Messing this up - please help me build my itinerary!

#1 May 6th, 2017, 20:13
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  • Nipa is offline
#1
Hi everyone -

I've gotten such great information from this site so far, but I just can't seem to land on an itinerary. I know what I'm considering is absurd, but how to narrow down and keep it efficient?

Background: Family of four (includes 2 teen boys). Haven't travelled outside North America. I am of Indian descent (from Gujarat) but my family left generations ago so we would be travelling as pure tourists.

My kids had their heart set on Europe, and are a bit hesitant about India. My brother went a few years ago and told them some horror stories! So, I'd like this to be a good first trip - nothing too hectic, and something that covers both rural and city life, exposes them to some of the culture and wildlife and includes lots of good food and some shopping.

We will be travelling from Canada to London in August for a couple of days, and then India for 14 days (not including arrival/departure). I realize it's monsoon but it's rare where all our schedules align so I'm running with it. Here is my wish list:

Mumbai
Gujarat - Ghandinagar, Ahmedabad, Virpur, Shakhpur, and a small village between Rajkot and Jamnagar that's not even on any map. Shakhpur and small village are where the great great grandfathers were from.

If possible, I'd also like to include Somnath in Gujarat, Varanasi, Udaipur and Delhi, particularly Somnath and Varanasi.

Here's what I was thinking:

3-4 days in Mumbai
4 days in Gujarat - if someone can help with advice on how to visit those places with some efficiency? Should I add more days here?
Maybe Varanasi then, or Udaipur? Then over to Delhi or Mumbai to fly out?

I haven't booked my flights into or out of India yet.

I realize I'm being crazy, and am all over the map, so to speak. Any advice would be much appreciated - thank you!!!
#2 May 6th, 2017, 21:48
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#2
Hello, Nipa, welcome to IndiaMike

You have 3-4 days in Bombay and 4 days in Gujarat. Then on to Udaipur or Varanasi (for how many days?), and finally Delhi (for how many days?) to fly out from.

Unfortunately all the worthwhile tiger parks are closed for the rains then, but you could take them hiking in the Himalayas instead of traipsing around in the muggy plains.

Read this report on what could be done, at the right time of the year:

Garavi Gujarat : A tale of prophets, artisans, wildlife and India's forgotten mother

Your plan:

2 reluctant teenagers in tow who would prefer to climb the Eiffel Tower and take cable cars at Jungfrau than shop in over-crowded flooded Bombay.

2 horrified boys who have not heard ALL the horror stories that your brother could not/would not recall

Travelling at the height of the Monsoon season

Travelling through the heart of rain-sodden lands

Travelling through obscure Mosquito infested towns and villages

Nice boot-camp you are running for your lads. It'll toughen them up, for sure; it'll ensure that they will hate India, for evermore.
#3 May 6th, 2017, 22:23
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#3
Completely agree with Vishva. You might be thinking that this is nice and relaxing but it is likely not.

First, the timing and the consequent weather are unfavorable. Second, how one receives India is often a matter of attitude, and that's not best to begin with. The only chance she has to change it is through time and experiences that are both pleasing and rewarding, because it will definitely include some that are not.

I would suggest moderating the time in Bombay and Delhi (due to weather), cut out Gujarat entirely (your folks left a while back), heading to Leh for a large part of the trip. Break from rain and heat and some sights none of you have seen...

PS: I would consider skipping Bombay entirely. Better for trip north into the mountains...
#4 May 6th, 2017, 23:41
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#4
Thank you ViShVa and kmalik for the dose of reality. I was so excited about the stars finally aligning for a trip to India that I didn't really place as much weight as to the attitudes of my travelling companions and weather considerations. I'd hate to cancel as I'm not sure if we'd get the chance again, but I don't want it to be a miserable experience either.

You've given me some food for thought for sure.....appreciate the advice!
#5 May 6th, 2017, 23:53
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#5
If you are really determined to go for 14 days at that time, then travel in luxury for the boys' sake.

>> London to Bombay for a couple of days

>> flight from Bombay to Rajkot

>> Private-hire 7-seater car (eg. Toyota Innova) to your native village/town

>> Same car on to Gandhinagar/Ahmedabad

>> Flight or same luxury car Ahmedabad to Udaipur

>> Stay at a luxury place and go to Ranakpur, Kumbhalgarh etc. by same luxury car

>> Flight Udaipur to Leh or Varanasi (via Delhi)

>> return flight from Leh/Varanasi to Delhi

>> Day trip to Agra (for the Taj Mahal) in a luxury car

>> back to Delhi

>> Spend a day or two in Dilli

>> fly back Delhi to Canada

In all these places, stay at very fancy places and be prepared to be stuck indoors, due to the rains.

Leh usually requires altitude acclimatisation, so I don't recommend rushing it. instead, if I were travelling with teenagers, and if I could muster up a decent budget, I'd fly from Delhi to Kathmandu, Nepal, stay a couple of nights there at a fancy place, and take a charter-flight to Everest/Annapurna and back. That would be something for the boys to write home about. Fly back to Delhi and then back home.
#6 May 7th, 2017, 00:54
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#6
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nipa View Post My kids had their heart set on Europe, and are a bit hesitant about India. My brother went a few years ago and told them some horror stories!


Sounds like it's more you getting in touch with your roots. Your kids just want to have fun. Maybe a week visiting Gujarat for the family history and a week in Europe, say Paris and Disneyland.
"Travel is fatal to prejudice,bigotry and narrow-mindedness" Mark Twain
#7 May 7th, 2017, 01:09
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#7
Hi ananda2193 - yes, that's exactly the dynamic we are dealing with.

Although, they aren't totally against the idea, just hesitant. They are starting to warm up to the idea once I showed them some online videos. They are starting to realize it's not entirely like what my brother relayed (not entirely being the key) .

In the spirit of compromise, we are spending a few days in London at the beginning.
#8 May 7th, 2017, 01:20
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#8
Thanks again, ViShVa.

Yes, I was looking to splurge more on this trip to compensate for some of not-so-great aspects we may encounter. My boys are not totally against the idea, just somewhat reluctant. I think it was not even on their radar when we were talking summer trips. Now that we are discussing it more, and I am showing them some nicer places online, they are becoming more open.

I've spent a good part of the day doing more research, and was thinking if we moved the trip a couple of weeks forward, then we'd be in India for the last two weeks of August as opposed to closer to the beginning of the month. Hopefully that will buy us some more time for the monsoon season to have passed a bit more?

Thanks very much for writing out a potential itinerary. I think what you are proposing for the Mumbai - Gujarat portion is very do-able. Perhaps I should skip New Delhi this time around to allow for more down time in case we are rained out? Varanasi seems like it would be out of the way, given our limited time, but I've always felt like it was calling me.

I LOVE your idea of a side trip to Nepal - hadn't even considered that. I will definitely look into whether that would be do-able.

Planning is certainly a lot more complicated and overwhelming than I thought it would be, but I'm appreciative of all the advice I'm receiving.
#9 May 7th, 2017, 01:28
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#9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nipa View Post In the spirit of compromise, we are spending a few days in London at the beginning.


As no one here knows your kids, If they like adventurers they might totally love the experience. But I don't know of any place in India where the weather doesn't suck in August except Ladakh and that trip isn't feasible in your short adventure. Hot, humid day's, with the possibility of food borne illnesses could ruin a family vacation. Don't mean to be a bummer, but Europe a week and India a week to me sounds like a good compromise. You or and and your kids can always spend more sufficient time in India when they're older.

But it's your decision. Just a humble suggestion.
#10 May 7th, 2017, 14:34
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#10
My experience tells me that what excites us is not( is definitely not) what excites the teenagers. I would not like their first trip to India, which has so much to offer, result in they writing off India for good. The monsoon starts late May, early June down in Kerala and progresses up the country in the next 2-3 weeks. By June end, monsoon clouds would pretty much be all over India- So it is going to be hot, humid and dirty at places. In addition, you would have Malaria, dysentery and such diseases prevalent. I am not trying to scare you off, just mentioning this so that you and your kids are prepared.

I get it that you would like to visit your roots. I am not sure whether your kids would have the same enthusiasm though. What i would do in your case is the following:
  1. Explain in detail the ground reality to the children. They may even take it as a challenge, which would suit us. They would look at bragging rights and if packaged properly, would share your enthusiasm, though not necessarily for the same reasons.
  2. Do not try and cover too many places. It would take time for the first time visitor to understand this part of the World and hopping in and hopping out of places would only disorient. Ideally in a 10 day program, say maximum of 4 places, including your roots visit.
  3. Make a list of all possible places and make the roots visit mandatory. Allow your kids to pick one or two of the shortlisted ones so that they get in the spirit of the adventure and have ownership of the project. And a project it is.
  4. As far as possible, factor in good transport and stay facilities.
  5. A visit to a palace resort, especially during the monsoon would be very good for bragging rights and enjoyable. Jaipur, Udaipur, Jaisalmer, and such may be considered.
  6. I have found beaches and mountains especially find favour with teenagers. i don't know whether your kids like them-no harm in keeping them as options. As i said before, ensure that they pick at least two options -even if you have surreptitiously steered them there.
  7. Consider whether the Europe/UK segment could be after the Indian sojourn.

All the best and have fun.
#11 May 7th, 2017, 19:08
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#11
FYI on Nepal in August - July, August are rainiest months there too. Less hot but one in three days is rain in Kathmandu.
#12 May 7th, 2017, 20:18
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#12
Hi everyone,

Thank you all for the continued advice. It is certainly a project! kmalik and ananda 2193 - appreciate the weather advice. I loved the idea of Kathmandu, but may not be able to squeeze it in. I will see if it aligns with our itinerary.

Earthian, I am definitely heading in that direction. After much research, it turns out the cheapest fares would be going to London and leaving from Rome. So, we will have a few days in Europe at the start and finish of our trip. I like your idea of getting them involved as well. I am going to do a broad itinerary and they can help me narrow down the places. I like the idea of 4 places in 14 days, that seems more relaxing than my original plan.

The kids are actually getting excited about the idea, now that I have shown them some online videos of nice hotels, and palaces in Udaipur. They love Indian food so that's not an issue, in fact when I mentioned some of the nice Italian places in Mumbai, my son said he'd rather just try different types of Indian food in India than try pasta.

For Gujarat, I was thinking Vishva's itinerary seemed reasonable - fly in Rajkot so we can do the villages and Virpur, and then head to Ahmedabad/Ghandinagar. Are there any beaches/resorts worth visiting in Gujarat in mid-August? I looked online and the wildlife sanctuaries are either closed or not worth visiting at that time. I think there is a smaller Akshardan temple in Gujarat as well, but not sure where it's in relation to.

We've managed to extend our holidays so even with the few days in London and a couple in Rome on the way back, we will still have exactly two weeks in India from mid to end of August.

Today, the project will be nailing down the itinerary now that we have decided to run with it! Fingers crossed the rains will have passed by, but if not, we will take it in stride

thank you again to the amazing India Mike community for the continued advice! Open to other thoughts on itinerary.
#13 May 7th, 2017, 21:44
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#13
Mam have you considered the hills and waterfalls of maharashtra? Mahakaleshwar, lonavala, kaas,amboli ghat, some parts of karnataka can also be considered. Those places are quite beautiful in monsoons.
#14 May 7th, 2017, 22:01
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#14
Great to hear that the kids are involved.

From Rajkot, once you have the mobility of a car and driver and the pizzazz of a flexible itinerary, and subject to weather conditions and forecasts, a motoring tour to Dwarka, Porbander, Somnath, Junagadh and back to Rajkot may be an option.

Gujarat roads are some of the best in India, and the distances in Saurashtra are trifling for North Americans.
#15 May 7th, 2017, 22:29
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#15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nipa View Post After much research, it turns out the cheapest fares would be going to London and leaving from Rome.
If I were you, and had more than one person accompanying me, I'd just dump London and fly into Paris. To fly into Rome, you'd have to go to Delhi and use altu-faltu airlines

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