In just over one week, I will be getting on an airplane and flying halfway around the world, from Seattle, WA to New Delhi, India. Never in my life did I think that I would have this opportunity, but after hearing me say, "Some day, maybe I'll go to India," my husband decided that he was ready to be done.
Leading up to Christmas morning, 2014, he was very, very pleased with himself. As I opened presents and found maps of India, guidebooks for India, Hindi language-learning software, I began to understand why. It wasn't until I opened the card in my stocking and found the check and the note--Vacation to India--that I really truly believed this was happening. There was hand-flapping, and a distinct lack of ability to find words, and maybe some happy-crying.
And then there was panic.
See, I don't consider myself to be a good traveler. I have to take motion sickness prevention and anti-anxiety medication to fly--and even then, I get super-stressed about it. And India is not a place that is easy. Not like, for example, England, my last international destination. And it's so BIG! How could I even narrow down where to go? What to see?
I decided early on that I would travel with a tour group. My husband is not coming with me, and I'm not comfortable traveling through India as a solo woman, so that decision was easy. From there, I had to narrow things down. Due to my limited time available I decided to follow the "classic" tourist route and visit the so-called Golden Triangle of Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur.
Unfortunately, I'll be missing some places that I would dearly have loved to see: Udaipur, Jodhpur, Varanasi, and the southern state of Kerala with its lush backwaters, high among them. Still, for a quick sampler, this was the best option I found. I'll see the Taj Mahal, the Red Fort, Amer Fort, Chandni Chowk, Fatehpur Sikri, and so many other places.
The CDC recommends several immunizations for travel to India, so I got to have a nice series of shots for Hepatitis A & B and pills to prevent typhoid. I'll be taking anti-malarials, and bringing along antibiotics and electrolytes, in case I pick up a case of the dreaded "Delhi Belly."
I've purchased an item called a SteriPen to treat any water that isn't bottled, though I plan to stick to bottled water as much as possible. As a super-paranoid person, I'll be very cautious in my food choices. Only fruits that I peel myself and food that has been cooked thoroughly. No street food for me, no matter how tasty it looks. And since I'm lactose intolerant, I won't be able to have the ubiquitous chai or lassi.
I decided to splurge for my plane flights and booked myself into premium economy. I'm hoping that the extra legroom and slightly wider seats will make me a little less claustrophobic than I usually am on a plane, and that will make the nearly full day of flying each way a little more tolerable.
Still, I've been preparing for so very long now, I am feeling ready. I'm not even panicking about the flights! I'm just ready to take off on a true adventure.
Are we there yet?