The excitement was palpable when the Nature India trip to Thattekkad/Munnar kick started with the team packing itself into three SUVs at Kochi airport. It was a bright and sunny January morning. The 45km drive from the airport to Thattekkad is a scenic one. There are winding roads and rich vegetation on either side. The route passes through Kaladi (the birthplace of Adi Shankara) and the small town of Kothamangalam. The day we were travelling, it was festival time in a local church and there were colourful processions on the way. It did not delay our progress in any way and we were in Jungle Bird Homestay well in time for lunch. This was our home for the next three days. Gireesh Chandran, Sudha and Sandhya were our hosts, guides and caretakers.
Month: June 2012
When we decided to tour Europe, the question of opting for one of the standard tours or planning one on our own came up. We opted to plan things ourselves.
What made us take this call?
- The most critical factor was that we felt that if planned well, we could do it cheaper than a standard package
- The next factor was the ability to decide exactly how many days / how much to time should be spent at a location
- Most European location would have much more to see than what time you could afford to spend there. So making a choice of what to see is very important. In a package one hardly has a choice.
- The most irritating aspect of a group tour is that you are as fast as the slowest team member. Also the departure and break times are decided based on the general requirements – may not be what you want
- We were covering only Schengen countries, so visa was simple
- Our past experience with package tours has not been great!
Is it very difficult to plan a tour?
Not really. It certainly requires some time and dedication from your side. A bit of familiarity with the geography that you are touring would be a great asset. The following are essential if you are proposing to plan a trip yourself.
- Skill and inclination to pick-up and read tons & tons of material on the internet to figure out which places are worth a visit – you can certainly do a good job if you have specific interests, as standard tours are designed using a ‘typical tourist’ in mind
- Comfort of using Internet for booking hotels, train tickets, bus tickets and making other reservations. Language is usually not a big issue as popular websites offer English as a choice. Else, you could use integrator/intermediaries who offer online booking on their website. These intermediaries, in some cases, may have a charge.
- Using information on places of interest and size of museums and palaces to plan the number of days required for each place.
- Sufficient time for planning and making reservations
What is on the flipside of the ‘do it yourself’ plan?