celebrating one of their gods or a wedding. You will no doubt witness the madness of people dancing like crazy behind an adorned truck blasting a sound system.

These parades are hectic but getting to witness this type of celebration so regularly was the best thing about staying in Pushkar. Never a dull moment.

Tips For Visiting Pushkar

Pushkar is a holy city so alcohol and meat are illegal. You won’t find either on any menus in cafes or in the shops. It is possible to buy alcohol from a shop nearby and some cafes will sell it in disguise!

Where To Stay

  • Pineapple Express Hostel:
    • I love this hostel, it’s probably my favourite hostel in India. It’s not a chain this is the only one in India. They have a great outdoor area with grass, volleyball, bonfire, hammocks and table tennis. There’s an excellent cafe with the best hummus plate in India! There’s also a second cafe up on the roof for breakfast where they hold yoga classes. It’s also about a 10 minute walk away from the madness of the main road which is amazing because it’s quieter and you’re in the farm fields. The vibe that the hosts create is amazing and heaps of cool people stay here, plus they’re always taking in volunteers. Bonus they have really excellent mattresses!!
  • Kanhaia Haveli:
    • If hostels aren’t your thing I can recommend staying at this Haveli right in the centre of town. It’s a great location if you have very little time! It’s in a really old building with several levels which will give you all the Rajasthan feels. The rooms are nicely decorated but it is still at old Haveli so the bathrooms are more Indian style (don’t worry Western seats) and the doors lock only with padlocks but I actually love staying in places like this in India! There is a rooftop cafe and the owner is really friendly and helpful. Don’t forget to bargain for the price of your room!

How To Get There

  • Firstly fly either to Delhi or Jaipur. Pushkar is easily accessible from these two cities. You can also get to Pushkar or nearbby Ajmer pretty easily by bus or train from most cities in Rajasthan like Jodhpur & Udaipur.
  • Catch a bus from Jaipur (3 hours) or Delhi (8+ hours overnight). Book via Redbus yourself or a travel agent. There are local buses from Jaipur to Ajmer then from Ajmer to Pushkar, you can get tickets from the public bus stand. This is by far the cheapest but will be hot, crowded and take the longest, just make sure you pick the local bus at least once when you’re in India 😉
  • Catch a train from Delhi or Jaipur to Ajmer and then Uber, taxi or tuk-tuk to Pushkar (15 mins and should cost no more than 300 rupees). You can also catch the local bus to Pushkar from the bus stand but it is about a 20-minute walk from the train station.
  • If you are in Jaipur or some other city nearby you can catch an Uber or Ola for pretty cheap which works out quite well if you are travelling with friends. It will cost around 1500 rupees to go from Jaipur to Pushkar in a taxi.

When To Visit

The best months to visit are between September to March. This is when the weather is much cooler and the rains from the monsoon are over.

It is very challenging to travel to Rajasthan in the months April, May & June because it is unbearably hot. You cannot go outside during the day! July and August it cools down a bit but the rains come. It doesn’t rain as much in Rajasthan as other parts of India but the weather gets very humid and it is difficult to be comfortable! It’s also much easier to get sick during the monsoon because of the weather. Plus cloudy weather means you won’t see all the dazzling sunsets and will miss out on the desert feels!

September to November the temperatures can still be quite high but get much cooler at night time and the weather is sunny and warm so is great for exploring. November to March is winter time and the tempuratures get much colder at night so you will need some warm clothes! Most of the heating in India is by a bonfire (depending on how basic your accommodation is!) so keep this in mind. It is not freezing though so you’ll be fine and during the day it’s simply perfect!

Festivals

Pushkar is one of the best places in India to visit for various festivals. The first and most famous one is Holi, the colour festival to celebrate the spring harvest. This happens sometime in March, the date depends on the moon. Holi is a big event in Pushkar so expect higher prices but an unforgettable experience!

The Camel Fair or Pushkar Mela is the other major event in the Calendar for Pushkar and this happens every November. There are lots of animals plus next-level parties and entertainment. I haven’t been in Pushkar for this yet but can’t wait to experience it one day!

Wedding season in India is another great time to go and witness Indian festivities. There are daily wedding parades through the streets, lots of beautiful costumes, horses, dancing and deafening music! Wedding season in January-February.

Withdrawing cash in Pushkar

Withdrawing money in Pushkar isn’t always easy. There are only a few ATMs that accept foreign card. There are 2 SBIs which are pretty unreliable and one HDFC which I find to be pretty good although has higher fees and isn’t always open. If you can’t withdraw cash in Pushkar you may need to make a trip to Ajmer where there are plenty of ATMs.

ATMs usually limit each withdrawal to 10,000 rupees ($140).

Get a prepaid travel card

Get a prepaid travel card before you go and save money on the exchange rate and ATM fees. If you are in the UK, Europe or Australia I recommend Revolut. You can open an app-based account in minutes. Hold and exchange 29 different currencies and spend anywhere with no fees in over 150 countries with a contactless MasterCard or Visa. I have used their online account and prepaid MasterCard for over three years and I love it. I have saved a fortune on fees.

You get £200 of free ATM withdrawals a month (only 2% after that) and the exchange rate they give is the market rate

You also will get individual GBP and EUR IBANs auto-savings, cutting edge budgeting and analytics, which is so useful I even use Revolut for all my transactions at home when I am not travelling.

There is also a Premium plan which offers exclusive card designs, overseas medical insurance, £400 free monthly ATM and unlimited FX transfers.

Revolut has a 24/7 live chat in the app so if you have any issues someone is there to help you with your questions. 

This post contains an affiliate link for Revolut. If you decide to purchase through these links, I receive a percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you

Have I convinced you to visit Pushkar?!

There you have my top 8 things to do in my beautiful Pushkar! I hope this post has given you some inspiration to visit this wonderful gem of a town in Rajasthan. It’s rough around the edges for sure but all in the right ways!

Check out my other blog posts on India here!

Things to do in pushkar

The post The Top 8 Things To Do In Pushkar | Rajasthan, India appeared first on Chasing Coconuts Travel.



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10 Reasons To Visit Rishikesh | India


10 reasons to visit rishikesh

Rishikesh turned into a second home for me during my time in India. I went for a one month Yoga Teacher Training Course and ended up spending around 5 months in total living there! There are so many reasons to visit Rishikesh and in this post, I’m going to share 10 reasons you should visit Rishikesh.

I fell in love with this spiritual place! Even though it looks a bit shit and there is plenty of things to frustrate you (it’s India!), there is something so special about Rishikesh that kept drawing me back in and holding me tight!

If Rishikesh is the first place you visit in India be prepared for a culture shock! It feels like a chaotic circus when you first arrive. The streets are packed with cows, beeping scooters, monkeys and a ton of Indian and Western tourists.

The streets are hectic and there are no footpaths anywhere. You need to spend some time here to get used to it and to tune in to the magical energy the city holds.

Here are my top 10 reasons to visit Rishikesh!

1. Authentic and Affordable Yoga Teacher Training

Yoga is the most popular reasons to visit Rishikesh! Rishikesh is the Yoga Teacher Training Capital of the World! It’s the Disneyland for Yoga School, with Yogi Soldiers walking the streets!

The cost of doing yoga teacher training in Rishikesh is so affordable compared to almost anywhere else in the world. It will cost you around $1,500 for a 28-day course with everything included. So it makes sense for thousands of Yogi’s to go to the source of yoga to learn for a fraction of the price!

It is true that it has become very commercialised as yoga school owners see the money-making opportunity. The number of schools in Rishikesh has exploded and continues to grow as more and more people jump on the bandwagon!

Some of the schools’ offerings probably aren’t of the same standard as the expensive western schools and the curriculum isn’t very westernised (well duh this is why you came to India to learn!)

But you will learn SO MUCH about yoga and it’s philosophy and history. You will literally be immersed in it for a whole month and your life will be transformed. You WILL meet your soul mates and find a connection with yourself and others like never before.

I did my TTC at AYM, you can read all about my experience here.

2. The Ganga River

The Ganga River runs right through Rishikesh and it is the main feature of this Holy City and is an amazing reason to visit Rishikesh.

It separates the main Rishikesh Market & Tapovan from Ram Jula and Laxman Jhula which are connected by swing bridges. You can always feel the cool air breeze coming from the Ganga as you wander through Rishikesh.

A bit about the Ganga

The Ganga flows 2,700 km from the Himalayan mountains to the Bay of Bengal in northern India and Bangladesh.

The Ganga is the most sacred river to Hindus. It is a lifeline to millions who live along its banks. Hindus worship the river as the goddess Maa Ganga, as she is the mother, the giver of life. Indian Pilgrims will travel long distances to Rishikesh to bathe in the river and to take some of the water home.

There are beaches all along the banks of the Ganga where you can go and hang out, meditate, do yoga or just people watch (or cow watch!). You can bathe in the freezing but refreshing river and get all the amazing blessings from the Ganga. Rafting on the Ganga is really popular in Rishikesh as well.

One of the coolest things about the Ganga is that it changes colour throughout the year. During the monsoon season from June to August the river is brown and flowing very fast (no rafting in these months), after the monsoon, the river calms and by November it is calm and smooth and bright turquoise. It is so beautiful!

Don’t miss Ganga Aarti

Ganga Aarti is a daily devotional ritual practised on the banks of the Ganga in a few places in Rishikesh. The most well-known one being at Parmath Niketan Ashram in Ram Jhula each night around sunset.

Aarti uses fire as an offering to Maa Ganga. It’s usually made in the form of a lit lamp as well as a candle, incense and flowers which are placed in the river.

The lamps are lit and circled around by the Hindu priests in a clockwise manner, accompanied by chanting. The idea is that the lamps acquire the power of the deity. After the ritual is complete, devotees will cup their hands over the flame and raise their palms to their forehead in order to get the goddess’s purification and blessing.

You cannot miss this in Rishikesh! If you need one reason to visit Rishikesh, maybe this is it. It is so powerful and special especially underneath the beautiful Shiva statue during sunset at Parmath Niketan. It is only performed in Haridwar, Rishikesh and Varanasi.

3. The Walk Across Laxman Jhula

This was the most entertaining and most frustrating part of living in Rishikesh and it’s also the one I remember the most!

The Laxman Jhula Bridge connects Tapovan to Laxman Jhula and is a swing bridge that is just for pedestrians and scooters. It is pretty damn narrow. This bridge and the view of it with the temple is probably the most iconic spot in Rishikesh so it attracts a lot of tourists, mostly Indian, all day long!

The bridge is crammed with humans in hoards stopping to take pictures and selfies, scooters in both directions (the honking is intense). It also boasts large cows and bulls taking their daily stroll or nap on the bridge as well as a whole lot of cheeky monkeys ready to ruin your day!

The monkey’s for me were the worst part, one day I saw a greedy monkey snatch someone’s bag thinking it was food only to realise it was just clothing. He threw it over the side of the bridge into the Ganga! Then he saw me with my takeaway bag of momos (dumplings) and went for them! Luckily I dodged him and ran away!

I have so many memories of going back and forward across this bridge, there is never a dull moment. The madness and the charm of India is in full force and is one of my favourite reasons to visit Rishikesh!

4. Visit Beautiful Waterfalls

One of the best activities to do in Rishikesh is to go chasing waterfalls! They are plentiful up in the lush green mountains surrounding the city.

Neer Waterfall

The most popular waterfall is Neer Waterfall. It is beautiful and has a number of tiers you can keep climbing up to get higher and higher. Go early if you want to skip the crowds, which are a whole bunch of Indian men in their underwear!

The climb up to the waterfall from the main road was really hard! There was also a smaller more quiet waterfall on the way up before you reach Neer which was actually a lot nicer!

Patna Waterfall is another popular spot which is on the other side of the Laxman Jhula bridge about 5kms away.

Vikram Mini Waterfall

My favourite waterfall was a very secluded one that not many people know or make the effort to get to. Search Vikram Mini Waterfall on google maps and you will find it’s the location. You can take a scooter up there (be careful) or just hike up, it’s about half an hour from AYM Yoga School. The water is so beautiful and clear! There are amazing views into the mountains as well.

Bonus there is a little organic cafe nearby where the guy who runs it will literally pick your lettuce from the garden after you order your food! Don’t go starving though as he takes his sweet time. It is such a special spot though and the best way to waste away a sunny afternoon.

5. Experience the Hindu Culture & Spirituality

This is one of the top reasons you should visit Rishikesh and India in general!

You can fully absorb yourself into the Hindu culture and spirituality here, it will literally be in your face all day!

There are so many ashrams and temples you can visit. If you talk to almost anyone who lives there you can learn from them about spirituality and Hindu mythology which I find so fascinating. There are also many Satsangs (spiritual talks) that you can attend for free to learn even more.

Most shops will be blasting mantras all day long! You will see lots of baba’s and sadhus everywhere, you can even go to the banks of the Ganga to meet the babas, smoke chillum and talk to them about life, their perspective and experiences.

6. Attend Spiritual Healings, Workshops & Events

All the offerings available in Rishikesh is a brilliant reason to visit Rishikesh. One of the things I love most about this city is all of the spiritual workshops and events going on! On the cafe and street walls you will find all the flyers promoting what is happening in Rishikesh when you are there.

You should also join the Rishikesh Community & Rishikesh Yogis Community Groups on Facebook to stay up to date with the latest events and workshops.

Some of my favourite things on offer that I saw when I was there included:

  • The Festival of Freedom & Magic
  • Cacao Ceremonies
  • Ecstatic Dance
  • Kambo Ceremonies (psychedelic drug extracted from frogs legs!)
  • Sound healing, Reiki, Reflexology therapy
  • Osho dynamic meditations (must try!)
  • All things occult such as tarot, palmistry & Vedic astrology
  • Tantra workshops 😉
  • Eye gazing event,
  • Laughing yoga & cuddling yoga
  • Starseed Activation sessions
  • Reggae Sound System Healing (10,000 Lions Sound System)
  • Past Life Regression

This is just a fraction of what is on offer! So get to Rishikesh and get involved. You’ll definitely learn something new and meet some awesome people who will give you a new perspective on life!

There is also an abundance of drop in yoga classes on every corner (as to be expected!). Most styles of yoga in Rishikesh are Ashtanga, Hatha and Iyengar and cost 300 rupees per class.

There is also an annual Yoga Festival and Film Festival in March. This coincides with Mooji’s annual Satsang which attracts a lot of people to Rishikesh and is a great time to visit.

Learning to make silver rings!

7. You Will Meet Your Soul Mates

Rishikesh is a soul mate breeding ground and a land of synchronicity, trust me! You will meet some amazing people here and they will become your life long friends or lovers!

I don’t know what it is about Rishikesh but everyone here is so open to connecting, unlike anywhere I’ve ever been. In 3 months the number of people I met here who I love like family and will be in my life forever is insane!

I was constantly meeting new people, reuniting with people I knew from before I came to India, then reuniting again & again with people I met in Rishikesh. It’s never ending, especially if you stay in Rishikesh for as long as me!

I’m not the only one either, it is a very common phenomenon for many visitors to Rishikesh. This is why many people end up staying for much longer than expected and keep coming back!

8. Chill In Cafes All Day Guilt Free!

This is the place where you might meet some of your new best friends! Cafe chilling in Rishikesh is my favourite past time At first I struggled with doing nothing but sitting on my ass in a cafe for hours, but I learnt to love it!

It became a ritual with what food I would order to who I would go with to all the amazing people who work in the cafes. I loved this SO much.

In August when the monsoon is in full swing you have no choice but to do this all day. It forces you to go inward and connect to yourself and others. It’s a really great opportunity to teach yourself a new crafty skill too like macrame!

My favourite hangout spots in Rishikesh were:

  • Royal Cafe
  • Tat
  • Sunset Cafe
  • Shambala
  • Dream Cafe
  • Eat Story
  • Ira’s Kitchen

There are so many more amazing places to hang out but these ones, in particular, became part of my daily routine!

9. Pet Baby cows!

I just had to include this! The cows in Rishikesh were one of my favourite things about this place and I fully fell in love with all the sweet babies everywhere!

Cows are sacred to Hindus and in this holy city, they are left to roam the streets freely. It can be a little disturbing to see them munching on rubbish and plastic (there is no waste system in India unfortunately, so a lot of rubbish everywhere), but for the most part they are well cared for by locals and visitors.

The calves are everywhere and are so friendly you can pet them and feed them. I loved the naughty cuties that hangout by the fruit stands! If you love the cows and want to look after them you can buy them food and feed them yourself.

10. You Can Take a Course In Almost Anything!

All of the places I mentioned in point 6 will most likely offer a course and teach you how to do whatever they are offering, which will give you even more reasons to visit Rishikesh.

You can take courses in so many things, Rishikesh really is a spiritual training ground and a place to learn for so many people.

Courses include:

  • Reiki
  • Sound Healing
  • Crystal Healing
  • Vedic Astrology
  • Reflexology & massage
  • Ayurveda
  • Tarot & Palmistry
  • Jewellery making
  • Indian Art
  • Indian cooking
  • Music lessons

And so much more! You can look around in the facebook groups and for flyers and signs on the street in Rishikesh.

Another bonus is taking these courses in Rishikesh will cost a fraction of what it would cost for you to train at home, so if there is a skill you would love to learn Rishikesh is the perfect place to do it!

Rishikesh Tips

reasons to visit rishikesh

How To Get There

The fastest and easiest way to get to Rishikesh is to fly into Dehradun airport and get a 20 minute taxi from there to Tapovan, which should cost 700-1000 rupees. The airport is domestic so you will need to get a connecting flight from Delhi or another airport depending on where you fly into.

You can also get a bus from Delhi to Rishikesh. There are local buses running all day (very cheap but uncomfortable and long) or you can book an overnight bus with a private company. This is my preferred method of getting to Rishikesh! The bus will drop you in Rishikesh market where you will need to get a tuk tuk (20 rupees shares 100 rupees private) to Tapovan from there you will need to walk to your accommodation.

Another option is to catch a taxi which will cost you around 3000 rupees, depending on the kind of deal you can get!

About Rishikesh

There are 4 main parts to Rishikesh. The first is Rishikesh Market, which is actual Rishikesh. This isn’t where any of the tourism is and is purely local. You probably won’t spend too much time here unless you want to visit some different markets and get some more authentic, cheap Indian eats.

The next is Tapovan. This is part of the touristic area in Rishikesh and in recent years is developing more and more like the hub for yoga schools. The main road is connected to Tapovan.

The next is Laxman Jhula, which is across the bridge from Tapovan. Laxman Jhula is disconnected from Tapovan by a bridge. Only pedestrians and scooters can cross the bridge. Here you will find many clothes and souvenir shops and cafes all along the bank of the Ganges. This is the best place to chill, shop and hang out in cafes. There are many hostels and guest houses in this area. It is the most expensive part of Rishikesh. This area is more catered towards Westerners.

Lastly, there is Ram Jhula. Ram Jhula is between Laxman Jhula and Rishikesh market. This area is more geared towards Indian tourists and ashrams. It is cheaper and more hectic with more street food and plenty of babas and sadhus. This is where the famous Parmath Niketan ashram is that holds Ganga Aarti every night.

reasons to visit rishikesh

Where To Stay

There are so many great hostels and guesthouses you can stay at in Rishikesh with dorms starting around 250 rupees per night and private rooms in guesthouses starting from around 500 rupees per night.

I would recommend to either stay in Tapovan or Laxman Jhula. Tapovan is convenient because it is connected to the main road and has all the ATMs as well as a lot of local food. It is developing quickly now so also has many cool cafes, hostels and guesthouses.

Laxman Jhula is also a great place to stay, you can’t get a tuk tuk or taxi to this side of the bridge so to get there you will have to walk or jump on someone’s scooter. On this side, you will have access to many shops, Ganga front cafes and amazing hippie vibes. This also connects to Ram Jhula where you can go to the Beatles Ashram and to Parmath Niketan for Aarti.

I recommend the following hostels:

  • Shiv Shakti (Laxman Jhula)
  • Travel Dreams Hostel (Laxman Jhula)
  • Blue Jay Hostel (Tapovan)
  • Indian Culture Hostel (Tapovan)
  • Live Free Hostel (Tapovan)

Staying in a guesthouse is ideal if you want a private room (private rooms in hostels are way too expensive). I’d recommend searching for a guesthouse once you arrive, looking for one that you like and negotiating the price with the owner. This is how you get an amazing place for a good price as booking sites are more expensive and not everyone is on there!

Withdrawing cash in Rishikesh

Withdrawing money is notoriously difficult in Rishikesh. There are only a couple of ATMs in Tapovan that work for international cards. This means they are often out of cash and sometimes not working at all. You may need to get a tuk tuk into Rishikesh market where there are plenty of ATMs or get a cash advance from one of the tourist shops in the market.

ATMs usually limit each withdrawal to 10,000 rupees ($140).

Get a prepaid travel card

Get a prepaid travel card before you go and save money on exchange rate and ATM fees. If you are in the UK, Europe or Australia I recommend Revolut. You can open an app-based account in minutes. Hold and exchange 29 different currencies and spend anywhere with no fees in over 150 countries with a contactless MasterCard or Visa. I have used their online account and prepaid MasterCard for over three years and I love it. I have saved a fortune on fees.

You get £200 of free ATM withdrawals a month (only 2% after that) and the exchange rate they give is the market rate

You also will get individual GBP and EUR IBANs auto-savings, cutting edge budgeting and analytics, which is so useful I even use Revolut for all my transactions at home when I am not travelling.

There is also a Premium plan which offers exclusive card designs, overseas medical insurance, £400 free monthly ATM and unlimited FX transfers.

Revolut has a 24/7 live chat in the app so if you have any issues someone is there to help you with your questions. 

Packing tips

One of the great things about Rishikesh is that almost everything that you can get at home is available here thanks to the organic stores. In saying that here are a few things you may want to bring with you.

  • Yoga pants from home if you are wanting to practice a lot in Rishikesh. You will be using these a lot and sweating a ton if you are going in summer. Buying quality yoga pants in Rishikesh is hard and expensive so bring enough.
  • Tampons and/or a menstrual cup. The options of tampons are limited in Rishikesh and they aren’t cheap so bring what you need from home.
  • Earplugs! The street dogs love to bark all night long which can definitely keep you awake.
  • Light full coverage clothing and shawls. In particular long pants and skirts that can cover you but keep you cool. You can wear any top, but just cover your shoulders with a shawl if you are going out in the street. If you are visiting in winter bring a thick jacket, shawl and socks to wear at night. The day time temperatures in winter are still warm! All of these things you can buy in Rishikesh so don’t worry if you don’t have them at home.
  • Healthy snacks and natural toiletries are readily available in Rishikesh thanks to all the Ayurvedic products in the country so I wouldn’t worry too much about not having access to these items in Rishikesh.

When to visit Rishikesh

The best months to come to Rishikesh are from September to October and March to April. These are the months where the weather is the most comfortable, it is sunny and not too hot during the day and not too cold at night time! These are the months that are most active with foreigners and you will find a lot of stuff to do.

April to June the weather is dry but extremely hot and sunny, temperatures get to over 40 degrees during the day. You can still visit these months but just be prepared to sweat!

From around the end of June to mid-September is when the monsoon comes. This is a very challenging time to be in Rishikesh, it is hot, humid and always raining at some point in the day. Your clothes never dry and mould gets in everything, plus there is no real drainage system so you are constantly walking through rivers! This is also the most popular time of year for Indians to come to Rishikesh for a pilgrimage to the Ganges so it can be extremely hectic and overwhelming.

In the months of November to February, it gets quite cold in Rishikesh especially at night time and in the morning. The weather during the day is usually beautiful and sunny and the Ganga goes bright green, however, the days are short. Pretty much nowhere will have any heating so you have to keep warm with blankets, clothes and bonfires.

Rishikesh is busy all year round regardless of the weather, there will always be travellers around, things to do and people to meet so you definitely can come to Rishikesh anytime but it is definitely good to know what you are in for weatherwise!

Get a SIM

This should be the first thing you do when you arrive in India! You can get a SIM card at arrivals in Delhi airport. For around max 1000 rupees ($14), you can get a SIM and a 90-day package which gives you 1.5gb per day (YES PER DAY) and unlimited calls and texts within India.

This will make your life so much easier and it means you won’t worry about shitty Indian wifi. My SIM card is with Airtel who have the best coverage in North India. It is best to get a SIM from an authorised Airtel store as the guys in the street shops will try and rip you off. You should be able to get a one month package and SIM for 250 from an Airtel store and top up each month for 200 rupees. This will not be an option in the street shops.

Note that if you plan on staying in India longer than 3 months your SIM card will be deactivated after 90 days and you will need to get a new one. This is the rule they have for foreigners.

Download Redbus

Redbus is a bus ticket booking app that you can download onto your phone. You can book buses easily all throughout India and it accepts foreign card. It is so helpful for trip planning and it gives you all the available options. It also saves you going to an agent and they always have discounts and cashback offers going.

You could download this app and book yourself a bus to Rishikesh from Delhi before you even arrive! When you are ready to leave Rishikesh you can book buses to so many places directly from Rishikesh or Haridwar like Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh & Agra.

Because of the mountains, the bus is preferable in this region, it is also easier to book buses much closer to the date you want to leave than trains which require you to book really far in advance (unless you want really expensive AC tickets).

The buses are also way less intimidating when you first start travelling in India especially if you are alone. If you are a female they will not allow a male to book a seat next to you to help you feel safer. 9/10 you will be the only female on the bus and the only Westerner.

This post contains an affiliate link for Revolut. If you decide to purchase through these links, I receive a percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you

There you have my top 10 reasons to visit Rishikesh plus everything you need to know before you go!

I seriously love Rishikesh and I hope you love it as much as I do!

Have you been to Rishikesh before? Let me know if you have been to Rishikesh and what reasons to visit you would add!

The post 10 Reasons To Visit Rishikesh | India appeared first on Chasing Coconuts Travel.



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