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Introduction to India Featured

In the last year, I've been able to call myself a true jetsetter. The nature of my job has me traveling to new destinations almost monthly. I am living the dream! However, the more that I traveled to new places, the less foreign they felt. Destinations that would have once felt unfamiliar now felt quite comfortable. Despite having some absolutely phenomenal experiences, I've found my travels were lacking that punch in the stomach of glee that travel used to give me.

laura in a sari india

I feel somewhat guilty even confessing this as I truly am grateful for my incredible life, but when travel becomes your job, it changes. My clients are always in the forefront of my mind as I travel, and I nit-pick, judge and notice details that the average tourist may not. I miss the months of planning, the weeks of packing, shopping for special clothes, and the giddiness that keeps one up the night before the trip begins. I am chasing that first high.

Laura in udaipur

To many, India is considered the holy grail of the "fish out of water" countries - countries that we in the western world classify as a "shock destination." Countries where life is not only chaotic, but so fundamentally different from our own that we feel like a fish out of water. "India changes you," claimed my colleagues. Naturally, it was at the top of my bucket list.

 

Laura on bus india varanasi

The trip to India was my love child. I sit on the board of the Young Travel Professionals FAM and Global Events team. Our job is to orchestrate trips for young travel agents. These trips familiarize agents with a destination so they can better sell it to the young (or young at heart!) traveler. About a year ago, during a meeting where we were discussing potential trips, I saw an opportunity to make my dream a reality.


"What about India?" I said.


"Go for it." The team was enthusiastic.


And so I began to work with my best operator, Pierce & Leslie to develop an itinerary. The process of organizing the trip and its participants was long and involved. I had to apply for a visa that asked more questions than a bank does when you buy a house. With each stage the trip I gained momentum and generated greater excitement.

laura at oberoi india

The week before my trip Murphy's law reared its ugly head, turning me into a total, stressed out wreck. I lost sleep and was visibly agitated at the office. As my stress levels increased, I suddenly remembered a slew of things that I hadn't taken care of in preparation for the trip. I even texted my husband from the AirTran, freaking out about the lease that we were supposed to have signed days before. Were they going to start showing our apartment while I was away? Did I remember to turn on my out of office notification? A panic attack was surely on the horizon.


The 15 hour flight to Delhi gave me an opportunity to relax and by the time my guide and driver met me at the airport, I was wide-eyed and eager for adventure.


India sucker-punched me in a way the few other places have. I was equally mesmerized living in the moment as romanticizing the aftermath. In a land of such contrasts, the incredible coexistence of rich, poor, and cow was inspiring. Hospitality was unparalleled; the hotel cleaners even put a bookmark in my book! Between the incredible service in hotels and specially-created surprises from Pierce & Leslie, I felt like a princess.

laura in jaipur


I found the Indians that I interacted with had an innate gift of relating to our group and were able to participate in our conversations fluidly while still retaining their unique and timeless culture. In fact, our conversations were so fluid that I often forgot that I was a foreigner and that I should adjust my Americanized conversation. Our guide played an integral part of our journey in a way that guides in "exotic" countries typically cannot. He understood our idiosyncrasies and could really read the crowd. He knew when we were losing interest in a particular site and when we needed more time. My newfound relationships with our Indian colleagues brought comfort amongst the chaos.

Laura in agraBy the end of the trip, I was told that I had a calm presence. I could hear my friends laughing thousands of miles away as "calm" is the last adjective that anyone would ever use to describe me. As a type A travel advisor, I have a hard time relinquishing control over logistics.

laura at Taj Mahel
Our amazing operator played a paramount role in creating my calm mood. It took me several days to notice and reflect upon how seamless the complicated logistics were. Transportation appeared out of nowhere - from boats, to rickshaws, everything was just waiting for our arrival. I was able to let go of control and trust that all the i's were dotted and t's were crossed and was truly able to relax and enjoy myself. For a type A person knowing that everything is under control is a true luxury.

laura elephants india
I look forward to sharing my experiences with you city by city. It was important for me to post this prologue so that you can understand the circumstances that resulted in the planning of this trip and comprehend the impact that this incredible country had on my heart.

Read 2113 times Last modified on Tuesday, 10 May 2016 20:28
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