Sunday, 17 March 2013

Planning India and Elegant Journeys

I wanted to do a post which reflected how we planned our trip to India and why we went about it as we did. Generally, when I plan any trip abroad I do it myself sorting out hotels and flights separately and I can't remember the last time I used a travel agent. However, with India I felt that it was too big a task, particularly considering the short-length of time available to us and the number of places which we wanted to visit. We decided to do an organised tour (for the first time ever!) but my Mum was very reluctant to do it in a large group as obviously this limits any flexibility. We both assumed that a private tour with a driver would be too expensive but were surprised when we started looking that this wasn't the case. In fact, some private tours were actually cheaper than larger group tours! There were a number of different options which we found online so we contacted quite a few different companies to get quotes.

Elegant Journeys ( - NOT .com) replied really quickly. We had been incredibly impressed with the wide range of itineraries available on their website, plus there was the option to do a 'Tailor-made Tour' which appealed to us as it enabled us to go to places which aren't on the traditional tourist route. On most other websites, the main focus was the Golden Triangle (Delhi, Agra and Jaipur) but there were numerous other places we wanted to go to, namely Mumbai and South India. Elegant Journeys offered the opportunity to also fit these in along with Varanasi and Khajuraho.

To give you a bit of background on the company, Elegant Journeys is based in India and the owner is called Vivek Wadhawen. Obviously, we were fairly apprehensive about sending a large amount of money to a company on the other side of the world with nothing except a few emails to assure us of their legitimacy. We scoured the internet for reviews on them and were reassured that there was not a single bad piece of feedback on them. We were also reassured by the prompt and informative email replies so we decided to go for it........

I kept an eye online over the next few months, particularly before paying the balance, to ensure that no bad feedback was posted, but it continued to be overwhelmingly positive. Any questions which we had about the trip were answered promptly and we remained in regular email contact with Vivek. Upon landing in India, a representative of Elegant Journeys was waiting with a sign at arrivals. He assisted us with our luggage and we got into the car which was comfortable and air-conditioned. The driver (along with every other driver which we had throughout India) was incredibly careful and safe which was a HUGE relief considering the driving on Indian roads. Vivek came and met us on the morning of our first full day to run through the plan with us, and he also came to see us at the end when we were back in Delhi before flying home to ensure everything had gone well.

The tour basically ran without a hitch and considering the amount of travelling we did, this is definitely something we wouldn't have been able to achieve alone. The hotels were all of a satisfactory standard, the guides in each city were knowledgeable and spoke good English, after each internal flight we were met promptly, the cars were all of a high standard and essentially we were simply able to enjoy our time in India without being concerned about getting ourselves around. We were also able to be flexible when we were there, for example, when we were jetlagged at the beginning, we could re-arrange the sunrise activities or if something didn't appeal to us, we could switch it for something else. We had complete control over our itinerary and this really was priceless. Vivek rang us every other day from Delhi to ensure there were no problems. We also were free to contact him if anything went wrong. As well as this, we were provided with a list of telephone numbers so we could contact a local representative in each city which we were in.

I genuinely believe, that for us, this was the best way that we could have seen India. It meant that we could make the most of our relatively short time in the country and it took away all the stress that would have come from doing it ourselves. I couldn't recommend them highly enough and if you are planning a trip to India, contact Vivek and I'm sure he will be able to plan your perfect trip! (


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