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Travel agencies in India e.g. Legends and Palaces, Castle and King

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I am just doing some very initial scoping of a possible trip to India. Apart from a beach holiday in Goa this would be my first trip there since I backpacked extensively around Southern India in the 1980s

I am not very keen on being guided every step of the way or following a detailed itinerary specified in advance and so basically just want an agency that will safely and reliably transport us from A to B [e.g Dehi-Agra-Jaipur-Jodphur]. I can see from Fodorite's posts that several Indian agencies such as Castle and Kings and Legends and Palaces get good write ups and these both sound really flexible. However I have a couple of queries that I would be grateful for input into :-

Firstly, my travel insurance only covers me for end supplier failure [I.e. the airline or hotel itself going bankrupt not the failure of an intermediate agencies] and so I am worried about security of handing over significant finances in advance of a trip to foreign travel agencies. In UK, where I live, all ABTA agencies are covered by a national scheme but clearly this would not apply in these cases where company registered elsewhere. Can you pay by credit card as I believe this gives protection? I have searched websites but most seem to refer to bank transfers. Any thoughts on this issue would be very welcome as I have not picked up any references to this concern in posts.

Secondly, and partly as a response to my previous concern as it would reduce the risk, is it possible to just book the car and driver and not the hotels with these agencies or do they only offer 'all in' tours ?

Many thanks

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