India – more than any other country I’ve ever visited – created a deep, lasting impression on me.

Traveling through India from south to north as a solo backpacker-on-the-cheap in the late 70s, I stood on a street corner and watched well-to-do travelers descend from an air-conditioned motor coach and wondered, “Will I ever come back?” No doubt it was envy that prompted my next thought, “They’re not getting as authentic an experience as me.”

To the first point, I returned to India 25 years later when we operated two different incentive programs for corporate clients in 2004. On both journeys, even though the travelers were staying in palatial, 5-star comfort and traveling in comfortable air-conditioned motor coaches, they did enjoy an authentic experience. Many were profoundly changed – especially when they let go of their initial trepidation about drinking water, breathing the air and eating the food – and relaxed into the experience.

I knew I had succeeded on about the fourth day of the trip, when we stood on the rooftop of a building overlooking a traffic circle, watching the chaotic, but efficient, flow of cars, buses, trucks, bicycles, camel carts, pedestrians, and holy cows. The only thing missing from the picture was an elephant. Sure enough, along came a brass band and garishly painted elephant wearing a billboard-sized banner advertising a rally of a local guru at the city’s stadium! Without missing a beat, several of us raced down the stairs to join the dancing procession. It was a spontaneous “wow” moment that I had not choreographed. And it is still one of my favorite memories of India.

Dancing with the locals in the streets of Jaipur

A couple of months after returning home from the second trip, I was obsessed with the question, “How can I offer more such journeys to the must-see destinations in the non-western world?” The answer came in the middle of the night when I awoke from a deep slumber and said, “Wow!” My next thought: “That would be a good name for a travel company!”

And thus it was that India inspired me to begin my new specialty division, The WOW! Travel Club. With my 20+ years of industry experience and connections, I would create extraordinary travel experiences to the places that most people are reluctant to go. Naturally, India would be my first offering, back in 2006.

A piece of cake – right? On that inaugural journey, only 7 people signed up – when I had budgeted for double that number. Nevertheless, I “wowed” them with everything I had planned for a larger group. I lost money but didn’t care. It was all worth it. Testimonials from that journey remind me why I continue to organize journeys to places that people are reluctant to visit:

“The trip truly will live on for a long time. The sad reality is that so many Americans have no knowledge of this wondrous place. I was definitely ready to come home but I am smiling thinking about the trip. Marilyn you did an amazing job. We were VVVVIPs – thanks to you. You have a huge heart, you seem to accomplish the impossible and you do so with a sense of humor and boundless curiosity.” ~ Cynthia Cohen

 

“Sharon and I had the best time we’ve ever had on a trip. It was all spectacular and you over-delivered on your WOW promise. You’re on to something big here – keep pushing it!” ~ Don Riddell

 

“When people ask about my trip to India I tell them that it was the greatest adventure of my life so far. I’ve been to other exotic places, but nothing compared to the adventures I had in India. The people in the WOW Travel Club were exceptional, our guide was an incredible mixture of East & West, and the itinerary was well planned and executed. India is for all the senses – so different from anything in the Western World. Around every corner there was something new to behold…..a market place, a camel cart, an elephant, people everywhere and the Antiquity. The Taj Mahal was an experience of a lifetime. I still can’t believe that I was there!” ~ Elaine Bern

India

My inaugural group of WOWees, 2006

If you’re still reading this, and need an additional nudge to visit India, here’s a quote I wish was mine: “There are some parts of the world that, once visited, get into your heart and won’t go. For me, India is such a place. When I first visited, I was stunned by the richness of the land, by its lush beauty and exotic architecture, by its ability to overload the senses with the pure, concentrated intensity of its colors, smells, tastes, and sounds… I had been seeing the world in black & white and, when brought face-to-face with India, experienced everything re-rendered in brilliant technicolor.” — Keith Bellows, National Geographic Societ

The itinerary is divided into three segments:

  • Delhi & Varanasi (March 1 – 4)
  • Mumbai & Kerala (March 4 – 12)
  • Udaipur, Jaipur & Agra (March 12 – 18)

I know there are considerations – time and money – that might make it difficult to do all three segments. So just choose one or two. Check out the details for this all-inclusive package on the website. Let me know if you have concerns or challenges – and I’ll do my best to reassure you and make it work.

I promise you an experience in brilliant technicolor, unlike anything or any place you’ve ever been. You won’t return home quite the same!

Namaste.