If you want the cheapest, this is definitely the company to go for. But before you rush to make that booking, there are a couple of things you might want to know. If you are ok with this, then by all means, go ahead.
1. Communication between you and the company will be terrible. When a question is asked via whatsapp or email, expect an answer between 2 and 10 days after sending it. Before your trip and during your trip. If you’re used to asking questions like “Is there a market near the hotel where we can do shopping?”, you will get an answer 5 days later saying “Hi”.
That’s all, just “Hi”. If you get anything after the “Hi”, consider yourself lucky.
2. The hotels are on a European 2 star level. Some are cleaner than others, but always remember, you booked the cheapest. So your hotel will be fairly ok, but they save on price because of the area your hotel is in. Expect an industrial or wholesale area when you walk out of your hotel.
3. Because their communication is so bad, expect a lot of surprises. You’ll have a driver one day who tells you he’ll pick you up at 9am the next day. The next morning, a stranger just takes your bags and says “Let’s go”. Believe me when I tell you they could care less about your little situation of having trust issues. Another surprise was that we had to pay petrol money to go to a market “because the company didn’t know the hotels are charging taxes, so the expenses went up”.
4. Talking of communication. We booked into our hotel in Udaipur. It’s on the outskirts, but it’s a nice hotel. The next morning we’re having breakfast. A tour group in the hotel is also having breakfast, but they’re all wearing surgical masks. When our curiosity got the better of us, we asked why. We were informed that someone in the hotel had contracted swine flu the previous day, taken to the hospital and they’re waiting for tests. We marched to reception. All staff were wearing masks. At reception we asked why we weren’t informed about the swine flu or given masks like other guests. They just shrugged. We demanded to stay in another hotel (Destino organised this but was not happy. They booked us into a 1 star in the busiest, noisiest part of the city. But it didn’t have swine flu, so we survived that evening)
5. When leaving Mumbai for Dubai, we were told that we should take a package to give it to somebody in our country who the tour operator knows. I said to my wife that I don’t feel comfortable taking packages. That’s rule number 1 of traveling. But we were assured that everything was above board and that we could open the package if we wanted. When we entered the airport my wife and I looked at the parcel which was handed to us by Destino’s representative. We decided to open it. But there was a catch. The package had 3 layers. Untying the first knot of the plastic bag, there was a thick plastic bag inside, stitched very securely with thick yarn. Once the second bag was opened there was another bag. Upon opening it we found 10 counterfeit handbags with well-known brand names on it. I immediately went to information and asked for customs. They informed me that I had already taken ownership of the bag – I fell for that one yes – and that I must contact the company that gave me the bag as I had no proof of purchase and was in possession of counterfeit goods. After a long discussion / negotiation the bags were destroyed. We almost got ourselves in very big trouble, and we almost missed our flight because of this. I’m just glad customs understood.
We had a good trip. Our (second) driver from Delhi to Udaipur was amazing. He went out of his way to make things easier for us. So if all of this sounds exciting to you, then book away. It really is cheap compared to other companies.
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