“Maharaja Express, A Royal Journey of India “

    Suzy’s Signature VIP life-enhancing journey for 16 privileged guests    

Dec 3 – 11, 2024

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Imagine!.. A private guided tour of the Taj Mahal at sunrise with your own personal photographer. An invitation for dinner in a palace with Prince Lakshyaraj Mewar, son of the Maharaja of the House of Mewar and King of Udaipur. Exclusive Chattoti culinary extravaganza with drums, magic, Rajasthan dancers, astrologer and more under the stars. Lunch with elephants at one of the world’s finest wildlife conservation sanctuaries.  Or imagine arriving to your 5-star resort and being draped in rose petals from a hidden man perched on the roof.  How about a mountain hike with champagne, a floating spa, pigeon flying, rickshaws, spice bazaars, your butler at the Taj Lake Palace and more.

Let us unveil to you India’s finest treasures on our exclusively curated events that dreams are made of.

Join me on this dazzling Namaste experience like no other into the golden age of travel, reminiscent of the royal Mogul legacies. You know, glorious India is my favorite country, with its energy so contagious it keeps calling me back. Come discover this land of contrasts.- splendor and rags, elephants and tigers, 2 million gods, 100 different languages and endless colors, it truly is a world in one country.   You may have read my blog on my site inspection of new experiences and places here. Although I’ve visited dozens of times, this India trip blew me away. I told the hotel managers, “ I must share these places that exceed all expectations with our clients.” I’m still reveling in those memories and can’t wait to lead your exclusive private tour with our private guide throughout.

Atithi Devo-“ The guest is equivalent to God“. This philosophy is the guiding principle of hospitality in India. No other country offers such impeccable, old-world service in stunning properties of extreme opulence. We need to say 6 stars for this ultra-luxury vacation that I personally curated for you, yet our price is half that of high-end operators here. Limited to only 16 privileged guests, you’ll experience world-class service in the top Leading Hotels of the World.

Immerse yourself into the true heritage of India on this authentic journey. We delve into the hidden treasures in Agra, Udaipur, and Delhi, with the World Heritage Sites, famous monuments and exclusive palace visits to the Taj Mahal. Each day is a lesson in history and an adventure in grandeur. It’s a kaleidoscope of cultural and culinary delights along the way, even with some surprises thrown in for you. We begin in our luxury hotel in vibrant Delhi, for the most unique tours into the old and new India, along with a pile of fun. And December is the best time to visit India for perfect weather and festivities!  

  Then, to Agra, home of the Mogul Empire, to view the famous UNESCO sites and my beloved elephant sanctuary Wildlife SOS. Our home is Amarvillas by Oberoi, a palatial resort renowned for its hospitality and enviable location. Each room faces the Taj, just 600 meters away. Get your best photos from sunrise to sunset. Get lost in the terrorist gardens, fountains, and pavilions. Want luxury?  Enjoy daily fruit basket, and your own model replica of the Taj and white chocolate, unique spa therapies, swimming in the “best hotel pool in the world, “ and so much more. There is pre-breakfast, breakfast, staggering lunch, options, high tea, and even dining under the stars can be arranged by your butler. We get private access to tour the Taj by golf carts to the front entrance, surpassing all crowds and worth its weight and gold. 

Finally, onto the colorful state of Rajasthan, filled with palaces, religious marvels, museums, and scenic wonders.  Udaipur, “ Venice of the East”, is its jewel in the crown. We explore this serene city of lakes with such laid-back charm that you’ll forget you’re in India. Tour the architectural wonder of City Palace, home to Maharani families from the 15 to 17th centuries. The fascinating complex of several palaces was constructed over 400 years, starting in 1599. Then to the spice bazaar and a home cooking class.

The epitome of elegance and the “most revered hotel in the world” is your home,  the Taj Lake Palace. Floating on Lake Pichola looks surreal. Once a palace built in marble, it is majestic architecture beyond imagination.  For 278 years, this luxury hotel hosted countless dignitaries and celebrities, from Jackie O to Tom Cruise, and now You! Guests arrive in elegant boats. Only residents may enter for the exclusive privilege of staying in this historic treasure. Elegant rooms are appointed with your own butler. Despite being its own small island, there’s plenty to do – the Java Spa for floating massages, the pool, yoga, 4 gourmet restaurants, boutiques, evening cultural shows, and guided heritage walks.

The most ethereal moment of all my travels occurred here at the evening lamp lighting ritual, called the “Ballad of the Birds “, a phenomenon of nature at precisely 6:40 PM for a one-hour chorus from a thousand parrots and sparrows flocked to the trees by the lily pond. So dreamy it brought tears to my eyes. The TLP is not a hotel. It’s a marbled magical legend.  If you want all your senses fully awakened, come experience the best of Classic India. We invite you discerning travelers to do it in style. Just once in your life, because you deserve it. Dream it. Believe it. Book it. Like me, you’ll never forget it.

“ Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” – Mahatma Gandhi.

 

 

 

Our Glorious AFS Itinerary

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Click here for the Trip Tips

Dec 3 – Departure  Fly USA round-trip to Delhi.

Air details and more coming soon to you and trip tips. Prepare your hearts for our most ultra luxury vacation ever as we discover India’s most exclusive treasures!

Dec 4 – Welcome to Glorious India

Upon arriving in Delhi, expect a warm welcome complete with vibrant garlands and friendly greetings before our team escorts you to the hotel (check-in is 2 PM).

As the current capital of India, Delhi has a 3000-year history and is the culmination of seven previous cities. The city boasts an enticing mix of old and new, featuring governmental structures, medieval palaces, and lively markets all within its thriving urban landscape. Delhi is truly a city ripe for discovery.

Overnight at Trident Gurgaon

Trident, Gurgaon – a mere 25-minute drive from Delhi airport is my favorite hotel for serenity and crazy Delhi. You won’t want to leave.   Surrounded by 7 acres of stunning gardens, walkways, courtyards, reflection pools, and fountains, as well as a spa and infinity pool, this award-winning establishment is situated in the New Delhi National Capital Region. Enjoy the hotel’s resort-like atmosphere,

Dec 5 –  Full day Discover Delhi Tour

Following breakfast, we’ll drive past India Gate, a memorial constructed from Bharatpur stone commemorating the 70,000 Indian soldiers who perished in World War I. The names of 13,516 British and Indian soldiers who fell during the Afghan War of 1919 are inscribed on its arch and foundations. We’ll also pause for a photo opportunity at Rashtrapati Bhawan, formerly the Viceroy’s residence and now the official home of India’s President.

Later our group will embark on a half-day heritage walk in Old Delhi to immerse ourselves in the rich history of the area. We’ll explore Shahjahanabad, situated on the banks of the River Yamuna, and marvel at the splendor of Jama Masjid, India’s largest mosque. Additionally, we’ll sample aromatic Indian spices at Khari Baoli (Asia’s largest spice market), browse the intricate lace and sparkly sequins of Kinari Bazaar by rickshaw ride.  Then we receive blessings at A Gurudwara – a revered Sikh temple, a fascinating experience deep into the spiritual side of India.

This afternoon lends a totally unique experience for captivating photos with India’s popular folk sport.  Step back in time with us, as we explore the intersting art of yesteryear Pigeon Flying! On this fascinating journey, uncover the hidden history and beauty of this once widely-practiced tradition. From ancient messages to friendly competitions, the world of pigeon flying awaits you as our hearts take flight with the birds into a bygone era of intrigue and adventure.  Guided by a Kabootar Baaz (pigeon fancier), we’ll learn to engage with pigeons using a whistle, stick, and a bag of feed atop a picturesque Haveli rooftop. This unique interaction offers an incredible opportunity to control a flock of 50 pigeons as they flutter between rooftops. This is a unique an exclusive AFS experience no other company provides and you’ll get some really special photos.   Back to our beautiful hotel for High Tea.

This evening we will enjoy a private AFS exclusive Kathak dance performance accompanied by sumptuous food. This mesmerizing display of traditional Indian dance is sure to deeply touch our cultural spirits as it unfolds amidst Hindustani (Indian) classical music. Every floor of the Haveli offers unparalleled views of this enchanting spectacle.

Once we have savored dinner, we will return to our hotel.
B, Dinner at Dharampura Haveli

Overnight at Trident Gurgaon

Dec 6 –  Wildlife Elephant Sanctuary, Oberoi in Agra

After a gourmet buffet breakfast, we check out and board our private coach towards Agra, around three hours.  Embark with us on an offbeat journey as we uncover the hidden gem of the SOS Elephant Village on our way to Agra with lunch. I’ve been supporting SOS for years. Each time I’ve learned so much from the conservation staff and love to bathe the Ellies. You’ll have plenty of time to connect with these gentle giants who were rescued from abuse. Experience the majestic beauty and enchanting stories of these majestic pachyderms that await you in this unique sanctuary. They also rescue leopards to sun bears as well as other animals here. Please read all about it. Trust us, this is one detour you won’t regret! https://wildlifesos.org/

Continue 1 to 2 hours drive to Agra, home to the magnificent Taj Mahal, renowned for being one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The mausoleums, fort, and palaces showcase remarkable architectural splendor, serving as a vivid reminder of the city’s rich heritage.

Our stay for the next two nights is at the 5-star, uber-lux Oberoi Amarvilas, a paradise nestled in the heart of India’s iconic city, Agra. Built in a style inspired by Moorish and Mughal architecture, the resort is a splendid display of terraced lawns, fountains, reflection pools and pavilions with rich interiors that take you back to an era of Emperors and Princes.With breath-taking views of the magnificent Taj Mahal and a level of opulence that exceeds your wildest dreams, this is a destination that promises an unforgettable experience.

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Rest of the day free to relax, replenish & rejuvenate yourself and explore.  Early to bed for a wonderful morning ahead.

Overnight Oberoi Amarvilas              B,L

Dec 7 – Taj Mahal, Costume Party, Royal Chattori Feast

Today is a day of magical experiences, so we start early at 6 AM with a Sunrise Visit to the Taj Mahal, an absolute must. Travel from your hotel by golf carts for a guided tour of the iconic Taj.

Witness the iconic monument bathed in the soft hues of dawn as the first rays of sunlight illuminate its majestic beauty, capturing the essence of this timeless wonder and the awe-inspiring views it offers along with our private photographer for AFS.. See Trip Tips next tab over at the top of this page.

We return to our luxurious sanctuary for a sumptuous breakfast and an afternoon of pool surfing and spa hopping or, for some, a curated shopping spree. I will also offer other suggestions to do in this fascinating city for you on your free afternoon.

As the afternoon unfolds, teams reach our hotel rooms to help dress us in Indian attire for a colorful and fun evening.

7PM – Imagine attending our own private circus!  Chattori Gali is a well-known name in the Indian street food industry. It is renowned not only for its delectable cuisine but also for the vibrant music and dance performances by local artists. Among these performances, the Dhol walas (Punjab style) and the nomad tribe showcasing Kalbeliya and Ghoomar dances are particularly famous. Additionally, the Terah Thali Dance and the Traditional Fire Act showcase the daring talents of various folk artists, leaving the audience captivated and in awe of their cultural heritage. Other highlights include mesmerizing magic shows, where artists showcase their tricks and create visual illusions and hypnotic experiences. Puppet shows, narrating tales from ancient times that are typical to Rajasthani culture, are also a major attraction.

Visitors can also engage with an astrologer, get beautiful Mehandi and henna designs on their palms, and indulge in various activities.  The ambiance of Chattori Gali is so regal and enticing that one cannot resist immersing in its charm.

The sound of dhol reverberates through the air, inviting everyone to dance to its evergreen beats. This rhythmic experience not only brings pure joy but also keeps one feeling energized and alive. Come hungry for the endless courses you will lose count of.  Chattori Gali is also known for its diverse culinary offerings, ranging from chaat, coconut shakes, and Pav bhaji to mouthwatering sweets, South Indian delicacies, Dahi wadas, Sabudana khichadi, chilly paneer, pulao, chole tikki, and faluda. The taste and aroma of the food are truly out of this world, allowing you to savor delicious meals while the sun sets and the

Overnight at Oberoi Amarvilas              B,D

Dec 8 – Private AFS Charter Flight to Rajasthan, Villages and TLP.  

You are our VIP’s and your transport today to Udaipur will be a private flight.   Welcome, on a picturesque journey to the “Venice of the East” – Udaipur. In the next two days we will explore the enchanting city known for its majestic lakes, breathtaking palaces, and rich cultural heritage. Brace yourselves for a tour filled with dreamy boat rides, romantic sunset views, and a glimpse into Udaipur’s royal life. So, sit back, relax, and immerse yourself in the beauty and charm of Udaipur.

Cultural visit – From the airport, we are whisked to the Bhil village. Once at the village a warm welcome awaits from the locals, symbolizing true Indian tradition of “Atithi Devo Bhava” – “The Guest is God”. The village is nestled close to the Aravali mountain range, providing a beautiful view. We spend time interacting with the local people, witness their way of living, residing in simple huts, and learn about their everyday life. Children bring so much joy to our AFS groups and we always encourage our travelers to carry supplies for them as we proceed to visit a school in order to experience the education system. (I bring lollipops, bubbles and pens).

Concluding the village walk, we will embark on a soft hike that offers an amazing experience of the Aravali Hills, immersing you in the beauty of nature and tranquility. As you ascend the hillside, you will encounter the local flora and fauna found in the region. After approximately 20 minutes of hiking, we will reach the Lake viewpoint at the hilltop. Here, a setup awaits you with champagne and fresh fruits, allowing you to indulge in the mesmerizing view, peaceful surroundings, and stunning panoramic sights of the city. This location offers a captivating view of the hilly region and the picturesque lakes.

Now is the time for the mystery to unfold as we drive towards our floating hotel, which can only be reached by private boat for resident guests only. An exclusive jetty and a colorful boat transports us to the “Taj Lake Palace”. You will truly feel as if you stepped into a fairytale now.

Have you ever been to a place so captivating that you simply never wanted to leave? Well, get ready to be bewitched by the majestic charm of the Taj Lake Palace – a destination that will make your heart skip a beat and your wanderlust soar. This enchanting palace, nestled in the middle of Lake Pichola, has attracted distinguished guests such as Jacqueline Kennedy, Queen Elizabeth II, and the King of Nepal since transforming into a hotel. Situated on a four-acre island in Pichola Lake, the hotel appears to float on turquoise water. The complex showcases graceful white marble architecture adorned with cypress-shaded courtyards, gardens, and fountains. The blockbuster movie Octopussy was filmed here. See the cool menu of James Bond cocktails in the bar.

Overnight at Taj Lake Palace                                  B

Dec 9 – TLP, City Palace, a Royal Dinner

Morning free to explore our floating Palace.  There are many interesting experiences at the hotel.  If you are a morning person join in a Yoga session or experience the ultimate relaxation on a boat spa. Whether you are a seasoned traveler or someone seeking a blissful escape, this is the perfect indulgence for you. Enjoy a Palace Tour by a historian provided by the hotel.  Walk the corridors of the palace with a historian and let him rewind time and take you back to the glory of the bygone era. It is so fascinating as he transports us to the magical Royal days while showcasing the hotel’s archival wall.

After visiting, we’ll be gathered in Jharokha restaurant, where sparkling wine will be served.

Ballad of the birds -Enjoy the bird life near Lily Pond or you may comfortably sit in your room and look through your window to gaze upon the birds that fly across the sunlit waters or in the garden to look at the birds in the shrubbery around. All seasons are good for bird watchers, but it is the winter months when thousands of migratory sparrows, parrots and local species are gathered together on this island of lush gardens.

Palace Tour – Time to be regaled into visiting the incredible City Palace – built on the bank of the Pichola Lake by Maharana Udai Singh in 1570. The impressive complex of several palaces is a blend of Rajput and Mughal influences. Half of it is still occupied by the Royal family, and a part has been converted into a museum. There was always a feeling of magic in the air at Palaces in Rajasthan, which were once residences of the royal families.

The creation of heritage restaurants and venues within the walls of these fabulous palaces allows us to experience history in its original way. The monuments have been restored & designed to recreate the royal lifestyle to allow visitors to relish the royal experience that completes the visit to these Kingdom capitals. One could get lost for a week exploring the expensive palace, which is the size of a small city. Please read up on the Mewar empire and its fascinating history spanning 1500 years!

Tonight, by invitation as distinguished guests, we enjoy dinner at City Palace with the presence of a Royal Family member. The 76th Maharaja of Udaipur and custodian of the House of Mewar under Lord Shiva is now 81 years old. His cherished son, Prince Lakshyaraj is the embodiment of reality here.

(Please understand I wrote this itinerary a year out however our host, Prince Lakshyaraj is subject to availability. Final details will be presented Oct 2024.)

Overnight at Taj Lake Palace                      B, D

Dec 10 – Udaipur to Delhi flight, Bazaar Visits.

Savor the morning time at the Lake Palace.

Transfer to the airport for our short flight back to Delhi. We will have some free time to shop at Khan Bazaar or visit Dilli Haat, before checking in for our final night at the hotel in India.

Overnight Trident Hotel                     B

Dec 11 – Delhi Departure to USA

Our hotel rooms will be available until noon.

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Due to the limited number of spots available, we have decided to offer this exclusive access only to a small group of individuals off our waitlist.

Deposit: $1200, then 50% due July 1 and final payment Aug 1.

Land Price and Internal Air Price –  $5995 + 298 for two internal flights per person twin occupancy and based on 16 participants.

(Single supplement $3475 additional). Yes, we know this is high end, but we are delighted with our price. You can find similar programs to ours at theluxurytraveler.com, averaging 12k to $18,650. Know that a portion of your booking will support our favorite charity, Tabathasheart.org, in Kolkata.

Includes:  8 nights first class accommodation, services of English speaking tour manager throughout trip, tours by private coach, daily tours with all entrance fees to monuments, buffet breakfast daily and meals stated above, Old Delhi heritage walk with rickshaws, village visits, SOS elephant sanctuary, Taj Mahal, City Palace with Prince, private charter flight to Udaipur, domestic flight return to Delhi, all service and hotel taxes, AFS GTL and more.

Not included – International air. Gratuities estimated at $150 per person to be collected later.  Visa ($25 at present)

 

Luxury India Travel Trip Tips 2024

Prepare to be thrilled by the countless marvels on our new incredible India journey! We’ve sent dozens of past groups here, but your itinerary is beyond extraordinary. This is my favorite country which keeps calling me back for more. From crazy fun Delhi to serene villages and elegant Udaipur, there’s never a dull moment, and I can’t get enough. Watch the movies Slumdog Millionaire and Lion on Netflix to get an idea of how humbling this place is. India changes us. We returned home with our gratitude meter full tilt. You’ll get spectacular photos, and I am ecstatic to lead you.

We have a wonderful small group of 18 travel lovers. Connect with each other now on your private group Facebook page. See below. More details will be emailed to you as we near departure. Anticipation is half the fun!
Trip Tips are designed to answer trip-related questions. It’s your responsibility to read this information. Updates and addendums will be posted here. Some travelers have lost their entire trip for not reading what we send on visas, air details, inoculations, etc. Check back from time to time.

  • SECONDARY DEPOSIT 50% due JULY 1 and FINAL PAYMENT DUE AUG 1

Wetravel is our data management company, it allows you to pay by check electronically without a fee. Simply follow the instructions. Credit cards will be assessed a processing fee at time of purchase. As a small business, this helps mitigate costs and allows us to give you the very best price.   You can also pay by check without mailing it by making it out to AFS, taking a photo of it and texting it to 770-432-8225 and we will enter the information for you at no extra credit card fee.

Your fearless GTL (Gracious Trip Leader, not a guide but a liaison between our guides and group to ensure things run smoothly.)

Suzy Davis –  As a former flight attendant of 14 years with free travel, Suzy has logged over 130+ different countries in her 6 tattered passports.  She founded AFS in 1989 and dedicated her life to sharing the world with others.  For the first 10 years, she led ALL solo travel tours but now leads 2 to 4 each year. Her favorite group leads are to places outside the boundaries of normal comfort zones where one wouldn’t travel alone because she loves all the challenges. As a cultural ambassador, Suzy is fearless and loves to connect her groups with locals. Her enthusiasm and travel wisdom are extraordinary.

Trip Prep:
• Read the revised Heading Abroad with AFS, especially if you are new to AFS.
• Ensure your passport is valid 6 months after return date with two blank pages – these are Visa pages, not addendum pages.  Take a photo of your passport to store in the cloud or bring a copy. If you lose your passport, US embassies now except a digital copy from your email.
• To speed through US Customs download Mobile Passport. Look in your App Store for details.
• Notify bank and cc company of travel dates so they don’t block charges.
• All airline rules differ. It is imperative to read your airline rules on their website to ensure a smooth departure! Always check your flight before departure.

VISA – Wait until we advise you with details a month out. The new online eVisa that is easy. Turn around in 24 hours. Rules and prices can change. Presently $25. When you land at the airport, go to in “visa line” for stamps before exiting. Details can be found at . Avoid going to fake scammer India visa sites.  We will send you details in October.

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Fitness level – No trouble walking.  Moderate walks and activities daily.  (Know your limits! AFS trips are generally soft adventures with moderate activity. All included extensive walking. As we age, we think we can do what we used to do but discover on the trip an activity is too strenuous and are slowing down the entire group. Please be respectful of you of your fellow AFS Travelers and consider choosing an itinerary that is more conducive to your needs so you can thoroughly enjoy your trip!)

General Air Info –  Route changes can happen now. Airlines must notify you of such and protect you if problem with flight.  Consider flying in early to ensure you’ll be there once trip begins.   Always download and use your airlines app! Use app to track your booking, delays, bags, to show boarding pass and to contact them. If you have a flight problem go to the airline’s website “contact us” page or reach them by text, social media, Skype or call their international number.  Also, premium credit cards often offer many air perks, assistance, insurance, lounge passes, global entry and more. Read more at www.tpg.com for best cards.

Considering business class?  Many don’t realize fares range from 4K to 9K. We do have two good contacts for AFS that can get seats at nearly half cost by combining award miles….  ali@above9.travel  Ph. (855) 777-6336 or britney@business-class.com 305-390-4132 or see skylux.com or business-class.com.  Tell them Suzy sent you.

Group Air:  None. Sometimes we offer group air but find few people book sometimes find better rates on own direct from hometown.  This provides you better flexibility to go early or extend at trip end.  I know we will not meet the minimum required to make a group booking since this is a small group.

Internal flights – Be sure you upload a copy of your passport of your photo page with details on your booking form.  Use this link to find our invoice and booking form that you completed at registration.   We have charter flights and require this for ticketing.

Important Air Dates: Dec 3 to 11 roundtrip USA to Delhi. Land begins DEC 4.

Doing Own Air–  dozens of airlines fly to Delhi. Nonstops on Air India and United from Newark. Consider Qatar, Turkish, Emirates, Air France, KLM, British Airways, and more.

I’d like to add stop overs pre-or post trip to break up the long journey and augment my vacation with another destination. Also, I would get air sooner than later. Google Flights lets you put in “fare alerts” once prices drop.

We like Google Flights.  3rd-party booking engines like Expedia, make it easy to book, but it is nearly impossible to handle air problems.  Buy direct from airline or pay a travel agent to ticket you.  If you need help air with the economy seat,  our guy Delhi can help; email flights@diversedestination.com with your exact air dates, destination, passport name, and details with birthdate.

Airport Transfers- since no group air, all will arrive different days and flight times from 9 AM to noon to midnight to 2 AM. We will offer two common group airport transfers on DEC 4 based on majority of flight arrival times. Detail 60 days prior.  Others take a taxi or Uber to Trident Hotel, my favorite in all of Delhi!

(With travelers arriving and departing on different days and times, it is insurmountable to manage. Group air airport transfers are based on set time. Without group air, there can no longer be any pick-ups or drop-offs.  Unfortunately, now like other tour companies, transfers are your responsibility. (We’ve spent weeks each trip making spreadsheets of each person’s air to send to the supplier and then flights change. We then hire a guide, driver and pay airport parking fees. Last year in groups only half showed up as guides waited hours looking for others. Sometimes no AFSers showed up without informing us.) Transfers are not expensive. First, google your arrival airport website to see transfer tab. Suggestions to appear like airport bus, taxi details, Uber and more. Then connect on group Facebook page to set up sharing transfer cost if you like.  If you go early and check-in AFS hotel before group arrives, it’s your responsibility to change rooms with your roommate if necessary day one when trip begins.)

Meet Up With Group- Land starts December 4. Again, all arrive at different times. You may need to book a pre-night at an airport hotel or the Trident. After our breakfast buffet on May 4, gather for the AFS briefing at 11 AM.

Baggage– Think light to ease your burden, not like you’re fleeing your homeland.  You change hotel properties 5 times. 1 carry-on bag & 1 medium suitcase not to exceed 45lb checked bag – weigh on a bathroom scale.  Apple AirTags work great to track checked bags when the airline cannot, also good for carry-on.   Leave space for great souvenirs. Be sure to attach ID inside and out of carry-on and checked bag.

Packing-  Google weather in Delhi a week prior to departure – should be in the 70 high to 58 low.

This trip is so easy. Simply pack fall clothing with a jacket for night.  December in Delhi can be quite chilly, especially in the evenings and early mornings. It is advisable to pack warm clothing such as sweaters, jackets, and long-sleeved shirts. Don’t forget to pack a few pairs of comfortable pants or jeans. Additionally, pack a few lightweight clothes for the daytime when the temperature may be milder.  Layer: Since the weather in Delhi can vary throughout the day, it is a good idea to pack clothing in layers. This way, you can add or remove layers as needed to stay comfortable.

Pack swimsuit, hat, comfy walking shoes, daypack, sun glasses. Bring two nice outfits for TLP and Royal dinner. Ladies – You can buy elegant saris dirt cheap.  Day 2 I can drop you off at wonderful Khan Bazaar for a beautiful things. Bring a headscarf for temples. For personal photos at sunrise at the Taj , wear what you choose or we can rent full saris the night before.

Read Packing 101 in Heading Abroad with AFS

Cool travel hacks from our AFSers! Pack overnight outfit in your carry-on, liquid IV packets to hydrate, use packing cubes, downy wrinkle spray, Apple AirTags, extra nylon bag to check laundry home, tons of US dollars for extra tips, fully charged travel banks, less is more, get global entry.

Electric– Don’t forget a portable backup charger, cords, gadgets, etc. Cell phones and tablets do not need a converter; you only need an adapter plug.  AFSers often leave charger cords in room, so be sure to double-check your room before check out. All properties have hairdryers.  See https://www.power-plugs-sockets.com

Money Matters – Always bring some cash!  You will need some cash for personal tipping, meals, and shopping. $400 cash should suffice. Change currency on arrival at airport, bank, or hotels or withdraw local currency from an ATM.  Note -independent ATMs are risky due to skimmer scams. Safest ATMs are at airport and banks. Always shield your pin number when entering.  Bring newer bills 2016 on as some countries won’t take old or slightly damaged bills.

Master Card and Visa widely accepted.  Amex rarely accepted.   Credit cards are far safer than using your debit card. I use my credit card for most purchases.  Many cards now offer no foreign transaction fees. (Some countries in Africa and Asia require new bills dated after 2016. Older bills not accepted when changing money.)

Gratuities – Please understand India is tipping intensive. Even your doorman has his hand out but don’t feel pressured.  It’s protocol to tip our tour manager, local guides, assistants, porters, wait for staff, drivers, and ground staff. Guidelines have increased globally.  $90 will be added to your invoice before final payment for ease of distribution for gratuities.

Tipping on own – If service is stellar, feel free to give more directly.  All we tourists leave behind is our reputation. I carry a stash of US ones in an envelope to draw from as needed. porters – AFSers roll bags to their room.  If you use a porter, please tip.  For group lunches or dinners included, please leave $2 for waitstaff!

Gratuity is not included for your private photographer at the Taj and should be given directly. He will gently ask for $100, but $25 should suffice. Also, your rickshaw driver, falconer, and Udaipur boatman -tip around $2 direct, please.

Health:  Bring Imodium just in case. All our meals are pure and water is filtered. The guide and I will advise daily on how to avoid stomach upsets. Bottled water is provided daily. Only drink only sealed bottles. Do not use ice outside of our hotels, nor eat street food and you will be fine.

Safety, beware of naughty monkeys trying to grab your day pack or sunglasses.

Photography – always ask permission before photographing anyone. Indian locals will love selfies with you!

Speak Hindi: Hello – Namaste,  Thank you – Dhanyavaad,  Need a lower price – Kam keemat chahiye

Websites of Interest:  www.incredibleindia.com This is an incredible resource for all the places we will visit.

Itinerary – We have 3 nights in Delhi, 2 Agra, 2 Udaipur. I wonder which you will love most. Daily times are subject to change best suited to work around local conditions. Please note the Taj Lake Palace is, in fact, a palace built in the 17th century when it was transformed into a hotel. It’s interiors have intentionally been kept the exact same. Each room is different. Some double rooms may be converted into what is called “Hollywood twin,” where an extra bed is added.  Royal Family – although we are in continual contact, they cannot confirm until last minute who will host us due to their busy calendar of commitments. We will advise two weeks out.   

Chewing-  Delhi boasts a rich culinary heritage with a diverse range of flavors and dishes from various regions of India. From street food delights like chaat (savory snacks) and parathas (stuffed flatbreads) to Mughlai delicacies like kebabs and biryanis, Delhi offers a tantalizing array of options for food enthusiasts. The city is famous for its mouthwatering street food scene, with bustling markets like Chandni Chowk offering a plethora of options such as golgappas (pani puri), chole bhature, and aloo tikki. In addition to its street food, Delhi is also home to numerous upscale restaurants serving traditional Indian cuisine as well as international fare, catering to all tastes and preferences. This vibrant city is a gastronomic paradise, where culinary delights from all corners of India and beyond can be savored.

Accommodations –Our itinerary has links to each hotel.

Roommates –  Single supplements have significantly increased in price– if available at all.  Save money and buy yourself an awesome local gift. We all live alone, but save money when traveling by rooming together. Suzy spends a lot of time on roommate matching.  99% of our clients are wonderful and you’re only in your room to sleep at night.   The best option is to invite a friend.  Note, kindness begets kindness.  Many of our seasoned travelers bring headsets to drown out any excess noise.  We share rooms only to sleep at night.

Please understand if the AFS room list ends up with unbalanced gender, and forces a single room, we will offer it to all in group.  If all decline, we split the added forced cost single room. If you were the last to book we may have to remove you from the trip unless you share in the supplement cost

Leisure Time –  For your free time, it’s best to arrive and ask our local expert guides for suggestions.  We notice many newer clients pre-plan many activities on the AFS trip well before they arrive, often with disappointing results.  Our daily itineraries are pretty full, but there will be some free time. Expert travelers revel in the element of surprise in a new destination and allow the wind to blow them where it will. Use Google Maps on your phone to find everything nearby.

Amending tour pre-or post-trip. We honor your independent spirit, but encourage you to extend more days at the trip’s end when you’re acclimated well to the destination.  If you add another country, we often see many AFSers on Facebook urging others to join them what do you consider the cost of tours, transport, hotels, etc.  Stopovers are great to add, but understand AFS has no responsibility for the quality of your trip.

Private Facebook Group Page  –  The benefit of the Private FB Group Page is that you have an opportunity to introduce yourself to your fellow travelers before departure and share trip photos during and after the tour.  The link can be found in your Wetravel welcome letter after your initial deposit.  (We found that some never read the Trip Tips jumping right to the Private FB Group Page assuming they will get all trip info needed. Often, they only receive rumors or misinformation. All important information is ALWAYS emailed to each participant and posted in Trip Tips under UPDATES. Nobody misses a thing.)

Emergency Contact – AFS phone or text 770-432-8225, or email us at https://afstravelers.com/contact-us/    More contacts will be provided with your Final Docs email 2 to 3 weeks before departure. Your guide can handle a call home for a true emergency. Do not expect to use your trip leader’s cell phone; you’ll need to use your own.

Cancellation Penalty –  At booking, we sent you our terms and conditions. Click here for our Terms & Conditions   Briefly, on land packages we’ll refund your deposit less 50%until 5 weeks prior trip’s final payment due date.   Any cancellation after this date will result in full forfeiture of your deposit. AFS reserves the right to resell or otherwise use the canceled space at our discretion.

Travel Insurance– While travel insurance is optional, in today’s world we highly encourage you to get standard coverage to cover trip interruption and cancellation.  Best source for all is www.insuremytrip.com.   CFAR or cancel for any reason covers Covid but is expensive.  Note that no company covers for fear.

Preexisting conditions – If you would like the security of travel insurance and have a pre-existing condition (elderly parent, medical, etc.), you must purchase insurance within 15 days from your initial trip deposit in order to assure full coverage.  The trip cost can be amended or adjusted as needed after your initial purchase (eg. like adding an air ticket cost later). You can buy travel insurance at any time, just know that there may be some possible limitations if purchased outside the 15 day period.  We like TravelSafe, Allianz or Seven Corners.

Travel Psychology 101  – Prepare for your departure joyfully with no contempt before investigation upon arrival. Please understand that with travel, things are not like at home and changes may occur. Great trips work best for those with an open mind, flexible attitude and adventuresome spirit.  If changes occur, embrace them with serendipity. Who knows?… The unexpected may prove to be a better experience.  Adapt and go with the flow with a laid-back attitude.  Be spontaneous. Be tolerant of foreign cultures in respecting their centuries of traditions. Embrace the differences. Be curious, not shy. Smile – locals will sense your energy of kindness and kindness always begets kindness.  Our common goal is to experience different cultures, make new friends, get great photos, have large fun, and return home safely with memories worthy of recollection.

The best spirit of an Explorer requires the openness of a child – Suzy

“When traveling, remember that a foreign country isn’t designed to make you comfortable.  It’s designed to make its own people comfortable.” – Clinton Fadiman

Please note that AFS is non-partisan – With our homogeneous groups, we all want to focus on the common denominator – our love of travel.  In today’s divisive world, we suggest members not discuss politics and if you must, please practice my rule of TOK:  Tolerance, Open-mindedness and Kindness.

Please be advised that the operation of some tours may need to be rearranged or modified to suit local conditions, but all activities stated will be included.  We are here for you to address any questions about your trip. In time, we believe travel will begin to normalize with less rules and we appreciate your cooperation until then.  Now more than ever before, travelers value the privilege of travel to explore our world. You’ve been waiting so long, it’s time for recess!