quote:Originally posted by artntravelgirl:
I would like to recommend hiring a driver to see India. The first time I went to India, I went with a tour group in a bus, which was overall a decent experience of India, but the second time I went to India, a travel-savvy friend gave me the name of a driver who I hired and I am now convinced that this is the best way to travel in India. I travelled with a friend, and the the two of us spent almost a month touring North India in a private car with a driver for a very reasonable price and we had a fantastic time. I would not travel any other way now, and plan to do this again in the future. You can hire a driver through a tourism company (not the best way), through a hotel (this is better), or you can find one by word-of-mouth (this is best, but get a few references!) Finding a driver who works independently and is not affiliated with a tour company or hotel is a little more difficult. If you ask enough people, eventually you will find someone who has the name of a driver they used in India. It is much more cost efficient to hire an independent driver because you are dealing directly with the driver and there is no middleman taking a cut. Just be sure you can get references from the driver for people who have hired him in the past.
10+ Reasons to Hire a Driver:
1) you get the experience of traveling with a local person who knows the culture, history, best places to eat
2) you won't endure the wait or hassle involved with buses or trains
3) you can travel by yourself or with a friend or group of your choosing, rather than with a group of strangers
4) you come and go on your own schedule
5) the car is always there when you want it
6) if you make purchases along the way, you can just leave them in the trunk, or store some of your belongings in the car instead of carrying them with you all the time
7) you can design your own itinerary, change your plans along the way, go to off-the-beaten-track places more easily
8) driving in India is dangerous and scary - hiring a local person to drive you is much safer than renting a car
9) in a car, you "blend in" to the local traffic more than if you are on a huge tour bus - and it is much easier to navigate around the streets and you get there faster
10) it is a very stress-free way to travel, but still feel independent about making your own decisions
11) it is very inexpensive - most drivers can arrange a day rate which includes all the gas, tolls, driver fee AND cost of the hotel if you want. It is usually about $40/day/per person if you choose this option. You can't beat that.
If my friend had not recommended hiring a driver, I don't think I would have known about this option. Hopefully this will help someone in their trip planning.
I would say for the third trip you should get down with the culture and see what it is like to travel with the masses. I know it isn't as comfortable as the car, but sometimes traveling by trains and government buses can have a significant impact on the way you view the world. It is not easy to travel this way if you are use to Western accommodation, but once you get settled into the groove than you begin to understand the real culture and community that is India. I've traveled just about every way possible in India, and although it is always very relaxing and easy to travel by car or tourist bus, the real experience is in the public and governmental transportation facilities. In psychology they have a term "flooding" which means that you but someone with a phobia right in the middle of their fear until it is extinguished. You can do the same by traveling by train for a few days in India; once you've been flooded with new information and experiences you can really see the heart of Indian culture with less reservations.
best of luck!