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Preparing for a Trek in India
...a reader report


California Journeywoman, Carolyn Masler is a fifty-nine year old psychotherapist who has trekked successfully in India enough times to be able to offer her advice. Caroline writes...

I'm sending along some of the practical and the philosophical ideas that continue to work for me when I travel to India. Perhaps they will work for other journey women as well.

The Practical
As many times as I have been to India, I find that each time I go I wing it. Before starting a trek, I become familiar with the area. I determine how physically demanding it will be. With this information, I know how to prepare myself, what gear I must take, including trekking gear, gear for the porters and/or guide, medications, etc. Upon arrival in the trekking area, I start some local investigation. I usually begin by asking whomever I meet. This might give me a tip that leads to someone else, and so on. I get an idea of the expense I should expect by talking to at least three outfitters or other people involved in trekking. Then I decide how to go and with whom to go. Basically, I trust my own instincts in terms of making a final choice.

Next step is the bargaining process. Before you settle on a price, it is very important to insist that the porters and guides be precise as to exactly what they will do and how much each of these jobs will cost. If they can read, I make out some sort of a contract. If they can't, I take along and use a small recorder so that, after the trek, I can play back to them exactly what our agreement was. I've found that this kind of precision is very important because otherwise there can be disputes about what is owed.

The Philosophical

Don't take yourself too seriously. Remember, nobody cares who you are or what you are. Seriousness turns people off. It's important to be able to laugh at yourself and to laugh at the absurdities of life. Laughter lightens the burden and relieves the stress of traveling--especially in India.

Be flexible; let go of old rules. There will be many times when you are helpless. Treasure those times, they teach you about your real place in the world.

There are times when it is important to be cautious. Traveling can be dangerous, but I think that most new travelers err on the side of being overly cautious. Their suspicion overwhelms the experience and the wonder of the moment is lost.

Don't expect your journey to go smoothly. There is always a problem of one kind or another to deal with. It is all part of the experience and the challenge.



  • In India, that little red dot that you see on a woman's forehead or hair, usually means that she is married.

  • When arriving at an Indian home, you will be adorned with a garland of flowers, which you should remove immediately as a sign of humility.

  • Indian men may shake hands with other men. But, when they are introduced to a woman, they simply place their palms together and bow slightly.

Do's and Taboos Around the World - Robert Axtell


Ed. note: If you enjoyed this article, you'll probably want to read:

India - She Fights Her Fears
Preparing for a trek
Spider, Spider
India -- Do Your Pre-Trip Research!
A mixed bag of travelling tips




Back to Girl Talk India



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