TRAVEL TO THE HIMALAYA HIGH SCHOOL VOLUNTEERS

It takes a lot of planning and preparation to travel to a new destination, and we’re here to help you every step of the way! Whether you’re purchasing your plane ticket, applying for a visa, or getting ready to pack, this guide (along with your expert Program Specialist) is your ultimate resource for a successful experience. So read on to learn more. And remember that we’re always available to answer any questions that you may have, and to share our personal expertise.

In Dharamsala, India it’s:

Flights

Your fellow volunteers will be from all over the world, and some of you may even end up on the same flight. Regardless of the flight that you choose, your international arrival airport for India is the New Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL),and your final destination for your domestic flight is the Gaggal Airport (DHM) – also known as the Dharamsala-Kangra Airport.

International Flight to New Delhi: Arrive at DEL before 10:00 pm on your program start date
Departure Flight from New Delhi: Depart DEL after 6:00 pm on your program end date or before 3:00 am the next day

Domestic Flight to The Himalaya: Arrive at DHM on the noon flight on the Sunday the day after your program start date
Domestic Departure Flight from The Himalaya: Depart DHM on the 1:20 pm flight on the Friday right before your program end date

While volunteers do fly to India independently, we recommend the following CCS-recommended flight for volunteers flying from the US and Canada so you can fly with other volunteers on this popular flight. Please check in with your Program Specialist if you plan on taking a different flight option:

Book now on Student Universe

Upon arrival in the New Delhi airport, our in-country team will be there to greet you and take you to the CCS Home-Base in New Delhi, India, where you will spend the night relaxing, meeting your fellow HSVA volunteers, and getting some rest after a long flight! On the next day (Sunday), you will will travel as a group to The Himalaya on your domestic flight. Please follow the instructions below carefully to book your domestic flight from New Delhi to The Himalaya:

Our in-country staff will be accompanying you on your domestic flight between New Delhi and The Himalaya. All domestic flights can be booked online through SpiceJet (http://spicejet.com or http://www.makemytrip.com). Please ensure when booking your flight that you use a credit card or other payment method that you will carry with you during your travel, as this may be requested when boarding.

Your address for your brief overnight stay in New Delhi:

E-11 Hauz Khas
New Delhi, 110016, India

There are many online resources available to purchase your flight, but here are a few recommended by our team of volunteer travel experts:

Call Key Travel
Sapphire Team

(646) 218-2100

Call STA Travel
(800) 781-4040

Once you arrive at the airport, you’ll be greeted by a friendly CCS driver or staff member, like Kewal.

We’ll be waiting for you right outside of the arrival gate, so keep an eye out for a smiling face with a “Cross-Cultural Solutions” sign! It’s a 40 minute drive (depending on traffic) from the airport to our Home-Base in New Delhi, so you’ll be able to take in some of the sights of India as you relax after your journey.

CCS Driver, Kewal

Immunizations

We want to make sure you're healthy during your CCS experience, so take a moment to review the recommended vaccinations for your destination at the Centers for Disease Control, or by visiting a travel doctor.

Visas

If you're traveling to India with a U.S., Canadian, or British passport you'll need a visa to enter the country. Please start your application 90 days before you arrive in India. The recommended visa type for your travel is a TOURIST VISA.

For US passport holders: An e-visa is available for volunteers staying for fewer than 60 days, which must be applied for in advance online, and takes 3 days to process. This is the best option for volunteers. For US citizens, the cost is around $75 (plus fees if you go through TraVisa), and is good for up to 2 entries to India. Apply online through this E-Visa Website page. For volunteers staying for longer than 60 days, visa applications and processing are completed through BLS International Services. However, many volunteers prefer to submit their application online through TraVisa, which will be processed by TraVisa through BLS International Services.

For UK passport holders: Visit VFS Global to process your application online

For Canadian passport holders: Visit BLS International – Canada to apply in-person or through mail

If you're asked to provide a contact person in India on your visa application, please use: Bela Singh, SFS 5 Hauz Khas, New Delhi, 110016; Tel: 91-11 2696-8424

When applying for your visa...

India does offer a visa type called a “Volunteer Visa”. However, this visa is time-consuming, costly, and difficult to apply for, and often implies that you’re working for pay in the country. Therefore, we recommend that all volunteers apply for the Tourist Visa. Don’t mention volunteering on your application, as this is likely to cause delays in processing and perhaps a visa rejection!

Is your passport issued from a country other than those listed above? Find out if a visa is required for your travel!

Insurance

As a CCS volunteer, you’ll automatically be covered by our comprehensive Travel Medical & Emergency Evacuation Insurance while you’re participating in our program. If you’re traveling before or after your program, you may choose to extend your insurance so that you’re covered every step of the way.

What does your insurance include?
  • To start, up to $50,000 of medical expenses (with unlimited Medivac services), benefits allowing you to speak with mental health professionals, and $1,000 trip cancellation insurance in the event of illness or injury.
  • In the event that you do need medical assistance, keep in mind that you’ll need to pay the medical costs directly and claim for reimbursement once you return – so budget an additional $100 just in case.
  • Learn about all the details of your insurance in the Insurance FAQs.

Need to upgrade your insurance? There are alternate plans available to you, which can increase your medical expense limits to $500,000 and your trip cancellation insurance up to $5,000. Just log on to the Core Travel website to print your card, extend your insurance, or upgrade!

What to Pack

India is a subcontinent, so the weather conditions can vary as you travel across this vast country. In The Himalaya, the climate is generally cool year-round, with wide variations in the temperature by season. In the summer (starting in April through June), expect slightly warmer temperatures are often above 71 °F (and often up into the 90s). Temperatures remain near these levels in July & August, but with the addition of monsoon season, be ready for brief heavy rains on a daily basis.

As international travelers, we love everything about preparing for our next adventure—but we must admit, packing can sometimes be a bit overwhelming. We’re here to help you figure out what to bring and what to leave at home, and we've even created a handy packing list as a general guideline. This is based on a two-week volunteer experience, and assumes you’re doing laundry around every 10 days, so feel free to make adjustments based on what is right for you.

Pack light!

You don’t want to drag around heavy suitcases. And remember, you can get toiletries and other essentials in-country.

Save some room!

We’re sure that you’ll fall in love with some amazing keepsakes during your time in-country, so feel free to bring along an extra, empty bag to cart it all home.

Spending Money

India’s currency is the rupee – you can exchange your currency into rupees when you arrive at the New Delhi airport, or withdraw rupees at a number of ATMs throughout the city and near the CCS Home-Base in either New Delhi or Dharmsala (which often have better rates than the airport). Remember to contact your bank and credit card companies before travel to let them know that you’ll be out of the country!

Currency Converter by Oanda

While everyone’s spending habits are different, India is a relatively inexpensive country, so we recommend that you budget between $25 and $50 USD per week for keepsakes. Keep in mind that women are required to wear Indian clothing to your placement, so budget around $40 to $50 USD per outfit (volunteers often purchase 2 or 3 outfits, although only 1 is required).

Emergency Contact Information

It’s helpful to inform family and friends of your travel plans so they can reach you. Just input your flight information and you have a handy Travel Contact Sheet to email or print for your family and friends.

Remind friends and family that if they’d like to make an international call to reach you at the CCS Home-Base, US and Canadian residents should dial “011” before the number, and UK residents or residents of other countries should dial “00” before the number.

Your safety is our top priority, and to make sure you comprehensive support, we request that all volunteers register with their government for access to emergency support and safety information. Please select the appropriate link below to follow some simple steps (it only takes a minute) to register your travel information:

US Citizens: Safe Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) through the State Department
UK Citizens: Foreign Commonwealth (FCO)
Canadian Citizens: Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT)
Australian Citizens: Smart Traveler Program through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)

GO TO: Getting to Know The Himalaya HSVA

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