We just got our visas in the mail last week, thankfully they were delivered very quickly since we forgot to order them until two weeks ago. At this point, we’ve gotten all needed vaccinations, shopped for basics, and we have almost all of our travel plans in place. About a month ago we started working with a travel agent, but after we found out that the price we were being quoted didn’t include domestic airfare in India, we decided to do everything ourselves.
Surprisingly, it didn’t take long to book all our hotels, air, and train travel on the internet. It was actually pretty painless, although it did take us a few tries to realize that we couldn’t book Air India flights directly since their site only accepted Indian credit cards (we ended up using Travelocity). Arranging drivers has been a little more difficult. We found someone for the Udaipur-Jaisalmer-Jodhpur part of the trip, but we are still trying to find a driver for the Delhi-Agra part of the trip. We contacted an individual driver and a travel agency called Namaste India Tours, but neither one has gotten back to us yet – we’ve got our fingers crossed that one of them will work out. If anyone out there can recommend a driver, please let us know!
So, most of our time on the weekends lately has been spent figuring out what to pack. We decided to take backpacks with us instead of luggage because it’s easier to get around. After a few trips to EMS and REI we finally decided on matching Osprey packs:
Since we’ll be carrying everything on our backs, we’re planning to travel pretty light (less than a week’s worth of lightweight pants/tops/sandals) although there are lots of extra things that we’re planning on taking:
- Steripen (for water purification)
- Some extra TP and lots of hand sanitizer
- Travel towels
- First aid kit, bug spray and sunscreen
- Power converter and electrical plugs
- Cliff Bars
Given that it’s not a terribly long trip and we’re told you can get anything you need in India, we’re still undecided about whether to take the following:
- Sneakers (in addition to sport sandals, in case there’s a hotel gym and for trekking)
- Heavier shirt or two for Dharamsala (northern city)
- Poncho instead of rain jacket
- Travel pillow
- Sleep sacks
- Headlamp or flashlight
- Universal sink stopper
- Hair dryer
- More than one power converter (e.g. one for my hair dryer)
Also, I’ve had the worst time finding women’s travel sandals that I like. I was planning on getting Chacos, but they just don’t seem to fit my feet at all! (Anyone else have this problem?) So I checked out Merrell, Keen, Clarks, Birkenstock, and Tevas. The Tevas I tried on (Tirra and Toachi 2) were super comfortable, but really not my style. I finally ordered these Merrell sandals and these Keen sandals, and I’ll take whichever one fits & looks better. Still, I wish I could have found some slightly more fashionable shoes.
Anyway since we’re hunkering down for hurricane-downgraded-to-tropical-storm Irene this weekend, we have some time to do some more detailed planning. We need to figure out what we want to see in each city that we’re visiting – it’s a lot of work, but then we can relax more when we’re finally in India!