Happy August! Now that summer is winding down, we’re thinking about back-to-school—and specifically, to college. This month, we’re talking about a new trend we’ve been seeing lately: Families taking special trips with their college-bound kids. And speaking of bonding travel, we’re also highlighting our recent retreat in Puerto Rico—including our top hosting tips. And finally, rounding out this edition is a great Q&A with Qatar Airways, which was recently honored with the distinction of “World’s Best Airline.” We hope the rest of your summer is fun and relaxing!
Erika Reategui and Fernando Gonzalez
Valentine’s Day might have already passed, but that doesn’t mean that love isn’t still in the air. To celebrate, we’re talking with Jonathan Yochum and Elena Yochum, a New York City-based couple who recently took a two-week trip to India, where they not only attended a good friend’s wedding but visited must-see sites such as the Taj Mahal, toured cities like Jaipur and Agra, and accessed exclusive destinations like Dera Amer, where they spent some time with the elephants. Here, they share more about their trip:
We’d love to hear a bit about the trip—where in India did you go?
We were in India for about two weeks and stayed in a few different places— Jaipur, where we visited the 11th century Amber Fort, did a tour of the Old City, and more; Nadiad for a friend’s wedding; Agra, where we saw the breathtaking Taj Mahal and finally, Delhi, where we were able to see the Old City and various temples and mosques before departing from there.
What was the experience like?
India is truly an amazing and incredible place—rich in history and culture. Many of the places you go and see have been around much longer than any location we could see in the U.S. and have influences from many different cultural backgrounds. At the same time, India is very different from anything we had ever experienced before, coming from the States. We went into the trip keeping an open mind, and with that, we were able to experience a very different way of looking at life. Seeing the way that local Indian people go about their day-to-day life in a distinctly different way from what we were used to showed that there is more than one way to live your life and to find happiness. It did feel overwhelming at times, both from the amount of people and the immense culture of extravagance; however, it is something that really is all positive and fun if you can sit back and enjoy it.
What was your inspiration behind traveling to India?
One of our good friends is from Gujrat and was getting married there. When we decided that we were going to the wedding, we knew we wanted to take this opportunity to explore the country a bit as well.
What do you think makes the country great as a destination for couples traveling together?
The hospitality of everyone we met was beyond anything I could have ever imagined. You are welcomed with open arms everywhere you go, while the locals do their best to both respect your views and to immerse you in their own distinct culture.
Any top travel tips you’d recommend for people making a similar trip?
The quality of your experience will depend on how well you have the trip planned out and the guides you have taking you around. I can’t say enough good things about the company, Eastbound, that Mayla at First in Service worked with in arranging our itinerary. The guides were incredible and made us always feel as comfortable as possible as we went to various locations across different cities. The guides went above and beyond at every point in our trip to make it a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience. Also, make sure you are careful when eating—a lot of the food is hard on Western stomachs, so be prepared for that as well.
All that being said, make no mistake, it can sometimes feel like more work than vacation when seeing all the sights for multiple days at a time. Make sure you get your rest because all of the sight we went to—from Jaipur to the Taj Mahal—were all well worth the effort.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I can’t emphasize how important keeping an open mind is when traveling to a country with such a different culture. Just because you are used to looking at things a certain way, doesn’t mean that looking at those same things from a different angle is a bad thing. Don’t fight the different perspective—instead try to embrace it and you might learn a thing or two about how the rest of the world lives!