We’ve been delighted to discover a company called India Travel Plan recently, an internet based tour specialist who run what they call ‘bite-sized India tours.’ This intriguing concept had us curious, so we gave them a call to find out more.
Well, a lot of our customers at India Travel Plan are the sort that might have been backpacking after they left school, and feel very much that they’re real travellers, but want something a bit more organized for their annual holiday. And actually there isn’t much out there between the big slightly impersonal group tours, and the very expensive bespoke luxury ones. So we wanted to fill that niche really, and give people a middle ground.
What we’ve done with our bite-sized tours is to divide up some of the iconic Indian travelling experiences into separate modules. Clients can then simply select which of those experiences appeal and we cobble it all together for them, adding transport and guides, and give them a completed puzzle. But it’s their puzzle, you see, and they can do it by themselves. (http://www.indiatravelplan.co.uk/)
Sounds like a great idea. Give us an example of one of these bite sized tours?
Each module is between three and six days, so customers simply select as many of those as they wish to make up their holiday. One might be ‘Camels and Castles in Rajasthan’, another might be ‘Temples, Beaches, and Backwaters in Kerala.’ Camels and Castles is one of our most popular actually, taking in some of the great Mughal forts, Rajput Palaces, and the ruraldesert. It’s a nice one to do at the beginning to because it can be a bit full on arriving in Delhi if you don’t know it. We advise our customers to leave exploring Delhi to the end and head straight out to Rajasthan to get a feel for India. Then, after they’re travelled around for a couple of weeks, they’re ready for the onslaught of Delhi.
What kind of accomodation do you use with India Travel Plan?
Well we don’t go for the big hotel chains that don’t have any Indian flavour about them. We try to support authenticity, and so we’ll seek out places which range from from havelis, to Rajasthani palaces, to houseboats, and jungle lodges. Although we’re covering some of the main tourist areas of India, we’ve tried to find something a bit different in each case, and which give our travellers a real experience. In Rajasthan, for example, we often send peope to an eco village where they can stay in traditional clay huts, and really live as the locals do. The villagers show you around, and you can get a feeling for traditional Rajasthani life in an interactive way that’s beneficial for the community and the visitors. It’s a very special place actually.
What about your ethical stance?
Where possible we support communities by finding local accomodation options that are family run. As you may know, because of it’s proximity to the Taj, the accomodation there can be quite bland so we offer the option of a homestay so the money for the meals goes into the pockets of the local peole rather than a 3rd party. We also offer the opportunity for people to find their own local transport if they’re up for it, because it’s better for the local economy, more interesting, and much cheaper!
Who would your clients get in touch with in India in case they wanted to ask any questions or ran into any problems?
We have local partners, and a local office in india that work with us. The customers have phone numbers of our agents there and they simply call one of our agents andthe’ll sort out any problems. It’s kind of like travelling alone but they know that they’re supported when they travel.
What would your average cost be per person for a basic two weeks tour?
It tends to vary quite a lot depending on whether people opt for internal flights, or prefer to experience the trains. But for say our three week Colours of Rajasthan, Varanasi and Kerala, it would be £1788 per person, including: accomodation, breakfast, the big transport legs, private car, houseboat etc Guides are included at certain stops, for example the Taj, and Varanasi.
You mention offering ‘quirky alternatives’
Give us a few examples?
Well, we’ve mentioned the clay huts in Rajasthan. We’ve also got a Jaisalmer camel safari, a cycling trip into the spice hills of the Western Ghats. We do a Himalayan homestay in Leh Ladakh, and there’s a wonderful Tibetan Temple Trek. It’s constantly evolving really because so is India. Our local experts work very hard checking and rechecking things to make sure the quality is maintained, and we take our feedback very seriously. Anything that isn’t felt to be brilliant is quickly removed, while the things with consistently good feedback are emphasised. That’s why we have so many happy customers who come back year after year.
Sounds great to us. Where can we sign up?
Have a look at our website at http://www.indiatravelplan.co.uk/
India Travel Plan’s homepage is at http://www.indiatravelplan.co.uk/