In the past, whenever someone talks about doing a group tour, the image that would pop into my mind is a big herd of tourists, following along mindlessly after a guide holding a megaphone and waving a flag. But after doing a group tour in India recently, my impression of group travel has been turned completely upside down. I had an absolute blast journeying for 12 days through the west coast of India with G Adventures, my newest favorite tour company. In this post, I will review our trip and share what I enjoyed about it.
My experience with G Adventures was partially sponsored. All opinions expressed are my own. This article may contain affiliate links, which means, at no extra cost to you, I may earn a commission if you make a purchase. Thanks for supporting!
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Why I chose to do a group tour in India
I usually prefer to travel independently over doing group tours. To me, I like the freedom of exploring places at my own pace. Psssh ya I’m an adventurer. I’m smart, I’m strong, I got this! However, when it came to planning for India, I decided to join a group. The main reason I admit was anxiety. I had plenty of people warn me about safety concerns in India. Several people said it would be difficult to travel alone, especially as a female. After considering my options, from just winging it solo, to dragging a friend to come with me, to meeting up with other travelers, I came to the conclusion that booking a tour would be the simplest and most reliable way to stay safe. With that in mind, I began my search for the best group tour company.
Why I chose G Adventures
I did tons of research on India group tours. I even went to scout for information at the New York Times Travel Trade Show. India has been a bucket list dream destination of mine so I was going to make damn sure that whichever guide I went with is the best one there is. Ultimately, G Adventures stood out. I had previously heard many good things about this company that runs small group tours all over the world. Several of my favorite travel bloggers swear by G Adventures, including Rachel from Hippie in Heels, who blogs extensively about India. G tours are reputed to be well organized, loads of fun, and very authentic. After communicating with the G Adventures online support team members who were very friendly, I had a positive feeling that I was making the right choice. *spoiler, my instincts are good. 😛
G Adventures India Tour
From trips as short as 3 days to as long as 54 days, from north India to south India, G Adventures has almost 40 tour options for the ‘Land of spices’! With the different routes, you can choose from different type of travel such as:
18-to-Thirtysomethings: Fast paced and affordable trips designed for younger travellers.
National Geographic Journeys: Tours that dig deep into the local culture and habitat, offering more hands on explorations.
Wellness: Health journeys that combines beautiful destinations with rejuvenating activities and nourishing food to help recharge the body.
There are also many other filters you can play with on the website to help find the most suitable itinerary like “Physical Rating”, “Transportation mode”, “Service Level”, etc.
I did the West Coast India & Rajasthan by Rail tour. It was a 12 days tour that started in Delhi and ended in Goa. I was so glad to have found this itinerary because it included all the major things I wanted to do (the Golden Triangle and the beaches), within the limited amount of time I had in India. Here is a quick overview of our itinerary:
Day 1: Arrival and welcome meeting in Delhi.
Day 2: Express Train from Delhi to Agra. Visit to the Agra Fort and THE TAJ MAHAL!
Day 3: Express Train from Agra to Jaipur. Orientation walk in Jaipur.
Day 4: Explore Jaipur. Visit to Haha Mahal (Palace of the Winds) and Amber Fort. Optional stop at City Palace.
Day 5: Train from Jaipur to Udaipur. Observing at the workshop of local artisans. Ride on a sunset cruise and watch a Rajasthani cultural show in the evening.
Day 6: A day in Udaipur. It was Holi while we were in Udaipur on this day and we got to celebrate hard!
Day 7: Train from Udaipur to Bundi.
Day 8: Explore the Bundi Fort and Bundi step wells. Overnight train from Bundi to Mumbai
Day 9: Arrive in Mumbai. Visit landmarks in Mumbai such as Gateway of India and Gandhi Museum.
Day 10: Morning flight from Mumbai to Goa. Relax at the beach in Goa.
Day 11: Free day in Goa…Which means more relaxing at the beach.
Day 12: End of the tour.
Over the 12 days, we covered a lot of ground and epic memories were made. I will share a separate article of our tour with details on things we did and lots of photos soon. Look out for that! After my experience, I am now a big fan of G Adventures. In fact, I am itching to do more India tours with G. Currently eyeing these trips: Kerala Beaches & Back Water, North East India & Darjeeling by Rail and Kerala Beaches & Back Water.
Why am I in love with G Adventures? Keep reading for all the reasons below.
What I liked about the G Adventures India tour
Small group size
G Adventures is not like the 40 people Chinese coach bus tours I used to take with my family when I was a kid. The group size is kept small. On average, there are 10 travelers on a trip, depending on the destination. On our West Coast India & Rajasthan by Rail tour, there were 6 of us plus our guide. Our group became good friends as we got to know each other really well. We had such a fun and diverse squad made of people from all different backgrounds. I mean, we had a travel blogger, a midwife, a psychotherapist, a theatre personality, a financial analyst and a professional magician! Dinner talks were filled with interesting stories, sassy jokes, and bizarre magic tricks. I’m grateful to have had this tight-knit group in India. Paula, Rachel, Clive, Scott and Ron, if you are reading this, I miss you guys! 😉
G Adventures call their guides “CEO”s: Chief Experience Officers, and they really deserve that title for the hard work they do. Our CEO, JD, was a local from Udaipur. He went above and beyond to take care of us during our 12 days tour. We were always amazed at his consciousness and resourcefulness. With any problem or questions we throw at him, JD was able to come up with a solution. I will raise my guilty hand now because I caused my fair share of trouble. Exhibit A: Realized that I forgot my camera charger in the hotel room after we checked out and went to the airport. JD arranged a driver to deliver the charger to me. Exhibit B: Broke my shoe strap in Udaipur. JD found a guy to repair it for me. Honestly, JD was so nice to help even with things that were not really a part of his responsibilities. And I think that is the kind of guides G Adventures hire: genuinely kind people.
Well planned itineraries
I was really impressed with how well our itinerary was laid out. The amount of time we spent at each destination felt just right. Also, we would visit attractions at the best time of the day. One of the things I was initially concerned about was the time we were going to the Taj Mahal. Had I done the trip independently, I would have gone to the Taj really early in the morning (My age-old trick for getting those shots with little to no people in them). But our tour itinerary had Taj Mahal as the last thing on the list for the day. As expected, when we showed up, it was crowded. However, before I knew it, people started leaving because the Taj was going to close soon. We got to enjoy the Taj Mahal at its most beautiful during the golden sunset hour, and I got to shoot some bomb pictures. Why did I doubt G Adventures in the first place? Yep, these guys know what they are doing. 😉
Accommodations on G Adventures tours are different based on service levels. The 18-to-Thirtysomethings tours have “Basic” accommodations while the National Geographic Journeys have “Upgraded” hotels. We were on a classic mid-range budget tour so our accommodation was considered “Standard”. Overall, I was very happy with our hotels. They were clean and comfortable. We even got to stay in some cool places that I would consider beyond standard. My favorite was the Bissau Palace Hotel in Jaipur (you can see it from my Instagram post above). It was a stunning heritage building filled with arts and literary works. The interior decors were so extravagant and total #goals. I was lucky to get a big room to myself. My princess Jasmine dream come true. 😉
Hassle Free Transportation
While we sometimes employed taxis and rickshaws, we traveled in India mostly by rail. Before departure for my trip, I was nervous about train journeys in India because I had a big suitcase and was generally not familiar with how the conditions on the trains are. To my surprise, the Indian trains were pretty nice! Our guide JD would arrange porters for me and others in our group who had big pieces of luggage so getting through the stations was smooth and easy. The trains had roomy overhead compartments and comfortable seats. I enjoyed traveling by train very much because we got to see a lot of picturesque landscapes and beautiful villages along the way. G Adventures do have other India tours that use private vehicles, but I find rail travel to be more authentic and fun. I’m glad I didn’t have to figure out train travel on my own as it is apparently quite complicated to buy train tickets as foreigners.
Informed Food Options
Who likes being sick on the road? Nobody. I had a goal of getting through India without catching the infamous “Delhi belly” (I was popping multivitamins every day). With G Adventures, I didn’t have to worry about where and what to eat. All the restaurants we were taken to had been vetted for cleanliness. Thanks to G’s guidance, I am proud to brag that I didn’t get sick even once during our trip. I also appreciated having someone local to recommend food to try as the typical Indian restaurant menus are huge (I am very decision-making challenged when it comes to ordering). Indian cuisines are so dynamic and sensational. I am happy that I got to experience them fully and safely.
Ample free time
I appreciated the fact that we had a good balance of planned activities and free time on our trip. Our guide JD would provide us with suggestions on things to do, but we were welcome to wander or just take a nap in our hotel. This freedom was especially nice in Goa, where all I did was lay on the beach all day. With G Adventures, I never felt like we were rushed. The schedule was organized yet chill, something I can’t say about many of the group tours I took in the past.
Supporting worthy causes
Even before responsible tourism became a trending topic, G Adventures was already doing it. The company stands behind social environmental initiatives that help the earth and its people. Planeterra is a foundation associated with G Adventures that empowers women, at-risk youth, and rural and indigenous communities around the world. I felt good to know that part of the price for G Adventures tours goes towards supporting these wonderful causes. As well, G Adventures really help keep the tourism dollars local by utilizing small mom and pop businesses, instead of big international chains. During our time in India, we often hired Women on Wheels, a program that trains female drivers so that these women from resource-poor communities can earn a dignified livelihood. You can read more about G Adventures’ effort in responsible tourism here.
Things to know about G Adventures Tours
If you are considering joining a G Adventures Tour in India, here are some helpful tips to know:
Check the travel deals section on the website. G Adventures often has awesome discounts, so make sure to check which India tours are on sale.
Rooms are double occupancy. Normally, if you are joining the tour solo, you will get assigned a roommate. However, if you are not comfortable with that, you can pay a little extra for a single room. On our trip, we had 3 girls. Since it was an uneven number, we took turns getting a single room, which was like a free upgrade. Score!
Must purchase insurance. Like many tour companies, purchasing travel insurance is mandatory for joining a G Adventures tour. This is to ensure that you are protected in case of accidents and illnesses on the road. I highly recommend World Nomad, my go-to travel insurance company. Get a quote here.
Budget for food, souvenirs, and tips. Depending on the service level of your G tour (Basic, Standard, or Upgraded), it may or may not include food. Read the inclusions section of your trip details carefully. Also, think about how much money you want to spend on shopping and souvenirs. And don’t forget about tips (for service personnel as well as your guide).
Is a group tour in India for you?
In summary, whether or not you will enjoy doing a group tour in India depends on a couple of factors.
A group tour in India is for you if:
- You want to have peace of mind in feeling safe and protected
- You enjoy (or at least don’t mind) traveling with other people
- You appreciate a pre-arranged itinerary and a hassle-free experience
A group tour in India is not for you if:
- You don’t want to travel with people you don’t already know
- You like to have total control over your itinerary
- You are on a very tight budget
Do you like to travel independently or in a group? Let me know in the comments below.
Going to India soon? Plan your trip in 4 easy steps
- Book A Flight: Find the cheapest flights on Skyscanner, my go-to search engine.
- Find A Hotel: Score affordable accommodation on Booking.com. Receive $16 off your first booking with my link here.
- Buy insurance: You never know what may happen on the road. Protect your trip & gear with World Nomad, the best travel insurance company ever. Get a quote here.
- Read up on the best advice: Lonely Planet: India Travel Guide
For more India travel inspiration, make sure to check out my India Instagram Story Highlights.
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