When I travelled India, I spent an amazing month exploring the hot and vibrant country. However, the friend that I was with only had ten days. Within those ten days we had a lot that we wanted to see and ten days just didn’t seem like enough time. Therefore, we didn’t want to spend any of our precious time in India waiting for trains and sitting on buses. We decided to hire a personal driver.
At first we were very hesitant on the idea of hiring a driver. It seemed..well, pretentious. However, whenever I ask any of my Indian friends how they get around India they also say that they hire a driver – so do don’t worry about feeling too much like a tourist, the locals do it too.
Okay, on second thought, it will make you feel like a tourist…
When trying to hire a driver you will run into one major issue – many people will try to scam you.
There are many people at the airport who will claim that they are from your accommodation and there to pick you up. They will then tell you that the room isn’t ready yet and that in the meantime they will take you into their ‘tour company’ and arrange a travel package for you. They will then try to scam you into buying a tour that doesn’t even exist.
When you arrive at the airport – if you have arranged to be picked up- make sure that you have the hostel greet you by name or else do not go with them.
Alternatively, you can easily take the metro to New Delhi Station and a short rickshaw ride from there or arrange a pre-paid taxi. These should both help you to avoid being scammed. Of course there are no guarantees so make sure to not book any tours before checking into your actual accommodation.
I arranged my driver with Kuldeeps Friend’s Hostel, and met many people along the way who did the same. We all got exactly what we paid for and he was very reliable. They were also very helpful in booking us trains – which can be headache to book yourself. The main reason that I recommend booking through the travel company at this hostel is because I can guarantee you that it is not a scam. And that in itself is gold.
So what did I pay for?
Well, we were first quoted about 40, 000 rupees for two people – which was way out of our price range. When we realized that this quote included accommodation we asked to see pictures of the places we would be staying. Once we saw them we realized that they were way more luxurious than what we needed. We decided that we could cut accommodation out of the deal and find our own along the way. This almost cut the price in half!
As well, we managed to cut having a driver for six days down to five – by changing our itinerary around a little bit. Most people visit Jaipur and then Pushkar, but we decided to do it the other way around. This way we could leave our driver in Jaipur and take the train to our next destination. If we had gone to Pushkar after Jaipur, our driver would have had to drive us to our next destination since there are no trains from Pushkar. If you are wondering why the itinerary seems to back-track a bit, this is why.
Total Trip Cost:
About 20, 000 INR for two people
Total Trip Included:
Driver for 5 days (driving us to destinations and around the cities to local attractions)
2 night trains (Jaipur- Jaisalmer and Jaisalmer- New Delhi)
Camel Safari with dinner, sleeping in the desert and breakfast the next morning.
Extra Costs for trip:
Food (about 6, 000)
Accommodation (about 2, ooo) * See how cheap this is if you find your own!
Attractions (about 2,500) This was mainly spent on the Taj Mahal and in Jaipur
Tips – you will be expected to tip your driver at the end (about 150-200 rupees per day)
As you can see the driver adds on a hefty fee to the overall expenses to a trip in India, so if you do have a lot of time available you will save yourself money by taking buses and trains. However, I still recommend booking trains through this hostel or a trusted tour guide because they can be an absolute nightmare to book on your own. You will also want to book trains as soon as possible as popular train routes can book up months in advance.