India: How much cash to bring

These Indian doll puppets cost only $1.00 each!

Even though we belonged to a tour group and everything from housing to food to transportation to fees were prepaid, it is important to note that one should bring a lot of cash to pay for tips, souvenirs, photos, beer, and other incidentals that cannot be paid for with a credit card.  David and I brought $700 in cash, but that really was insufficient.  We should have brought $1,000 instead. This is for a 15 day trip to India. Seriously.

There was one guy who pushed my wheelchair at the airport on one segment of my return home, who rejected the $1.00 bill I gave him.  He placed it on my knee and waited for me to add to it.  Finally, he accepted $5.00 and walked away.  We ended up tipping the other chair pushers the same amount.

I am so glad I earmarked $23.00 for our cab ride from the airport to my house, or we would have been stranded!  It would have been so easy to keep spending and forget about the cab ride!

Everyone expects to be tipped in India.  Everyone.  I tipped the restroom attendants, the hotel room cleaners, the elephant driver, the jeep driver, the boat captain, the tour bus driver and his assistant, the Indian tour guide, the Hawaii tour guide, etc., etc.  All in cash!

And, of course, I paid for photos of us at the Taj Mahal and on the elephant ride in Jaipur, as well as for the many gorgeous souvenirs sold by many peddlers.  Not to mention the beer David ordered during prepaid meals at restaurants.  And the candle pot we bought on the boat while floating on the Ganges River during Diwali.

All of this adds up.  You’ll be amazed how quickly cash slips through your fingers in India!

16 Responses to “India: How much cash to bring”

  1. NRIGirl Says:

    That’s an important point you have touched on Gigi! During our three weeks long visits we spend closer to $3K just for giving away gifts. Little things here and there could easily add up!

    Love those puppets. I can tell Rylan loves them too!

  2. Jeanie Says:

    That seems to always be the case when traveling…..that you need a little more money than you thought you would. I’m glad you had the money for your ride home.
    The puppets are cute but Rylan is cuter.

  3. DJan Says:

    This is true traveling almost anywhere, I’ve noticed. I haven’t been to India but I sure did enjoy YOUR travels there. I’m home now and trying to catch up on my blogs. 🙂

  4. Musings Says:

    This is why we love traveling to Japan. Tips are not expected except at the military hotel where we stay in Tokyo. It’s the most freeing thing.

  5. L...w Says:

    Wow…that’s audacious. In terms of Indian wage, $5 is like a whole day’s wage or more. Thought tips were gratuity…

  6. palolo Says:

    I thought you pre-paid your tips to the tour escort to take care of the bus driver tips etc…? What happen?

    • gigihawaii Says:

      Yes, the agency demanded $130 per person for those tips at our pre-departure luncheon, but during the actual trip, the guide “requested” even more money (voluntary amount). However, the itinerary was so well done and extremely detailed and instructive, we were willing to pay more in cash. David and I feel it was money well spent! EXCELLENT TOUR OF NORTHERN INDIA. We saw the best that India has to offer. Really.

  7. Christine Says:

    wow, that’s a lot of tipping! I always worry about stuff like that when I travel.

  8. Suzanne Says:

    Aruba was just like that. Everyone expects to be tipped.

  9. DrumMajor Says:

    During my 3 weeks in Hawaii, I sprinkled lots of good tips. Nobody asked nor acted like they expected one. Since I didn’t want to carry lots, I paid for most taxis with a card, but tipped the driver in cash. The housekeepers were most grateful. That was a good rate for 2 from the airport home. If you get in a jam, they take a card also. DrumMajor

  10. kavita saharia Says:

    I am smiling. We do need a lot of cash while travelling in India.

  11. Linda Reeder Says:

    I have always been annoyed with the whole concept of tipping. Just pay people a decent wage in the first place. In many European countries this is the case. At most you just round up to the nearest dollar or euro or kroner. But then I realize that in a place like India, tips might be ALL some service providers get. The culture is so much different and poverty is so much more common.

  12. Tilly Bud - The Laughing Housewife Says:

    It’s because they are so poorly paid.

    Those puppets are gorgeous.

  13. SchmidleysScribbling Says:

    Wow what neat puppets to add to your collection. I can see you are a Fun grandma. Dianne

  14. LC Says:

    Those are spectacular puppets. Helpful info about tipping in India.

  15. Anilkumar Kurup Says:

    I’m tight lipped about the tipping in India. Perhaps it was a revelation to you. These folks takes the liberty when they know it is a foreign tourist.
    Hope you had a good time at the TAJ.

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