Planning a Trip to India
Sunday 25th September. The day after tomorrow. The day that I bid farewell to the UK for the foreseeable future and begin my post-university gap year.
When I first decided to move to Australia after graduating I discovered pretty quickly that it was actually cheaper to fly London --> Tokyo --> Australia, rather than getting a one-way flight straight to Oz. Over the next couple of months my plan morphed into me spending a few weeks travelling around Japan and then stopping in Bali, then I decided I'd rather do Thailand and Bali, then I thought I'd do the majority of SE Asia, before I finally settled on India, Thailand and Bali.
I hadn't even considered visiting India before. I'd like to do the Taj Mahal but aside from that it hadn't really featured on my 'To Visit' list. It's the sort of country with a Jekyll and Hyde portrayal in the media and, to be quite honest, that was a massive turn off for me. I knew it had an incredibly rich history and culture, yet the stories of crimes against women were enough to put anyone off. Anyhow, when one of the girls mentioned how they'd always wanted to visit India I began to consider it.
A few Google and Pinterest searches later, I was sold. That's what you call thorough research ;)
Going it alone?
My initial plan was to travel India alone. Not only am I a control freak but I'm also a snob, so the idea of an organised trip never really appealed to me. I started madly pinning things I wanted to see, looking them up on a map, and then consulting rome2rio.com for the best way to get there.
Herein lies the evidence that I am not an experienced traveller.
I hadn't really anticipated quite how big India is (its population is over 1.3 billion) and how it wouldn't necessarily be straightforward to get everywhere that I wanted. All of my travelling experience thus far has been concentrated in Europe, so this isn't something that's ever really come up.
Likewise, I was still a bit iffy about travelling alone on public transport there. I know this makes me sound naive and even a bit ignorant, but I'm just being honest. I'm pretty sure this time next month I'll be harping on about how it wasn't half as bad as I'd expected and that I really had nothing to fear. But I digress. Combining these two factors with the strained expressions on my parents' faces when I first mentioned my Indian intent, I decided that maybe I should look at a travel company first.
Luckily for myself and Steph, the three sort of 'Big Cheeses' of the young people travel industry offer plenty of trips around India. G Adventures currently offer 37 different tours of India, whilst STA Travel offer a whopping 55. Yes, I did just use the word 'whopping' in a serious context. Contiki have also just added a 12-day tour of India which kicks off in December.
My big worry with tours like this is the price. I know it's probably a bit of a rip off and I could definitely do it cheaper independently, but there's something about knowing it's all being taken care of that makes the extra money seem okay. It also helped calm both my and my parents' nerves RE: travelling India.
If you're as indecisive as me the choice of 55 tours can be a bit overwhelming. If you're also as stingy as me, you'll know that cheapness and length of trip trump any other factors. For these reasons alone we settled on the 'India on a Shoestring' tour. Not only does it last almost three weeks, it's less than £800, and includes a camel ride (much to my delight and Steph's horror).
As you have probably already guessed, I will be blogging the entire trip. I'm also going to give vlogging a go but I have a sneaking suspicion it will end disastrously. So if you're thinking about going on this trip, or a similar one, or just about Indian travel in general - stayed tuned!