My preparations for India began way back in August. I made my flight reservations early. When I decided to extend my stay, I had to change them, which ended up costing almost $600! Oh well. Being out of the country for four months takes a lot of planning, even when one doesn't have a house or apartment to worry about. I have been making lists for months now, and waking up in the middle of the night thinking of things to add.
Getting a visa. India requires a visa, and this was one of the most nerve racking things that had to be done. The Indian government has recently outsourced the visa process to a new company. (I have friends who have found some humor in the fact that India is outsourcing this.) Anyway, the process is a real test of whether one really wants to visit India! There are multiple very confusing forms to fill out. There are numbers to call with questions, but the 800 number was not in service and the local number always went to a voice mailbox that was full! The timing was tricky for me. I was applying for a 6 month visa, and the clock starts ticking on the day it is issued, NOT the day one enters the country. Since I am staying a little over four months, I didn't want to apply too early. The process should take less than a month, but sometimes takes a lot longer. And you have to send your passport off with your application, which requires faith in an organization that has a flaky reputation. It was a real relief when the visa arrived!
Health issues need to be considered. A trip to a travel doc is a necessity to make sure you have all the immunizations you need. You need to make sure you have any prescription medications you need. Any regular check-ups that are due need to be taken care of. Additional insurance coverage must be checked into. I decided to also purchase vitamins and OTC medications that I might need.
Income tax will require an extension, since I won't be back in the country until May.
Bills will need to be paid. I don't have a lot of these now, just a few, like insurance.
Stuff needs to be left with someone who will take care of it. Mine is mostly in storage, but I had it in a POD and needed to move it to less expensive storage. My bicycles are with a friend who will take care of them. I am leaving my car with my brother.
What to take requires planning. I am allowed two checked bags. One of them will be filled with sweaters and blankets I am collecting for people in the Himalayas who have lost everything due to flooding. I am taking very few clothes, since Ravi said it is better to buy them there for many reasons. They are inexpensive, will be appropriate for India, and mean room in my luggage for other things. I am still deciding what those other things will include.
Money, how much will be needed and how much cash to take. Also letting my bank and credit card company know I will be using my debit and credit cards in India.
The Licking County Bicycle Club Holiday party provided great food and fellowship.
I will meet up with Kelley and Dasa in London Heathrow for the flight to Chennai.