Essential Travel Tips For the Maha Kumbha Mela, India 2010

The Maha Kumbh Mela is much less well known than the Olympics, the Commonwealth Games or the World Cup of soccer, and for each city that hosts this Hindu pilgrimage, the event comes around about as often. However, the Maha Kumbh Mela can see visitor numbers up to three times the entire population of Australia. With that many people around, there are all sorts of reasons to update your travel insurance if you will be in India near the Kumbh Mela in 2010. Today we look at the potential risks centering on the event, and what level of online travel insurance is recommended for visitors to India over the 3 months of the festival.

About the Maha Kumbha Mela

The Maha Kumbh Mela, usually shortened just to the Kumbh Mela (as the first word changes), is a Hindu pilgrimages attended by holy men and women across India. People come to a set city, indicated by planetary positions. It is said to be an auspicious festival to attend, and so attracts people from all walks of life. The festival can be attended by any number from 10 million to 80 million participants, and in recent years there have been around 1 million people attending from outside of India. There can be millions of people in a given spot for the festival on the important bathing days.

Potential Security Issues

India in general is subject to a high level of terrorist threat, and awareness of these issues has been heightened after the terrorist attacks on tourist-related areas in Mumbai in November 2008.

Although the Maha Kumbh Mela is being held in Haridwar district, rather than Mumbai, most travel in and out of the country in concentrated in Mumbai. Haridwar is also in close proximity to the troubled states of Assam, Nagaland, Tripura and Manipur – all are in the mnorth of the country. The highest level of travel insurance cover will help protect you from harm in these northern areas.

Potential Logistical Issues

The millions of people that flood into the Kumbh Mela areas during the religious festival place plenty of pressure on infrastructure! It is sensible to book accommodation as far in advance as you can, and to travel lightly, with only what you absolutely need. Carrying your luggage on the plane will help avoid any disturbances at the airport, and logistics-related travel insurance will cover the rest.

Recommended Level of Travel Insurance

On a per capita basis, the possibility of being caught up in terrorist or politically motivated crime in India is relatively small. Still, the Australian government has set its threat level to ‘High degree of caution’ for travelers going to India.

  • Medical travel insurance cover is certainly recommended – India is a developing country and gastric diseases, as well more exotic diseases that are rare in Australia, are common. Not all can be vaccinated against.
  • Logistics-related travel insurance cover is recommended, because of the enormous number of people that will be attending the Kumbh Mela. According to the Australian Government, petty crime is quite common in India, so travel insurance plans that cover you for loss or theft of personal belongings should be mandatory
  • Cautious travelers could make use of the highest level of travel insurance cover, mostly for the catastrophe cover and mugging benefit that it provides.

Travel MLM Opportunities – Do They Actually Sell Travel?

Right now there is so much hype on the internet about making money in travel. The travel deals are touting that it’s an $8 TRILLION per year industry, if you just get the tiny-est slice of this pie, you’ll be rich.

The problem is, most of the travel deals are not selling travel – they are just pretending to be. There is nothing wrong with selling travel packages and getting paid a commission. If you can selling a luxury holiday package and save your customers 60% if they had have arranged that package themselves, then more power to ya. But that’s NOT where the travel deals are making their money.

There may be a few legitimate online travel deals using a multilevel marketing pay plan, but there not many. Travel MLM’s simply can’t make money selling travel. They just can’t, the profit margins are too low. The industry is too competitive. You can find many great, competitively priced travel deals just by asking Google. The travel MLM’s are making their money on selling memberships. Here’s how they work…

They sell you a monthly subscription that allows you the privilege of purchasing travel packages at a discounted price. There’s nothing wrong with that. Consumer retail stores like Sam’s Club and Costco do the same thing. For $40 to $50 per year, you get the privilege of purchasing goods at these stores for less than you would at other retail stores.

The problem is the travel MLM’s are putting a compensation plan behind the membership programs. They are not selling travel, which is the real product, but they are selling memberships and compensating their reps on the sale of memberships. It seems legit, but it in fact is a very sneaky way to pass up money from people at the bottom, who pay the monthly fees, to the people at the top, without giving them something of real value.

Yes, the memberships do allow you to purchase travel packages at a discounted price, but that’s not where the emphasis is. Most of the emphasis is on the sale of memberships, not the travel packages.

Please understand this – memberships for travel discounts are not real products. They are one step away from the real product, the travel packages. But they can be cleverly disguised to make them seem like they are something of real value, which they are not.

A membership only gives you the privilege of discounted travel, not the travel itself. Therefore it is only valuable when you decide to use the privilege. At all other times, it is worthless. And that is what’s wrong with most travel MLM’s. They are trying to recruit people into their “travel club” where only a small portion of the people are going to take advantage of the real products – discounted travel.

To give you an real example of this type of business, a well established travel MLM company is currently under very close scrutiny from several state attorney generals because people are questioning the validity of it.

In 2006, the company reported gross revenues of over $24 million. The actual sale of travel totaled $2.5 million, or 10.5% of the total revenue. About $18 million, or 74.3% came from monthly membership fees and $3.3 million, or 13.9% came from selling training tools to the distributors. The company’s real product, travel packages, only constituted a small percentage of it’s total revenue.

You best watch out, because the attorney generals are not just going after the perpetrators, they are coming after the distributors as well.

Yikes! What A Way To Go: New York City’s Travel Experience

As long as man has been around, he has always found a way to transport himself and the things that he needs from one location to another. Transportation is essential to trade and travel, whether we live in a big city or a small town, U.S.A. We entrust our livelihood, our food supply and even our social lives to it. The wheel and combustible engine were 2 of man’s most important technological developments. We are heavily dependent on them still to go from one destination to the other.

New York State plays a key role in the nation’s economy. For this reason, millions travel to New York using its transportation system when they get there to access employment and financial opportunities.

Here is a perfect example:

For the millions of commuters who travel daily to access business and investment opportunities, rush hour is a frightening scenario as key roadways and bridges are jam-packed with cars, trucks, motorcycles and buses, inching their way through bumper to bumper traffic. The overwhelming congestion of vehicles and passengers snakes everywhere. It can often take an aggravating hour or two to get to one place in just one borough.

Millions of motorists dread this daily commute while many are resigned to accept gridlock as a way of life. One can definitely say that the time that angry and frustrated motorists spend in traffic congestion has tripled or quadrupled over the years. Not to mention the gas that is wasted and the damage that is inflicted on our environment from vehicle emissions. Wasted fuel consumption resulting from the congestion of traffic has put most of its commuters in financial turmoil, many of whom are already struggling over ballooning home and healthcare costs.

Let’s not forget to mention the subway. Train after train rumble their way into the station to be welcomed by an interminable barrier of commuters lined up on the platform. The crush of commuters make a mad dash to the train, pushing and elbowing their way. After a few seconds the train doors slam shut, leaving the unlucky ones behind. Some frustrated passengers fly, trying to push the doors open j-u-s-t far enough to wriggle their way inside before the train begins to move. If the train is a local it will continue to stop and pick up more passengers along the way, thus intensifying the unbearable crowding. Ill-humored, standing passengers are crushed together like sardines in a tin can with no room to fall if the train should suddenly stop.

This situation exists year-round as New Yorkers and tourists swarm about, seeking out beaches, parks and other recreational areas looking for a way to unwind. Here and there, stranded motorists along the highway stand beside their cars in the sweltering, dizzying heat, worsening the weekend obstruction filled with thrill seekers. Once the transfer of vehicles takes place, desperate motorists fly away. They frantically search for a gas station, only to find themselves once again trapped in an enormous column of 50 to 100 cars inching their way to the pumps hoping that the gas won’t run out.

Even the air is congested with airplanes, departing and arriving in near collisions over populated areas. Everywhere there is congestion, clustered merging traffic entering airports from main arteries often causing passengers to report late for their flights. Fliers are getting fed up with the spiraling air fares and poor quality of service. They are totally disgusted with long lines at the check in, security, flight delays and incompetent baggage handling. As for finding your luggage… good luck! The worst part of traveling by air are the cancellations due to bad weather conditions, the grounding of airplanes with faulty wiring or other safety hazards leaving thousands of travelers stranded. If the frazzled flier is dissatisfied, imagine the unhappy investors agonizing over sagging profits. Many passengers are forced to turn to ground travel to get to their destination within the country. The railways and buses are all struggling to cope with more travelers than their carrying capacity. All forms of transport rely on fuel, which is being consumed at an alarming rate. The rising price of fuel will raise fares and create a reduction in air and surface travel, forcing many to adjust their current lifestyles in anticipation of the coming shortages.

The Federal Government as well as State and local Officials are frustrated as they try to find solutions and accommodate the increasing demands of traffic, whether on local streets or highways. Many of the roads and bridges that were built years ago have aged to the point of needing major repairs or complete replacement, taking priority over any newly suggested road project. New York State has been urged to adopt a “fix-it first” approach to protect its transportation assets. The overwhelming costs of eliminating traffic congestion at hundreds of stressed areas throughout the state only adds more of a burden to financially strained budgets and to the taxpayer’s dilemma.

Almost everything we use and eat is transported by truck or train, both of which depend on abundant supplies of cheap diesel fuel. As gas and diesel fuel prices continue to climb, the price of everything will increase accordingly. All food supplies and products that are transported from a distance become far more expensive due to the increased cost of transporting them. Eventually this situation will create changes in people’s eating habits and add to mass unemployment.

New Yorkers and the entire nation love to drive their own cars instead of using public transportation, even though New York is perhaps the most public transit-rich city in the United States. Between the cost of insurance, maintenance, tolls, gas consumption and depreciation, driving a car would not necessarily be cheaper, nevertheless, to a motorist, a car represents independence.

New York City’s traffic congestion is already in an intolerable state; just imagine what an additional million cars will do.

The New York City Advisory Panel recently convened and came to the conclusion that if mass changes are not made to the New York City transportation system and soon, the infrastructure of the state is in deep trouble, the state economy will collapse and New York Citizens will see a serious decrease in their quality of life, all because there is too much congestion, too much gas is being consumed, and the transportation system itself is completely uncoordinated. Agencies must be consolidated to be more efficient, the infrastructure of roads must be replaced, and funding must be found to pay for all of this. The problem is, they really have no idea as to a solution to this huge problem.

As for public transportation, not a day goes by, in which there isn’t some mention that the trains and buses are never on time. They constantly break down, leaving transit riders distressed. Let’s face it, we are in a national crisis, gasoline and diesel is freely available for now, but is becoming more and more expensive by the day. If prices keep spiraling, people will not be able to drive. If people can’t drive they won’t be able to work. This will affect the overall American economy.

“Under these conditions, affluent people are going to buy downsized hybrids and the rest of us will probably have to fall back on public transportation as the most energy efficient (that is, least expensive) way to get from Point A to point B.”

It is obvious that the transportation problem in New York is not destined to find a permanent solution. Now that we have a clearer picture of the current transportation crisis and the greater one forthcoming, let’s take a backward glance at New York City’s public travel history as it transpired over the last few centuries, evolving inevitably into what it is today. In order to enlighten you on this subject matter, I have researched and compiled a list of selected historical facts which are documented regarding the development and growth of public transportation and its infrastructure. I have arranged the entries chronologically. Please note that the growth of the city during the twentieth century has been phenomenal. Manhattan, the most popular borough, has always been the financial center of the United States. This is where the greatest passenger traffic movement originates, develops and is distributed to the neighboring boroughs. This is where the overwhelming congestion of vehicles moves everywhere and at the same time nowhere, strangled within the narrow, confined limits of the island, thus creating transportation problems far too difficult to solve. Through this chronology you will observe how city officials keep making every effort possible to accommodate the demanding outcries of the populace for an improved transportation system.

I hope, this list will prove grist for the mill of your curious mind. At least, it should give you something to think about while you’re stuck in traffic!