Traveling by train is a quintessential India experience, but finding and boarding your coach can be a challenge. The coaches aren’t always in numerical order, the trains can be quite long (1/3 miles / .5 km), and if the train doesn’t originate in your departure city, you only have a few minutes to get on board.
Travel tip: Hire a porter. For about Rs. 50 (about $1) per bag, the porter will transport you and your baggage to your seat.
Known as “Coolies” and wearing their official red smocks and brass arm badges, they can be found outside train stations, often near the car park. If your taxi drops you off immediately in front of the station, you may need to walk away from the station a bit to find a Coolie.
Be prepared to show your ticket (with train, coach, and seat numbers) and after you’ve agreed on a price, get ready to follow at a quick pace. The porters are quick and efficient.
Keep in mind that you’re not paying for somebody to carry your bags, an uneasy idea for westerners; you’re paying to get to the right spot at the right time, which is challenging for all of the reasons mentioned above. It’s some of the best rupees you’ll spend.
Thank you to HTT reader, Kevin, for reminding us about this great and inexpensive way to protect your sanity while traveling by train in India.