This is part of a series of interviews with inspiring travelers. Today’s interview comes from Monica Stott about her Northern India tour. All photos provided by Monica. See more about tours and traveling with purpose here.
Tell us about yourself and your travel experience.
I’m Monica and I’m a British travel blogger. I’ve been a full time travel blogger for two years and I travel somewhere new once or twice a month. Before this I spent two years backpacking around Asia and Australia. I now have a young baby so my travels are closer to home with lots of trips around the UK and Europe.
Where did you go on your tour and how long was it?
I went on a two week tour around Northern India that took me from Delhi to Varanassi, Bandhavghar National Park, Khajuraho, Orchha, Chanderi and Agra.
What tour company did you use and why?
I used Intrepid Travel, mainly because they did the tour I was looking for on the dates that worked for me. G Adventures also offered a very similar tour but the dates wouldn’t have worked for me. I’ve travelled with G Adventures and Intrepid a few times and they’re both great. The people in your group can make a big difference to the tour and this is just down to luck.
Why did you choose a tour instead of traveling independently?
I only had two weeks to take off work and there was a lot I wanted to see. I knew I had to be really organised and efficient with my time but I found researching things from home to be tough. It was difficult to book trains and I didn’t like the idea of wasting a whole day waiting for a train when I only had 14 days to spare.
What did you like about the northern India tour? What was your favorite part?
The ease of it all. I loved waking up in the morning knowing everything was taken care of. I didn’t need to figure out how I was going to travel to my next destination, I didn’t need to barter for my breakfast and I didn’t need to worry about a thing. Travelling in India isn’t relaxing for most people but it was for me!
I also liked the fact that it didn’t feel like a tour. My group of six quickly became good friends and our guide was more like a friend too so he didn’t feel like a leader.
What was the most memorable or eventful part of your trip?
Visiting the Taj Mahal. I was prepared to be underwhelmed be the Taj Mahal. I couldn’t image how a building could be so impressive and I was imagining one giant tourist trap. It wasn’t like this at all. We visited at sunrise and again at sunset and both times I was blown away. It looks magical as the sun shines off the white marble and everyone within the grounds is completely spellbound.
Was there anything you didn’t like about the tour?
The accommodation was a bit more basic than I would have liked. If I were to book my own trip I would have booked nicer hotels. Intrepid usually have an option to upgrade to a higher class of tour but I don’t think the dates were available and I was worried we’d end up with a group of much older people.
Did you eat anything amazing on your trip?
Yes! So much amazing food. This was one of the reasons I loved having a guide because he could introduce us to lots of new things. I barely recognised anything on the menu in India so he’d always make recommendations or he’d order piles of food and insist we tried his. If I’m honest, I couldn’t tell you half of the things I ate while I was there but they were all delicious.
What inspired you to take this northern India tour or travel to India?
I’d always wanted to go to India for as long as I can remember. I’d started to get fed up with myself for saying, ‘I want to go to India one day’, and I felt like I needed to make one day a reality or I’d still be saying this in 20 years time.
Would you take this tour again? Would you change anything about it?
I wouldn’t take this tour again as there is so much to see in India so I’d want to go somewhere new. Next time I’d like to go to Rajasthan or down to Southern India. I wouldn’t change anything at all, and I would recommend this tour. It was a great mix of old, new, busy, rural, traditional and modern.
Do you think this tour would be good for a new traveler?
Definitely. On this tour we didn’t need to worry about the logistics of travelling around India but we had a lot of freedom once we reached each destination. When you arrive it doesn’t feel like you’re on a tour but you always have the back-up and safety net of a tour leader. Our leader could recommend places to eat, drink and visit but we could also wander off on our won and discover somewhere for ourselves.
India may be a difficult country for a new traveller to visit but as long as you have a sense of adventure you’d love it.
Bio: Monica Stott is the travel blogger behind The Travel Hack, one of the UK’s leading travel blogs. She blogs about affordable luxuries and adventure travel that doesn’t compromise on style. Since having her little boy earlier this year she also blogs about travelling with a baby and she’s determined to keep travelling with her little one in tow. You can also find her on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
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