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Collection of tips from travellers who have come back from their trip to India, to ensure that your trip remains hassle-free if you decide to take this option.
Renting a car and driver in India is a great way to move around. Having a car and driver has a lot of advantages. No time lost in public transports, you go from point A to point B at your convenience. Only cars in good condition used by us.
It is customary to tip your driver 10% for his service, more if you feel it is deserved.
There are a lot of people travelling to India and renting a car has become a popular option. Let's face it, though the majority of drivers or travel agencies are honest, one can still encounter less honest ones.
There are scams, and travellers sometimes report problems with their drivers. So best is to be prepared.
The price you are quoted should include: the rent of the car, car's insurance, fuel, illimited kms, driver's salary, driver's accomodation, driver's food, road taxes, and parking fees. You thus agree on a price, and you should not worry about anything else afterwards.
Car type: The car you'll be proposed often is a Tata Indica. It's a small car, with not so much space to put luggages. Another popular option is the Ambassador.
You eat when you are hungry not when the bus reaches destination, you go the bathroom whenever you want, no need to rush for breakfast or wait under pouring rain for a rickshaw or bus.
There are taxes to pay when entering a state, so if you plan to visit several states, the price you'll be quoted will be higher.
Check if you want a car with A/C or not (the difference between the two is around 2 usd per day). Price varies, quality also.
If you are being quoted an excellent price, it's likely there's something wrong. Either the car is not great, or the driver plans on making his profit during the trip (by getting commissions from places where he'll push you to stay). It's definitely best to pay the normal price and then have a hassle free journey.
There's no queuing and hassles to get bus/train tickets. You reach remote locations or sites of interests quickly and with no problem even though it does not facilitate encounters with people, it is really useful when visiting Rajasthan.
Currency : you'll be quoted in US dollars or Euros. Rates being different, make sure you're not being ripped off here. We quote in Rupees.
Important thing to make clear from the onset: you are the one in charge. So you decide your itinerary, you decide where you stay, where you eat, and how you use the car. Drivers often try to save their accomodation allowance (1 or 2 usd a day) by "advising" you where to stay. Be aware that competition between hotels and guest houses is fierce. Most hotels "recommended" actually offer free food and accomodation to drivers. Be firm with your driver on where you want to stay, and bear in mind recommendations are rarely genuine. Don't overlook this, drivers can be very insistent.
* Drivers also try not to stay on parkings, as it increases their company (or their own pocket) cost. Make clear with your driver that it's ok, as long as you don't end up waiting hours for him to show up.
Tipping: drivers usually get very low salaries. Tipping a driver in India is common place. But it's not mandatory. Of course, if you're not happy with the service, don't tip. Otherwise I'd say it's between 5 to15 usd a day.
Drivers know about travel forums and they will often propose their service through that channel. Some are more subtle (to put it politely) and pretend they are travellers and recommend a driver who actually is... themselves! So if you want a reliable advice, make sure the advice is genuine.
We'd recommend to use a company rather than a independant driver. If you face problems (mechanical problem with the car or the driver is not nice or too pushy) a company will be able to solve the problem (change the car or the driver). With an independant driver, it's going to be difficult to sort out any problem.