A Family RTW Travel Adventure (2008-2009)
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In A Nutshell

India is one of the most difficult and rewarding places a person can travel.

It is an enormous country, full of smart, educated, hardworking — primarily poor — people.  It is a place with a fascinating history, amazing sites, and, from a western perspective, an interesting and unusual culture.

We were very fortunate to share our adventure there with our friends the Callahans – Brian, Lisa, Clarisse, Isabel and Brady.  The fact that they traveled halfway around the world to explore India with us means more to us than they will ever know.

Brian Callahan took the lead in planning our itinerary, and he focused us on the “Golden Triangle” – Delhi, Jaipur and Agra.  It proved to be an excellent area to spend our ten days in India.

We got to experience the markets of Old Delhi, the very traditional historic city of Jaipur, rural life around the Sariska Tiger Preserve and the truly breath-taking Taj Mahal in Agra.  A great “sampler” for a great country.

Point A to Point B

How to get from Point A to Point B is one of the most important decisions any traveler to India will make.

Our initial inclination was to travel on our own, by train, from place to place.  Certainly we could have done this (as many others before us have) but it would have made life considerably more challenging.  But with five children in tow (all blondes and red-heads), it probably would have been too much.

Brian made the wise decision to hire a driver.  Our man Vishnu was outstanding.  Not only was he a careful driver under challenging conditions, he also was very protective of us, often providing us a human shield from the touts and hawkers.

For other families planning a trip to India — it is important to realize how challenging the road conditions are.  Most travel days we never had to go further than 150 miles, yet it could easily take six hours to cover the distance.  Keep the difficult (read: slow) conditions in mind when planning your itinerary.

Amazing Sites

A huge part of the India experience is just being there.  After a few days you begin to experience a kind of sensory overload.  The constant chaos can become overwhelming.

We plunged in each day.  In Delhi, we visited the teeming markets of the old city; Birla House, where Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated; Teen Murti Bhavan, where Nehru lived as India’s first Prime Minister; and a beautiful Hindu temple.

In Jaipur, we visited the Amber Fort, a textile and rug factory (we even bought a rug), the City Palace, and the Hawal Mahal.

At Sariska National Park (and Tiger Reserve) we searched for tigers and loved spending time at the Sariska Fort View Camp.

And in Agra, we visited the truly amazing Taj Mahal and the fascinating Red Fort.

Finding a Good Hotel

My friend John had warned me: “Mate, the secret to traveling in India is to get yourself a really good hotel.”  Now I understand why he said that.  It helps to have a refuge at the end of the day.

We were lucky to stay in some very decent, affordable hotels.  The Grand Park Inn is an clean, acceptable mid-range hotel in Delhi.  In Jaipur, we stayed at the wonderful Umaid Bhawan, a beautifully restored heritage hotel with an excellent rooftop restaurant.  And in Sariska, the Fort View Camp made for a most memorable experience.

The real splurge came at the end, though, when we returned to Delhi.  Brian Callahan burned a ton of Amex points to book us in the Delhi Crowne Plaza, a very nice hotel indeed.  It was just what the doctor ordered after nine days of road grime.  Thank you, Brian!

Vineet: India’s One Stop Solution

But here’s the real secret to India:  Vineet Sharma.  With Masters Degrees in International Relations and Tourism, Vineet Sharma is overqualified to be a tour guide. I suspect that is why he has now started his own tour company.

Vineet is simply amazing — and is a one-stop solution to everything you need in India.  Vineet found our driver, booked our hotels, recommended what sites to see, and booked us tour guides in every place we visited.  And he did it for an incredibly reasonable price.

In nearly ten months of travel, we’ve worked with a lot of tour companies and guides. Vineet is, without question, the best person we’ve worked with.  If you plan to visit India, I urge you to contact Vineet and let him help you.  You will be glad you did.

One quick story:  On our last day in Delhi, Vineet came by our hotel in the morning.  We had told him we wanted to do some shopping in Old Delhi, and he had offered to take us.  He helped us find bargains in the markets, took us to one of Delhi’s landmark restaurants for locals, took the ladies to get henna tattoos, and generally provided us good company all day.

At the end of the day we offered to pay him, but he refused to take a dime from us — even though the day he spent with us was beyond the scope of our original agreement. He said he wanted to spend the day with us because he was enjoying himself.  I can only say the feeling was mutual.


So, if you are traveling to India, contact Vineet and see what he can put together for you.  His email address is: vineetvasu (at) yahoo (dot) com.  His phone number is: +91-9910422909.

And if you need a driver, be sure to ask for Vishnu ;).

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