Traveling and packaged tours seem to have a bittersweet relationship. While we all want to travel and make a good deal out of it, the focus has now moved onto experience over the maximum number of spot visits. The idea of traveling is changing in favor of self-planning and Andaman is no exception to that.
While packaged tours of Andaman are still the most tried and trusted way of traveling in the islands, the idea of backpacking through the island with your self-planned trip isn’t alien at all. In fact, Andaman with its varied experiences lying in close proximity to each other seems like a great place to do a self-planned tour. You can simply hop onto islands and do the thing you like and leave out what isn’t convenient for you.
The places and activities in Andaman are numbered but the range is great if you know what you are looking for. So, if you are a nature lover you would know that you want to spend more time in Baratang Parrot Island, Long Island, Little Andaman, and the pristine coral reef beaches like Redskin and Jolly Buoy. History and heritage buff on the other hand would choose a more detailed visit to the Cellular Jail, Ross Island, and Viper Island over a regular tourist. Similarly, an ocean and wildlife enthusiast will spend more time scuba diving and snorkeling the different reefs and experience rare things like bioluminescence, mangrove intertidal walks, etc. A hiking and trekking enthusiast will simply go for the tough treks like the Saddle Peak (the highest mountain of Andaman), the Mount Harriet trek, and many others.
Thus the opportunities for a self-planned trip in Andaman are quite varied and often more beneficial for a traveler in Andaman as it offers you an ideal deal in a place which you are unlikely to visit regularly. Packaged tours of Andaman may not seem that ideal in such scenarios as you might not get all the experiences you want to have.
So, in a way you have to go for many more trips and many more packaged tours and sometimes customized package tours which might not be feasible for all. Self-planning reduces these bottlenecks and makes your Andaman traveling more happening if you know how to do it properly.
When & How Self Planning Works?
So, the biggest question is when it works and when it doesn’t. Self Planning like Packaged tours has its pros and cons and certain criteria that make it happen. Before you go for a self-planned trip in Andaman you need to know how these criteria will outplay in the Andaman geographical and local situations.
Risk Factor & Credible Source
Packaged tours in Andamans are favoured by many because of their affordability, availability and experience. It offers a more trusted experienced source who takes care of everything without giving you much of a hassle. Self planned trips can give you the same level of credibility if you know the sources to trust on. So, you need to research well and gather first hand information from various sources and verify them before taking the plunge.
It can be some trusted websites giving you ample contacts and exposure to local authorities and businesses or it can be someone you know who has been there or lives there.
Comfort and Company
A packaged tour of Andaman works well if you are traveling with a large group of people and you have got people of various age groups with you. For a self planned trip a small group of like minded people is ideal as it ensures similar tastes and interests. Also it depends on the places you are planning to visit and the company you want.
Package tours provide certain liberties like having activities for every age group – from the young guns to the old ones. Self planned trips are catered to a specific need and don’t work if you have diverse people.
The biggest advantage of a self planned trip is how you do it and when you do it. It’s completely as per your whim, you aren’t rushed to do anything like in a packaged tour. Your schedule isn’t fixed, you simply can do whatever and whenever you want.
You can make last minute changes and overstay in places you like. You can wake up when you want and travel according to your comfort. Self planning makes it really look like a holiday rather than making it a busy vacation
Self Planning comes with a flexibility that packaged tours can never have. No matter how much customized packaged tours you opt for you can’t go beyond certain limits with it. You simply can’t overstay in a place and cancel the other. You can’t include as many interesting places or activities you want. The most crucial one packaged tours don’t give you the memory of the journey.
You simply can’t add stoppage points and enjoy the passing time, you are always in a hurry to reach the place. So much of the journey is lost on a packaged tour as opposed to a self planned trip.
Nature of the Person
A self planned trip is destined to bring out the nature of the person. It’s specifically curtailed to the idea of who you are and what you are. For a packaged tour you are just a person. It will at best add to your preferences like beaches over mountains, or trekking over scuba diving etc. But our personality lies much more and much in between the popular choices.
Self planning trips let you explore that. A nature lover you would like to see the beaches, the mountains and the waterfalls of Andamans and hence you will plan accordingly to witness all that instead of just going on a beach tour or mountain relaxation vacation.
Why Andaman is Good for A Self Planned Trip?
Andaman may seem to be a daunting self planned trip experience for many when you see it from the mainland due to lack of ground reporting. It’s still caught in a time wrap of an expensive remote exotic island tour kind of thing. However, it isn’t, which you would realise as soon as you land there. In fact, Andaman is more safe and friendly than most standard tourist places. It’s the sea and weather conditions which makes it unpredictable.
People are friendly and helpful here and most things are quite easily available. You might not get the internet easily everywhere but you can get all the information if you enquire. People will happily assist you and most of them speak Indian languages like Hindi, Bengali, Tamil and Telugu. So conversing and getting to places isn’t that difficult. There are only a certain number of islands to visit and things to do, so with a basic knowledge of things you can easily manoeuvre on your own.
How To Plan a Self Planned Trip for Andaman?
An Andaman self planned trip can be organized by making few arrangements beforehand and improvising others as you go about. You need to first sort out your priorities and get important information like emergency numbers, ferry schedules, permits in place. Certain places need permits and certain places don’t have spot booking easily available especially during peak season. So, if you are going for the pristine reefs of Jolly Buoy or Redskin make sure you book for it earlier. Also, some places are open in certain periods of the year so align your holiday according to that.
Get in touch with trusted companies and websites who have their base in Andaman and know the local people and the network. They can provide you with valuable guidance and connect you to local businesses based on your need. Right from what to pack, when to book your tickets to local experiences of places you visit to suggestions of customizing your specific stay or skipping and adding places – all can be done when you connect with the local people directly.
A quick chat with your taxi driver can lead to experiencing an ethereal sunset in a unique island inhabited by parrots, the Parrot Island. Or maybe you will stumble upon a less visited reserve forest beach like Kalapathar in Andaman. A quick talk with the locals will offer you new places to eat street food rather than just your posh hotels. It’s as easy going and happening as you see in the movies.
So, that’s how you plan a self planned trip to Andaman and get the most enthralling island experience which you have been looking for. It’s time you paid attention to yourself and experience the places you visit rather than just visiting the places of experience.
Hello! We’re a bunch of content enthusiasts writing about all things Andaman. Our blogs are the result of our immersive first-hand travels to the Andamans and the experiences of those we know closely. We keep a close watch on the travel space in the Andamans, so we can always bring to you the most updated information. Hope you enjoyed reading this blog as much as we enjoyed writing it!