Quarter life crisis: one way ticket to India
I quit everything and left. I sold my furniture on Craigslist, had a few goodbye happy hours, and parted from the lovely city of Washington that had given me so much joy for two years. This is something that in theory should happen when you retire or when you have somewhere else to go to. Maybe an acceptable year between high school and college. But it was only after I started working that I realized that 25 is the best time to go off and travel by yourself for a couple of months. It’s scary, but pretty fantastic as well.
So I bought a one way ticket to India.
I had enough people in DC feel quite hesitant about my decision… it was a very Type A thing to ask: “wait, did you get a job there?” or “are you starting your own NGO?” “Will you be working remotely?” The idea of taking such a long time to simply travel for the sake of discovery is alien to many Americans, as we all know. But of course, it is incredibly alien to Colombians as well. The most shocking park to my family and friends was the fact that I was choosing to go alone. WHY WOULD I DO SUCH A THING. It is hard to explain that, as much as I love my good, old, Colombian codependency, I am quite thrilled at the idea of proving myself. I am aware that South East Asia is not necessarily the most exotic place, nor the hardest to travel to (probably the easiest after Europe actually). But since it is the first time I backpack for real, I figured I would start easy. We shall see when I get my third-life crisis 😉
After spending a day in London with long-time friends from Florida and Colombia on my one day layover, I arrived to Delhi, exhausted. I very quickly realized how very Indian I look. I had been told a couple of times, but people do not approach me to sell me things at all unless I am with my mother, who does not only look like a foreigner, but like a rich foreigner. Me, by myself, I look like a middle class Indian, and once I open my mouth, like a poor backpacker, which is exactly what I am.
My mom met me in Delhi at her friends place, since her flight came from Colombia to Germany. I’m very glad she came with me, and these first two weeks will be very different from the rest of my Asia trip. Since we have heard too many horror stories about Indian four star hotels, she was pretty adamant that we stay in veery good hotels. They are still pretty cheap in comparison to the rest of the world, but seem amazing. We shall see.
Choosing India as a first destination was easy. My dearest mother chose to come along with me for this first part of my trip, and I am quite happy she did. I don’t think we had really had the chance to travel alone, just the two of us, and I think this will make for memories of a lifetime. Of course, once planning the trip I realized how different it would be from the rest of my journey. My mother is high maintenance, in the best of ways, so we hired a tour company, we had our driver and will stay in the most wonderful hotels I have ever had the chance of stepping in.
– I bought an Osprey rolling bag that can be converted to a backpack if needed, since i cannot carry too much weight on my back because of spine issues. It has a day pack attached and its wonderful all around. About $300 but completely worth the money.
-If you are under 26 or a student, look up your tickets in STA travel, where the prices are much lower. My one way cost about $600
– Get your India visa with some time in advance since it takes time. Be ready to write down your local address in the customs form coming into the Delhi airport.
-Hire a driver to take you around. It’s totally worth it! It can be a tuk tuk driver that you hire for the day too, but both cabs and them will try to rip you off as could be expected.