Lauren & I love Indian food. We love to eat it, shop for it and cook it. There is an area of Los Angeles in the town of Artesia that is called Little India. We love to drive down there & shop, look at all the jewelry and Sari shops and have lunch. It was on one of those trips that we said, “let’s go to India”. Well it took another year before we really started to talk about it seriously and plant the seed with our families by saying things like, “India in February is an ideal time to go”.
We decided to get some guide books and start talking with Travel Agents to get an idea of where in India to go, itineraries and costs. This took a couple of months researching online travel agents that specialized in India and meeting with local ones. After collecting their itineraries we soon realized that a pre-arranged trip to India was not cheap. What we learned is that the high end trips for two weeks where you are staying in 5 star $500/night hotels & traveling in small groups or alone with a car, driver & guide ranged from $6,000-$9,000. The mid-range trips for 2 weeks with accommodations in 3 or 4 star hotels ranged from $4,500-$5,000. These costs did not include any International flights. All were pretty much equal in the tourist sights to visit. The differences were the hotels and restaurants.
With that reality check, we decided to explore using the itineraries we had collected & our own wits to book everything online. It took about a week to research everything but we were able to book all of our hotels, internal flights, train tickets from Delhi to Agra, car, driver & guides and a couple of cooking classes all online and print out confirmation vouchers. We only booked hotels that had free cancellation policies but we were not able to get that feature for our internal flights. Our costs for that part of our 18 day trip was $2,500 each. We had to pay all entrance fees at tourist sights, tips, food, hotel wi-fi & other incidentals separately. Those items in India are pretty cheap and we spent about another $500 each on those costs.
Of course we were trusting the Internet that what we were booking and expecting was what we were going to receive. Not always the wisest thing but in our case everything was pretty much as we expected. Not all the hotels we selected were one’s we would recommend and not all the areas we visited were one’s we would return to but overall we had a wonderful time & and saw many marvelous sights and learned a lot about Indian regional cooking. We will be sharing our itinerary, reviewing what we saw, where we stayed, what we did and the services we purchased in future posts.