Michelle Laverick is Commercial Development Manager here at Explore and is a veteran of adventure travel. However, she's recently travelled on her first Explore Family Adventure, read about her experiences in India below.
I have just returned from my first family tour with Explore and it was such an amazing trip it is going to be difficult to put it into words. I have always been into Adventure travel, I even met my husband whilst trekking in Nepal, but this was a first time with the family in tow. We travelled with our two girls, Lily (nearly 7) and Ruby (5 whilst on tour) and we all had a truly brilliant experience.
The tour itself captures the main highlights of Delhi and Rajasthan, and took us from the sights, sounds and smells of Delhi to the awesome Taj Mahal, onto the animals on safari in Rathambore National Park, to the pink city of Jaipur, to village life in Pachewar and finally onto Pushkar.
To me not only was India an amazing country, it was the group itself that made the holiday even more special. We had a complete mix of families, couples with one child, families with two kids, couples with three kids and we also had a grandma with her grandson, and even though we all came from different walks of life, we all got on really well, not to mention the kids.
I was a little worried that the kids ranged from nearly 5 to 15, which was quite an age spread, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. At every meal time it was like them and us, all the kids ate together at one end of the table and we were at the other. On the bus, all the kids sat at the back and all the ‘grown ups’ sat at the front. From their perspective, they had their independence from us and we could have ‘grown up’ conversations about Take That concerts. What also amazed us was that they were also so well behaved and we never even had to say anything to them.
I have to mention the food here too. I was really worried about taking my nearly 5 year old to India, mainly because she is a fussy eater and certainly would not look to eat a curry. So I packed my bags with a few packets of biscuits just to keep her going. The amazing this was, we brought lots of biscuits home with us. The food was great – even for the fussiest of eaters, and it was always possible to order something more familiar when necessary for the kids – including chicken burger and fries. There was also a McDonalds in Delhi and Jaipur if needed. However, the influence from the rest of the kids on the tour encouraged Ruby to try many different foods that she now really loves and she asks for rice and garlic & cheese naan bread every night.
Our tour would not have been complete without our brilliant local tour guide. He took the hassle out of every stage of the tour. We effortlessly travelled on different train journeys during our tour. We went to the movies in Jaipur. He filled us with insights into the way of life in India. He tailored our time to what we all wanted to do, and if we didn’t want to go to the carpet factory, we didn’t have to go. He also had a brilliant sense of humour and all the kids loved him.
India itself was also truly amazing and although we did not see a tiger in Rathambore National Park, we saw so many other animals that the kids forgot all about the tigers. For me the Taj Mahal was a little disappointing however the elephant ride up to the Amber Fort was certainly a highlight for me. The kids talked endlessly about elephant poo after that for hours. The Village tour in Pachewar was humbling when you realise that the biggest smiles were on the local kids faces – and they had very few possessions to talk about. The train journeys were also an amazing way to travel to really see the countryside, the local way of life and the incredible sights of India that the kids will have never seen before. It was a great education for all the family.
All in all the whole family really enjoyed the tour in many different ways. The kids made some great new friends – whilst still enjoying the sights, sounds, smells and animals of India. I loved being able to experience adventure travel again – this time with my kids – getting to see everything I wanted to see all in one tour without the hassle. It was also the most relaxing, whilst being action packed, holiday I have been on with the family. India was more than I could ever have asked for and I loved Amber Fort, Rathambore National Park, seeing my 5 year old climbing up to Savitri Temple in Pushkar and listening to the endless laughter from all the kids (and adults) during everything we did.
To see the tour Michelle and her family travelled on in more detail, visit Taj, Tigers and Palaces.