I have been asked many a times on whether one should plan a holiday in India on their own or should they go for a holiday package. Ideally, I love doing it on my own as there is a certain thrill in researching and figuring out things. However, I do accept that sometimes, it is better to go with holiday packages in India. My reasons for saying so –
- Shortage of time – Sometimes, as much as you would like to research, you don’t have the time. Maybe because of your job or schedule or owing to some other pressures. A holiday package is a good option at this time, as it really saves time and effort.
- Economies of scale – Tour packages are sometimes, quite easy on the pocket as they offer you bundled deals – hotels plus conveyance and sometimes even, airfare.
- Far-Flung local attractions – Some places like Ladakh, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, have a lot of distances between local attractions and their local transport may not be well connected. They may even, have places a short distance from the main city and given this situation – sometimes for convenience, and sometimes for safety, it is best to opt for Holiday Packages.
- Dealing with the locals – Sometimes, it is far easier to deal with one local person who speaks your language than with many who do not. No one really want the additional stress of an unknown place, unfamiliar culture and language. With a holiday package, a lot of things are taken care of and this stress is reduced drastically.
I am sure that there are plenty of more reasons of why people opt for various holiday packages in India. It is no wonder that there are tons of India tour packages in the market today – with different duration, itinerary and prices. Given the plethora of options, it can get quite overwhelming for any traveler to pick that one holiday package that suits their needs. Here are my 10 tips that can help you select some amazing holiday packages.
1) Selecting the right tour operator for a Holiday package
Every region has special tour operators. You can find these through various websites.
Do a check on their background – how long have they been operating in particular regions and what do their customers say about them. A little online research on third-party sites like TripAdvisor can help gather information about how satisfied their clients have been. The research will also, help you understand how good they are with their local guides and tours. Based on the ratings and research, shortlist 2 or 3 operators and get their quotes.
Most travel operators list their Holiday Packages without including the applicable taxes. Always request for a complete quote that includes – not just the tax components but all the expense heads – stay, conveyance, meals, entrance fees, guide charges etc. Ensure that when you are comparing the deals based on price, all these components are accounted for.
3) Accommodation options
Request for the hotel names and check these names for the customer reviews. Compare the price that you would get if you were to book on your own Vs. what the package offers. Also, always note the location of the hotel – the more central it is, the better it would be for you. I have found that sometimes, in a bid to offer lower prices, the stay is compromised by way of location or quality of the place. If you are not alright with the stay options, check with the travel operator on other options.
Most Holiday packages offer complimentary breakfast. A few of them may even offer lunch or dinner or both. Typically, you may not want to opt for all the meals as you will be spending most of your day sightseeing. Also, you just might want to experiment with the local cuisine and other restaurants. In such cases, ensure that your package is tailored accordingly.
Here is where I would like to clear a confusion that happens with terms like MAP and AP. MAP essentially means Modified American Plan and includes a breakfast and one more meal (either lunch or dinner). AP means an American Plan with all meals included. In case you see these in your holiday package, you now know what they mean 🙂
5) Customization of your itinerary
Examine the itinerary of your holiday package carefully. Ensure that all the places that you wish to visit are covered and that you have sufficient time in each of these places. If there are some additional places that you would like to explore, check with your tour operator and add them to your list. Adding or deleting places could also, mean that you may need to extend or reduce a day from your package. Ensure that the pricing for the same is adjusted accordingly.
A lot of travel packages come with scheduled visits to local shops. I personally, like to shop locally but on my own terms. Hence, I tend to opt out of these scheduled shopping trips and adjust that time with possibly, another attraction of interest.
6) Local and inter-city conveyance
One of the biggest advantage of a holiday package is that all your inter-city and intra-city conveyance is taken care of. However, when opting for a tour package, ensure you get details on what kind of vehicle would you get, whether it is AC or Non AC, what is the seating and luggage capacity, what would be the drop and pick up points and if there are any tips or additional expenses to be borne. Check if it is an exclusive transport for you or would you be sharing it with someone. Always insist on a driver that can speak your language.
Check if there is a local guide assigned to you. Ensure that his fees are covered in your package. If not, please find out what are the applicable charges. There is a tip that you may have to give your guide at the end of your tour. These are generally, not included in your package and could be over and above your guide charges. Make sure that the same is clarified in your holiday package.
If a tour guide is included in your package, find out on what days and parts of the itinerary he will be present. In case there is no guide included, you may want to get details on where to hire one from the travel operator.
8) Entrance Fees
A lot of local attractions have an entrance fee . Figure out if the same have been included in your travel package. If it is, get it included clearly on all quotes and invoices.
9) Payment Terms and Fine print
There are various options available when it comes to payment terms. Please ensure that while booking, you have carefully read the fine print and payment conditions. Ensure that your refund clause or cancellation clause are clear. In the case of any emergency or cancellation, you may need the same.
Avoid paying a full 100% on booking. Most reputed tour operators insist on a part payment at the time of booking (generally between 25% to 50%) and the rest a week or two before the actual date of departure. In some case, they are flexible enough to insist on the balance payment on arrival at the first destination.
10) Local contact and Vouchers
Ensure that the tour operator gives you the contact details of their local tour operator or office. This would be required in case of any hitches, during your travel. If you are going to more than one town, ensure that the contact has an office or a valid contact number for each of these places.
All the confirmed bookings – flights, hotels and conveyance, have to be documented well and the travel operator must hand out email confirmations or vouchers of each, well before the journey date. Any special deals or trip options have to be mentioned on the voucher – for your own records as well as for any hotel/ local operator that you will be dealing with on your tour.
I guess that should help you pick your perfect Holiday Package in India. Do let me know on what you think of these tips and while you plan that perfect holiday, don’t forget to pin this on your board and share the travel tips.