“Taj, Tigers and Glamping in India”
May 4-14, 2023
Price listed below the daily itinerary
Namaste! Of all our past groups to India, our “glamping with tigers” is the most favored as the best of India. It’s almost impossible to describe the allure of enchanting India. Just mention the name and a burst of color and culture, sights, sounds and adventure comes to mind. Join us for 9 glorious days as we explore this exotic country, where tigers and elephants roam. It’s an incredible vacation destination with our exclusive hotels and amazing wildlife ventures featuring the endangered Royal Bengal Tiger. We’ll be both a world away from home and yet in the lap of luxury throughout.
Fun meets pampering as we go on safari in search of tigers in royal Rajasthan from our glamourous 5-star Oberoi tented villas. In Agra, tour the Taj Mahal and understand why this monument to love is one of the most revered buildings in the world. Shop bazaars bursting with bargains. Explore the Pink City of Jaipur with its fairytale palaces and our special AFS Elephant Walk. In Delhi, revel in the ancient architectural wonders of Delhi by rickshaw and our Sikh Kitchen experience to serve the poor. We include yoga with a yogi and delightful Bollywood dance lessons. For free time there’s cooking classes to hot air ballooning.
Ranthambore National Park is the only place where tigers roam among 13th century temple ruins. CNN says it’s India’s best park to get the most scenic close-up photos of tigers. (Plenty of other animals roam here as well – like leopards, various jungle cats, macaques, sloth bears, flying foxes, crocs, 275 exotic bird species and more.) NOW is the year to go because tigers are critically endangered however India’s wild tiger population is now thriving this year! You’ll love the game drives here with our expert trackers.
The Oberoi Vanyavilas Resort is the epitome of the Old-World Indo-British service, especially with our private butlers here. Think glamping on steroids with off-the-charts indulgence. Our last group didn’t want to leave. This property features 20 tented villas with wood floors and bathtubs, a signature Ayurveda Spa, an observation tower for jungle views, daily game drives, and 2 resident ellies to play with! At sunset, sip champagne at the watering hole which draws animals near. Enjoy signature cuisines and live cultural shows at night. Rooms are a fortune here per night, but they love AFS and welcome us back at a special price.
May is the best month to view tigers when water levels are low. I’m addicted to India because its like visiting another planet. I can always expect the unexpected surprises. With Tents, Tigers, Temples, and the Taj, you’ll earn your stripes on a unique adventure never to be forgotten. Our journey is both thrilling and spiritual. Find what you seek in India, a land of timeless dreams!
“So far as I am able to judge, nothing has been left undone, either by man or nature, to make India the most extraordinary country that the sun visits on his rounds. Nothing seems to have been left forgotten, nothing overlooked.” – Mark Twain
“A Perfect Day”
Your butler gently knocks on your door early morning with tea and muffins to invite you on a cantor drive to see tigers spotted. Heading out, the jungle is silent but it’s playfully unpredictable in the wild. You hear a growl. Suddenly, you see her brilliant stripes – so close – will she pounce? 3 cubs from the bush as you click close-ups worthy of any photo contest, moment to give you chills. Return to your resort for a proper breakfast on the veranda. A poolside rest and massage, it’s time for a gourmet lunch. Activities fill the day until dusk for another game drive. Tigers and nocturnal animals are active for a more surreal safari experience. On return, you’ll be dancing under the stars.
“Love my Suzy trips and India was no exception. It’s chaotic, intoxicating, crazy, wonderful, beautiful, daunting, overwhelming and fantastic – sometimes all in the span of an hour. Our AFS guide Ajai was wonderful and hotels exceptional. My favorite trip of all.” – Cherie G. testimonial
Our Glorious AFS Itinerary
MAY 4 – Fly USA to Delhi Plenty of airline choices. Air and trip details coming soon and AFS Trip Tips.
May 5 – Arrive in Delhi & Chill
Arrive at New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International airport and be greeted by your English-speaking tour guide outside the customs gate. (Note ** There will be one common pickup will be arranged for group depending upon arrival flight timing.) You will be escorted to your air-conditioned bus and transported to the 5 Star Le-Meridian, located in the heart of the city. A traditional Indian welcome of aarti-tikka, garland and beverages will welcome you. (You are in the heart of everything and easy to explore your surroundings if you have the energy. We love Lotus Temple, Salaam Balak guided slum tour and the fab Delhi Haat Bazaar.)
You will have the afternoon and evening to relax and prepare for tomorrow when we will explore one of the world’s fastest growing cities with over 5000 years of history. As India’s capital, there’s a fascinating blend of old and new and we’ll see some of each, Delhi has been the seat of power for numerous dynasties like the Turks, Rajputs, Afghans and Mughals who led until the British entered. The history here is fascinating.
Overnight : Le Meridien New Delhi WINDSOR PLACE, NEW DELHI, NEW DELHI, INDIA, 110001
May 6 – Imperial Delhi Tour
We have a relaxing morning with breakfast included at our hotel before heading out on a full-day tour to discover Delhi. There is no other city in India that boasts as varied a history as Old Delhi. There were eight prior cities of Delhi before the city of today was built. In the last 3,000 years, Delhi has seen the rise and fall of great empires and has been ruled in tum by the Hindus. the Mughals, the British and others.
We begin at the impressive Jama Masjid is one of India’s oldest and largest mosques, offering an exquisite expression of Mughal architecture that has withstood the test or time. Built In the mid-17th century by Mughal Emperor Shah Johan, the sprawling premise unites hundreds of devout Muslims each day. In addition, the mosque Is home to intriguing artifacts like a strand of hair from the prophet Mohamed. Enjoy an eye-popping Tricycle rickshaw ride through the narrow lanes of Chandni Chowk, considered the spine of Old Delhi. Have your camera ready as we make our way through the spice market and along jeweler’s lane.
We’ll later see the stunning Lal Qila or Red Fort, which was the seat of Mughal power from 1639 to 1857. The sprawling red sandstone fort was built by Shah Jahan, the most prolific architect and builder of the Mughal Empire and covers an area of almost 2km. Visitors enter via three-story Lahore Gate, one of six impressive gateways.
On to the golden-domed Gurdwara Bangla Sahib where we experience the amazing hospitality and tranquility of the Sikh faith. Inside, devotees kneel facing a small pavilion in the center that holds the Granth Sahib (Sikh scriptures). Hymns from the holy book are sung continuously from well before sunrise into the evening, and you are welcome to sit and listen.
Enjoy the Sikh Kitchen! In a cool cultural immersion, we’ll visit the huge “Langar” or kitchen and dining hall where thousands of people are fed each day. What you eat in India depends on which religion you follow, but here’s a place where people of all religions and castes come to share a common meal and it’s free! Sikhism, the 5th largest world religion, is an egalitarian society and followers volunteer their time in Langars to fulfill a tenant of their faith. (Ladies will need to cover your head with a scarf.) Sikh and you shall find total serenity here.
This evening we enjoy an AFS Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant and get to know your fellow travel lovers.
Overnight: Le-Meridien (B, D)
May 7 – Optional – Agra and Taj Mahal
No visit to India is complete without the chance to witness the timeless Taj! This day can be a day of leisure on your own if you’ve been here, but we are offering an optional “must do” on any first visit to India – the Taj Mahal. ($140 full day tour)
For those who want to visit this legendary monument to love, we will leave early and take the fast train to Agra, enjoying breakfast aboard during the 2 hours scenic ride. 8 to 9:50AM on Gatiman Express.
Two Great Mughal monarchs, Akbar and Shah Jahan, transformed the little village of Agra into a befitting second capital of the Mughal Empire – giving it the name Dar-ul-Khilafat (Seat of the Emperor). Today, a visitor to Agra is caught up in a world of contrasting edifices of red sandstone and white marble, narrow lanes and quaint buggies, and that irresistible charm that this favorite city of the Mughals still retains.
Our first stop is Agra Fort. A UNESCO World Heritage Site this imposing structure with walls of red sandstone is almost two miles long and contains palaces, audience halls and mosques. The fort presents a good sampling of Islamic and Hindu architectural styles and was built by the third Mughal Emperor, Akbar. Then visit the mesmerizing Taj Mahal. Also, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the sun on the fabled Taj Mahal has a magical effects, constantly changing shading and on this brilliant white marble building! Enjoy a romantic ride to the monument of the love on decorated Tongas ‘horse driven carriages.” Perhaps the most photographed monument in the world. Nothing can truly prepare you for the beauty you are about to experience. Witnessing it for the first time after walking through the gates is like having the air sucked from the room. It will leave you breathless.
The 17th century Taj Mahal is often called a poem in stone. If so, the mausoleum is a love poem – created by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan for his favorite wife Mumtaz Mahal. It took 22 years to be completed and was designed and planned by a Persian architect Ustad Isa. Apart from its stunning design balance and perfect symmetry, the Taj is also noted for its elegant domes, intricately carved screens and some of the best inlay work ever seen. We explore both the manicured grounds and the spectacular monument.
Later we will stop for a special “Suzy experience” at Sheros restaurant for coffee and snacks. Sheros is a cheery little café and art gallery run by acid attack survivors. An initiative by Chaanv Foundation, this café not only serves coffee, but inspiration. Those operating it bear the injuries of being attacked by acid and Sheros aims to remove stigma as well as offering them an opportunity for financial independence so that they can be brought into mainstream. Your visit supports and empowers these women of abuse with sustainable income.
Train returns 5:30 to 7:30 PM. Return to Delhi by train in the evening where you will have the evening free.
Overnight: Le-Meridien (B)
May 8 – Jaipur Palaces & Elephants
After a hearty buffet breakfast, we head to the airport to fly to the legendary city of Jaipur. (Indigo airlines 6E 212 at 1300 – 50 minutes) Welcome to the Royal Kingdom of Rajasthan, India’s most colorful state and so alive with culture. Jaipur “The City or Victory,” founded in 1727 by Maharaja Jal Singh II – a warrior, astronomer and politician. Jaipur is the first planned city of India and although originally the color of red sandstone, Jaipur’s universal color came in 1853 when the Prince of Wales visited and the whole city was painted pink to welcome him.
The neat and broadly laid-out avenues, painted in their rosy color provide a magical charm. Rich in its cultural and architectural beauty, Jaipur is known as an ancient royal city that is home to the Rajputs, a land of legends, chivalry and beautiful women. It has timeless appeal with colorful bazaars, ornate gardens and palaces surrounded by mountains. Jaipur is the craft capital of India, particularly gems and fine cotton wear. The dollar goes so far here now! In your free time, you may want to take a peek into the Gem Palace and Handloom Emporium!
This afternoon enjoy our AFS Elephant Immersion with 15 to 20 Ellies! This ethical experience with the most pampered ellies and loved by their handlers lends a special chance to get up close and personal. Spend time with our elephants bathing, painting and feeding these magnificent creatures. We love elephants and do not support any activity that may be harmful to them. All are female ellies which makes them extra gentle and they love to play with guests.
We are welcomed in Rajasthani style (Tilak or garland of flowers) with soft drinks. More about elephants – First contact is always important! When meeting an elephant for the first time you have to let them catch your smell. Make them feel comfortable by stroking and talking to them while looking into their eyes. Let the elephant feel your energy and spirit.
- Elephant Language You might be surprised to know that there is a certain language to communicate with them. To be able to understand them you have to learn the basics of this language.
- Elephant Feeding –You might have heard of the saying “love goes through the stomach”? Well, they are no exception.
- Painting using Organic colors – Learn about the completely natural paint that is used to paint the thick elephant skin as is tradition for festivals.
- Washing the Elephant – Then it’s time to wash and scrub the elephants. You can get a shower with your elephant and Wash & Scrub them poolside in the garden.
Welcome to Jaipur Dinner is included at hotel. (In the evening if time permits, we can also present an option at Hasroli Palace with traditional sari clothing, turban tying, and an interactive cooking session with dinner.)
Overnight: Hotel Crown Plaza Jaipur (2 nights). B, D
May 9 – Ballooning, Temples & Forts – Jaipur
Hot air balloon option – Early to rise before sunrise and experience the excitement of flying over the beautiful landscapes dotted with palaces, temples, lakes and villages. ($320)
After breakfast, enjoy an excursion to the magnificent Amber Fort with its rainbow of colors in the stunning endless mosaic halls. We’ll ascend the fort in Jeeps and tour the captivating chambers and hallways of the intricately designed and decorated palace. The colorfully painted elephant-headed god Ganesh greets you as you enter the imposing Ganesh Pol gateway to explore the elaborate apartments and manicured Charbagh Garden. Pierced screen windows offer views from different vantage points and shimmering mirrors encrust the walls of Sheesh Mahal.
Any trip to Jaipur has to include a photo stop at Hawa Mahal or the Palace of Winds. This beautiful façade is probably the most photographed building in Jaipur, with its ornately carved windows designed so the ladies of the palace could look at the streets unobserved.
We’ll continue to the City Palace Museum which has a priceless collection of antiques, costumes and amory of the Mughals and Rajputs including swords of different shapes and sizes with chiseled handles. It also has an art gallery which displays a collection of miniature paintings, carpets, royal paraphernalia and rare astronomical works in Arabic, Persian, Latin and Sanskrit.
You’ll marvel at the utterly unique Jantar Mantar Observatory, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The 18th-century stone astronomical and astrological observatory track dates, times and even years through a variety of sundials and structures that look more like works of art than a scientific mechanism. Dinner included at hotel!
Overnight: Crowne Plaza Jaipur (2 nights). B, D
May 10 – Into Ranthambore Tiger Territory
After breakfast, we try our hand at dancing – Bollywood style – with a 2-hour Bollywood dance class. Feel the rhythms of India and move like a Bollywood Star with this unique dance form from our professional choreographer who will teach you all those moves!
Then it’s time to head to Ranthambore, home of the Bengal Tiger. The scenery on our 4-hour drive evolves into rocky forests and grasslands as we approach the 248-square-mile park. This area is the perfect habitat for tigers! Just five years ago, the tiger population in this region had been decimated by poachers, but thankfully we once again have a good chance of encountering the largest and most powerful of the world’s cats.
Our home here is the uber-fabulous Oberoi Vanyavilas where you will be treated like a Maharaja! Spread across 20 acres, this stunning resort and spa is designed to pamper. We even have our own butlers in our tented villas. (Each night my butler brought me chai tea and cookies in bed.) You can choose a host of Ayurvedic treatments at the over-the-top Signature Spa. There are even two resident ellies that call the property home. Sip champagne while atop an observation tower overlooking a nearby watering hole where you can watch animals come to drink. Each night, there is live traditional entertainment in the main dining. Your evening is on your own to enjoy one of the most coveted destinations in India.
Overnight: Oberoi Vanyavilas (3 nights) (B)
May 11 – Bengal Tiger Safari
Morning starts with an early tiger safari and game viewing in our safari vehicles. Our expert naturalists are trained to help us spot the magnificent Bengal Tiger. There are a host of other animals we may see along the way including Sambar, Spotted Deer, Nilgai, Dorcas Gazelle, Langur, Ruddy Mongooses, wild boar and flying fox. We could also spot a leopard, rhino, hyena or sloth bears, although these are much rarer.
Take a break midday before boarding our jeeps in the afternoon for another safari in search of tigers and nocturnal wildlife on the move.
Overnight: Oberoi Vanyavilas (B)
May 12– Oberoi Vanyavilas
You’ll have another optional chance for a morning game drive with our intrepid guides, but the rest of the day is yours to call your own. The resort is one you can’t get enough of and today is one of leisure to take time to drink it in. Book Ayurvedic treatments (India is the origin of these wonderful natural medicines and herb-based therapies), hang out by the pool or visit the nearby Dustkar, a women’s co-op and amazing market for quality crafts.
This afternoon enjoy our Yoga class at the resort. Yoga being a gem of Indian culture, is not only a way to keep oneself healthy and fit, but it’s more of a way of Life. We offer a one-hour Yoga class covering Asana, Dhyana and Pranayam. This session is best suited for all, be it a beginner or pro.
Overnight: Oberoi Vanyavilas (B)
May 13– Ranthambore to Delhi
In the morning, we will drive a few hours back to Jaipur for a short afternoon flight back to Delhi. (Indigo airlines 6E 6917 14:20/15:20 Hrs) From the airport, we’ll check into our hotel near the airport and in the evening have our dinner to say farewell to magical India.
Overnight: Novotel Aerocity (1 night) (B, D)
May 14 – Return to the U.S.
Depart home to USA or continue on an extension to AFS Bhutan for another week of adventure in the Himalayas. Depart to U.S.
Land Price $ 2495 includes internal air + ($90 gratuities added to invoice for licensed national guides, drives, ground staff)
Price based on currency fluctuations, internal flights and based on 28 participants pp twin share. India prices tours by group size. If a smaller group under 26 people, trip cost may increase an additional $90, but rare. Will advise.
(Add $1170 for single supplement, limit 3)
Included: Roundtrip air Delhi to Jaipur, 9-nights accommodation at fine hotels, AFS GTL, experienced ground team and full-time Tour Manager with us throughout, traditional Indian welcome, buffet breakfast at hotels, welcome and farewell dinners in Delhi, transportation by the deluxe air conditioning coaches, entrance fees to all sites, rickshaw ride in Delhi, elephant experience, Bollywood dance, yoga, 2 tiger safaris in Ranthambore.
Not included: International air, travel insurance
Trip Tips India 2023
Prepare to be amazed by countless marvels in incredible India! We’ve sent dozens of AFS groups all over this country, but this itinerary is our best vacation creation. You will get the best photos with tigers in Rajasthan, Taj in Agra, AFS elephant immersion in Jaipur, countless colorful villages and crazy fun in Delhi. (Personally, I can’t get enough of India, because there’s never a dull moment here and I plan on joining you all. See the movies Slumdog or Lion to get an idea on how humbling this place is. It changes us. We return home with our gratitude meter on full tilt.) At present, we have a wonderful group of 20 exotic travel lovers. We need a few more to protect our price with our luxury hotels, so please tell your friends now. Post the trip link on your social media pages. Connect now with each other on your private group Facebook page. After final payments are in later, will send you all the group contact and room list.
Thank you for your trust in booking this AFS trip. Together we will adapt to any new travel norms for the privilege of travel. Our vetted local teams in each city are fully trained in the latest health and safety protocols and are happy to assist you. Things are constantly monitored.
Trip Tips are designed to answer trip-related questions. It’s your responsibility to read this information. Updates and addendums will be posted here. Check back from time to time.
• FINAL PAYMENT DUE JAN 26. Wetravel is our new data management company, it allows you to pay by check electronically without a fee. Simply follow the instructions. Credit cards will be assessed a processing fee at time of purchase. As a small business, this helps mitigate costs and allows us to give you the very best price. If you prefer to use the mail, make your payment to AFS or Adventures For Solo Travelers, 1907 Daniel Green Ct., Smyrna GA 30080
Your fearless GTL (Gracious Trip Leader, not a guide but liaison between our guides and group to ensure things run smoothly.)
Deanna Purdie – Based in Atlanta, making her way around the globe with over 60 countries visited…mostly solo until finding out about AFS in 2017. With degrees in Photography and Graphic Design from SCAD, she enjoys helping others capture and create interesting posts for Social Media that your friends are sure to envy. Also, with a background in IT/Communications, she is able to help solve any tech issues you may have with your devices or apps. She enjoys a healthy active lifestyle of working out, skiing, snorkeling and hiking. Always researching and learning…she has been studying and speaking French for the past 8 years and will be sure to have at least 2-3 new Travel Hacks and tips for you each trip!
Deanna is a seasoned traveler who will be leading our Mongolia and India trips soon. She will be a great asset to AFS, not just because of her capable skills in leadership and her wisdom, but it’s her joyous enthusiasm in guiding others in exploration!
• Read the revised Heading Abroad with AFS, especially if you are new to AFS.
• Ensure your passport is valid 6 months after return date with two blank pages. We recommend renewing your passport well ahead of any planned international travel. Take a photo of your passport to store in the cloud or bring a copy. If you lose your passport, US embassies now except a digital copy from your email. Also good to scan any docs, Covid test, trip tips, etc.
• To speed through US Customs download Mobile Passport. Look in your App Store for details.
• Notify bank and cc company of travel dates so they don’t block charges.
• Vaccines – Bring your vaccine card. Don’t laminate vaccine card as some countries won’t accept it. You can take photo of both sides and store on phone.
• All airline rules differ. It is imperative to read your airline rules on their website to ensure a smooth departure! Airlines are in the process of making routing and scheduling changes now. Always check your flight before departure. \
Visa – wait! We will advise details a month out. The new online e-Visa is so easy. Turnaround is 24 hours to get it. Rules and prices can change. Presently $25. When you land in Delhi airport, go to “visa line” for stamp before exiting. Details found at www.indiavisaonline.gov.in , do not go to other India, visa sites (scammers).
Fitness level – 2 (No trouble walking.)
Air – Air challenges today – Many route changes now on domestic flights to get to your international flights. Consider flying in early to ensure you’ll be there once trip begins. (Watch for new DOT rules to protect you. Soon airlines will be required to refund or issue a credit good forever if there’s a significant change to your flight). They are required to notify you of changes.) Always download and use your airlines app! Use app to track your booking, delays, bags, to show boarding pass and to contact them. If you have a flight problem go to the airline’s website “contact us” page or reach them by text, social media, Skype or call their international number. Also, premium credit cards often offer many air perks, assistance, insurance, lounge passes, global entry and more. Read more at www.tpg.com for best cards. Travel hack – buy a refundable airline ticket at higher cost but keep an eye out for cost and if the price goes down, cancel it and rebook at a lower price.
Group Air with Airport Hotel Transfers It’s easy and hassle-free to travel together. If we find a good air rate, we will present group air in December or January. Fly round trip USA to Delhi to depart May 4 or May 3
Doing Own Air– you can start searching for routes now, if you like. Airlines include; Emirates, Qatar, Turkish Airlines, United, nonstop, Air, India, Delta, Air France, KLM, British Airways, and more.
We find few people book group air now and may find better rates on own direct from hometown. This provides you better flexibility to go early or extend at trip end. We recommend you now book flexible air tickets that can be refunded or changed. (For decades, AFS presented group air to make your trip totally hassle-free. Guides greet you on airport arrival and if any flight changes, we had your back. Sadly now, only around 10% want group air and often meet can’t minimum.) We like Google Flights, Kayak or Momondo. 3rd-party booking engines like Expedia, make it near impossible to handle air problems. Buy direct from airline or pay a travel agent to ticket you. Buy travel insurance and have a flight backup plan. If you can afford to splurge on business class, contact our guy: email@example.com Phone is 305-676-2314. For economy seats call our friend Raj who’s an air expert at (281) 912-9173 firstname.lastname@example.org Give him your exact airdates, destination, passport name and details with birthdate.
We highly recommend that you not rush to buy air until a Group Air is set (when offered). If your arrival or departure times do not align with Group Air times, you’ll need to arrange your own airport/hotel transfers.
Airport Transfers- With travelers arriving and departing on different days and times, it is insurmountable to manage. Group air airport transfers are based on set time. Without group air, there can no longer be any pick-up or drop-offs without group air. Unfortunately now like other tour companies, transfers are your responsibility. (We’ve spent weeks each trip making spreadsheets of each persons air to send to the supplier and then flights change. We then hire a guide, driver and pay parking fees. 2022 groups, only half showed up as guides waited hours looking for others. Sometimes no AFSers showed up without informing us.)
Transfers are not expensive. First google your arrival airport website to see transfer tab. Suggestions to appear like airport bus, taxi details, Uber and more. Then connect on group Facebook page to set up sharing transfer cost if you like. We can always book you a private meet and greet transfer, but cheaper just to grab a cab. If you go early and check-in AFS hotel before group arrives, it’s your responsibility to change rooms with your roommate if necessary day one when trip begins.
Meet Up With Group– on May 5 the official start of land tour. Most flights arrive in the evening. We’ll set up a casual meet up in lobby bar of hotel. Le Meridian, Windsor Place, Connaught Pl., New Delhi. Telephone 9111–2 371–0101. Next morning after breakfast, our fabulous guide AJ will fully brief us on all trip details. He is remarkable.
Baggage– Think light to ease your burden, not like you’re fleeing your homeland. You change hotel properties several times. 1 carry-on bag& 1 medium suitcase not to exceed 45lb checked bag – weigh on a bathroom scale. If you overpack by adding pre-or post-trip luggage, make prior plans as to where to stow the excess luggage. You may be responsible for any overage charges. Apple AirTags works great to track checked bags when the airline cannot, also good for carry-on. The new hard cases are difficult to fit in safari vehicles. Leave space for great souvenirs. Be sure to attach ID to carry-on and bag to assure your bag never gets left behind.
Packing – Check Google Weather a week prior to departure. Read Packing 101 in Heading Abroad with AFS
Pack your hygiene kit and munchies in clear plastic bags. This trip is so easy. Simply pack summer clothing with a light jacket for nights and long flights. Think umbrella, daypack, wide-brim hat, sunscreen, comfy sneakers, swimsuit. Gifts for local children-school/orphanage – kids love balloons, puppets, lollipops, school supplies.). Ladies – bring, head scarf for temples and dress. Modest meaning covered elbow to knees. I also buy cotton or silk saris to wear for total comfort there and dirt cheap. Love to travel in them.
Electric– Don’t forget a portable backup charger, cords, gadgets, etc. Cell phones and tablets do not need a converter; you only need an adapter plug. AFSers often leave charger cords in room, so be sure to double-check your room before check out. All properties have hairdryers.
Health Matters – Bring Imodium just in case. All our meals are pure and water is filtered. Guide and Deanna will advise daily on how to avoid illness. Bottled water provided daily to you. On own drink only sealed bottles. Don’t use ice outside our hotels. You’ll be fine. Safety – beware of naughty monkeys trying to grab your day pack or sunglasses.
Poverty – you will see an eyeful as it is omnipresent. The beauty of India is found in its humanity with dignity inherent in the spirit of the people here. They possess the virtues of simplicity, hard work, gentleness, and perseverance. No beggars will harass you. Indians are survivors over 5000 years of history. It’s humbling to see them so happy with so little. Note on photography – always ask first before you take someone’s photo.
Hindi Speak – hello – Namaste. Please – Kripaya. Thanks – Suk Riya, Need lower price – Bav Kam Karo.
Money Matters – Always bring some cash! You will need some cash for personal tipping, meals, and shopping. $300 to $500 cash should suffice. Change currency arrival at airport, bank, or hotels or withdraw local currency from an ATM. Note -independent ATMs are risky due to skimmer scams. Safest ATMs are at airport and banks. Always shield your pin number when entering. Avoid using unless it’s an emergency. Master Card and Visa widely accepted. Amex rarely accepted. Be sure you bring New Bills (dates after 2016) as countries may not accept older bills when changing money. Credit cards are far safer than using your debit card. I convert half of it upon entry. I use my credit card for most purchases. Many cards now offer no foreign transaction fees. (Some countries in Africa and Asia require new bills dated after 2016. Older bills not accepted when changing money.)
• Currency Exchange Rate $1= 80 rupee
• Follow the link below to create a conversion cheat sheet
Gratuities – Please understand India is tipping intensive. Even your doorman will have his hand out. (Prepaid) It’s protocol to tip our local guides, assistants, porters, wait staff, drivers and ground staff. Guidelines have increased globally, but around $10 to $15 per day should cover all for the trip. A $90 total will be added to your invoice. Please understand this is only the suggested minimum. For ease of distribution, your GTL will tip the different ground services for the entire group each day.
Tipping on own – If service is stellar, feel free to give more directly. All we tourists leave behind is our reputation. I carry a stash of US ones in an envelope to draw from as needed. Porters – AFSers roll bags to their room. If you use a porter, please tip. For group lunches or dinners included, please leave $2 for waitstaff!
Communication– Internet is available. With smartphones, be sure to check with your provider for rates and coverage for international phone plans before departure. Data Roaming rates can be expensive. To reach home – Texting, iMessage, WhatsApp, and Facebook messaging when using WIFI. Be cautious using public Wi-Fi without using VPN. Without VPN never open attachments or view financial or personal accounts on the Internet while abroad. Phone calls, text messages, and data usage of all kinds, it is crucial to understand that, unless you are connected to Wi-Fi, every use of your phone incurs a data toll. That means that viewing and downloading email, browsing the web, viewing social media, and mapping all incur data charges, as do applications that we sometimes assume to be “free,” such as Skype and WhatsApp. Unless you are connected to Wi-Fi, however, WhatsApp is using cellular data, so you are getting charged at your provider’s international roaming data rate. Facebook Messenger Phone is an easy free way to make calls.
Get Smart: Avoiding Hackers on Vacation. Thieves not only want your money but also your data. Change passwords often. Check device security settings before you leave for your trip. Back up, update, and encrypt your devices and data using a virtual VPN.
• In hotel rooms, hide iPods or laptops to avoid “evil maids” that want to clone your tech.
• Bottled water is always best abroad, as our gut isn’t accustomed to local tap water.
• Pickpockets are everywhere now, especially at night. Never carry your passport outside of the room.
• It’s wise to grab a business card from the desk before heading out on own. To get back just show the card to a taxi driver- no memory or English needed.
Travel health – Drink bottled water. Avoid street foods. Bring Imodium. Need meds or shots? Book a Tele-chat with a travel doctor for shots and meds at runwayhealth.com. Load up on antioxidants like vitamin C to zinc.
Photography – Before taking pictures of locals, know it is polite to ask. Your AFS Private Facebook Group Page is a great way to share your best shots with each other. AFS loves photos with group participants (not typical churches, monuments, or any shot that looks like you pulled it off of the net, etc.) for our website. The best photos are ones that include a group member with a local, children, animals, or at iconic sites in the same frame!
Retail Therapy – the bazaar’s here are a shoppers paradise! Our dollar goes so far here for stunning handicrafts, quality, textiles, jewelry, gems, art, pottery, spices, and endless more things. Bargain all!
Websites of Interest: www.incredibleindia.com has over 80 tabs of great info on all regions you will visit. Be sure to look here.
Accommodations — Our itinerary has links to each hotel. Hotels can change, but it’s rare.
Roommates – Single supplements have significantly increased in price– if available at all. Save money and buy yourself an awesome local gift. We all live alone, but save money when traveling by rooming together. Suzy spends a lot of time on roommate matching. 99% of our clients are wonderful and you’re only in your room to sleep at night. (The best option is to invite a friend. We be able to give you a $100 discount.). Note, kindness begets kindness. How many of our season travelers bring headsets to drown out any excess noise. We share rooms only to sleep at night. If AFS room list ends up with unbalance gender, and forces a single room we will offer it to all in group or share in the added cost. If none want it, if you were the last to book we may have to remove you from the trip.
1. Train to Agra for full day Taj Mahal tour. $140. Worth every cent.
2. Hot air ballooning over Jaipur. $320. We will get a head count from each of you later.
Leisure Time – For your free time, it’s best to arrive and ask our local expert guides for suggestions. We notice many newer clients pre-plan many activities on the AFS trip well before they arrive, often with disappointing results. Our daily itineraries are pretty full, but there will be some free time. Expert travelers revel in the element of surprise in a new destination and allow the wind to blow them where it will. Use Google Maps on your phone to find everything nearby.
Amending tour pre-or post-trip. We honor your independent spirit, but encourage you to extend more days at the trip’s end when you’re acclimated well to the destination. Arranging private tours during free time. We often see many AFSers on Facebook urging others to join them to countries before/after our trip. Stopovers are great to add, but understand AFS has no responsibility for the quality of your trip.
Private Facebook Group Page – The benefit of the Private FB Group Page is that you have an opportunity to introduce yourself to your fellow travelers before departure and share trip photos during and after the tour. The link can be found in your Wetravel welcome letter after your initial deposit. (We found that some never read the Trip Tips jumping right to the Private FB Group Page assuming they will get all trip info needed. Often, they only receive rumors or misinformation. All important information is ALWAYS emailed to each participant and posted in Trip Tips under UPDATES. Nobody misses a thing.)
Emergency Contact – Smita B – +91–9 8112–05223. Local number or text Terry 770-432-8225, or email us at https://www.afstravelers.com/contact-us/ More contacts will be provided with your Final Docs email 2 to 3 weeks before departure. Your guide can handle a call home for a true emergency. Do not expect to use your trip leader’s cell phone; you’ll need to use your own.
Cancellation Penalty – At booking, we sent you our terms and conditions. Click here for our Terms & Conditions Briefly, on land packages we’ll refund your deposit less 50% until 6 weeks prior trip’s final payment due date. Any cancellation after this date will result in full forfeiture of your deposit. AFS reserves the right to resell or otherwise use the canceled space at our discretion.
Travel Insurance– While travel insurance is optional, in today’s world we highly encourage you to get standard coverage to cover trip interruption and cancellation. Best source for all is www.insuremytrip.com. CFAR or cancel for any reason covers Covid but is expensive. Note that no company covers for fear.
Preexisting conditions – If you would like the security of travel insurance and have a pre-existing condition (elderly parent, medical, etc.), you must purchase insurance within 15 days from your initial trip deposit in order to assure full coverage. The trip cost can be amended or adjusted as needed after your initial purchase (eg. like adding an air ticket cost later). You can buy travel insurance at any time, just know that there may be some possible limitations if purchased outside the 15 day period. We like TravelSafe, Allianz or Seven Corners.
• Click here to Purchase Travel Insurance online
Travel Psychology 101 – Prepare for your departure joyfully with no contempt before investigation upon arrival. Please understand that with travel, things are not like at home and changes may occur. Great trips work best for those with an open mind, flexible attitude and adventuresome spirit. If changes occur, embrace them with serendipity. Who knows?… The unexpected may prove to be a better experience. Adapt and go with the flow with a laid-back attitude. Be spontaneous. Be tolerant of foreign cultures in respecting their centuries of traditions. Embrace the differences. Be curious, not shy. Smile – locals will sense your energy of kindness and kindness always begets kindness. Our common goal is to experience different cultures, make new friends, get great photos, have large fun, and return home safely with memories worthy of recollection.
The best spirit of an Explorer requires the openness of a child – Suzy
“When traveling, remember that a foreign country isn’t designed to make you comfortable. It’s designed to make its own people comfortable.” – Clinton Fadiman
Please note that AFS is non-partisan – With our homogeneous groups, we all want to focus on the common denominator – our love of travel. In today’s divisive world, we suggest members not discuss politics and if you must, please practice my rule of TOK: Tolerance, Open-mindedness and Kindness.
Please be advised that the operation of some tours may need to be rearranged or modified to suit local conditions, but all activities stated will be included. We are here for you to address any questions about your trip. In time, we believe travel will begin to normalize with less rules and we appreciate your cooperation until then. Now more than ever before, travelers value the privilege of travel to explore our world. You’ve been waiting so long, it’s time for recess!