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Preparing for your trip

Package: Dazzling Dubai & India with Diwali, Festival of Lights

Print this page and refer to it as you prepare for your trip!

Printed Sep 24, 2020. Please visit https://www.friendlyplanet.com/before-you-go/?tourId=1270 for the latest updates.

Checklist

Item Due
Ensure you have a current passport valid for at least six months after your return date. ASAP
Complete your registration. You'll receive a link to the registration form after you complete your booking. Within 1 business day of booking
Request any additions or changes you may still want to make to your trip. (Fees and/or additional charges may apply.) 75 days prior to travel
Make your final payment, if any balance is due. See your invoice
Book connecting flights to your departure city, if necessary. (Please confirm your international flight schedule first!) 75 days prior to travel
Make advance seat reservations for your international flight, if you have a preference. After receiving your e‑tickets
Obtain required travel visas and review any requirements for entry. See below
Print your itinerary and other final documents, which we will send you via email by 14 days prior to travel. Prior to travel
Print your policy documents, if you purchased travel insurance, and carry them with you. Prior to travel
Enroll in The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), if you're a U.S. citizen or national, so the State Dept. can locate and assist you in case of an emergency. Prior to travel
Confirm your flight times and any special meal requests with the airline, and print and carry a copy of your e-ticket. 72 hours prior to travel
Check in for your flights online and download/print your boarding passes (if available). 24 hours prior to travel
Arrive at the airport, ready for the trip of a lifetime! 3½ hours prior to departure

Documents

Visa Required

U.S. passport holders may enter Dubai on a free visa that we obtain on your behalf upon arrival. U.S. passport holders also must have a visa for entry into India. India visas must be obtained prior to departure. See below for more information.

Passport, Visa & Entry Requirements for India

U.S. citizens must have a passport which is valid for at least six months after the arrival date, with at least two blank visa pages. U.S. passport holders must also have a visa to enter India. US passport holders visiting India with stays up to 30 days may obtain a single or double entry  eVisa through the Indian Government's eTVOA website. You cannot obtain an eVisa until 30 days prior to arrival in India, but no later than 4 days before your departure from the US. However, visas are only valid for entry within 30 days of the date of issue, therefore we strongly recommend that you apply for your eVisa between 14-21 days prior to your arrival in India.

Please note that when applying for your eVisa, you will be asked to upload clear photocopies of the following:

  • A recent front-facing photograph with white background
  • The signature, picture, and data pages of your passport

A non-refundable eVisa fee must be paid no later than 4 days before your expected arrival date in India.  Once your eVisa is approved, you will receive an email with the Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) status marked as “GRANTED.”  

Please be sure to have a print out of the Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) with you at all times, during your stay in India. You will be asked to present your valid Indian visa at the airline check-in counter. You may not be allowed to board the plane without a valid India visa.

If you do not hold a U.S. passport, please see the entry requirements.

Passport, Visa & Entry Requirements for Dubai

U.S. citizens must have a passport which is valid for at least six months after your return date.

You may enter the UAE on a free visa issued upon arrival if you hold a passport from the United States or any of the following countries: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Vatican City. Consult the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates or the U.S. Dept. of State website for more information.

If you do not hold a passport from one of the countries listed above, you must obtain a visa prior to arrival. If you would like us to obtain this visa on your behalf, please contact us after you book, and we will send instructions and application forms. Or you can obtain your visa directly from the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates.

If you do not hold a U.S. passport, you are responsible for determining all entry requirements and obtaining any necessary visas. Consider using an expedited visa service.

Minors (age 17 or younger) traveling to the UAE with parents or guardians of a different surname must present documentation of relationship such as a birth certificate upon entry.

General Requirements & Guidelines

  • We provide visa & entry requirement information for the convenience of our travelers, and we try to keep it up-to-date. Ultimately, however, it is your responsibility to determine the passport and visa requirements that apply to you and to comply with them, including securing proper travel documents by the required deadlines and carrying them with you. Requirements are subject to change, sometimes without notice, and we suggest you verify them with the relevant embassy or consulate, the U.S. State Dept (if you're a U.S. passport holder), and/or with an expedited visa service such as VisaHQ. Airlines and cruise ships may deny boarding, your trip may be disrupted, and travel insurance may not cover your losses if your passport and visa are not in order.
  • To travel abroad, U.S. citizens must have a passport. In general, it should be valid for at least six months after your return date, and passports expiring before then should be renewed as soon as possible. We recommend that passports contain at least 2 blank pages for each country visited. If your passport does not have this many pages, you should obtain a new passport as soon as possible.
  • Any changes in names or passport information should be reported to us immediately. Airlines and cruise ships may deny boarding if the name on your passport does not match your tickets.
  • Minors (age 17 or younger) departing and/or returning to the U.S. without parents or with only one parent may be required by U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) to present a notarized parental consent letter and/or unabridged birth certificate (more information). Many other countries have similar entry requirements, especially for minors traveling with a parent/guardian with a different surname; check with the consulates of all countries you'll be visiting to learn more.

Final Documents

Your final travel documents will be sent to you via email by 14 days prior to departure. These will include your daily itinerary, hotel and emergency contact information, and other relevant information. Please print your documents and take them with you. If you're departing in less than a week and haven't received your documents, let us know immediately!

Travel Insurance Documents

If you purchased travel insurance, please print your policy documents. If you purchased our protection plan, you can find a link to the full policy on our travel protection page. Carry this document with you when you travel, as it includes contact information for emergency travel assistance and instructions on how to make a claim.

Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)

We encourage all U.S. citizens and nationals traveling abroad to enroll in the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). This free service allows you to receive important updates about safety and security issues in your destination, and makes it easier for the U.S. Embassy, as well as family & friends, to contact you in case of an emergency. To enroll or get more information, please visit the STEP website or any U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Flights, Transfers & Arrival

Questions about your flights before you depart? Read the information below first. If you still have questions, contact our air specialists at 800-555-5765 ext. 2 or air@friendlyplanet.com.

Flights & Tickets

For this package, we generally book your flights and issue tickets within 1–3 business days of your booking. However, flights cannot be booked more than 300 days prior to travel. If you are departing more than 300 days in the future, we'll book your flights once they become available. If you requested flights from another city, our air specialists will research the best options and send you a tentative flight schedule and quote for your approval.

Once we have issued your tickets, we'll send you an "e-ticket receipt" which contains all of your flight information, including times, carriers, an airline booking reference number, and an e-ticket number. If you have not received this, or have questions about the flights we booked for you, please contact our air department. You will not receive paper tickets. We recommend you print and carry a copy of your flight details, including the airline booking reference number and e-ticket number, as some airports require this to enter the terminal. You do not need to reconfirm your flights with the airline prior to your departure, as we will handle this for you.

Want to reserve specific seats?

That depends on the airline. You can usually request a window or aisle seat, and sometimes specific seat numbers (but not exit row and bulkhead seats) ahead of time. Many airlines now charge a fee for this, and such fees are not included in your package price. If you have a seat preference, let us know when you book, in the special requests section, or email us at air@friendlyplanet.com after you book. Then:

If your airline does not charge a fee to pre-assign seats: We'll happily pass along your seat request to the airline and confirm they received it (though we cannot guarantee it will be honored).

If your airline does charge a fee to pre-assign seats: We'll let you know. You'll need to contact the airline directly to request your seats after we have issued your flight tickets, and fees are payable directly to the airline.

If you do not request specific seats: The airline typically assigns them within 24 hours of departure. If you do not like your assigned seats, you may be able to change them, subject to availability, when you check in online or at the counter. Learn more about Advance Seat Reservations.

Want to request a special meal?

You can enter special meal requests when you book with an agent or complete your online registration, shortly after booking. We will relay your requests to the airlines and our representatives abroad, but we cannot guarantee they will be honored. Please double check meal requests with your airline 72 hours before departure, and with our representatives upon arrival.

Looking to earn frequent flyer miles?

You may be able to earn frequent flyer points for your flights on this package. Contact the airline directly once you receive your tickets to enter your frequent flyer number in your flight record, or enter it when you check in. As you travel, check your tickets or ask the check-in or gate agent prior to boarding each flight to ensure the number has been entered properly. And just to be safe, keep your boarding passes and passenger receipt as proof that you have actually flown the miles you want credited to your account.

Interested in upgrading to business class or premium economy?

Cabin upgrades may be available on this package. Ask us about price and availability when you book online, in the special requests section. Please note that our special contracted airfare rates generally do not permit upgrading with frequent flyer points, and that upgrade requests may incur change fees if tickets have already been issued.

Flight Schedule

You may review the sample flight schedule(s) below. This information is for general planning puposes. You will receive your actual flight schedule and details by email once we issue your tickets.

Airlines may change schedules at any time, even after flights have been confirmed, and we are not responsible for such changes. Please confirm your flight schedule prior to booking any connecting flights and again 72 hours prior to departure.

Emirates Airlines (EK) toll-free number is 800-777-3999.

IMPORTANT! Emirates has a minimum check-in of 3 ½ hours prior to departure time. The check-in counter closes one hour prior to departure. Passengers arriving less than 1 hour prior to departure will not be accepted. Please don't risk losing your departure flight by arriving late at your international gateway.

NOTE: The sample flight schedule listed below is an example and may not be exactly the same as your final schedule. Flight schedules will be sent via e-mail for approval prior to ticketing. Please do not book any connecting domestic airfare until you receive your final schedule.

New York (JFK) Sample Flight Schedule:

Sample Flight Schedule:

DEPARTURE
Flight From To Depart Arrive Flight Time
EK 202 New York (JFK) Dubai (DXB) 11:00 pm 8:25 pm (next day) 12.25 hrs
RETURN
Flight From To Depart Arrive Flight Time
EK 515 DEL DXB 9:25 pm 11:55 pm 4 hrs
EK 203 DXB JFK 2:35 am 8:55 am 14.20 hrs
Airline schedules and flights are subject to change at anytime without notice.

 

Connecting Flights

If you plan to purchase connecting flights to your departure city, we strongly suggest waiting until 75 days prior to departure (and after you make your final payment) to ensure materialization and to reduce the chances that your international flight times might change—since airlines sometimes change schedules even after flights have been booked. Before purchasing connecting flights, always confirm the times for your international flights first. Leave at least 3½ hours connecting time between flights, and if you're traveling within a few weeks of Daylight Savings Time changes (in March and November, when flight schedules may change even more dramatically), allow 5–5½ hours between flights. Nobody likes waiting around the airport, but missing your flight is far worse!

Airport Transfers

Scheduled group airport transfers at the destination are included with this package. When you exit customs, please look for our representative holding a Friendly Planet sign, who will cheerfully escort you to your transfer vehicle and assist with your luggage. In most cases, private transfers are also available for an additional fee—contact us for price and availability. Or you may instead arrange your own ground transportation to the package start and end points. (Note that there is no discount for any unused included transfers).

Arrival Complications

We make every effort to ensure our tours run smoothly and trouble-free. We don't expect any problems, and nor should you. But when things don't go as planned, here's what to do:

  • You miss your flights, or your flights are cancelled: Please call us immediately. If it's outside our normal business hours, leave a message in our emergency mailbox, with a phone number at which to reach you, and we'll get right back to you.
  • Your flights are delayed and you're worried about missing your included transfers: Please contact us to let us know about the delay, and we will notify our partners in destination. If you are arriving on one of our group flights, or booked your own flights and supplied us with the details, our partners will be tracking your arrival and will plan accordingly.
  • Your package includes transfers, but you can't find our representative at your destination: Don't panic—they may have been unexpectedly delayed. Wait up to 30 minutes. Then contact our local partners in destination, listed on the emergency contact page of your final documents. If you can't reach them, call us. If it's outside our normal business hours, leave a message in our emergency mailbox. If all else fails, make your own way to the starting hotel (or cruise port), and we'll refund you the cost of your transfer.

Packing & Luggage

Baggage allowance: In general, our tours & packages allow per person: one checked bag, not to exceed 44 pounds; one personal item such as a purse or camera bag; and one carry-on bag, which should fit under your seat or in the overhead compartment. If your trip includes domestic flights within your destination and/or travel by motor coach, your carry-on should also fit should also fit under your seat or in the overhead bins on those flights or coaches.

Learn more about Baggage Allowances on your international flights. Note that our baggage allowances may be less than those for your international flights. If you exceed the baggage limits, you may be subject to excess baggage charges levied by the airlines and/or by Friendly Planet.

Regardless of the limits—we recommend a smaller size and weight for both your checked and carry-on bags. It's so much easier and faster for you to get around when you have fewer, lighter bags! For your carry-on, consider a soft-sided bag such as a duffel rather than a hard clamshell-type case, which may not fit as easily into overhead compartments or under your seat, especially on buses. For your protection, we suggest your checked luggage have a TSA-approved lock.

Luggage tags: For your safety, we are no longer mailing Friendly Planet luggage tags to you. We encourage you to use your own. Fill in the luggage tags with your name and contact information and attach to each bag, including carry-ons and camera cases, so that your luggage can be identified should it get misplaced during your trip.

What to pack: Check out our blog post on our Top 10 Must-Haves for International Travel. Pack smart: put your travel documents, medications, one change of clothing, and other essentials in your carry-on, in case your checked baggage is misplaced. And pack light, for your own comfort and convenience. For clothing, we suggest packing a variety of separates with climate and comfort in mind.

What not to pack: U.S. law forbids you to carry hazardous materials aboard aircraft in your checked or carry-on baggage or on your person, including explosives, compressed gases, flammable liquids & solids, loaded firearms, poisons, corrosives and radioactive materials. Common examples include paints, lighter fluid, fireworks, mace/tear gas and oxygen bottles. Restricted materials may vary by airline and destination. Some items, in quantities of no more than 70 ounces total, may be carried within baggage, including medicinal or toilet articles such as hairspray, perfume and certain medicines that are necessary during your journey. Please check with the airline and/or visit the FAA website prior to travel if you have any questions.

While on Tour

What to Expect

This fast-paced, partially escorted tour includes a reasonable amount of walking or hiking and requires an average level of physical fitness. This tour also includes long scenic drives between destinations, sometimes on bumpy unpaved roads and may have limited rest stops.

Remember that you're a guest in someone else's homeland, and that you're traveling to experience their country and culture. Be sensitive to local customs and manners, as many things may be done differently than what you're used to. And while we have made every effort to secure modern and comfortable accommodations and transportation, please note that the standards in other countries may be different from those you are accustomed to at home. Overall, you will find a polite, positive, patient, and open-minded approach generally yields the best travel experience!

Please keep in mind that you'll be traveling with a group. Sharing your explorations with like-minded folks can often be a source of joy, and some of our travelers become lifelong friends. But traveling with strangers can also sometimes be challenging, especially in a foreign country. We ask that you be patient and respectful with your fellow travelers, including their needs and preferences. Also remember that you have responsibilities to the group—please be prompt for group activities so you don't keep everyone else waiting. Lastly, please defer to your tour leader, guide or manager. They are there for your safety and wellbeing, and to ensure the journey goes smoothly for everyone. If you have a problem with one of our tour guides or managers, please let us know, either while you're on tour or after you return, and we'll make sure your concerns are addressed.

Eating & Drinking

The meals included with your package are listed in the itinerary. For all other meals, you're at liberty to dine where you like. Your hotels will have several dining choices, from coffee shops to specialty restaurants.

Please see above for special meal requests.

Special Needs & Requests

Please see above for special meal requests and seat requests. If you have any other special requests, including wheelchair or electric cart assistance, please mention your request when you book with an agent, or in the special requests section when you book online. We will do our best to accommodate them!

Country FAQs

Fast Facts about India

Overview

Capital: Delhi
Population:  1.1 billion
Currency: Indian rupee (INR)
Languages:  Hindi, Urdu, Tamil, Bengali, Kashmiri, Kannada, Marathi, Gujarati, Telugu, English
Drives on the: Left
Time zone: GMT +5:30

Health Precautions & Vaccinations

According to the Center for Disease Control, all areas lower than 2,000 meters (6,561 feet), including cities are considered high-risk areas for malaria. The cities of Delhi and Bombay are also risk areas. Consult your physician about inoculations and the use of antimalarial drugs.

Center for Disease Control
World Health Organization

Weather

When traveling to India, November thru March is the best time to visit. Temps in the north are between 40-70° F and temps in the south are between 65-85° F. March-June is dry and very, very hot. June-October is monsoon time. When traveling to the mountain region, the months of March, April, October and November are ideal.

Tipping
  • Upscale restaurants: 5% 
  • Hotel restaurants: 10% 
  • Porters: 10-15 rupees per bag or service
  • Hired drivers: provide meals and 50-100 rupees at the end of the day.

In India you'll be expected to pay small amounts in order to get things done, as well as to reward for jobs already accomplished.

Money & Credit Cards

The local currency in India is the Indian Rupee. Most hotels and upscale stores and restaurants accept major credit cards. However, for “street shopping” you will need local currency. We highly recommend that you bring crisp, new bills in small denominations. Old, torn, crumpled bills are not always accepted.

Always notify your bank prior to departure to avoid any problems using your credit or debit card abroad.

Shopping

Shop for wood carvings, fabrics, brassware, copperware, bronzes, silver, fossils and crystals, sandalwood items, paper-mache, paintings and prints, dhurri rugs, dolls, tea, saffron, batiks, carpets, and gems (if you know what to look for).

Bargaining is the norm. Beware of copycat brand-name items and animal products such as skins and horns- they are illegal. And remember to shop at the local markets!

Electricity & Power Adapters

230 volts. Plugs C & D. You will need a voltage converter and plug adapter in order to use U.S. appliances. We recommend getting a universal adapter and converter kit.

Learn more about electrical standards around the world.

Cell Phones & Internet

Want to take your cell phone, tablet or laptop, but not sure how to get cell service or wifi? See our blog posts on using your cell phone abroad and the top 5 ways to get Internet abroad.

Did you know?
  • India is home to over 300,000 active mosques, outnumbering any other country in the world.
  • The classic game of Chess was invented in India.
  • At approximately 3,287,263 sq. km. with a population of 1.3 billion people, there is only one-time zone across all of India.
  • India is the world's second largest English speaking country, next to the USA, with around 125 million people speaking the language.
  • India is the largest vegetarian-friendly country in the world.
  • With more than 150,000 post offices, India has the largest postal system in the world (3 times the size of that of China!)

Fast Facts about Dubai

Overview

Population:  2.789 million
Currency: Dirham (AED)
Languages: Arabic
Drives on the: Right
Time zone: GST (UTC +4)

Health Precautions & Vaccinations

While there are no required vaccinations for entry into the UAE, consult your doctor about vaccinations and other preventative medicine recommended by the Center for Disease Control. Make sure your food and drinking water are safe as food and waterborne diseases are the primary cause of illness in travelers. There is no risk of malaria or yellow fever in the UAE.

Center for Disease Control
World Health Organization

Weather

With its dry, subtropical climate and lots of sunshine, Dubai is a year-round destination. Rainfall is infrequent—mostly during the winter months—but flash floods can occur. Temperatures range from a low of about 50 F to a high of 118 F in the summer. The best time to visit Dubai is during the winter months, November-March. April and May are still pleasant, although it will be warming up. Summers are hot and humid.

Tipping

Where service charges are not included in a bill, a 10% tip for hotel bellhops and restaurant waitstaff is adequate. It is also appropriate to tip taxi drivers a few dirhams.

Money & Credit Cards

ATMs are found all over the city.

Always notify your bank prior to departure to avoid any problems using your credit or debit card abroad.

Shopping

As the shopping capital of the Middle East, Dubai is a true shopper's paradise. Low customs duties make luxury goods less expensive than in most countries. In fact, the Dubai Duty Free is renowned as one of the best duty-free operations in the world.

In the city, there are three main places: shopping malls, souks and the shopping streets or areas. Souks are very common in the Emirates and tend to be good places to buy gold, fabrics, electronics, and traditional Arabic art. Other items to shop for include clothes and fabrics, Persian carpets and rugs, Arabic coffee pots, silver and brass swords and khanjars (curved daggers), ancient rifles, shisha pipes, porcelain prayer beads, antique silver jewelry, brass trinkets, and silver and wooden miniature dhows.

Bargaining is acceptable everywhere, even in the malls.

Electricity & Power Adapters

220/240 volts. You will most likely need a voltage converter and plug adapter in order to use U.S. appliances, even though some outlets will correspond to American plug types and voltages. We recommend getting a universal adapter and converter kit.

Learn more about electrical standards around the world.

Cell Phones & Internet

Want to take your cell phone, tablet or laptop, but not sure how to get cell service or wifi? See our blog posts on using your cell phone abroad and the top 5 ways to get Internet abroad.

Did you know?
  • Dubai has a population of over 3.1 million people, making it the most populated city in the United Arab Emirates.
  • The tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa, is found in Dubai.
  • Dubai is home to the longest driverless metro line, stretching over 30 miles, in the world -- and even holds a Guiness World Record for it! 
  • Dubai Palm, the artificial island off the coast of Dubai, is the largest man made island.
  • The largest shopping mall in the world is found in Dubai -- mirroring the size of about 50 football fields!

Fine Print

Terms & Conditions: Please check out the terms & conditions for this package.

Cancellations: If something comes up and you need to cancel your trip, please let us know as soon as possible. All cancellations must be made in writing. Cancellation fees vary by package; please see the cancellation fees for this package.

Materialization: This package may require a minimum number of passengers to operate. In the unlikely event that your departure must be cancelled due to lack of participation, we will notify you prior to the final payment due date, and offer alternate dates of travel or a full refund. Please do not purchase any domestic connecting flights, or other services which are dependent upon the operation of your package, until this time.

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