Day 1 of the LIVE RICHER series in India
Almost a year ago, I posted an affirmation on my vision board that I was going to travel to India. I began saving a percentage of my income each time I was paid, in a free, online-only, savings account at Ally Bank. I even renamed my account, Travel, on the Ally site.
After seeing some amazing pictures that my Facebook travel group, Nomad*ness Travel Tribe, posted about their trip to India, I knew I had to go. I wasn’t sure if they planned to go again the following year, but I put it on my vision board anyway.
Imagine my excitement when a few weeks later, the founder of Nomad*ness, Evita, posted about going back to India! Space was limited, but I quickly reserved my spot.
Included lodging at Umaid Mahal/7 days, daily breakfasts, roundtrip transportation costs for day trips to the Taj Mahal and Pushkar in an AC equipped 12-seater
Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago. In preparation for my trip, I had to get an Indian visa ($65). The process was…. challenging (to say the least), especially since I waited until the last minute. After 2 mini-meltdowns and several trips to the Indian, visa office later, I finally got my visa just days before my trip! * insert exhale *
Travel Tip: Go directly to the visa office vs. a subsidiary. I saved $100 and my visa was ready in days vs. the weeks that the other offices projected.
After I had my visa in hand, I nervously researched flights. A year ago around this time, flights were as high as $1600 roundtrip! Thankfully, there was a dramatic price drop during the month of March and I bought both of my roundtrip flights for $970 on Orbitz, just days before I needed to leave!
Sidebar: Prices are back up to $1400 and higher for the same trip.
My flight schedule:
Newark –> Mumbai –> Jaipur
Jaipur -> Mumbai -> Newark
The flight from Newark to Mumbai was 13 ½ hours…yikes! I also had a 16-hour layover in Mumbai by myself. Shhh…Don’t tell my mother.
The night before I left, I used tripadvisor.com to help me find a hotel in Mumbai since I was going to be there for 16 hours. I was more than a bit nervous because I would be in Mumbai by myself, before meeting up with the group in Jaipur. I do a lot of solo travel, but India is a different kind of travel, especially alone.
I found a great hotel via Expedia, for $51 a night, Hotel Accord. It has great reviews, is 20 minutes from the airport, has low-cost wifi ($6.50 for 24-hrs), offers a complimentary, round-trip, airport shuttle service and includes breakfast. After pricing rides to other hotels at $29 one way, I knew Hotel Accord was a great choice, especially since most of the other hotels within my price range did not include breakfast.
While still in Newark, I emailed the hotel about my arrival and they scheduled my pick-up and arranged a driver for me.
Once I got to the hotel, I decided to take a walk around the huge marketplace outside. It was a maze of sounds and scents and textiles and colors and herbs and spices and cars and bikes and buses and people, people, people. I LOVED it. It reminded me of Lagos, Nigeria.
In the market, it took me nearly 5 minutes to cross the street because traffic zooms by and stops or waits for no one. I was put to shame as I watched children navigate crossing, while I stood there like it was my first time playing double-dutch, rocking back & forth, afraid to get hit.
After exploring the market, I decided to treat myself to dinner. Luckily there was an amazing restaurant right next door to my hotel. I ordered a cauliflower appetizer ($3.95), a vegetable curry that nearly brought me to tears it was so good ($3.95) and yummy garlic & chili naan bread ($1.07). The portions were HUGE and the bill came to 595 rupees (about $9.46), including my bottle of water. It was a great end to a long day.
The LIVE RICHER Lesson:
Leading up to the trip, I almost gave up so many times. During the week before my flight, I was still struggling to get my visa, hadn’t booked my ticket and left both my license and my passport in the copy machine at Staples on two separate occasions. I actually didn’t even realize I left my passport until the night before my trip!
To add insult to injury, my business, The Budgetnista, was in some freakish, overdrive mode (calls, interviews, proposals due, meetings, emails, presentations, panels…oh my). The night before my flight, it all became too much and I broke down and cried. After feeling sorry for myself, I finished my work, picked up my passport from Staples and got my cry-baby behind on the plane. 🙂
Once I landed in India, I knew that everything I struggled with leading up to this day, was going to be more than worth it.
I have a feeling that India will change something inside of me and I can’t wait to share my journey with you here, via my Trip to India: A LIVE RICHER Series.
I’d love to hear from you. Any suggestions for me while I’m out here?