16 May 2011

I Booked a Vacation

It may not seem like much, but this is a big deal for me. Mike's been on several work trips since we arrived last November, but Muffin and I have been in H'bad nonstop since Day One. Summer is almost over so we're running out of time to take a summer vacation. And for some reason it just seems physically and mentally difficult to book a trip within India, so I'm proud of my accomplishment.

We are going to a somewhat remote area that doesn't have online booking for hotels and has very little online information about hotels there in general. Every site that popped up had the exact same wording copy/pasted. Some sites call the region by its colonial name and some call it by its Indian name and it took me about a week to sort that out and realize everything I was looking at actually was in the same place. I contacted some travel agents for help and they all directed me to the Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC). Their website offers friendly online booking for hotels, but really what you do is fill out a form, then exchange many emails back and forth, then end up going into town to visit the office in person before you get some specific questions answered. They wanted to sell me a standard package tour, but in all my Google searches I'd actually been able to narrow down the names of some hotels and activities we wanted.

Visiting the office in person was kind of a drag and took longer than expected, but ended up getting me what I wanted. The woman I'd been emailing with was there and she helped me quite a bit. It was easier for me to watch her sit on the phone with the different hotels, relay the room options to me, and let me make the decisions rather than me call the different hotels and have language barrier issues and/or email back and forth with her several times. She could also advise which activities we wanted to do were close to which hotels, helping me put together an itinerary that involves as little time in the car as possible. And she booked the car for us, along with the hotels.

(Yes, more than one hotel. Unfortunately the jungle camp I really wanted only had a cabin available for one night; my new APTDC helper-friend negotiated the same price, though, for a luxury suite at a hotel for the remaining nights. We'll see how "luxury" it really is, but we're not too picky. After one night in the jungle camp with Muffin, maybe we'll be ready to have an additional star or two added to our accommodations.)

We've done a lot of traveling with Muffin, but it was all for ending up here in H'bad. This will be our first vacation with her. She adds another level of complication to the trip. I have no idea how to pack for her. Lots of diapers I guess. And socks, since it will be quite a bit cooler there than it is here. She's never worn shoes and I can't find any in this city that fit her, so hopefully thick socks will be warm enough.

In about two weeks, we'll be headed for the hills.


Smallbits said...

Good for you! Can't wait to hear how it goes. A baby definitely adds a whole new dimension to packing.

Sadie said...

This week’s State Department Blog Round Up is here, and you're on it!


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