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Egypt, Prep, Travel

When Planning Goes All Wrong

February 12, 2016

When Planning Goes All Wrong

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I have a secret to tell you. A travel secret…

I have never backpacked on a trip. Most of the travel bloggers I know have backpacked most of the places they have been. Of course, a few are luxury travel bloggers, and they probably don’t now, but they probably have at some point backpacked on a trip. I have done weekends away in large tote bags, but I have always traveled internationally with a rolling suitcase. So this trip to Egypt has proven challenging for me.

When signing up for the tour, I am going on; the packing list stated that I should pack in a backpack or a duffel bag. I immediately thought, oh great how I am going to do that. I own a backpack, but it is more like something you pack school books in, and I have only ever used it as a carry-on. At first, I thought, I will just buy a backpack, but then I realized that I knew I would never voluntarily pack in a backpack again and didn’t want to spend the money on one. So I borrowed one from a friend. It didn’t need to be a perfect fit as they only requested this because it is easier to pack a van with soft luggage than with hard luggage with wheels. Oh and I am going on a sailboat and who wants to roll a suitcase onto a sailboat.

When Planning Goes All Wrong

The weeks wore on, and I kept looking at the backpack thinking, I don’t want to pack in that. I will never find anything. My back will hurt. So last week, I convinced myself I needed a duffel bag instead. The hunt was on, but shopping in Qatar is difficult, to say the least. And apparently the market doesn’t call for duffel bags that don’t have wheels built into them. Then I got sick at the beginning of the week and the day before a holiday, in which I had planned to go looking for a duffel bag and write-up all my posts for while I am gone. (This is why there was no Monday post this week.) The day off came and I dragged my ill self to the mall and looked for a duffel bag. In the end, after wandering around for about an hour and feeling pretty awful, I bought a cheap duffel bag at Carrefour (the French version of Wal-Mart) and decided it would do. I am packing today and we will see how that turns out, as I am still trying to wrap my head around how it will all fit. Wish me luck!

The other issue with this has been the weather. For weeks, the weather in Egypt was going to be warm during the day and cool at night. That also means for me, cold at night as it rarely goes below 60 degrees Fahrenheit in Qatar and I get cold easily. I had shopped for thermal underwear for the night on the boat and a suitable sleeping bag. Now, as of yesterday, the highs are in the 90s and the lows in the 50s! Why does there have to be a 40-degree temperature swing on my trip! It’s like I am back in Texas!  So now all the planning of what clothes to bring is out the window and the day before my trip, I am having to rethink this all. The real question is how do I fit all my layers for the different weather in a duffel bag!

Do you have any packing tips for us inexperienced backpackers? Leave a comment!

India, Passport, Prep, Travel

India e-Visa

September 24, 2015

India e-Visa

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Did you know that most people need a visa to go to India? It used to be that you had to get to an Indian Embassy to apply for an Indian visa, but now you can apply online for a visa on arrival if you hold a passport from one of 113 countries. This includes the U.S., Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany, UAE, and the Philippines. However, it does not include Qatar. Click here to get to the website. This is a great option for so many people. Getting a visa at an Indian Embassy can be done, but can be a hassle if you don’t have the time, aren’t near an embassy or just want an easier way to apply.

Before booking my trip to India, I almost hesitated to go to India because I thought you had to go to the Indian Embassy to get the visa and I had no idea where that was in Qatar. When I lived in New York, I had applied for Indian visas for my boss and the process was long and you had to go two days in a row. I have no idea where the India Embassy is located in Qatar. I only found out there was an e-visa process when I googled India visa to see where the embassy was located.  The process was very straightforward once I found it.

You need a few things before you get started. You need a passport sized photo that you can scan in, your passport, and a credit card. The application form is long and requires you to recall where you have traveled for the past 10 years! My travel for the past two years wouldn’t even fit in the space they allotted. They also wanted to know the names and places of birth for my parents. You should also have reserved your hotel or have an address to give in India. You also need to know which airport you are flying into as that will be the only place you can enter to get the visa on arrival. You should only apply 30 days in advance, as you have to arrive between the time given to you on the approval form. I applied in the afternoon and by the next morning, I had approval.

There was some slight confusion when I arrived at the Goa airport. There were no signs for people with e-visas or signs at all! Once I got to the immigration counter, I could tell he was looking for my visa and I said I had an e-visa. He told me I had to go to another room. The other room was to the left of the entrance to the immigration hall arrival area. There were about 15 other people in there, but no staff. Someone when out and asked how long it would be till someone arrived and they said five minutes. Not a long wait, but it was about 3 am at that point and we were all very tired. Slowly staff came in to get us sorted. Print out your visa approval as they will ask you for this. I also had printed out my application just in case. You had to have your photo and fingerprints taken. It took some time as the fingerprint machines were not liking the sweaty hands. They stamp your passport and you are on your way! Once I arrived at baggage claim, my bag was already there. It might be easier if you did go to the India Embassy in your country if you don’t want to wait at the airport, but it might depend on the process at the India Embassy in your country too. I was glad I had it already, but might try getting at the embassy next time to see which process is easier!

Have you gone to India? What was your visa process like?