I leave for India in one short month, yet this trip still doesn’t seem like something that is really happening in the very near future. Regardless, I am going through the proper trip planning motions so that day that I pack up and get on the plane, I will be ready.
Since I posted two months ago about trip preparations, and life preparations, I feel like I haven’t done much on that list at all, but I have caught up with a lot of friends and enjoyed my time off here at home. Since then, I took a trip to Canada, and questioned why one might travel in the winter. I did post a bunch of recipes and do lots of holiday cooking, so there will be even more recipes on the way.
As for trip preparation, I got my visa, and I bought some shoes. These two things were both very important for me to do, as I needed to get a student visa for my yoga program, and I needed to find a comfortable walking shoe without ties to wear in India.
One day, a friend of mine out of the blue said “you should wear Tom’s in India” Genius! Why hadn’t I thought of this? So, I bought my first pair of TOMS and I feel like they are perfect for this type of travel. Unlike sandals, the Tom’s cover and support the foot, yet slip easily on and off. The material seems durable and I feel like I could walk long distances in these shoes. Tom’s has vegan shoes as well, so why not. But we will see how well they hold up when I am actually in India.
For the yoga course I am attending, a student visa was required. While living in Europe and attending university there, I had a problem getting a student visa in Germany thanks to my crappy Croatian University, and I was nervous I might have trouble with India. The Indian visa center says you only need to apply for a visa a week or two in advance, but since the holidays are coming up, I wanted to get the visa out of the way, and leave some room for error in case my first application was denied. When I first started researching, I was pretty confused about the visa process, but I figured it out and it was very simple and hassle-free.
So, to get a visa from the United States to India, (tourist or student), you visit this website: http://www.in.ckgs.us/index.shtml. Since I needed a student visa, I will discuss this process, however it is even easier to get the tourist visa as it does not require as much documentation.
1. Complete the visa application.
2. Gather all the supporting documents (for me this was a letter from my yoga school and copies of my bank statements), a passport photo, and photocopies of your passport and driver’s license or other ID. (If you don’t have all the documents ready, you can copy and print documents at the center for $1 a page.)
3. Make an appointment at the visa center nearest you, or don’t. I didn’t make an appointment at the office in D.C., mainly because I couldn’t figure out how to make the appointment. So I just went to the center and took a number. I only had to wait 20 minutes, and the process was very easy overall. If you can’t make it to a center, you can mail your application via courier to the nearest application center.
4. Pay the application fee, $118 for a student visa, and the courier return fee if you want your passport delivered back to you.
5. Pick up your passport, or wait for it to arrive back to your address.
My passport with my student visa inside was literally ready in 2 business days, I was shocked, and very happy that the process was so painless. I now have a student visa valid for 6 months, a plane ticket, and a spot at a yoga school, so I am all set to go in January!
Almost. For my last month in America, I must figure out what to pack and I need to purchase a proper backpack for this trip.
What kind of backpack do you use and why? What is your unique yet essential must pack item for an extended backpacking trip?