Tracy’s India Travel Plan: Start with a good jacket

I’m in India for a couple of weeks, this time for six days in Delhi first (including a day trip to Agra to see the Taj Mahal) and then four days at a feminist and gender studies conference in Puducherry in South India before heading back home. I left Toronto in an icestorm turned snowstorm that closed many things in the region on Tuesday, including my campus (and thankfully not Toronto Pearson Airport).

There are loads of exciting things about going to India, but one of the things I was looking forward to enroute was testing out my new Baubax bomber style travel jacket. My friend Dawn and I responded to a Kickstarter and ordered a jacket each. I ordered the bomber (in black) and she ordered the windbreaker (in red). I’m not promoting the company and have no stake in either it or the jacket. In fact, Dawn has had a heck of a time exchanging her jacket for the same one in a size that fits her better. And the earlier version of the jacket (ours is take 2) did have some negative reviews, like this one here.

Having said that, one of my objectives on this trip was to get enough sleep on the trip over, or at least something approximating enough. I also wanted to have my stuff close by but not have to fuss with bags and such. That made the many pockets and the hood/eye cover/neck pillows features super attractive. Also, did I mention that I left in the middle of Canadian winter? And I was going to India? That meant I wanted a jacket that could do the job for the parts of the trip in Canada, but that wouldn’t be a big pain in the butt taking up too much precious luggage space (because: shopping!) while in India.

The jacket came through big time on all those fronts. The many pockets allowed me to keep my phone, passport and boarding pass, charger cable, and even my kindle on my person. The hood with a built in eye cover that comes down and a stored inflatable neck pillow enabled me to get two good hours of sleep while we were still on the tarmac for de-icing and waiting for the runway to be cleared of snow. It also made an additional hour or so possible on the leg from Abu Dhabi to Delhi. You just pull the hood up and the eye cover down, inflate the pillow, close your eyes, and zzzzzzz.

Image description: Black Baubax bomber style jacket, upper portion, showing hood up, eye cover down, and everything snapped in to place. Wood cabinet in background, retractable pen hanging from zipper.

It kept me warm enough for the Canadian outside parts, and was light enough to remove and carry when I got to India. I forgot a bottle of water at home, but the collapsible water bottle that comes with the jacket meant I could get my own from any water fountain at the airport. Which I did. And it felt great to do that instead of adding to landfill.

It’s also quite stylish, in my opinion, and super practical. I really appreciated not having to rummage around excessively in my carry-on because I could keep things in my pockets. On the last leg of the flight, even the pen came in handy (which sort of surprised me because originally I thought, “I always have a pen.” But in fact my pen was in the overhead bin, which was not all that accessible because of the guy beside me, so it was convenient beyond description to be able to pull one out of the zipper handle).

Image description: full body shot of Tracy, short cropped hair, wearing travel jacked, slim fit khakis, ankle boots, and a patterned shirt, standing in a hotel room on a carpeted floor, bed, desk, and curtains in background.

So far, I’m to plan on hydration, warmth, sleeping, neck support, having stuff easily at hand, and a pen. I managed a good 7 hours of sleep on the 12.5 hour flight, plus the two hours I got before we took off from Toronto. Once we took off, I removed the jacket and got cozy after a cup of green tea. For various reasons that are not always at play in my travels, I was able to purchase a business class ticket for this trip, so I made my seat flat, pulled the comforter up around me, and had a full night of light, though reasonably satisfying sleep.

That was just the first leg of the trip, though, and there was another ten or eleven hours to go — a five hour layover in Abu Dhabi, a further four hours in the air to get to Delhi, the frustrating wait time in the line at immigration once we were in the airport, and then the long slow drive from the airport to my hotel. By the time all that was over, I was ready for another nap.

Like I said, I’m prioritizing sleep. I touched base with Nandi, who was already at the hotel and is one of the friends I’m meeting in India for our combination work-play adventure, who kindly made me a cup of tea. We made plans to go for a walk after I’d had a chance to unwind. Air travel is an odd thing. Even with plenty of sleep and with the comforts of business class, all that sitting and lying around turns out to be exhausting. So I went for another three hours of sleep and then we ventured out into the streets of Delhi for a lovely walk through Lodhi Garden and then the Khan Market.

We passed over offers from auto-rickshaw drivers to take us to the Garden as we walked, and I’m glad we did because it turned out to be no more than about one km away. A very pleasant afternoon walk with a cool breeze and completely tolerable temperatures in the mid to high teens on the Celsius scale.

My plan for the morning is to take advantage of the hotel gym’s treadmill (fingers crossed because I’ve not actually seen the facilities yet) and put in some Around the Bay training. That’s another part of my India strategy this year. Last year, I didn’t even try. This year, I packed the gear — which usually means I will use it.

So: so far so good on the India plan. A good jacket, pretty good sleep, a nice walk, and a probable run, and I’ve only left home about 48 hours ago.

Image description: First light of day peeking up over grey clouds, shot from above the clouds, approaching New Delhi, India.

When you travel long distances for short-ish periods of time, what is your strategy (or strategies) for managing the challenges?

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