Traveling to India from Abroad? 3 Smart Ways to Conquer Demonetization Aftershocks

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The demonetization announced by PM, Narendra Modi has caused a lot of upheaval in every section of the society. The withdrawal of old Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 currency notes apparently was also looking at the elimination of black money as well as the counterfeit currency notes of the same denomination in the country.

The opinion regarding the demonization move remains divided so far. There are supporters of the move too but many had to face troubles after the this decision came into effect on November 9th, 2016. Those who were on family trips, domestic/overseas business conferences had a hard time throughout the vacation, including foreigners those who were in India during that time. In fact, even after more than two months, many people are struggling to find adequate cash.

Well, if you’re a smart traveller, then you must have already planned your trip without realising any such need because various online travel portals have already been accepting plastic money. At the same time, buying travel insurance online must not have created any trouble. In contrast, if you have yet to buy coverage for yourself, then you still have the most convenient option (i.e. online) to ensure that you’re covered during your trip.

Below are some tips that will help you to minimise the effects of demonetization on your trip:

  1. Buy Online… everywhere 

I know most people do it already but I still know people, especially elderly ones who are suspicious of digital transactions. If the plan is to travel abroad and you are willing to book your flight ticket and hotel room, then paying your travel agent in cash may not be a good idea. Think of a scenario wherein you need to purchase a thing of interest or need. This may happen multiple times, and you eventually realise that you’re short on cash. Making small and big payments through digital means, viz. Debit/Credit Card, E-wallets (i.e. PayUmoney, Paytm, and Mobikwik, etc.) is a very good idea. This list of mobile wallets in India should be useful for this purpose.

The same goes with the payments for purchasing your flight ticket and renting a hotel room, irrespective of whether you’re travelling abroad or within the country. Similarly, in case you are not aware of the procedure for buying Visa online (from the comfort of your place), you can Google “how to apply for Visa application online?” And, there you go!If you still face any problem in understanding things you might never have seen in earlier, then you can consult a friend of yours who you think could be helpful.

Note 1: If nothing helps you out, then visit a travel agent who accepts the payment through any of the digital means you have access to.

Note 2: Make sure you get the international usage of your Debit/Credit Card activated, in case you’re travelling abroad.

  1. Be Smart with ATMs

The primary issue with demonetization has been with the ATMs because there is a withdrawal limit and there are huge queues outside the machines. But as far as I have noticed, the bigger queues can be found in bid cities only. I have easily withdrawn money in smaller towns even at the peak of the problem. So, if you are making long term travel, make some smart planning and look for ATMs in smaller places before entering a big metropolis. Also, look for smart apps like Walnut that shows ATMs wth cash in your nearby areas using latest technology.

  1. Buying Foreign Exchange

When you travel abroad, one of the biggest concerns is buying foreign exchange. Since we’re facing the aftershocks of demonetization, buying forex from a local trader may be the hardest task today, especially if you’re willing to pay in cash. Booking forex online is the best idea you can ever get to implement today. Simply buy your forex card online and use it efficiently in a foreign country whenever you need cash.

Travelling within India might not be a problem now!

In case you don’t know, you can now withdraw up to Rs. 10,000 from your ATM-cum-Debit Card in a day. So if you have two Debit Cards of two different banks, then you’re lucky because carrying Rs. 20,000 in cash during travel must not be a problem for you. Moreover, you can pay via a Debit/Credit Card or PayTM almost every retail shop today, in case a retailer doesn’t have a POS machine.

Get your Visa and Licenses in Order

When visiting India U.S. citizens is required to get an Indian Visa you would be able to obtain a visa at any of the Indian embassy or private Indian visa expeditors. It is also recommended when visiting to get an International Drivers License this would allow you to drive with a license in India if you need too.


The real long-term effects of demonetization will be known only in the future. Nevertheless, it is possible to manage the situation and emerge unscathed if you know the right tools and procedures. Hope these tips can help you in this regard.

Jitaditya Narzary

5 thoughts on “Traveling to India from Abroad? 3 Smart Ways to Conquer Demonetization Aftershocks”

  1. This is a very topical blog. I know many foreigners who were caught unawares when demonitisation was at its peak. Some of them sailed through, some returned back to their countries. Now things are bit calmer. Hope this guide helps many.

  2. great tips for those traveling to India. My family was traveling that time and due to my dad’s aversion to plastic money, they did struggle. He’s slowly adapting now. I am sure a lot of people are now 🙂

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