G-Adventures offers tours for young travelers all over the world including several tours through India. The ‘India on a Shoestring’ tour is 20 days traveling around Rajasthan or the ‘golden triangle’ and takes in many of the most famous sites of the area starting and ending in Delhi.
I personally enjoyed the lesser-known (to me anyway) places we visited such as; Pushkar, Bikaner and Udaipur. As they were smaller it was easier to head off alone and do some exploring. The trip into the Thar desert was pretty amazing, and the food the local people cooked there was so tasty it’s hard to believe they cooked it in the middle of nowhere, without a kitchen. The river ganges was beautiful too and a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
What’s right with it…
The itinerary ensures you take in lots of things you wouldn’t if you were traveling solo, such as visiting the tiny village of Tordi Sagarh, eating at a Sikh temple and staying at THIS amazing hotel. The pace is quite fast and you get to see a hell of a lot of India in a short space of time, which if you were travelling alone, you would probably go much slower.
What’s wrong with it…
Traveling with 18 people is not for everyone and I found myself craving alone time, especially in places like the Taj Mahal where I wanted to soak in the majesty peacefully but there were 10 Brits screaming and shouting wildly just behind me. Also the emphasis is on ‘group fun’ instead of taking in the culture of a place – certain towns such a Jodhpur, which we stayed in for just one afternoon, were overlooked in favour of an activity, in that case ziplining. I chose to explore the town instead of doing ziplining but the tour leader made me feel like a right miserable tit. But, I’m 28, I don’t need ‘activities’ to enjoy myself, being in a new place is enjoyment enough for me.
I also feel like there’s a lot more room to learn about the language and culture of India on this trip but my attempts on this point were futile. So it’s a bit like being in the Big Brother house, seeing the same faces day in day out – this may just be me being curmudgeonly though, I realise I’m more of a ‘table for one’ person than most, but I’m sure the majority of people value their personal time too.
Value for money?
The initial fee seems reasonable but everything is extra, which I wasn’t prepared for – so there’s a lot of tuk tuk rides and entry fees you’ll have to shell out for. Also the tour leader took us to a lot of really expensive restaurants for lunch and dinner, which if I was traveling alone I’d have got street food (which is so good but a tenth of the price), but if you’re in an unfamiliar place at night you are kind of forced to eat where you’re told. There were also a couple of instances where the tour leader took us to shops on the ruse that it was a cool experience but it was somewhere she was getting a commission to bring us in.
India is so beautiful and I’m happy I got to see it, and so much of it. I feel like booking all the elements myself would have been a bit too large of a task, especially the indian trains and buses – so for that alone it’s worth it. Sometimes I felt like I was on a school trip which, frankly, I’m too old for, and ultimately I really wanted to leave the confines of the group. If you’re happy in situations where you have no autonomy then this tour is amazing, but if you’re a bit of a lone wolf or a free spirit, you may find this trip a little stifling.
-The ages of the group ranged from 18 to 30, with about 70% being under 25.
-Don’t get sucked into doing all the optional activities, it’s your holiday/trip – go out on your own.
-Take a student card for discounts at historical sites.
-Budget twice as much as you think.