So last week I told you about the present I gave myself for my 51st birthday:
Now I believe it is time for me to share the best tips I used, that made my first trip to India, alone, not possible-but a meaningful and unforgettable trip. (plus- frugal, naturally).
I have no fear of sharing these tips- although I am by no means an expert on this subject- (this was my first trip to India), because I firmly believe that people doing something for the first time have a huge advantage when it comes to giving this kind of tips- they still remember all the novice struggles and hardships, and can relate to all the FAQ with all the empathy in the world. I mean- I had the same questions just a few weeks ago- so.
Tip #1: take it slow.
I cannot bear those “Europe In 5 days”/ “around the world in 80 days” kind of trips anymore. (my apologies to Jules Verne, I liked that book).
I will not go anywhere just to mark off a spot on a to-do list made of “famous must-see monuments in…..”).
As usual- this is my private opinion, no pressure here- do whatever you want.
I am aware that traveling for many hours and spending a lot of money may give you the impression that you have to check all the “best places to see” from a google list.
But personally, since turning 45, I suddenly realized that touristic famous crowded monuments don’t do it for me. I am an introvert and find it difficult to enjoy myself in places like that.
Sure- I can take a selfie there (no. I can’t actually, I did it maybe once in my whole lifetime- the results are better not discussed). but to really have a meaningful moment? no. way.
Don’t get me wrong- I did all those things before it dawned on me that I actually don’t enjoy it. I went shopping for days in foreign malls (great sales! don’t miss the *** in ***!) until I realized that this was a totally ridiculous thing to do- especially in the name of “saving money”.
The money, time and energy spent on going abroad, was by far not worth the “great sale” that made me spend valuable time in malls.
Plus- I found out that for me- as an introvert- the pressure of the shopping experience in malls is the worst way for me to make shopping decisions.
I am a much better shopper when I buy (or decide not to buy) online. then I can apply the “wait 24 hours at least before making a purchasing rule, check out other sellers, and make a calm decision without anyone hovering over me.”
So I simply travel to one place, carefully and thoughtfully picked, and stay there. the desire is to get to know the place and the people living there-culture, language, food, (mostly food).
I am fully aware I am “missing out” on some world heritage statues and museums.
And at the age of 51, I am, finally, ok with it.
I walk around without my phone, take pictures only on the last few days, and only the kind of pictures that will remind me of the experience, not of the specific relic.
This is the breakfast (yes, breakfast) we had at the ashram a few times, the rest of the days it was couscous with potatoes, and noodles with potatoes, but no pictures because- as I said I wasn’t carrying my phone.
Tip#2: take it slow means get a lot of rest!
Yes, I am aware of the need to hurry and “enjoy yourself” “you can sleep at home” “go out and have fun!!!” attitude.
And I do not share it.
I acknowledge my need to rest so my body can function at it’s best, and my mind can be peaceful and quiet.
Perhaps this is a matter of age. perhaps it’s a matter of being an introvert.
Perhaps it’s just me.
I don’t care.
I have no FOMO- (fear of missing out) -I am totally aware I am for sure missing out on so many things that there is n point in even trying to keep up, and I have no intention of doing so in the first place.
The best adventures I have had lately happened during meditations, alone, eyes closed.
for the past year, I have been working tremendously hard on trying to get together with myself, for the first time in 50 years of existence.
And I have been to the greatest museums and saw wonderful places, and nature is the best thing ever, and yet-
The wonders of the mind are something completely different as Monty python said.
So I rest well, during my trips abroad too. go to sleep at 20:00, rest at lunchtime, don’t get wasted or drink alcohol, a total geek-yes.
I don’t care what it’s called and if anyone has something to say about it.
Do whatever you want-I’ll do whatever I want.
All I can tell you is that I was the only one in the intensive yoga course that didn’t get sick during the course, and one of the few that came to each and every class and never skipped an asana.
But I can’t say I took a ride on the back of someone’s motorcycle, not knowing the person and without a helmet-because, I wouldn’t compromise my health and safety for a free ride,
I can’t tell you I dipped -head included- in the Ganga water- because I had no desire to do so once understanding the local traditions concerning the sacred Ganga,
I can’t tell you I made lifelong friends and shared my life story with anyone during the course,
And there are probably many other things people do- and I didn’t.
And this is fine, I respect them for doing what they like, and I respect my body’s need to rest- just as much.
#3: bring a double duty water bottle!
Do yourself a big favor and get one of these bottles- not the brand- the kind- that keeps cold water cold for 24 hours, and hot water hot for 12 hours.
No free drinking in India -under no circumstances are you to drink from a stand in the street- that includes anything including ice cubes of course- and no washing your mouth or rinsing your toothbrush in the sink.
I bought an electric water heater on Amazon and it worked great until my roommate decided to try and start it without water. in case you were wondering- it wasn’t a success.
This is the water heater : I get nothing for writing this; just sharing tips here. By the way I have no idea how long it would have held up if it weren’t for my roommate’s decision to test it on dry, so just look for something you like.
So I was glad I had the water bottle and every evening I begged the kitchen workers to boil me some water and put in my bottle. it held ok -hot not boiling hot- until my coffee at 4 am in the morning. yes, I brought black coffee from home. and a mug too.
all I can say is that trips make you appreciate your home even more…..
#4: travel light!
This is the same gear I used for my month in Guatemala, and what worked great for a month- worked even better for 2 weeks.
I can tell you that the Indira Gandhi airport in New Delhi is huge and for me, it was very confusing: I had to get from terminal 1 (domestic flight from Dehradun to Delhi) to terminal 3- international flight back home- and despite the 2-hour gap-I was pretty close to missing my flight.
If it wasn’t for me being early- and getting a front seat on the domestic flight- therefore getting on the first bus to the terminal- and catching the shuttle to terminal 3 immediately -then checking in with hand luggage only- I would probably have slept at the airport instead of in my bed that night.
By the way- the shuttle between the terminals is free- provided you show your previous ticket at the booth, but on the way back I had no time to spare so I paid 25 rupees- that’s about 30 cents, so. giving you the whole information here.
#5: polish your double wringing technique!
In order to travel light- you need to do your laundry. almost every day. sure- you can look for a laundry -but it is so much easier to simply bring light clothes and wash them in the sink with a local soap.
This way I got my clothes clean and dry the next day, and didn’t carry too much stuff with me. just remember to wring the clothes from both sides simultaneously- aka double wringing. otherwise it will take ages to dry- India enjoys sudden rain showers in September…
Enjoy- the cooliflower.