I just recently got back from an amazing trip to India with my wife, and it truly was one of my favorite vacations. The reason we chose India for our major trip this year was because we wanted to visit the Taj Mahal, one of the world wonders. When beginning to plan our trip; however, we realized that India is unlike anywhere we’ve ever been before. The train system, language barrier, and health concerns began to weigh on our desire to visit, so we had to rethink our strategy.
We ended up booking a small group tour from Indus Travels and couldn’t be happier with the results.
In general we like to discover places on our own, but there were quite a few reasons that we decided to hire a tour company. After we finished the tour we came up with even more reasons, so we were greatly pleased we took a tour for our first visit to India.
Indus Travels made our trip planning so easy. All we had to do was get from Columbus to New York and the rest was taken care of. All transportation from the airport, around the cities, and to the sights was covered. We didn’t have to sort out what hotels were clean and had air conditioning. Many of our meals were prepaid, and the majority of our sightseeing and excursions were also included. It was actually a little too easy!
Our tour guide was an absolute gem and provided us with a wealth of information. One of the reasons we travel is to learn about places, people and customs, and our guide did not disappoint. Learning about the sights also helps us appreciate them more and we are able to tell better stories when we get home.
The tourist attractions in India are crawling with “in your face” sales people who are all desperate to sell you a hat, scarf, magnet, picture, bracelet, pen, or other trinket – all for the equivalent of 20 USD each. Fortunately, we had a guide that shared with us a reasonable price to pay for each item. Most items sold on the street should only cost a few USD each. Armed with this knowledge, we felt confident we paid a fair price to the vendor and weren’t getting scammed.
4. Clean Hotels
Let’s face it, our comfort standards are much different than the average Indian’s. While a two star hotel at home is do-able, a two star hotel in India – not so much. I need a hot shower and a clean bed, and a Western-style toilet is always a bonus. Indus actually booked us in far nicer hotels that we would have normally chosen, but they wanted us to feel comfortable in such a foreign environment. Mission accomplished!
My #1 biggest fear before arriving in India was getting traveler’s tummy because about 90% of people I know who have been to India have gotten sick. My carry-on bag was stocked with Pepto Bismal, Imodium, and a prescription antibiotic. I’m more than happy to report that I did not need any of it. In fact, no one on our tour got sick, so I fully contribute our success to the thoughtful planning on where to eat by our tour company.
Tour companies are experts, so they know where to go as well as how and when to get there. We were on a whirl-wind tour, but still found the time to sneak in some off the beaten track sights that were well worth visiting.
Experience better cultural experiences with a tour because they know who to talk to. For example, we got to see demonstrations on how the marble inlay was cut for the Taj Mahal and how intricate turbans are weaved. I would have felt pretty awkward asking a local to show me how he ties his turban if I were traveling on my own.
As soon as I stepped out of the airport in Delhi I felt a little overwhelmed. The heat, smog, and sheer number of people who wanted to help me with my one small roller bag shocked me, so I was more than happy to escape the chaos aboard the safe, air-conditioned bus. It gave me peace of mind to know that my tour guide and driver were going to escort me safely through my trip no matter what troubles lie ahead.
Tours can provide an unbelievable value for the money because they can get group rates with airlines and hotels. If we purchased everything offered on our tour by ourselves we would have come in just under the price of the packaged tour and not even gotten a tour guide!
10. Time Management
For people like me who can only dedicate a week or two to discovering a new place, the tour managed our time as efficiently as possible in order to experience as much as we possibly could. We were busy from sun up to sun down, but I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
It was easy for me to come up with ten reasons to take a tour to India, and each of these reasons were truly invaluable to me. I had such an enjoyable trip that if given the opportunity to go back to India tomorrow, I wouldn’t hesitate. Maybe next time I’ll be brave enough to try visiting on my own, but with the ease, peace of mind, and value the tour.
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