I am planning a trip to India, and it feels like it has taken over my life.
Being a spontaneous kind of gal, the feeling that I have bitten off more than I can chew happens quite often. I have a great idea (like holidaying in India), and commit to it without really considering what practical things might need to be done.
I am not new to travelling and like to jet off as often as possible, with so many holidays and mini breaks under my belt I have learned that anything that can happen will happen – and there is nothing you can do to change it. So apart from getting to the airport early, and wanting a window seat, I have become pretty laid back when it comes to travel planning. This approach is fine 90% of the time when heading to the US or Europe, however, I have discovered that India actually requires some forward thinking.
Of course, with any trip there are a few basics that need to be arranged in advance, such as: decent travel insurance, a passport, transport to your destination and copies of all documentation; but apart from that I don’t really class anything else as necessary. I used to try be super prepared and pack for every eventuality but still ended up forgetting things and was literally weighed down by carrying such bulky baggage. So I now alleviate the stress by concentrating on the basics; this is what I have been trying to do for India, but there seems to be way more essentials to consider;
This can only be applied for no earlier than 30 days before arrival, but there is now online version for UK passport holders which made things much easier than I had initially thought. It costs around £45.
Usually on this sort of trip I would only book the first night or two’s accommodation and then see where the road takes me, but since I only have a couple of weeks I decided at the last minute to play it safe. Finding places to stay hasn’t been too much of a hassle by using booking.com to reserve rooms. The only real annoyance is that the beach bungalows I wanted to stay in have been knocked down for the season, so it’s back to the drawing board on that one. Also settling on a specific area has been tough as India is huge and packed with things to see.
This area has been the biggest issue.
To begin with I used our Lloyds Amex account’s 2 for 1 Avois voucher (yes, I have spent that much money in 12 months), I don’t want to bore you with the details but to get the best out of air miles you really have to be patient and be willing to make lots and lots of phone calls. After many conversations we booked our return flights for a bargain price then promptly had to reschedule because our amazing friends were getting married that same date.
Fast-forward to new flights and take-two of our trip to India where we only have two weeks instead of the initially planned 24 days. This reduction in time has meant that the amount of places on my itinerary has had to be cut while still trying to see as much as possible.
Originally I wanted to travel by train so I could watch the country fly by out of the window but due to our shorter time period we only have time for one train journey. The train has been an administrative nightmare to book, I had to sign up for an account with an Indian telephone number, (which I don’t have) I was then advised to type in any old number – the problem with this is that the password that allows you to buy tickets is text to you, to your made-up Indian phone number. I have emailed the train provider several times but still no password, which means no train, which I am hugely disappointed about. I know that a 12 hour train journey is not everyone’s idea of a holiday, but was a part of the trip I was excited to experience.
Thankfully, internal flights have been much easier to book; we are now travelling between destinations with IndiGo, SpiceJet and AirAisia allowing me to compare each budget airline.
I don’t really know what to expect from India but I am pretty sure there is not a Boots down the road, so I have had to think about our health more than usual. I have digestive issues, sensitive skin, attract insects like I have a ‘bite me‘ sign pinned to my back, and am super accident prone which meant making a mega online order of boring things like Imodium, rehydration sachets, hand sanitiser, insect repellent, toilet tissue, suntan lotion etc etc.
We also had to get injections, which were surprisingly easy to book through Boots’ travel services, but cost over £100.
So here I am, with less than a week to go filled with feelings of intrepidation and excitement.
I am writing this down as I was feeling overwhelmed at actually having to plan a trip and wanted to vent somewhere, but if you want any specific posts on using Avios, packing, or health whilst travelling let me know. Also, if you want to keep up with my trip I will be daily vlogging over on my YouTube channel.
This post is in no way meant to be a moan (boo hoo, poor me, I am going on an exiting holiday) but just in case you guys decide that booking an exotic trip with no research is a good idea I thought I would share some things you might want to take into consideration.
How do you guys go about planning a trip? Are you like me and wait until the last minute or do you plan ahead?