Conclusions:

 

††††††††††† Our trip to India was simply wonderful, and OAT was a good travel company.They really took good care of us and cost a lot less than most others.

 

What we did right:

  • We had our digital cameras set for the maximum quality and resolution.You can always go down in quality, but you canít go back up.
  • We did not use hard-sided luggage.
  • We carefully read over the OAT recommendations on what to pack.
  • We packed our luggage with great care and planning.

 

What we did wrong:

  • We didnít need the tripod.We werenít allowed to use it in the few places we wanted it.
  • We brought a lot of $1.00 bills, hoping to use them as tips.In reality, this is a large tip and itís better to leave a 20-rupee note, which is worth about 47 cents. Itís more practical to get travelers checks, cash them, then try to get change at the hotels, banks or wherever you can.
  • We brought middle-weight rain gear, but we never saw a drop of rain.I didnít even see a single cloud for the first two weeks of the trip.So this was dead weight.Of course, if youíre going in the monsoon season, good luck to you.

 

What we brought:

  • Hostess gifts for the families who brought us into their homes.It doesnít need to be expensive, but I recommend something they canít get in India.
  • Two digital cameras.This gave us the freedom to take as many photos as we wanted and not have to pay for film or developing.We only print the ones we want for the photo album.We briefly considered taking only one camera and sharing it, but this would have been incredibly frustrating for both of us.
  • A computer with adequate hard disk space and equipment for downloading photos from the camera.
  • Duffle bags for our clothes and personal affects.We double-bagged our things.That way, when we bought goods, we had two spare duffle bags to hold the merchandise throughout the trip.
  • Purell hand sanitizer napkins for sterilizing our silverware before meals.
  • Malaria pills.We used malerone, but doxycycline works as well.Just take the pills on a full stomach.
  • A large stash of biscotti snacks from Samís Club for when we got hungry or needed a taste of home.
  • A medicine pouch with ibuprofen, antacid tablets, Zantac, cough drops, sore throat lozenges, anti-diarrhea medicine, sterile needles (for emergencies).
  • Deet bug spray.
  • Clothes appropriate to the weather.I brought one pair of light jeans, one pair of shorts, two pairs of pants that have zip-off legs so I can use them for shorts.I also brought pajamas, seven pairs of sox, and underwear.
  • Small notepads and paper for note taking.This is the first trip Iíve ever done such a thing, and it was really helpful.
  • A secure, zippered way to keep money and credit cards secure and out of reach from pickpockets.
  • A tiny LED flashlight for looking behind locked rooms in dark crypts, palaces and such.

 

Recommendations to OAT:

  • I really liked our little Orchha and Gwalior extension to complement the OAT trip, and it would be simple for OAT to add an abbreviated version to their itinerary and it would only extend the trip by one day.OAT already takes the same train from Agra to Jansi.Instead of getting off at Jansi, they could get off at Orchha, take a bus tour of the Orchha area, then drive down to Gwalior.They could fit in the Jain temples, the Fort and possibly the palace of the Maharaja, then overnight in Gwalior.Next day, drive from Gwalior to the next stop rather than from Jansi.Easy to add.
  • OAT needs to tone down the ďfactoryĒ stops.Some were good, but there were way too many and they were way overpriced.It would be best to drop about 25% of the most expensive factory shops.This just ate away precious time that could have been used sightseeing.

 

Misc Notes:

  • Sujay Lall gave me his mobile (cell-phone) number in case people want to reach him to arrange trips.However, he pretty much exclusively tours for OAT.The number is: (0) 9810488864.In Delhi, you donít have to dial the leading 0.His e-mail address is: sujay_11@sift.com/
  • Duni Rana at Journey Masters can also help potential travelers to India arrange tours, trains and hotel rooms.His number in Delhi is: (0) 9811171495.He can arrange a wonderful trip, complete with guides, but send the money to his Delhi bank, not the New York branch office.His e-mail address is: journeymasters@sify.com/
  • Donít forget that India is the other side of the world, so day is night and night is day.Donít call someone there at 2:00 in the afternoon, because it will be 3:30am for them.The best time to call is early morning, like 6:00am or late at night, like 10:00pm.If you communicate by e-mail, donít expect a reply until the next day.This makes communicating very tedious, so give yourself plenty of time to plan things out and get questions answered.Even so, if Sujay is leading a trip (and he almost always is), you might not get a reply for two weeks.

 

Got Questions or want full-resolution versions of any photos?E-mail me at:bob@robertpeterson.org/