The planning for this trip started a year ahead of the departure. Much discussion took place about just where we should go. Consensus was that nobody was going to go to the Country and not see the Taj Mahal. That meant the start point would have to be Delhi. Also the men had been attracted to the military display of the “Border Ceremony” at Amritsar. Amritsar being the home of the Golden Temple that was an addition to the list. Doreen had been attracted to the region of Darjeeling, because that is where one of the neighbours had gone to school fifty years ago and had been visited by them recently. “Oh you have to visit Darjeeling” they said; it went on the list. In the final stages of planning it was revealed by Sandy – Patsy’s (Doreen’s sister) husband that he had three weeks holiday when all previous planning had been based on two weeks and “Now we can visit Katmandu”. It went on the list. Take a look at the finished itinerary that was decided upon as a result of discussions with us and the agency.
“Sweating the small stuff”:
- First step was to select a travel agent to arrange the India journeys. We selected Gill International Travel’s Brampton office and selected Amarjit Brar. She came well recommended from a Google search. They arranged the Indian side with Tamarind Global, an International travel company. After telling her what places we wanted to visit and in how many days an itinerary was designed – with prices. The process of finalising the itinerary took several emails and weeks but one was finished (read the personalised brochure here).
- The airfares were going to be booked by us through the AirCanada website, we are very experienced at sourcing airline tickets. First check “Expedia” for a price and then book on the actual airlines website. The complaint process is much easier if one doesn’t have to go through an online booking service and there is not much of a price difference. Second safety measure is to book with a travel credit card that has insurances included. Getting points and insurance on one card is good. The internal airfares were booked by Tamarind, and we paid for that as they put a markup on them.
- So what is left – Visas. With travel to most countries now wanting entry visa one has to be prepared to struggle with bureaucracy to get them.
The Indian visa process is a two pronged approach – firstly apply online at the online service of the Indian Government, and the take the printed documents to a visa service for submission.The India Visa Office has revamped its operations and now one can do everything on line, but the timid can can still use the first process. The Indian Office – VisaOnline, has a webpage and if one follows the instructions implicitly one will be successful. The one thing to remember is that even when you get notification of being awarded a visa that is not the final step. CONFIRM the visa by going back to the website and follow the instructions. When you have this visa document can you relax.
- Vaccinations – have to have them. Hepatitis shots (twinrix) have to be administered, one dose taken three months before the last one, so one has to time these shots to the planning. Dukoral – a medicine to combat cholera and digestive problems, two shots of oral vaccine taken up to six weeks apart and at least two weeks before the trip.
- Travel insurance – shop around for the best price as one company that may be the cheapest one year is not the cheapest the next. We always buy an annual plan, as the cost of three months for the winter is usually the same price as an annual plan.