Last summer I decided to go for it… traveling to India for fun, not for business. A lot of hurdles, all taken and we will squeeze the most out of this one!
Hurdle number 1: Anxiety
It was a difficult decision. It shouldn’t be, but it was for me at that time. The illness with its nasty symptoms was back and brought some new friends along: disorientation, loss of cognitive thinking and anxiety. That was even worse than the physical pain and discomforts. I needed something to look forward to, an ultimate test if I would be better and a mental challenge to get it organized.
I am definitely in a much better place now than I was back then! Anxiety? What is that? Think I am getting back to my normal me :).
Hurdle number 2: Husband
My husband knows how much I love traveling, taking pictures and anything around it, although he really doesn’t get the concept of traveling and experiences: “Why spend money on something that is “gone” after you are back? You can see pictures on the internet! I wouldn’t like to go away… what about our pets, the garden…”. It is always difficult to bring the message that I want to go on yet another trip. I don’t feel one big trip per year and some smaller escapes is a lot… Anyways, he was not jumping for joy when I told him about my intentions. Did I say I would be going alone or with a (female) friend? Actually, he was more worried about my safety as we hear only the bad things about India (or anywhere else for that matter), the rapes and attitude towards women. He insisted to really look into the safety aspect, including a personal alarm. Check.
Hurdle number 3: In group or self organized
I never use a travel agency for my trips. I don’t go on group travels. I always drive myself on the location. But how do I do that in India? Driving is out of the question… apparently. How do I get close enough to locals and authentic experiences? Hurdle number 1 was not helping either…
I contemplated subscribing to a group travel for the first time ever. Everything would be taken care of, it was a safe option with a guide around all the time, they would know how to get close and include authentic experiences, right? I even contacted them and had all my questions answered. Up to the moment my travel mate – aka one of my best (female) friends – tells me: “Gretel, I think you will get frustrated on that type of trip. You will not be able to stop the car and get out and take pictures of whatever you want, you will not be able to change day plans, you will not have the freedom you like so much, you will have to wait for the others and you will be dependent on them, the trip will most likely not include all the things you want to see and do.” She is so very right. She knows me so well. It will be yet another self organized trip!
The key was to find a trustworthy driver. We did research and found a non-profit org in the Netherlands that works with 2 local drivers in India (actually Nepal) in order to get them connected with travelers from my region who are looking for a good driver. We have a good feeling about it and have our driver booked for the trip. Will let you know if it worked out fine!
Hurdle number 4: Compromises
How long do you want to go (or is acceptable to the homefront) and how much can you see in that timeframe? It will be the first time I will be traveling so long with only a friend, and not with my kids who have to follow what I plan out anyway. Will we agree on the plan and approach? Will we have catfights?
Eventually after a lot of debate, my friend let me book places to stay in advance, we included some cool places she wanted to see (and I had left out on purpose due to time constraints), she added some brilliant ideas to optimize time, and the items on my wish list are all included.
We found even the right timing in between birthdays, exams of the kids, too cold and too hot season, … and it includes Holi and a full moon when we are in Agra!
Hurdle number 5: Carry on luggage
You won’t believe what I need to put in my hand luggage. NEED TO, not want to. Actually, what I WANT to put in there is as little as possible. I prefer to carry on with only a small backpack or a shopping bag. It should hold only my key documents/ money, travel guides, glasses and contact lens fluid, and my camera gear.
That’s no longer my reality… I NEED TO put in my hand luggage – the allowance of 8kg trolley size bag and one personal item – the following as well: a coolbox (yes, a mini fridge, it takes up more than half of my trolley) containing medication for 2,5 weeks including a thermometer and 3 cool elements, syringes and other equipment to prep the injections, a medical disposal box, an extended travel pharmacy, a bulky CPAP machine to help me breath at night and all documentation/ invoices for/of the above.
A lot of other stuff I needed to get my head wrapped around
More than normal I am struggling with decisions and seeing things clearly and simply. What to wear? How much to pack? One suitcase or two? But I don’t like to carry too much? But we probably need that extra suit case for all the stuff we will buy? Will the trunk of the car be big enough?? How do I best carry my camera gear, easy to reach still not too bulky?
Argghhh… I have decided to bring along clothes from my kids that no longer fit, so we can gift it there. This is a noble cause and therefor I will carry a second suitcase. Decision taken.
I will only bring clothes that are comfortable. It will look like a uniform, but I will mostly wear leggings and long, flowy shirts. Another decision taken.
I think I am ready now… only the boarding passes to print, the last stuff to be pushed into the suitcase (yes, it is already packed as our dressing is being done at this moment), some spring cleaning to be done and some minor lose ends to finish.