I still remember it like yesterday. It was 2010, and my sister, Pragati, had called to express her disappointment with me, to me. I’d backed out of another plan—another trip, this one was to Europe, probably something she’d been planning for months.
Not a born traveller
I’d spent most of my childhood, NOT travelling. My dad spent a lot of time away from us for work, and, which led to a few infrequent getaways from time to time. I mean, I can literally count the number of times we travelled so it wasn’t like I was used to it. And my first job (at India Today TV) kept me obsessed with my work six days a week.
In short, I had no idea what I was missing out.
There were no Facebook groups (that I knew of) and travel was restricted to a few copies of Lonely Planet. It was a thing that never came to my mind when I wanted to escape from my day shifts and monotony. My sister who could see me in a rut tried to shove me out of my zone of the known.
Giving travel a shot
The only reason I gave travelling a chance was because I was too tired to fight. I reluctantly agreed for a trip to Hong Kong. I kept it short—even my boss was surprised—and offered a longer leave of absence than 4 nights. I declined and headed to the airport, wary what was to come.
In 5 days and 4 nights, I’d managed to do something I hadn’t done in a long time. I’d visited two countries, tried at least 5 types of cuisine, chilled on a beach, partied on a mountain top and bonded like butterflies.
Travelling changed my life goals!
When I came back, I felt refreshed. It was like somebody had hit the reset button and I could see that I needed to take control of things and start pursuing the only goal I’d had since I was 13—I started writing professionally.
With time, came opportunity to travel. My stint with a travel magazine made me park a suitcase in my room. As short as it was, it only fuelled what had started—a zest for the new which later became an appreciation for wellness.
From then on, my sister didn’t need to call me and remind me to make plans. Sure, I needed a nudge or two—to remember those amazing moments—but almost every year, we take out about 10 days to leave our life, as we know it, say bye to Mum, Dad, partners and babies and head out.
Not all those who wander are lost…
Over the years, I wouldn’t say I have travelled as much as I’ve wanted to—but yeah, there have been both good, and bad times. There have been times when I have gotten lost, or almost robbed, snowed out or out of cell coverage area—or had really boring company. But it’s OK—it’s all about experiences which is why I’m currently saving for the next one.
Four years later, I know what travelling has done for me—and what it can do for you.
Food has completely changed for me
I haven’t been one of those people who carry their own food when travelling but yeah, I’ve never savoured food as much as I do today—and that’s one of the biggest wins for me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still finicky. But I’d be happy to eat Beef Wellington (is that politically incorrect?) for dinner, and I’m dying to eat a good poached lobster as I write this. I would have never tried a beetroot risotto—and would have preferred skipping a meal than trying something that’s not “familiar”. Be it street food or Michelin star restaurants, my attitude towards food has changed.
Your perspective changes
The comfortable banality of our lives can sometimes make us forget what we really want in life. Not just an escape from reality, travelling can really help you regroup and help you remember what your life goals are. These breaks can help you take stock of life, and choices you make—an escape route from corporate cultures—or even show more appreciation to your bed and family.
Bonding has a different meaning
When you meet people in a bar, or for lunch, it’s different—coz it ends there. When you travel with friends, lovers, parents, you experience a different sense of togetherness. I met two of my sisters’ friends and we absolutely loved their company—and my relationship only grew from there. Of course, it can go both ways, but yeah, travel is a great way to bond.
You’ll do things you haven’t done before
I think the best part about travelling is how it constantly pushes you in ways you don’t even realize. For some people, it would be about facing their fears—for others it’s about self-discovery. There is no better feeling than when you surprise yourself.
If you, like me, are a reluctant traveller, you should:
- Travel at least twice a year. The first spot should be something you like (for me it’d be the beach) for you to unwind, attain nirvana and do awesome things with your GoPro. The second should be something experimentative, probably out of your comfort zone.
- Take a break from life as is, even if it’s just for the weekend. Last year, I couldn’t travel outside India. So I took 4 trips out of which 2 were stay-cations. Stay-cations should ideally be away from the city so that you get to enjoy a new view, embrace the change and re-group.
- Get the right travel partner. I think my sister is my ideal travel partner. I enjoy her company the most, and she’s the only one who can push me yet keep things in control. Plus she’s really good at navigating maps and I’m good at booking hotels and tours—so we kinda balance it out. You should ideally have someone who understands when you need a little push (or shove) and knows when to keep mum.
- Try different groups: I recently went for a trip with 7 acquaintances, and trust me, it was fun. If you’re married, or been travelling with the same set of friends since you were 18, you need this more than me.
Step out, even if you do it, reluctantly. How has travelling changed you? Tell us in the comments’ section.
This post was first published on Inspired Traveller.