Do you want to wake up in the morning, shrug off the pandemic as ghastly nightmare, and just want to take off on a holiday? You are not alone – millions are praying for such a morning. Even though the pandemic is a reality, I am sure we will be travelling again in the foreseeable future. When you can, cherish it like a gift – and change the way you travel. Here are some pointers from my personal experiences:
1. No excuses for not travelling: If I got a dollar every time someone told me why they cannot travel, I would be globetrotting in my private jet by now. Ok, I am exaggerating – but I would definitely be going business class everywhere. Work, girlfriend, wife, neighbour’s wife, kids, parents, money, time, travel partner, boss pressure … all these excuses can be overcome. There is always a trip you can undertake despite the impediments. Take people along, or leave them behind if they don’t want to travel. You will not get bored if you travel alone. There is always time and budget for short, periodic getaways. Work is just a means to an end. Have the will to travel, and it will happen. Nothing can or should hold you back.
2. Travel local when you can’t go beyond: None of us can leave town whenever we want to. Including professional travel writers like me. But hey, have you travelled to the city you live in? If others can travel to our city, why do we ignore it ourselves? Go discover your local history, food, culture, shopping and more. You will be surprised. And trust me – all those hours spend exploring will make you feel like being out of town. Money back if you don’t.
3. Maintain a journal: Slow down. Learn more about wherever you are. Make notes. On the go. In longhand. Pen or pencil on paper. When you do this, you will create memories for a lifetime. Your journals will give you happiness when you flip through in the future. And when you start writing, you will get involved in the subject more – only then will you be able to write beyond a few lines. The knowledge and insights gained will be immensely satisfying. All my books would not have happened but for my notes. My memories would have been a blur otherwise.
4. Talk to locals. Research. Read up. You will find yourself slapping your forehead thinking about all that you would have missed out on had you not done so. Anecdotes, secrets, information, opinions – these come up only when you go looking.
5. Stay in touch with those you meet on the way. You will meet many locals and like-minded travellers when out there. Exchange numbers and emails. Stay in touch. They will be the friends you will truly feel connected to. Some of my best friends are those I met on the road.
6. Take lots of photos. Possibly videos too. You will be able to replay your journeys visually any time. That’s how I feel transported when I am not able to travel.
7. Put technology away. You can either be looking at your mobile screen, or at what’s on offer when out there. Put your gadgets in your bag. Absorb the place. Your friends will not hate you for not sharing photos real time; they can wait till the end of the travelling day, or till even after you are back. I have taken some of my best pictures when observing the world around me. And missed some gems because I was texting.
8. Organize all your notes and photos. Develop a system where everything is stored properly. And indexed for quick reference. Create multiple back-ups of digital images. And scan your notebooks lest you lose or spoil them. Tip: All photos of mine are renamed with place, date and serial number. Enabling me to pull out what I want in a jiffy.
9. Share your memories. Post on blogs, social media or as albums, books and e-books. This is how others can be a part of your journeys, and follow your path. Be willing to answer queries. Others will share their stories in this exchange. I pick up some of my best tips when I talk travel to others.
10. Travel responsibly. This cannot be emphasised enough. Understand what it truly means to follow sustainable practices. Just recycling towels is a mere placebo for your conscience. There is much more to it: your carbon footprint, defacing cultures and habitats, littering, exploiting locals and worse. Be true to the cause, lip service does more harm than good.
Remind yourself: We are all travellers. Passing through life. We are not meant to stay put or stagnate in life. If we are not moving, we are not progressing. Allow travel to change you.
Travel. Almost everything else in life is incidental.