It’s India, darling!

On the royal lake in Udaipur

The modern world may be flat, but at this moment we’re in the India of a glorious past, of jeweled palaces and geometric gardens, tiger preserves and the exquisite white marble mausoleum that marks a timelessly obsessive romance. For two weeks we’ll be chauffeured through fabled Rajasthan on a private tour in a gleaming white Ambassador, the iconic conveyance of India post-Raj.

The tab: less than $2,000 for bed-and-breakfast, car and driver. And yes, that’s for two.

Pushkar, India. COPYRIGHT: Jane Wooldridge

With other meals, guides, museums, tips and the doctor — we’ll get to that — our vacation comes to less than $100 per person per day, plus airfare and shopping.

No, we didn’t languish in the five-star private enclaves that grace sleek magazine covers — though we did stay in several royal-owned boutique hotels that made us feel like pampered guests of a bygone time. And while our meals weren’t prepared by the stars of the Master Chef India TV series, we ate well enough on dal, chicken korma and the occasional plate of pasta.

Any English-speaker can easily catch the Metro from the airport to New Delhi and book arrangements from train tickets to tiger safaris online.

But The Husband has declared that he’s past his do-it-yourself-in-the-developing-world days. But we’re also not in for a group tour. And why should we deal with the hassles of luggage and public transportation when Namaste India Tours (  — a small family-run company highly  recommended by a friend — can take care of the details for such a reasonable price?

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Looking for a frequent flier ticket? Here’s the latest trick

People often complain that they can’t use their frequent flier miles. When it comes to finding free flights, I’m usually successful — but it

INDIA: Frequent flier tickets often come with hassles including time-consuming searches, oddball routings and overnight stays at airport hotels. But when the destination is a place like India, Africa or Europe involving an expensive air ticket, the hassles are worth it.

takes some serious work and creative approaches.

Just this week I snagged two tickets for travel in May to Asia. What I quickly found is that booking the legs separately — instead of as a round trip — secured a ticket that “didn’t exist” when I tried to book it as a single itinerary.

Airlines steer you to their websites for booking by imposing a whopping fee if you book frequent flier tickets with a live person. If I’m saving $5,000 — as in this case — it’s still a good deal to pay $40 per ticket to use an agent. But not every agent is patient and savvy, and so I look up the options online before I make the call.

In this case, I wasn’t able to find tickets from Miami to Darwin, Australia — but I was able to find them from L.A. to Darwin. The Miami-to-LA leg was also available, but not as a “through” ticket from Miami to Darwin.

My return, from the relatively obscure port of Kota Kinabalu on Borneo, took a bit more digging. I’m buying inexpensive tickets ($50 each) from KK to the nearest major airport, Kuala Lumpur. I’m buying another cheap ticket ($100 each) from Kuala Lumpur to Hong Kong, where I pick up my frequent flier tickets back to Miami.

True, getting free seats on the most convenient, direct flights is nigh impossible. Every other flier is competing for those same seats, and even trying to book them the minute an airline releases its first batch of free seats doesn’t necessarily work. (Airlines release seats at varying schedules, about a year out, but most add seats throughout the yearbased on the volume of paid bookings they get.)

But if the savings are significant enough — for an expensive ticket to Asia, Africa or Europe — the inconvenience of oddball routings and overnight hotel stays can be worth it.