As of last month, there have been terminal changes at the Delhi airport for domestic flights. Please refer to the table below:
|Airline Name||Departure Terminal||Arrival Terminal|
|Air India, Air India Express, Jet Airways, Jet Konnect, Jetlite, Kingfisher Airlines, Kingfisher Red||Terminal 3||Terminal 3|
|IndiGo Airlines, SpiceJet, Go Air||Terminal 1D||Terminal 1C|
All Air India flights have been operating from Terminal 3 since November 10, 2010, while Jet Airways and Kingfisher flights moved to Terminal 3 from November 14, 2010. All international flights to/ from Delhi have been operating from Terminal 3 since the last week of July 2010.
Terminal 1C and 1D are next to each other, within walking distance. Terminal 3 is about 9 kilometres away from Terminal 1. DIAL provides a complimentary shuttle bus service for passengers every 20 minutes between Terminal 1 and 3.
Please remember that the airlines recommend you reach the airport at least two hours prior to departure. Expect some traffic jams on the roads leading to Terminal 3 as the city adjusts to additional traffic. If you have a scheduled airport transfer, your representative will keep you updated of flight schedules. Otherwise, please check with the airline before you leave for the airport, as some flights are likely to be delayed. Also, if you are arriving at Terminal 1 and have to catch an onward flight from Terminal 3 (or vice versa), please collect any checked-in baggage and proceed to the catch the shuttle bus.
During this time of year, fog is common in North India and departures/arrivals in Delhi are frequently delayed or cancelled. Please visit the Delhi Airport website for updated information.
Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Colleen Lanin, the creator/editor of Travel Mamas. Travel Mamas is an online community where families who love to explore the world can share tips and experiences about traveling with children. As a mom and world traveler, Colleen shares her personal and professional advice with Sodha Travel:
What was your inspiration for Travel Mamas?
I wanted to create the site that I had wished existed when I became a mom over five years ago. It has printable packing lists, easy-to-find travel tips, and stories about where and how to vacation with children of all ages, from babies to teens. Plus there is a section all about grown-up getaways, because mamas need a break sometimes too!
What is one of your favorite international family-friendly destinations?
I studied in France for a year during college and I love all things French – the food, the language, the architecture, the culture! Italy is also wonderful- it is a country in love with children. The waiters come by your table to coo at your little ones and everyone goes above and beyond to make families feel welcome.
As a Mom of two, what do you always pack to keep young minds entertained?
Some of my favorites include coloring and activity books, triangular (no-roll) crayons, and markers with flip-top lids, wind-up toys, and sticker sheets. I love small toy packs and travel games that come with their own containers. A blow-up beach ball takes up almost no space and is a great diversion during road trip stops or other outdoor excursions. A small bucket and shovel works at the beach, park, and as a bath toy when traveling. A mini bottle of bubbles is a great way to keep kids busy while waiting in line at an amusement park too.
Tell us more about The Travel Mamas’ Guide.
After I had my first child, I searched bookstores and the Internet for information on how to travel with babies and tots. At the time, there was very little information available. So, I started taking notes on what worked and what didn’t from my own travels and asking my friends and pretty much anyone I met for tips on traveling with little ones.
I had been taking writing classes for years so I started typing up what I had learned. I soon realized I had written about three chapters of a book. Eventually I wrote a book proposal for “The Travel Mamas Guide: How to Vacation with Babies, Toddlers & Preschoolers…and Stay Sane!” I signed on with a book agent, who told me to get busy building my platform as an expert on traveling with kids by creating a blog and getting some magazine articles published, and that’s what led to the creation of TravelMamas.com.
My agent sent my proposal out to mid-sized and large publishers a couple of months ago and we got a lot of “positive” no’s. They said they love my voice and think the book fills a need in the market place but, ironically, they feel there might be too much information already online! I plan to approach smaller publishers next. In the meantime, TravelMamas.com continues to grow.
What other tips and suggestions can you offer for family travel?
Wow! Where do I begin?! Here are a few of my favorite travel tips…
Always pack lots of healthy snacks in different containers and dole them out one by one. Busy mouths are too busy to ask, “Are we there yet?” Be sure to bring a few forbidden snacks as a reward for good behavior on the go.
Keep a separate stash of toys and books for travel. A hidden toy is a forgotten toy and kids will be excited to see old favorites on subsequent trips.
Remember a vacation is supposed to be relaxing and fun for everyone in the family. Take a trip to the art museum in the morning and then stop by a playground to allow the kids to get wiggles out and make friends with locals in the afternoon. Be sure to schedule downtime too. Kids (and grown-ups) don’t have fun when tired and over-stimulated!
Colleen Lanin is a freelance writer and the creator/editor of TravelMamas.com, a site for parents who want to travel with children…and stay sane! Her articles have appeared in such publications as Babytalk Magazine, San Diego Family Magazine, and New Parent online magazine. She teaches workshops on how to travel with children as well as introductory blogging classes. She has lived in France, Arizona, and Minnesota and currently resides in Southern California with her husband and two children.
Last month, Chris Russo spoke about the value of niche travel at the World Travel Market in London. Chris is the President and Chair of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA). In his speech, he noted that many travelers can go online to book a weekend trip, but for more complex itineraries or destinations, people continue to rely on travel professionals – and the market is growing.
Specialization requires an in-depth knowledge of a destination that can come from education, personal experiences, or both. As countless testimonials, phone calls and emails can attest, the Indian subcontinent is an area where specialization is not only appreciated but fundamental. When I started Sodha Travel, it was (and remains) my mission to go beyond selling a tour package or customized itinerary. It is about familiarizing the traveler with the destination, setting realistic expectations, and most importantly, being an advocate.
Last week, I received an email from Jilliana Willis. Jilliana had recently returned from our 15-day Walking Trails of Himachal tour. Here is a portion of the email, re-posted with her permission:
As excited as I was to visit India, I had my concerns. Before the trip I wanted to learn as much as possible so I felt prepared. I selected Sodha Travel because your agency appeared to have a real understanding of and appreciation for India. I was not disappointed. You gave me comprehensive information during the planning process and in the weeks before my trip. You had a simple way of communicating the facts and expectations. I also had your Destination Guide with me the entire time and it was so resourceful! You really are India specialists and I thank you for your insight and professionalism. What a delight!
Thank you, Jilliana. We always appreciate the feedback! Send your testimonials to email@example.com.
As many of you know, we feature a photo contest in our newsletter each month. In December, instead of having you identify one of our photos, we would like to see your photos! Please send us your favorite snapshot from India, Nepal, Sri Lanka or Bhutan. Our team will vote on their favorite, and the winner will receive a Visa gift card! Many of you have already sent your photos, and we appreciate your participation! It will be very difficult for our team to decide…
Please send your picture, description, and contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember, entries must be received by December 15th!
In the spirit of the holidays, we are highlighting December’s featured tour just a few days early…
Singer/songwriter Corrine Champigny has been practicing and studying Hatha Yoga for over twelve years. Her love of Indian culture and philosophy has led to studying and sharing the teachings of yoga, Sanskrit, chanting and meditation. In 1998, Corrine became the founding owner of House of Bliss, a yoga/meditation studio in Nashville. She was also involved in the development of the Chopra Center Yoga Certification program and directed the program for one year. Corrine’s husband, Satya, is a native of South India and a social activist who has instigated many community projects in Tiruvannamalai. He is also a certified Vedic Astrologer and renowned chef who happily prepares meals and shares recipes with the tour participants!
Here is a note from Corrine:
Many travelers are aware that the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is considered the busiest travel day of the year. However, this year there is the strong possibility of an even longer delay at airports. Several groups have announced plans to encourage travelers on Nov. 24 to opt-out of the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) full body scanner machines and opt-in for TSA’s enhanced pat-downs. As a result, security check-point delays may occur at some airports.
The following information has been prepared by Sodha Travel and the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) to help ease your passage through airport security:
TSA has recently expedited the deployment of new Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) machines, also known as body scanners, to help detect concealed metallic and non-metallic threats on passengers. In addition, TSA has recently enhanced its pat-down procedures for passengers that require secondary screening. In response, some consumer groups and bloggers have voiced privacy and health concerns. Yet Janet Napolitano, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), has assured the public in an op-ed article in USA Today that these “machines are safe, efficient, and protect passenger privacy.” She has further noted that these machines “have been independently evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, who have all affirmed their safety.”
Airport Security Holiday Travel Tips
- Prepare your 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag of liquids before arriving at the airport
- Monitor local broadcasts for announcements of security checkpoint delays at local airports
- Pack all your coats and jackets in your checked baggage when possible
- Do not wrap gifts
- Check-in online
- Check your flight status online
- Review TSA’s Security Procedures for “Getting through the Line Faster“
- Wear easy to remove and replace shoes
- Plan to arrive to the airport earlier than normal
- Approach the initial security check-point with your drivers’ license/passport and paper boarding pass or electronic boarding pass in hand.
- While waiting for the next available security screener / metal detector, remove and place in bins:
- all metal (i.e. belt buckle, coins, eye glasses, etc.)
- plastic, zip-top bag of liquids
- items from your pockets, including mobile phone
- laptops from bag and place in separate bin
- Do not engage in trash talk about security or do anything else to call attention to yourself – this will only make it worse.
- Remember, if you are selected for an enhanced pat-down, you have the right to request it be done in private
Travel safely, enjoy the feast with family and friends, and Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Sodha Travel!
Viewing wildlife in its natural habitat is truly exhilarating. Imagine a sunrise safari in an open-air Jeep, searching the terrain for a glimpse of the rare Bengal Tiger. Or, why not explore the dense forests while riding on the back of an elephant?
In our Jungle Book tour, enjoy a spectacular adventure through India’s National Parks: Jungle cats in Ranthambore, Sambar in Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, Bengal Tigers in Bandhavgarh, and Leopard in Kanha. Kanha National Park is also the popular landscape depicted in Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book. By car, jeep or elephant, discover the diversity of India’s Northern wildlife. Be sure to bring your camera!
Reserve this tour in the month of November and receive $300 off per couple! Please contact us for additional details.
I recently came across an interesting article in Little India by Lovejeet Alexander that explores how a small village in India has the highest number of twins compared to anywhere in the world. The village, Mohammadpur Umri, is located near Allahabad at the confluence of the sacred Ganges and Yamuna Rivers. Of the 300 households, there are 54 pairs of twins. As Alexander writes, “… in India there is a 1 chance in 80 for a mother to deliver twins and 1 in 300 for delivering identical twins. In Umri, however, one of ten deliveries result in identical twins… The village boasts a twin monozygotic (MZ) or identical twin birth rate that is 300 times the national average and perhaps the highest in the world.”
Scientists, doctors, and the villagers have differing opinions about why there are an unusually high number of twins in a concentrated area. The phenomenon started about 40 years ago at around the same time that an Air Force Base was set near the village. Some believe the station’s experimentation machinery causes the twinning. Others believe there is something in the soil and water, or that it is “God’s Gift.” Perhaps even more fascinating is that Umri also has twin cows and buffaloes, as well as hens that lay eggs with double yolks.
For more on the Umri community, check out the article in its entirety at Little India.
Sodha Travel wishes all of you a Happy Diwali! Diwali is a national holiday in India and a significant festival in Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism. Although it is commonly referred to as the Festival of Lights, its spiritual interpretation is the “awareness of the inner light.” Happy Diwali and a prosperous New Year to all!
In May, Sodha Travel started planning a customized tour for Jack Haggin and his wife, Ella. Like many worldwide travelers, Jack first referred to the internet and guide books when planning a 3-week trip from Delhi – Rajasthan. However, he started to become overwhelmed at the options and contacted us for assistance. Jack had already booked certain accommodations and day tours online, and we stepped in to coordinate the additional services.
During our conversations, I learned of where Jack and Ella had independently reserved their hotel accommodations in Delhi and Agra. I expressed my concerns, as these properties were very poorly ranked in my files in regards to security and sanitation. Also, the hotel in Delhi was not centrally located, which was important to Ella. However, the guest house came highly ranked in a popular guide book, and he decided to keep the reservations. I was also concerned about the local transport company he had confirmed through the hotel, but he felt if there were any serious issues, the hotel would reimburse his money.
Jack and Ella returned from India in mid-October, and last week I received the following email from Jack. It is reposted with his permission:
Wow, where to start. India was a spectacular country. The colors, the people, the food, the history, and the architecture were mind blowing. It was unfortunate that I missed so many of the positive elements of India the first week of our trip, due to the incompetence of our vendors that I had reserved online. Our hotels in Delhi and Agra were not clean, as you had professionally indicated in an early phone call. We even had bugs in our room in Agra. Lots of bugs. The day tours had “guides” that I seriously question were even guides?? Their clothes were not clean, they asked for money for meals and made us wait in line at the sites. Then there were the vehicles. Our car had no A/C, torn upholstery, and a funky smell. And then our car broke down en-route from Delhi – Agra. We had to wait over four hours until a replacement vehicle was sent, trying to communicate with a driver who spoke no English. To top it off, the hotel would not refund our money for these services. The hotel manager said it was their policy and written in the contract, though we never signed a contract!
Then, as you know, our services started with Sodha Travel. The representative arrived at our hotel to transfer us to the railway station in Agra for our train to Jaipur. He was on time, well dressed, and communicated clearly. The vehicle was clean and the driver was polite. And the good things kept on coming – our hotels and havelis in Rajasthan were just beautiful. The cars were well maintained and the tour guides were knowledgeable on everything regarding the destination. Each representative and guide was on time and it all flowed so easily. It allowed Ella and me to relax and enjoy our surroundings, which is what we are ultimately supposed to do on vacation! They also gave us restaurant recommendations and helped us barter in the markets.
Please keep my email and feel free to share it with other travelers who are considering booking services independently in India. My wife and I have traveled all over the world, including Chile, Bolivia, Morocco, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia, and many countries in Europe and Latin America. As wonderful as India is, I would not consider it easy to navigate without professional advice and assistance. This is also not to say that my experience should be used as an example for all travelers, as I am certain many people have had good experiences in India when not using a specialized travel agency. But I really, really encourage people to think about what experiences they could be missing out on by trusting the internet and guide books for their information. Don’t risk it. If I could do it again, I wouldn’t think twice about calling Sodha Travel to plan every detail of my trip. Your team was very professional and reliable and such a relief to Ella and myself, in more ways than words can say.
One of the most common questions we receive is regarding vaccinations and/or medications to the Indian Subcontinent. Immunizations are not required to visit India. (Exception: If you are traveling from an area infected with Yellow Fever, you must have a certificate.) We do encourage all travelers to be current on routine immunizations. Sodha Travel also strongly recommends the Hepatitis A vaccine, where exposure occurs through contaminated food and water in developing countries.
The vaccine decision is truly a personal one and the opinions vary among travel clinics, doctors, and travelers. The Center for Disease Control offers an updated list of outbreaks and recommended immunizations, based on the region of travel. Here is their current list of vaccine-preventable diseases in India:
|Vaccination or Disease||Recommendations or Requirements for Vaccine-Preventable Diseases|
|Routine||Recommended if you are not up-to-date with routine shots such as, measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria/pertussis/tetanus (DPT) vaccine, poliovirus vaccine, etc.|
|Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG)||Recommended for all unvaccinated people traveling to or working in countries with an intermediate or high level of hepatitis A virus infection (see map) where exposure might occur through food or water. Cases of travel-related hepatitis A can also occur in travelers to developing countries with “standard” tourist itineraries, accommodations, and food consumption behaviors.|
|Hepatitis B||Recommended for all unvaccinated persons traveling to or working in countries with intermediate to high levels of endemic HBV transmission (see map), especially those who might be exposed to blood or body fluids, have sexual contact with the local population, or be exposed through medical treatment (e.g., for an accident).|
|Typhoid||Recommended for all unvaccinated people traveling to or working in South Asia, especially if staying with friends or relatives or visiting smaller cities, villages, or rural areas where exposure might occur through food or water.|
|Polio||Recommended for adult travelers who have received a primary series with either inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) or oral polio vaccine (OPV). They should receive another dose of IPV before departure. For adults, available data do not indicate the need for more than a single lifetime booster dose with IPV.|
|Japanese encephalitis||Recommended if you plan to visit rural farming areas and under special circumstances, such as a known outbreak of Japanese encephalitis, see country-specific information.|
|Rabies||Recommended for travelers spending a lot of time outdoors, especially in rural areas, involved in activities such as bicycling, camping, or hiking. Also recommended for travelers with significant occupational risks (such as veterinarians), for long-term travelers and expatriates living in areas with a significant risk of exposure, and for travelers involved in any activities that might bring them into direct contact with bats, carnivores, and other mammals. Children are considered at higher risk because they tend to play with animals, may receive more severe bites, or may not report bites.|
There is also the debate about malaria medications. Although it is recommended for certain regions, many people have an adverse reaction to malaria meds – myself included. Side effects can include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and hallucinations. There are antimalarial alternatives, including spraying repellent on exposed skin and taking vitamin A and zinc supplements. Adventure travelers are usually more at risk, due to the nature of their activities and the remote locations.
Depending on the season and region of travel, Sodha Travel will recommend preventative measures. Please consult with your health care professional to decide the best medical plan.
Kerala, a region in Southwest India, is known for its extensive backwaters, pristine beaches, and lush hill stations. Travelers can visit a tea plantation, stay overnight on a houseboat, enjoy an Ayurvedic massage, or experience an elephant safari. The most visited areas in Kerala include Cochin, Alleppey, Kumarakom, Periyar, Thekkady, Munnar, and Kovalam. However, there are many lesser known treasures in this beautiful region, including eco home stays, waterfalls, and historical plantations. Here are a few of my favorites:
1. Shenbaga Vilaasam, Pollachi: Shenbaga Vilaasam is a restored plantation that was built in the early 1900′s admidst acres of farmland. The house is decorated with family heirlooms and only has four guest rooms, assuring a private and authentic Keralan experience. The Vanavarayar family initiated the building of a large manmade lake, which was meant to irrigate the surrounding areas. Today, in addition to giving the land around Shenbaga Vilaasam a picturesque setting, the lake continues to provide a means of livelihood for the villagers. Guests can interact with the farmers, stroll through nearby villages, and enjoy evening tea on the patio.
2. Dewalokam Farmstay Retreat: Dewalokam is an eco-friendly home stay based on the principles of sustainability and responsibility. Located less than two hours from the Cochin airport, it is the only place in Kerala where the local community is directly employed. Seven women and ten men from the village are regular employees at Dewalokam, and their income supports sixteen different families in the village. Also, Dewalokam is the only working organic farm in Kerala where the meat, vegetables, fruits, milk, and honey are produced and harvested for the guests. Activities include guided forest treks, gardening, bamboo rafting, spice walks, cycling, and yoga.
3. Rainforest Lodge, Athirapally Waterfalls: Each room at this lodge has spectacular views of the misty Athirapally waterfalls from the private balcony. Enjoy a guided jungle trek with an experienced native guide, or spend a day with the tribesmen of the Sholayar range. Four different tribes co-exist peacefully here: The Kadar, the Malayar, the Muthuvar and the Mannaan. Most of the tribal people subsist on activities like hunting, fishing and collecting honey and medicinal plants from the jungle. For the less adventurous, pack a picnic lunch for the easy hike to the base of the falls, considered the Niagara of Kerala.
Our dear friend and Sodha Traveler, Collin Husic, recently completed a beautiful video for Sodha Travel: An Indian Experience. The video showcases photos and videos from the diverse regions in India, including Delhi, Darjeeling, Gujarat, Kerala, Leh, and Tamil Nadu. Many of the photos were provided by our clients, and we thank you for the contribution! Be sure to check it out:
Last week, there was a surprise event on the Oregon State University campus: A Bollywood flash mob dance, choreographed by Neha Neelwarne. In all, 75 dancers shed jackets to reveal bright orange shirts and joined in the synchronized moves to the title music from the Hindi film Salaam-E-Ishq. After the performance ended in the Memorial Union Quad, the dancers quietly drifted back into the crowd.
Neelwarne, a native of Mysore, India, teaches a Bollywood dance class at OSU. “I thought a flash mob would be a really fun idea,” she said. Neelwarne recruited dancers during the summer via email and in person, hoping the surprise would be kept a secret. “There was a good mix of ages, cultures and different life experiences in the group,” she said.
Check out the video:
- 6 nights of superior hotel accommodation on Havelock Island and 1 night in Port Blair
- Daily buffet breakfast and dinner
- Roundtrip economy airfare from Mumbai – Port Blair
- A/C transfers in Andaman, including boat transfers to Havelock
- Exclusive farewell seafood dinner
- Guided tour of Port Blair
- Taxes and fees
We are also offering discounts on customized packages, so please let us know if you prefer a personalized Andaman itinerary. Flights now depart from Mumbai, Chennai, and Kolkata to Port Blair. Since the islands are a relatively unknown haven for foreigners, there is no better time to experience the blend of Bengali, Telugu, Burmese, and Tamil culture. This special won’t last long, so contact us for details.