Author: Allison Sodha

Allison Sodha

Allison Sodha is an India Destination Specialist and the owner of Sodha Travel, a company that coordinates private tours to South Asia. She is also a Destination Expert for AFAR and has written features for Little India, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and various travel publications. Allison resides with her family in Portland, Oregon, but considers India her second home. Please visit: www.sodhatravel.com www.indiatravelspecialists.com blog.sodhatravel.com

Thailand is a diverse and wondrous country located in the heart of Southeast Asia. It is also one of the most popular destinations for tourists worldwide, offering beautiful islands, tropical jungles, and ancient temples. There are several misconceptions about traveling in Thailand, ranging from the sex culture (not all male tourists are seeking prostitutes) to ice (not all water is contaminated). Here are five travel myths to consider if you are planning a visit to …

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Maharasthra is a diverse state in western India that includes coastal plains, vineyards, the Deccan Plateau and the Western Ghats. The region also has the largest number of caves in the country, some dating back to the 1st century BC. Making it even more convenient for travelers, several of the architectural caverns are an easy day trip from Mumbai. Mumbai, formerly Bombay, is the largest city in India and often considered the commercial and …

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Dear Airline Industry,

The time has come for you to start listening to travelers’ concerns. Not just hearing, but actually listening.

I have many years of personal and professional experience in the travel industry. My father was a pilot for a major U.S. carrier and my brother currently flies for another major U.S airline. I was raised around planes, understanding from a very young age about respecting other passengers, the flight crew, and airline representatives. …

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Varanasi, also called Benares and Kashi, is a pilgrimage destination in India. According to ancient texts, the city was founded by the Hindu deity Shiva, making it one of the most important pilgrimage sites in the country.   Varanasi is also considered one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world and is the home of many prominent Indian writers, musicians, artists and poets.

As a cultural and religious center of North India, Varanasi welcomes over …

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Recently, I had a client contact me regarding her upcoming trip to India. “Allison, I am embarking on a new adventure,” she said.  “I am traveling to India for dental work. A fifth of the cost and the facilities and technology are just as good, if not better,” she told me.  The previous week, another client called regarding his knee-replacement surgery in Hyderabad. “Visiting India has always been on my list. Instead of bringing home …

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I recently visited a popular online India travel forum and came across multiple pages dedicated to why females should not travel to India. Comments included:

“India is a labyrinth of predators for women.”

“The misogyny is evident in every corner of the country.”

“Do not, under any circumstance, travel to India alone. Your entire trip will be spent escaping harassing comments and avoiding stares from locals.”

Wow, talk about shock value. Yet, as an India …

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The thought of a home stay in India can ignite romantic images of cultural exchange. A comfortable room in a private residence, adorned with traditional fabrics and décor, can offer a warm contrast to a stark hotel room. Instead of room service, you can enjoy a homemade chai and paratha at the breakfast table while engaged in dynamic conversation with the owner.

A home stay (or “homestay”) is typically defined as an accommodation where a …

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For decades, Sri Lanka was battling political unrest. A civil-war between Tamil insurgents and the Sinhalese government almost destroyed the tourism industry. Then, the tsunami of 2004 devastated certain coastal regions of the country. Luckily, the riots have ended and the coastlines have been restored, and this tear-drop shaped paradise off the Southern coast of India is waiting to be rediscovered by travelers worldwide.

It is easy to list generic enticements to visit Sri Lanka, …

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 Dear Travel IQ: When is travel insurance absolutely necessary? I hate the additional expense tacked onto every trip and never, ever, have I had to use the policies I buy. I am thinking about not buying it next time and trusting to the gods of travel to get me there and back without a problem. My boyfriend says I am wrong and the one trip we don’t insure will be the one we will …

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As an avid traveler and a specialized travel agent, I have played the role of both consumer and supplier.  Throughout my professional career, I have spoken to many people who just don’t know how to effectively utilize the services of a travel agent. Some prefer the internet as a booking and informational resource while others are unsure or uncomfortable seeking out a qualified professional.  What are the successful tools for working with a travel agent?  …

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These days, if you ask someone why they selected a tour package, destination, or travel operator, one word trumps all others: Value. However, value can mean different things to different travelers. For some, it implies a good deal or considerable savings. For others, the value is in the experience of visiting a new or exotic destination, or fulfilling a lifelong dream. Many travelers excitedly reserve a group tour based on the value of all of …

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Scenario #1: Jane is visiting a new destination and relies on a travel agency to confirm her hotel and touring services. She arrives at the hotel, checks-in, and finds that her room does not meet her expectations. The agency quoted a 4-star property, but Jane feels it is below average. The view from her window is less than appealing, she can hear her noisy neighbors, and the air-conditioning is faulty. Later in the evening, guest …

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Dear Travel IQ: I love to watch shows like Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern and I enjoy eating new foods when I travel.  I’ve always been afraid to try street food, however.  It’s tempting, but I’m worried about sanitation and catching some type of bug that will ruin my trip.  How can I safely join Andrew and the others who seem to eat with impunity?

Signed: Hungry in Chiang Mai


Dear Hungry in Chiang

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The thought of India evokes many images to travelers, but none more iconic than the majestic Taj Mahal. Although this wonder of the world is a relevant and magnificent site on the tourism circuit, consider adding a dash of adventure to your Indian experience. India’s diverse landscape and climate make it an exciting destination for adventure activities, including trekking, rafting, scuba diving, camel expeditions, and skiing. Additionally, India remains one of the most affordable destinations …

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