Good day fellow travel junkies. Today we will be discussing one of my favourite topics – trip planning – and more specifically, Planning India.
The wife and I decided some time ago that one of the best way to celebrate our 30th year on planet Earth would be to visit India. Whilst we consider ourselves more ‘occasional flash packers’ than ‘backpackers’ we do enjoy a good multi-stop, multi-city travel plan. Along our journeys we’ve often heard that you’re not among the upper echelon of travelers until you’ve cracked India. And what better time to do it? Not only is it a milestone in both our lives but it is also a time when India is economically booming, finally waking from its long slumber. The country is rapidly expanding both in wealth and population; with an ever widening gap between the rich and poor. For our trip we would be looking to explore a little of the buzzing metropolises and also some cultural, historic sites.
Due to work commitments, we’d be cramming this vaycay into just 2-3 weeks in May (bang in the middle of our two birthdays) and we would look to target 5 major cities, hitting India hard for 2 weeks before finding some down time somewhere relaxing before heading home. Due to time constraints we will be flying wherever possible and using sleeper trains (our first!!) only when absolutely necessary.
Our fate is yet to be determined and this trip is far from confirmed. We’ve been teetering on the fence over this one for some time. Partly due to money constraints, partly time and partly due to other commitments. With that being said, of course I’ve sat down and planned an itinerary, costings and all, to give us an idea of the time and money needed. We’re as far from booking it as we’ve ever been but perhaps this may be the plan we need should a last minute urge to fly arise. Failing that, this could prove helpful for next year (or whenever we decide we can go) or it could be a helpful guide for anybody else looking to join the ultimate ranks of dream, fly, discoverers.
Our dates are not massively flexible so we were lucky to find that not only is May a great time for weather but it is also reasonably priced. Our plan can be broken down into 3 main parts. 1. The Long Haul & Busy Cities 2. The Golden Triangle and 3. Beach & Relaxation. Let’s investigate:
1 The Long Haul & Busy Cities.
While we’re not airlines snobs we’ve heard some India bound flights can be less than pleasant so on this occasion we are avoiding a few tricky-to-judge brands (Indian & Turkish Airlines to name just two). The cheapest options, naturally, involve a stop over, with the tempting Brussels Airlines coming in at a reasonable £351 for a 12 hour journey each way. With further digging we find a direct BA return flight (LHR to Mumbai, 9 hours) for just £35 more. Amazing value for a non-stop transcontinental flight!
Accommodation for this itinerary are all estimates using booking.com. I searched for decent, livable hotels with good reviews in each location. Short of picking a definite hotel, I’ve opted for a medium price range that would offer reasonable options. The choices for Mumbai, for 3 nights, are ringing up at approx £60 per night. Mumbai is one major destination ticked off of our list and that’s us well on our way to discovering India. Next stop, Jaipur.
2. The Golden Triangle.
I haven’t been majorly creative here but I have been practical. If you search any ‘beginners guide to India’ they will all recommend the well-connected tourist route known as the Golden Triangle. This well connected route is home to a bounty of tourist delights and takes in views from Jaipur, Agra and New Delhi.
To start our GT tour flight from Mumbai to Jaipur are setting us back £40pp and from there on it’s all about bazaars and bartering, palaces and temples plus elephants and nature; an exciting mix. Hotels here are coming up at £40pn and we’d be looking at 3 nights. Travelling the Golden Triangle by train would be our preferred option so from here we’ll be train-ing to our 3-night £26pn accommodation in Agra, to take in forts, the Ganges River plus the iconic symbol of India, the Taj Mahal.
Next stop is onward and upward to the capital city, New Delhi, which needs no introduction. 4 nights here approx £35pn and our departure down south to the beaches is looking like a long, £63 flight.
3. Beaches & Relaxation
Where do you head to for some Indian sunshine? The first thing that springs to mind is Goa however we hear great things about Kerala too, slightly further south. In this flexible itinerary we will stop by both, spending 4 days in Kerala (£60pn) before flying (£42) to Goa for 2 final nights (£75pn).
From Goa there’s a nice, early, £30 flight that takes us back to Mumbai in time for our return leg home.
And that’s it. Our roundabout India trip is complete. Far from booked and far from finalised but it gives us the basic skeleton with lots of room for adjustment. We could lose Kerala or Goa; or we could skip Mumbai and fly straight to New Delhi for the same fair. We can add or drop days in locations too but we need to figure out more about the trains and specific hotel options.
This tour takes in 6 cities; 2 Major Cities, 2 Historic and 2 Beach Towns.
All in the 5 flights and 2 trains total: £600 (Upfront)
Accommodation (pp) for 19 nights in 6 cities of is in the region of: £450 (Pay at hotel)
Adding 10% for price changes totals: £1150ish pp
This is without food, drink, excursions etc.
Honestly, I think we’ll need to cut down some days or destinations to bring the price below £1000pp before it becomes feasible (16 nights in Vietnam set us back just £880).
As I stress, this is all preliminary planning. The last few days we’ve been really tempted to just book 10 nights somewhere hot and sandy. No travel, no adventures. Just pure flaking out. And right now, that sounds very tempting indeed.
Any tips for touring India in 2 weeks? Where have we missed off our list? Where would you add or avoid? Did the dreaded Delhi-belly put a curse on you during your stay? What did you get up to for your last birthday getaway? Inspire my future blog posts in the comments below 🙂