“You must be the change you wish to see in the world” – Mahatma Gandhi
Ahhhh India, a last minute add-on to my 6 month trip! I figured, if I’m all the way over on that side of the world anyways…why not? I would never have this chance again. But where in India would I go? So I read a book on all the different regions and when I finished I thought- well shit, I want to go everywhere!
I talked to a few friends who have traveled to India and they all advised against “winging” my travel plans to go there and strongly suggested that I use a travel agent. So against my “free-spirited-travel-self” I called a company, got a quote and realized that this last minute add-on was going to be the most expensive part of my 6 months! I honestly couldn’t afford the initial quote that the agent gave me, in fact I started laughing, this couldn’t be right, $7,000 to go to a third world country for 1 month? It turns out India is very expensive if you want to feel safe which, um….yeah that would be nice! But now that I read the book and had worked on customizing my itinerary with my travel agent I wasn’t willing to let it go. I was fully invested in India. So I got to work and started looking for a travel buddy to split the cost.
I looked for a travel companion with the same determination that I had looked for jobs in NYC. I spent 3 months sending out mass emails with cover letters explaining the details of India with an itinerary attached. I tried bartering with people, asking if anyone was interested to just come for two weeks out of the four. I asked close friends, acquaintances, friends of friends and people I met through past travel experiences. No one could swing it, which I get, most people only have 2 weeks of vacation a year and India usually isn’t at the top of their list. During this time people would ask me why India? They said that it was chaotic, dirty, smelly, completely frustrating and that it would not be fun. This came from people who have traveled there as well as people who have never stepped foot off of America- really?? The only people who were actually for me going were the Indian taxi drivers I told whenever I found myself in a cab with them. Everything that I heard, both good and bad enticed me more but if I couldn’t find anyone I would have to save it for another time.
I was going to give myself one more month to figure this out when one day I went on Facebook and saw an old classmate talking about upcoming travel plans. I had been somewhat following this gal for the past few years and knew that she was in to travel like myself. Would she be interested? I hadn’t seen her since high school graduation in 1999 but it was worth a try. So I sent her a message asking if she had any interest and she responded immediately saying that she could be. I sent her the itinerary and 2 hours later she was in! After 3 months of looking I had found someone in less than 3 hours of initial contact! Bam!
I’m not going to lie, when she first said yes, I started digging deep into her Facebook pages-ha! How well did I really know this classmate acquaintance that I was going half-way around the world with and would possibly be sharing a bed with in primitive locations from time to time? Then I thought, anyone who is open to going to India and decides within a few hours is a cool cat in my book! Amy and I have been in constant contact ever since. After 14 years I finally met up with Amy in San Francisco where she lives, during one of my work trips and I’m so pumped that we are doing this together. To think we barely said two words to each other in high school and now we will be with each other for one month straight! It turns out that she is a more organized traveler than I am and she brilliantly got us business-class plane tickets to India using our airline points. Yep living the lap of luxury, I better not get used to this because I will be staying in many a hostel in my very near future.
For a last minute add-on, I can honestly say that I’m probably most excited about India, funny how things work out.