India - Should You Book A Guided Tour Or Travel Independently
So you’ve taken the first step in deciding to travel to India, great! Now the big decision, do you organise everything by yourself or do you book a guided group tour? Abbigail Kemp recently visited India with her boyfriend Luke and in this article she shares some advice and her experience of this exploring this incredible country.
India Guided Tours - Do You Need One?
The first steps are making a basic plan on where you want to go. Then when it comes to a big trip aboad, your options, at least initially fall into two choices:
a) Doing everything yourself involving booking flights, accommodation, transportation, etc. - which trust us, takes time, effort and confusion. But could potentially save you a bit of money.
b) Let a tour agency help you out and take the weight off of your shoulders by doing the hard work for you, even if you pay the price.
Why We Chose An Organised Tour
India was on our bucket list, to see first hand this developing nation and the Indian way of life.
However, this country is considered a newly industrialised country as of 2013 (UN Country classifications), which means it’s a developing economy. This sometimes makes it a bit difficult as a backpacker to travel due to the infrastructure available not being to the standards you would expect from a more developed nation.
Upon reading horror stories, we started to understand why people find it so tough to explore India with travellers facing several issues when going solo/independently. For example it seems tourists are common targets of tourist traps like ‘this place is closed’ - when in reality it isn’t. Or ‘it’s a religious day’ - of which it also isn’t, and ending up in a commission based gem/clothes stores which weren’t even on your itinerary. Not to mention the added pressure of the language barrier.
We started researching many different travel agencies to gather ideas about where to go, general costs and what was included compared to doing it solo. In general, for a three week trip in India, you can expect to pay between £700-£1000 including flights in ‘good enough’ hotels.
After reading all about India, we decided a tour was the best option and we booked a trip with G Adventures hoping we made the right choice.
About G Adventures
G Adventures has packages and trips available all across the world ranging from Active adrenaline trips to ‘easy travel’ self stylised ‘YOLO adventures’ - they have tours that suit everyone from all age ranges and physical abilities. For 25 years, they’ve have gathered the ideas of what travellers are looking for with good accommodation, reliable transportation and amazing English-speaking guides, you feel like you are 100% getting value for such a small price in comparison.
The Tour We Picked
We went for ‘Uncover India’ which was a tour that takes you from the organised chaos of New Delhi, to the stunning majestic Taj Mahal, around the colourful historic UNESCO sites of Rajasthan, all the way to the pristine sands of Goa. Not only do you experience all this in just 15 days, but you get to understand the culture by also taking you off the beaten track to the little villages of Tordi to meet friendly, well educated children and a beautiful dinner in the desert provided by cameleers with their local, traditional entertainment.
Uncover India cost us £700 pp in September 2017 - prices have increased since then due to festivals coming up, improved weather and the fact that its high season for the likes of nightlife in places like Goa.
Travelling in India
Visiting India, and doing the tour took a bit of time to adjust. G Adventures certainly captivated us in regards to the experience. Even through the minor difficulties of late transportation for example, the guide kept calm (although you could see him getting stressed) and made the group feel at ease - which reminds us, be patient in India, the bets are quite high for things not going according to plan all the time.
The history and information they provide is mesmerising to say the least. Also, the sense of 24/7 service is security in itself. An additional budget is required on top of this tour for optional additional activities, shopping, food and drink. We would probably recommend $200 pp, although India is very cheap compared to many developed countries, the pennies soon mount up if you’re not careful.
I would recommend booking a tour to India with G Adventures especially as it is a massive culture shock. You will easily fall in love with this country and all the different experiences available.
If Organised Tours Are Not For You
Finally, if you’ve read this and think a guided tour maybe isn’t for you, look into ‘Zostel’ India. They’re a glam packer hostel chain in India and are a safe bet in India when travelling without a guide - it’s what we did after our G Adventures tour.
For transport you’re better off heading to the stations and getting tickets or asking your hotel to help, online bookings are awkward to say the least.
As for food, you’re usually ok if you go with your gut. Eat where the locals eat and as always, TripAdvisor is your best friend, especially in New Delhi.
We loved our experience in India and if you wish to read more about what you are letting yourself into check out our blog www.wanderlustlab.com.
By Abigail Kemp & Luke Curtis
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