Frequently Asked Questions

Transport

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Q:What sort of transport will we be using?
Travelling in India is an adventure in its own right! During the tour we will mostly travel overland by world famous Indian Railway trains; widely considered a “must-do” Indian travel experience. Most of our train journeys will be in comfortable 2nd Class air-conditioned sleeper class where you will have your own bed in a cabin of four bunks. Learn more about the Indian Railways experience & see photos of the trains at the informative Seat 61 site.
For routes without a railway we will travel in comfortable and safe air-conditioned modern vans.
Between itinerary sites we will travel by world famous Indian rickshaws.
Some of our tours also include domestic flights, camel rides or boat trips – please check your tour itinerary for detail.
Q:Can you help me book my international flights to/from India?
Yes we sure can! Please contact us for details.
Q:What happens if I miss the start of the tour due to late connections?
We always advise to book incoming flights which allow for a comfortable connection time (at least 3 hours between flights). However if something unexpected happens then contact Francisco as soon as you are able to on francisco@latitude22travel.com and we can assist in arranging a contingency plan.

Please note: any extra costs incurred will need to be covered by your insurance policy.

Q:What happens if we have problems with transport during the tour- e.g. trains or flights are cancelled?
If we have travel disruptions as part of the tour then we will make alternative arrangements to get us between locations. There will be no personal cost to you if these events occur, but in some instances we will need to change mode of transport if it makes the most logistical sense.

Accommodation

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Q:What is the accommodation like?
Throughout our tour we will stay in comfortable local family run guest-houses and heritage properties to experience the true and authentic India. We seek to find the perfect balance between character and comfort. You can expect to find tasteful rooms decorated in a traditional style located in convenient settings.
Q:Can I upgrade my accommodation to a higher standard?
We work hard with our guest house partners to ensure that the standard of accommodation we select is comfortable and enjoyable for the vast majority of travellers, so we don’t encourage upgrades based on comfort levels. If you prefer a more luxurious tour then please contact us about arranging a tailor made tour to your exact requirements and standards. Click here to learn more. However if you have a room request based on specific requirements (through religion or disability) please drop us a line and we would be happy to accommodate.

The itinerary

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Q:How much free time will I have?
On most days you will have at least two hours of free time during the daytime to explore or relax at your own leisure. At each place we visit we will provide you with maps and lots of interesting ideas for additional places to explore on your own or with others in the tour group. In addition, all of the guest houses we will be staying at have lovely gardens, rooftops or other communal areas for relaxing with a book or catching up on emails.

Please note: any extra transport or activities not included in the tour inclusions will be at your own expense

Q:I’d like to do something not mentioned in the tour itinerary – what should I do?
The best plan is to schedule any extra activities during your free time slots on most days (See FAQ above) but if that isn’t possible then please mention it to us as early as possible (preferably before the tour commences) so we can find a way to accommodate you. If you have lots of different things you would like to see then why not consider a tailor made tour where we create a unique tour based on your exact requirements. Click here to learn more
Q:I’d like to learn more about photography – is that possible?
Yes! During the tour you can seize the opportunity to enjoy a one on one personalised travel photography session with Francisco, who is a not only your personal guide but a published travel photographer (see www.francisco-desouza.com). These sessions can be run in one of your free time slots, and a small extra fee applies. Contact us for more details.

Money & Costs:

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Q:What costs are covered by the tour price?
You can find a detailed list of tour inclusions in the notes for each tour. But generally speaking the land price of your trip includes:

  • all accommodation as listed in the itinerary
  • all transport listed in the itinerary
  • all sightseeing and entrance tickets to sights
  • all meals as listed in the itinerary
  • the services of your group leader Francisco and any expert guides as described in the itinerary
Q:What costs are not covered by the tour price?
You can find a detailed list of tour exclusions in the notes for each tour. But generally speaking the price of your trip excludes:

  • international or internal flights unless specified
  • airport transfers in your home country, airline taxes and excess baggage charges
  • meals & drinks other than those specified in the itinerary
  • visa and passport fees
  • travel insurance
  • vaccinations and medical care
  • activities not listed in the tour itinerary
  • your own personal shopping
Q:What are the extra costs I should budget for while travelling?
You’re in luck! India is world-renowned as an affordable travel destination with a myriad of interesting things to buy, food to eat and experiences to try.

Although you will have pre-paid for the majority of your costs in India through your tour price, you will still need to budget a small amount on top of this to cover your additional expenses such as food (where not provided), drinks & snacks. Most of our travellers spend approximately an extra Rs1000 (approx £10) on these items per day – but of course your own preferences may be more or less than this. Please contact us if you have any questions about costs in India.

Q:Can I buy Indian Rupees before I arrive in India?
Unfortunately it is not possible to obtain Indian rupees outside India so the best bet is to take your debit card with you and withdraw cash from readily available ATMs.

Some Indian banks based in the UK also offer prepaid Rupee travel cards which can be convenient. You need to arrange these before you leave for India. See here for more detail ICICI Rupee travel card

Tip! It is a good idea to check your bank’s rates for international withdrawals as most charge for these.
See current exchange rates here

Q:Can I use my credit/debit card in India?
Unless you are a serious shopper then you probably won’t have much use for a credit card in India as most shops and markets do not accept credit or debit cards. However if you plan on making some bigger purchases (e.g. antiques, artwork, textiles) then you should bring your credit card, but check with your bank before you leave to find out their charges for international purchases.
Tip! It is highly recommended that you inform your bank and credit card provider of your travel plans so they do not block your cards when they spot transactions different to your normal spending habits. It can be very difficult and time consuming to get them unblocked from abroad.
Q:What sort of things can I buy in India?
Shopping in India is a top tourist activity in its own right. On our tours we offer the opportunity to sample some of the best markets and bazaars in the country. The goods on offer are diverse and the prices are low. For inspiration check out the top 5 things to buy in India
If there is something specific you would like to buy, just ask us!

Health, visas and insurance

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Q:What happens if I get sick while on the tour?
If you take appropriate precautions as outlined in our health guide for example getting the right vaccinations and malaria tablets, and you are careful with what you eat and drink, you are unlikely to get seriously ill. However, sometimes first time travellers to India get minor stomach upsets within the first few days due to a change in diet and climate, but these can usually be quickly managed with medicine which is easily and cheaply available in India. Please note: you must have travel insurance (including health insurance) in order to join the tour.

Tip! Some say that drinking a glass of local lassi (a yoghurt drink) on your first day can prevent any stomach bugs. Let me know if you would like to try one!

Q:Is healthcare accessible?
Prescription medicines & pharmacy items are readily available wherever we will be travelling for a fraction of the price of what it costs in the West.

This also includes personal items like shampoo, soap, toothpaste etc.

Doctors and hospitals are usually free to visit for minor ailments and are generally clean with a fast service. But for anything major you will need to be covered by travel insurance to be seen at a private hospital.

Q:What about vaccinations and malaria tablets?
How you manage your own health while travelling is a personal choice. Some people prefer to take preventative measures before they travel, which is recommended.

See our health guide for full information on options for looking after your health in India.

Q:What sort of visa arrangements do I need to make?
A quick check can be done at the TravelDoc site .

Currently travellers from 11 countries can easily and cheaply obtain a visa on arrival when landing in India. In October 2014 this will expand to cover travellers from most nations. However, if you are travelling before October or wish to stay longer than 30 days in India it is imperative you make arrangements for a visa in plenty of time before you travel. Learn more on our visas guide or contact us for further information.

Q:What sort of insurance do I need to arrange?
To protect you against any unforeseen events on the tour (loss, theft, poor health, travel disruption) it is a prerequisite that you take out comprehensive travel insurance before you travel. There is a wide range of affordable policies on the market.

Trip preparation

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Q:What should I pack?
Good question! Through all our trips around India we’ve refined the packing list to the perfect balance of essentials while keeping the weight to a minimum. See our packing list guide for detailed recommendations.
Q:What sort of luggage should I bring?
We generally recommend that you travel with a light-weight rucksack or backpack rather than a hard suitcase with wheels. Most of our tours venture into uneven terrain at one point or another so wheels quickly become a hindrance. Although we don’t trek long distances with our luggage we typically find that soft rucksacks are easier to carry about and get on and off trains, buses (and camels!) A 60-80litre rucksack with a day pack should suit most traveller’s needs.
Q:I’d like to learn some basic Hindi before the tour – where can I start?
Speaking with locals in their own language is a fun and engaging way to travel through India. Although Hindi looks rather difficult it is actually quite easy for you to pick up some basic phrases to use throughout your day. You will find using a few small words can guarantee smiles in return. This small guide is a good place to start. Let us know if you would like recommendations for further study.

People on the tour:

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Q:Who is my guide?
Francisco is your dedicated guide on all of our tours. Learn more about Francisco on his bio page.
Sometimes along the way Francisco will also engage the services of expert Indian guides who can provide a real depth of information about some of the more complex & intriguing places you will visit.
Q: Who will I be travelling with?
Our small group tours are a cozy minimum of 3 and maximum of 6 people (if you would like a tour for a larger group please ask!) and are designed so you feel like you are travelling with a small group of friends rather than a vast mob of strangers. Our travellers come from all over the world and are typically like-minded people who enjoy similar travel experiences. We are proud to say that most often our travellers stay in touch long after their tours have finished.
If you would like to travel with a group of your own friends or family at any time throughout the year we also offer private tours.
Please note: for comfort reasons we don’t allow children under 14 on our small group tours. However, please get in touch if you would like to discuss exceptions to this.
Watch out for our family tours of India coming soon!

Getting in touch:

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Q: What about communications while travelling? Will I have access to the internet while on tour?
Yes! Internet cafes are readily available in most of the places we will visit; however, if you have wifi-enabled devices like a phone or tablet do bring those as most of the guest houses we will be staying in have free or very cheap wifi. If you plan on using the internet through your phone please check with your provider for 3G roaming rates before you travel.
We don’t generally recommend bringing large laptops as they can be bulky and heavy to carry.
Please note: Please take care to use your electronic devices discreetly in public places or on transport & make sure they are locked up when not in use and also insured as part of your travel insurance policy.
Q: Should I bring my mobile phone?
Roaming charges using your home country SIM can be expensive – please check with your carrier before leaving for India.
The cheapest way to stay in touch with home is to use a phone booth (around 10p a minute to call the UK) or Skype from an internet cafe or a guest house.
Another option is to buy a cheap Indian SIM card for your journey, all you need is a passport photo, some ID and around £2. We can help you obtain these when we arrive in India.
Please note: Please take care to use your electronic devices discretely in public places or on transport & make sure they are locked up when not in use and also insured as part of your travel insurance policy.
Q:I have a question – how can I get in touch with you?

Children & families:

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Q:Are the tours suitable for families with children?
Our small group tours through India are geared more towards adult travellers – the days can be long and action-packed, with some long journeys by train. We typically suggest children need to be 14 years old or above to join these tours. However please get in touch if you would like to discuss exceptions to this.

Watch out for our family tours of India coming soon!

Our Goa day tours are typically suitable for children of most ages – please contact us to talk about suitability if you are in doubt.

Customising a tour:

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Q:Can I do a tour with a private group/couple?
Yes! If you would like to travel with a group of your own friends or family we also offer private tours
Q:Can I upgrade my accommodation to a higher standard?
We work hard with our guest house partners to ensure that the standard of accommodation we select is comfortable and enjoyable for the vast majority of travellers, so we don’t encourage upgrades based on comfort levels. If you prefer a more luxurious tour then please contact us about arranging a tailor made tour to your exact requirements and standards. Click here to learn more.

However if you have a room request based on specific requirements (through religion or disability) please drop us a line and we would be happy to accommodate.

Q:I’d like to see different things in India – can you help me arrange a tour based on my specific requirements?
Most definitely. If you have a lot of different things you would like to see in India then why not consider a tailor made tour where we create a unique tour based on your exact requirements, with or without a guide. Click here to learn more.
Q:Do I have to travel with a guide?
No – if you just need help with making all the tour arrangements then we are more than happy to create a package for you. Click here to learn more.
Q:Can I extend the tour?
Yes, most definitely, a lot of people do decide to see more of India; its an incredibly vast and diverse country. We are happy to arrange additional activities, transport and hotel reservations for you if you wish to stay on in India for longer. Please ask for details. For people joining us on the North India Adventure please note that this tour seamlessly connects with the South Indian Odyssey tour with a discount for joining both tours – please ask for details!
Q:If I don’t want to stick to all the activities on the itinerary – is this ok?
We try to keep our groups together as much as possible, so we encourage everyone to participate in all the planned itinerary activities. However if you decide to opt out from a particular activity please inform Francisco in advance.

Please note: refunds will not be provided for any activity not undertaken.

Q:Can I choose my own tour dates?
If the planned departure dates do not coincide with your availability – or perhaps you would like to experience India for a special occasion – then why not consider a tailor made tour where we create a unique tour based on your exact dates and requirements, with or without a guide. Click here to learn more.

Food & drink:

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Q:What about meals? Are they provided?
To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other’s company. There’s no obligation to do this though.

Our small group tours are run on a half-board basis – breakfast is included each day and a few interesting lunches and dinners will be provided throughout the trip. Meals, snacks and drinks not listed on the itinerary are to be arranged and purchased at your own expense.

Q:I have specific dietary requirements – what should I do?
Please contact us if you have specific dietary requirements. Most preferences can be catered for in India. Vegetarian food is prevalent and absolutely delicious!
Q:Can I get beer and wine in India?
Yes, if you would like to sample some of the local beverages we can point you in the direction of small liquor stores. Some of the larger restaurants we eat in will also serve liquor. At an off-licence a 650ml Kingfisher beer will cost you about 70p and a 1125ml bottle of spirits starts from around £2.50. The price will be around double this at restaurants. Indian wine is available but expensive and not to most people’s tastes.

Please keep in mind that for some of the more devout Hindus and Muslims that consumption of alcohol is frowned upon so please use your discretion if drinking beer or wine. Please note: the purchase of alcoholic beverages is at your own expense.

Safety:

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Q:How safe is India?
Like all countries, India is not immune to instances of crime against tourists. In our experiences, if you travel smartly you can avoid becoming a victim of crime. Tactics include carrying out common sense preventative measures such as:
– keep all valuables out of sight and securely locked when not in use
– don’t flash cash or expensive equipment in public places
– don’t visit unknown areas on your own or in the dark
– don’t eat or drink anything offered to you by a stranger

Because you will be travelling in a group with Francisco as your guide, it is very unlikely that you will find yourself in an unsafe scenario; however, to safeguard against personal loss it is imperative you take out travel insurance.

We encourage you to take measures to ensure your safety if exploring on your own; always let Francisco know where you are headed, carry a map and a copy of Francisco’s contact details should you need assistance.

You can review Government travel advisory statements on their travel advice website

 Booking a tour:

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Q:How do I book a tour?
Easy! Just get in touch with us and we will start the adventure rolling.
Q:When should I book my tour?
Ideally you should aim to book your place on the tour as early as possible because the earlier you book, the more money you can save. Most of our small group tours offer early bird discounts if you book and pay a deposit 6 months before departure. You will also save money by securing lower cost advance-purchase international flights. And of course you should book early to confirm your place on the tour and avoid disappointment.
Q:Do I need to pay a deposit?
Yes, our small group, private and bespoke tours all require a deposit to secure your place on the tour and so we can start booking your travel arrangements in India.

Please note: This deposit is non-refundable. Specific deposit amounts are shown on your tour overview.

Q:Can I travel as a solo traveller?
Yes of course! As a solo traveller you have two options for customizing your tour. You can add on a small payment for a single supplement which means you will enjoy your own private double room throughout the tour. Alternatively if you would like to keep costs low we can investigate options for you to twin-share with another solo traveler on the tour (sharing a room with two single beds). Please contact us to discuss these options.

Testimonials :

Amazing experience, showing the vibrant Indian everyday life. Real life. With the respect and love to the local people. The best experience you can have in Goa!
Kate, Poland, 2015
You guys rock! You continue to be the biggest reminder of the true India: your empathy with the poor is unbelievable & a lesson to us all & the reason we have the amazing memories.
Mike and Carolyn, United Kingdom, 2013
As a keen photographer I was able to get amazing shots of the people of India. Thank you Francisco for showing me the respectful way to photograph people.
Raymond, New Zealand, 2014
Thank you for the most amazing experience of my life. Your planning, attention to detail and tour guide skills are exceptional. I look forward to my next adventure!
Andy, United Kingdom, 2013
Excellent photography training and sightseeing tour. Francisco was superb. Strongly recommend the trip.
Rolise, India, 2015
I had a fabulously interesting tour. Francisco has a real strength in how he is able to engage the locals and show visitors the real India.
Steve, London, 2015
Thank you guys for giving me a memorable experience that I will never forget. See you again in 2016.
Sara, Australia, 2014
It’s a fun and fulfilling experience and definitely worth it. I loved it and I ended up going for 3 tours.
Monique, Holland, 2015
I am in my 60’s and have had several trips with Latitude22 since 2009. I cannot praise them enough for the experiences I have had in India.
Christine, New Zealand, 2012
You took us to places we would have never been to! Being welcomed into families’ homes and drinking chai with the locals is something I will remember for a long time.
Sam, New Zealand, 2011
You showed us a side of India that tourists do not usually see: we met local families, ate local food, visited a remote village & school, walked old areas of the cities where tourists don’t go
Lilian, New Zealand, 2011
Awesome experience! As a single female traveller, I felt safe with Francisco and he even knew some of the stall holders so it was neat to be able to chat with them. I would recommend to ...
Emma, New Zealand, 2016
We loved this tour so much we also got Francisco to take us out for a whole day to explore some other amazing places in Goa, which we wouldn’t have found ourselves.
Rakesh, London, 2015
Worth every second! Highlights were interacting with the locals and being up close and personal with the vendors at the market. Francisco was great!
Allanah, New Zealand, 2015
Francisco gave generously of his time to make sure I had a wonderful Indian experience. Thank you.
Ruth, New Zealand, 2015
What an amazing tour! It was great to get off the beaten track and experience the real India.
Emma, New Zealand, 2013
Simply superb. Francisco points out so many colours, characters and smells that you would likely otherwise miss and ensures you get to see everything! This tour was a life highlight.
Evan, New Zealand, 2015
I think that Francisco can safely say “mission accomplished” as the spirit of India is now in all of us. We all learned a lot.
Kevin, France, 2013
I have toured South India in 2012 and North India in 2014. Both trips were awesome and I was able to experience a part of India not usually experienced by tourists.
Paul, New Zealand, 2014