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Kerala Blog Express: A Guide on what to pack, what to expect and what you’ll experience

Kerala Blog Express Guide

 

What to Pack for Kerala Blog Express

Kerala, a state in South India, is frequented by warm-hot temperatures, just like the rest of the country. Because of the climate and weather, it never hurts for visitors to be prepared – here are some examples of what you’ll need to fit into your luggage on a trip to beautiful Kerala:

Clothing

 

Light clothes

Cotton is a preferable choice, because it allows your skin to breathe and stay cool. I brought a lot of tank tops, but I also brought along some tops that covers more of the skin, such as the shoulders, because some temples in Kerala are very conservative, and require more modest clothing.

Kerala-Blog-Express

Scarf

Bringing a scarf to India is an absolute must. Not only will you be able to shield your skin from the searing hot days out in the sun, but it’s also versatile. You can use it as your shade, for covering your shoulders when trying to blend in a little better with the locals, or even as a prop for taking pretty, colourful photos – try not to forget this one!

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Using scarves to cover my shoulders, as a headband or for props for a good photo

Leggings, shorts, and beach wear

One of the fun features of the Kerala Blog Express ride is taking stops on the beaches – these articles of clothing can be used when you’re out splashing in the water, feeling the sand beneath your toes and overall just having a blast by the shore.

Kerala-Blog-Express
Photo by Neeharika ( Map in My Pocket)

Trekkers, Flipflops, or sandals

Basically, the golden rule is to wear comfortable, sturdy footwear since you’ll likely find yourself walking around a lot – high heels and stilettos are a big no, avoid them at all costs.

Eddakal-Caves-Wayanad
View from the trail of Eddakal Caves Photo by Greta of Gretastravels

Skirts and dresses

Not only are skirts and dresses insanely fashionable and pay off for good pictures, but it’s also a good way to keep your body temperature under control, especially if the fabric is made out of light and airy material.

Light Jacket 

This one you will need when you go to Munnar,  the weather in Munnar is quite cool and different from the rest of Kerala.

Other accessories

Hat

Umbrellas aren’t a wise option, since they’re too large and take up your hands. A hat, on the other hand, will shield you from the rays of the sun and the heat, all while being fashionable at the same time.

Sunglasses

The hot sun can be pretty blinding at times, so bring along shades – not to mention, they double as a nice accessory.

Day bag

On a trip like the Kerala Blog Express, you need to pack lightly in order to get the most out of your time at the different stops. Bring along a day bag with all of your essentials and gadgets instead of lugging around a large back. There were even times we left our big bags on the bus and just headed out with a day bag — it’s far easier. We didn’t even have to bring our own— we got lots of canvas bags from the organisers and the hotels we stayed in.

Camera

Fujifilm XA3
Shooting with my Fuji XA3 and lens 16-55mm

Kerala is a beautiful place with once in a lifetime views and experiences. You’ll want a camera with you to document everything you do and see, as well as the wonderful memories you’re going to make. Of course, it pays to bring a hard drive too, for easy sharing  of photos because everyone will be taking photos.

What to Bring for your Kerala Trip

Business Cards

This is the Kerala Blog Express, after all! You’ll be meeting all sorts of different friends, people, and connections so bring along a business card to introduce yourself and your work to others.

Off Lotion

Most hot, humid countries tend to have mosquitoes and bugs, and Kerala is of course no exception. In order to prevent being bitten and scratching yourself the entire trip, slather on some anti-mosquito lotion religiously.

Sunblock

The sun can get pretty overbearing in a place like Kerala, so lathering on some sunscreen before you go out and explore the sights and sounds is a smart choice. I was thankful to my House of Obagi sunblock and sunforgettable. I believe it protected me from the sun a lot especially since we were almost always exposed to the sun

What is the Kerala Blog Express?

The Kerala Blog Express is an online campaign created by Kerala Tourism, a project which sets out to bring 25-30 bloggers from all around the world into Kerala. They’ll be put into a luxury bus and drive off on a two-week road trip around the state — starting from the southern tip and heading up towards the north.

A voting process takes place before the campaign, where people vote for their favourite bloggers. The lucky winners with the highest amount of votes are chosen and told to pack their bags for the start of their Kerala journey — which usually takes place in the month of March. It is a great way for bloggers to see and experience Kerala, and spread the beauty of the Indian state all around the world.

My Back Story:

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My first time to board the Kerala Blog Express Bus. Photo by Jinson Abraham ( Kerala Tourism)

It has always been a dream of mine to be part of the Kerala Blog Express. I was going to go last year, I even applied and gathered up some votes but then I realised — the blog express was going to coincide with my pre-planned trip to Europe with the gorditas. So this year, I really waited for the applications to open — I applied once again, gathering as many votes as I could, and it was all worth it. I was ecstatic when I received the email that I had made it in.

How to apply:

The applications typically begin in the month of November and end  December, The public will cast their votes and the individuals with the highest votes are chosen to join the Blog Express. The trip itself takes place in the month of March.

What to Expect in Kerala Blog Express

  1. Long Bus rides—You will have early mornings and late nights with 4-6 hours in the bus. We made it fun by getting to know your seat mate, we even danced and sang in the bus. This was also a good opportunity to rest.
  2. Expect Early Mornings and late nights – Oversleeping isn’t something you should get used to in the Kerala Blog Express. The call time is usually at 8:30 in the morning — after all, you have a lot of driving to do.   Benefit of this is you get to see Kerala’s beautiful sunrise.

    Kerala-Blog-Express
    With Rai, Maria and Patrick
  3.  It will be hot – so pack appropriately. The Kerala organisers do their best to supply you with water, but it will be warm (the custom in Kerala). So if you’d like to cold water on the go, bringing along a Kleen Kanteen or a thermos is a good choice.

    Kerala-Blog-Express
    Photo by Shan { Kerala Tourism)
  4. Don’t over pack – No need to pack an entire wardrobe in your luggage – you will SHOP because it’s cheap. Although, the downside is that you will only have around 40 minutes at a time to shop at each destination. I personally ended up buying bags, sarees, dresses, skirts and whatnot in the random shops littered around Kerala.Kerala-Blog-Express
  5. Make space in your bag – Make space in your bag, or maybe bring along an extra tote bag because the Kerala Blog Express has a lot of sponsors and partner companies that will give you lots of free items and loot bags along the trip.
  6. You will meet 30 awesome people – Each having different personalities and different backgrounds. Interact with them, and use the short time you have together to get to know each other more. You’ll be sure to love them by day 15, and get comfortable because you’ll be spending nearly 24 hours with them each day. I myself found a good support group — gotta love them.Kerala-Blog-ExpressKerala-Blog-Express
  7. BUY OLD MONK – Stock up on some of India’s most delicious alcoholic beverages – Old Monk Rum – and keep with with you through the trip. Stocking up on drinks is smart because it’s quite hard to get alcohol for a party around India. Not all hotels have liquor license and since Kerala is considered a dry state— it may be difficult to get alcohol. Therefore, when you find a liquor shop, stock up.
  8. Expect attention – The Kerala Blog Express isn’t the place to be shy. Expect a lot of attention, drum rolls from the locals and what not for the people waiting for you.Kerala-Blog-Express
  9. Press and Media will be constantly watching you – Learn to smile. Yes, I know it’s hot and smiling can get tiring, but a GROUP photo is necessary to document the trip. Don’t just leave after the picture, because for sure there’s going to be ONE MORE!Kerala-Blog-Express
  10. Live video – A live video will take place during the trip, so be sure to be at your best game at all times, and don’t forget to enjoy.Kerala-Blog-Express
  11. You will be exhausted – The heat, walking around, and all the different activities might start to overwhelm you after a little while, but stay positive — remember being cranky will only eat up more of your already limited energy.Kerala-Blog-Express
  12. Try to keep up with the time – You are a group of 30 people and it can be quite a task to gather everyone together, but try to respect one another and keep to the scheduled time so no moments are wasted. It might seem new, but soon enough you’ll get used to the Indian Stretchable Time (IST) over your trip. Expect lunch to be a little bit late — they can’t perfectly predict the traffic or how long an activity or photo shoot is going to take so if you think you won’t be able to handle the delay, perhaps pack some snacks.
  13. There will be no shortage in breaks – Over the course of the trip, there will be lots of tea and coffee breaks. There have one ever two hours on a long drive but expect your restroom breaks to last around half an hour – use this break as a change to walk around and stretch your legs —or perhaps, even sunbathe.

    Kerala-Blog-Express
    With Manoj, our awesome Tour Director
  14. You will be given a sim card so you can stay in touch with your loved ones back home and well, so you can post in your social media channels.
  15. You will be reimbursed on the first day – You don’t need to bring a lot of extra cash. And note that you will be paid in Indian Rupees.
  16. You will be split in different hotels– The organizers try their best to give everyone equal chances of staying in luxury places and mid range hotels.  You may not always be in the luxurious one but you will have your turn.  Savor the nights when everyone is in one hotel— those are the nights wherein we had ultimate bonding experiences.
  17. Expect some places like Munnar and Wayanad to have weak wifi or data. After all, you are in the mountain or in the forest.

    Eddakal-Caves-Wayanad
    Eddakal Caves with Patrick and Rai
  18. You will appear in the newspaper – Since the Kerala Blog Express is a tourist campaign, expect to be interviewed – don’t be camera-shy. But hey we are influencers – you can do it.
  19. Expect to eat a lot – Better make room in your tummy for the Kerala Blog Express. They will feed you loads of delicious dishes, but a big portion of them will be spicy, or a curry dish. I personally loved the meals they served because I’m a huge fan of spicy food.
  20. You will learn how to eat with your hands – Indian culture involves eating with hands! Eating the delicious cuisine of the South Asian country will make your meal taste all the more delicious, plus it’ll make you blend in around the locals.
  21. Bring a neck pillow – This might seem like such a small detail, but believe me it’ll save your life, especially on the long bus rides. You’ll be exhausted from all the walking, smiling, and taking pictures and having a neck pillow during your naps is heavenly – no need to worry about having a stiff neck when you wake up anymore.
  22. The bus has a charging port – use it – While it’s more convenient and easy to bring along a power bank, you can also make use of the charging ports on the bus. They recline well and work easily, enabling you to charge all of the gadgets you need for your tour, on the go.
  23. You will have a room-mate – Sadly, no matter how introverted you are, you likely aren’t going to have your own private room. But don’t worry – the entire trip is about making friends, seeing the culture and meeting new people, so be prepared to socialise with your new roomie. Sometimes the hotels provide double beds rather than separate ones – work it out with your roommate and you’ll have a fine night’s sleep.
    Kerala-Blog-Express
    Meet Tash of Backpackers Wanderlust

    Kerala-Blog-Express
    And Maria of Travelling Buzz
  24. The crew is amazing – they will try to take good photos of you— find good spots where you can have picture clean. Know that others are taking photos too so be mindful .

    Kerala-Blog-Express
    Kerala Blog Express crew
  25. Participation is important – Know that you may not necessarily want to participate in all activities as you might be exhausted but you have to or at least try to because after all, you are there to experience Kerala.

    Kerala-Blog-Express
    Group Selfies in Kerala Blog Express

Note: You will only be allowed to change 10,000 rupees in Kochi airport so make it a point to have the rest of your money changed somewhere. Just leave enough for shopping and what not.

III. How to survive a long bus ride

Some people take nicely to lengthy road trips, and some don’t. If you describe yourself as belonging to the latter group, here are some tips and tricks on surviving long bus rides, just like the one we had on the Kerala Blog Express. We were put on a luxury bus, however, so the ride as a lot more enjoyable than your typical sleeper buses.

1.) Bring a light jacket – While it’s incredibly hot in Kerala, the bus you’re going to be riding in is, on the other hand, air-conditioned. It might make sense to dress lightly but anybody gets cold after a few hours in the cold of the bus, so bring along a jacket, a sweater, or perhaps an easy-to-pack blanket in case the temperature gets a little chilly.

2.) Entertain yourself – If you’re not going to take a nap, then the hours on the ride can get boring and winding, and its up to you to stop that. Talk with your seat mates, play games with your fellow busmates. You can even bring along cards, a book – anything that’ll keep you from growing impatient while on the trip.

Kerala-Blog-Express
One day, they dared me to go up the baggage compartment— well I fit perfectly and comfotably. Photo by Shan ( Kerala Tourism)

3.) Communicate – The road trip can be a perfect opportunity to get to know your fellow bloggers – talk, share, and enjoy, because you only have 15 days together.

Trivandum Places to See
With Rai and Patrick
Photo by Shan ( Kerala Tourism)

4.)Sleep– If you had a major party the night before then this is the time to sleep.

5.) Edit photos because you will have a lot by the end of the trip

All in all, I am glad that I was part of Kerala Blog Express.   I had a great experience  and I met really awesome people that I know I can travel with again.

Lastly,  I have to thank Silk Air for flying me comfortably to and from Kerala. This definitely helped in making my first moments of Kerala Blog Express more memorable.

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