In two weeks, I will be standing across the world in India.
Am I now an emotional wreck like I was right before traveling to China? No, there are far fewer tears. Partially this is because we decided to travel with a well-respected tour group (since my decision in Spain last year that “tour group travel doesn’t stink“), thus removing the massive stress of itinerary planning and pre-purchasing transportation and entrance tickets.
But the other reason for the diminished panic is that I am far more ahead of the pre-travel To Do list for India than I was for China. So what exactly is there to do before such an epic trip?
Here are the 5 realms of preparation for India travel.
1. Paperwork. The popular “Incredible India” ad campaign does not tell you that there is also an “Incredible Amount of Paperwork” to obtain a travel visa for India. The total cost is around $100 and one should budget at least a month for it, though both these figures can change depending where you are and which speed option you choose. Of course, your passport must be valid for six more months (a paperwork fact which blocked my trip to Morocco), and you must have at least two empty pages to fit the sprawling visa.
2. Health. Depending where in India you are going and for how long, you will need a different set of jabs to your arm. Luckily, I already got an adult Polio vaccine in Thailand before traveling to Ghana, but my friendly Travel Clinic doctor suggested a few other vaccines, along with a just-in-case set of special antibiotics, as Indian germs are now immune to Cipro (yikes!). We are opting not to use anti-Malaria pills, but will take major precautions against mosquito bites (long sleeves, repellant, etc.) because there is currently an epidemic of Dengue Fever in India, and no pills can block or cure it. Yes, we shall try our best to avoid this so-called “Bone-Break Fever.”
3. Research. There is SO MUCH to learn about the history, current events, and cultural norms of India! In a heaven-sent coincidence, my 7th grade curriculum calls for me to teach about India and research skills at this point in the year, so my 140 pre-teens and I have been deep into India study since December 1. I am so curious which of the facts we have found will prove most useful, and what new insights I will see about them after experiencing India in person!
4. Career. Speaking of teaching, you do, of course, have to organize the work for your job before an epic trip. For me, this means planning when I’m collecting our big term paper (two days before I leave so I can get a jump on the grading) and ensuring I bring a power adapter so I can plug my laptop into the unique electrical sockets of India.
5. Emotions. “Yeah,” an experienced traveler sighed to me last week, “India is like life with the intensity level turned up higher than you ever thought possible.” How does one prepare emotionally for a country with so many warnings and excited explanations like this? Research, ponder, be open, and brace ourselves, I guess!
That’s my list. What do YOU do to prepare for a big trip to a very different country? What specific advice do you have for India? Do tell!