What all things to keep in mind for a solo travel in India

‘I love to travel but have to wait for my friends to get free time which would match mine’

‘I love to travel but want to experience a solo trip but am too scared about it’

‘I love to travel and want to travel solo but don’t know where to start from and how to do it’

Sounds familiar?

Most of us want to travel, rather love travelling. But when those friends and family are not available when you are available to go then you keep postponing the dates as per their availability.

Sometimes, you just want to have the experience of ‘solo’ travelling but somehow never started off.

So what are the things that you need to know before stepping out for travelling solo?

Here are some important pointers based on my own experiences which you would find useful while travelling solo in India –

Know your place

A little bit pre-researched information about the place where you are going is always helpful. Example, the kind of weather conditions, culture, dressing sense, food, transport availability, etc.

Transport

All places in India are mostly connected by trains and bus. So after you have selected the place you want to go, see the rental options of four wheeler and two wheeler if you want to avoid public transport.

For trains it is better to book beforehand. For the bus transport check for the State run transport first as it is much faster and budget friendly.

If you are moving from one destination to another then check the connectivity. For example, when I went to Rajasthan, I rented two wheeler at Jaipur and covered all the nearby places with that.

Food

Best way to enjoy the foods and have the hygiene factor covered is by having the local authentic foods. You get the fresh fruits and vegetables and also the processed items intake would be less when you are tasting the local delicacies. And given India is majorly a vegetarian country, you would get all types of food at almost all states.

Take your own reusable bottle with a filter attached (although it’s a bit expensive). This will help you to have pure drinking water. Buying water every time if you are on a long trip would weigh down on the budget.

Clothes

India is a vast country with tropical climate. Whatever destination you travel to, better to check the weather conditions prior to that. Especially the clothes you will require at the Northern India is different from Southern India.

However, it is good to have interchangeable clothes and light multi-purpose jackets which you can mix and match and wear anytime.

Another important thing is to wear clothes which does not attract unnecessary attention (especially for women travelers). Prefer to wear clothes covering more than 70% of the body. Not all places are same but just to be on the safer side you would like to take this into consideration.

Also keep in mind, while visiting most of the religious places, wear a fully covered dress and better to cover the head.

Be a Responsible Traveler

Traveling is not just about fun. It’s also about experiences and learning. Wherever you go ensure that you respect not just the people and culture but also the place. Do NOT litter around even if you find litter lying here and there. It will not only help you have a satisfied journey but also you might inspire and encourage others to follow the same, you never know!

Hacks & Tips

Ladies, it is a good idea to fake a ring on your finger! It works most of the time. This peculiar trick keeps away unwanted men most of the time.

Keep a whistle, key, spray(any deodorant will also do) and torch handy always for safety purpose.

Keep emergency numbers handy. Local police and hospital details should always be with you wherever you are traveling to.

While India is a diverse country with a diverse culture, it is always advisable to respect and be humble and empathetic while traveling towards the locals and the fellow travelers.

If you have some other tips and experience do share it in the comments below. Would love to hear.

Happy traveling 🙂

New Year. New Mindset. New Action.

A surprisingly weird thing happened. Of course positive. Recently I noticed that whenever I open YouTube I search for videos which are useful for my growth. In other words fertilizer for the brain. Example, videos from Dan Lok, Jay Shetty, Dev Gadhvi, Oprah Winfrey and others.

Earlier whenever I opened YouTube, only movies and web series were being searched on priority. Now, I don’t feel like watching things unnecessarily which is not serving any positive purpose in my life. Some other shifts that have happened are there are only positive and like-minded people in my circles. Toxic people have been cut off. Brainstorming, discussion and continuous brewing of fresh ideas small or big are being discussed.

Story telling has been a major experience or learning you may say. It is a way you can express your most complicated thoughts.

In the last couple of days, hundreds of people have taken thousands of resolutions. Many will fulfill while some will forget in the hustle and bustle of life. Few of my friends have taken a new resolution of reading positive books for their mental and overall growth. They asked me to suggest some of the books to start off with.

Here are some of the books which they along with you all who want to nurture their minds and souls can go through.

The Secret by Rhonda Byrne

80% Mindset 20% Skills by Dev Gadhvi

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Attitude is Everything by Jeff Keller

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Crush It by Gary Vay Ner Chuk

Chicken Soup for the Soul by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen

The Storyteller’s Secret by Carmine Gallo

The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod

And many more…

There are lots of things you can do in this new year to see yourself at a much better position in the upcoming days. However, there is a small price you need to pay. That is, you need to take that first step.

There is a person who comes the gym near my place. He might be some VIP since there is a person who holds his bottle and towel, there is another guard standing beside him always while he works out. But ultimately after so many external help, he has to do the push-ups himself.

So let this new year bring a breath of fresh air and all this time the tasks you have been postponing and avoiding, start taking action for those. Take small steps. See the change in you. Be the better version of yourself.

Right time or right pace?

Have this thought ever crossed your mind at least once in life that you are too late to achieve success or anything that you want in life whereas others are way ahead of you in life? If yes, then congratulations! You are on the right track!

Confused? Let me explain.

Heard about Julia Child? She worked in advertising and media till her golden jubilee age in life. At 50, she launched her own cookbook and started her new desired career as a Celebrity Chef at the age of 51!

Sounds crazy? Here’s another real life example. Laura Ingalls Wilder started writing with the encouragement of her daughter at the age of 43. Her first and remaining several attempts were rejected numerous times. She went on improving herself at that skill for several years until at the age of 65, the famous ‘Little House in the Big Woods’ was published! She wrote the other series of ‘Little House’ of which the last one was published at the age of 76!

So if any thought crossed your mind that you are ‘too late’ in life even though you are struggling too much, just pause for a moment and realize the fact that ‘nothing is too late ever’. It is only a relative term, ‘late’, when you compare yourself with others. BUT our biggest competitor is just ‘us’.

If you feel like putting more effort in whatever you are doing, simply put more effort. If you feel like you need to pace up in whatever you are doing, then simply speed up, but because you want to achieve it and NOT because someone else is ahead of you in that genre.

Everyone is unique. So are the struggles and achievements.

Happy Life 🙂

Baggage with no benefit

When I first listened to these conversations, I was forced to think about it from a different angle. The event happened like this. My friend (a friend’s friend), Riya (name changed) and her roommate Sanaya (name changed) stay together in a sharing apartment. Just like any other sharing responsibilities, they had their designated set of works to do daily.

Since last few days Sanaya had been quiet all of a sudden. She recently had a break up hence was upset about it. Riya on the other hand tried to comfort her and change her mood in some way or the other. However, Sanaya was getting depressed day by day. Although she wanted to move on and be happy yet, she pulled herself back in some way or the other which only affected herself.

During that week, Riya had the responsibility of keeping the garbage/trash out of home for that particular week every morning. Instead of doing that, she kept piling up the trash in the same dustbin bag every day!

First day crossed, everything was as usual. Second day, third day crossed, everything same. Fourth day – Sanaya got up to a rotten smell in the entire house. She went to the dustbin and saw a huge pile of trash in huge quantity. She simply went to Riya and asked her-

Sanaya: Are you getting that rotten smell coming out of that trash?

Riya: Yes of course! My nose is very sharp 😉

Sanaya (confused): Then why are you so relaxed? You were to throw that garbage outside in the morning right? So why are you piling it up?

Riya (calmly): Yes I know. But why is that bothering you so much? Even though it’s trash and useless garbage, what’s the harm in keeping it inside?

Sanaya (more confused and now a bit irritated): Are you kidding me!? If we keep the garbage inside, only we are going to suffer and not the people outside or even the neighbours!

Riya(smiling): Exactly my point! How can you stay happy with so much garbage (burden) inside you? How can you move on smoothly and swiftly by carrying the useless baggage unnecessarily which is only imparting the rotten feeling within you?

Sanaya was stunned. Stood there for a few minutes without saying a word. She was absorbed in those simple words of her roommate. It took her no further time to understand the reality and basis of her life. With a huge smile she hugged Riya and thanked for clearing her mind off from all the unnecessary stuffs.

A simple yet a powerful message. Whether it’s a breakup, sack from job, losing a close one, business loss or any kind of failure under the Sun is a baggage which we carry from the past into our present and future. Although the context of this baggage remains the same, yet the weight of this baggage increases to become a burden which is in no way good for us mentally, emotionally or physical and also for the people around us.

So always leave or at least try to leave your unnecessary baggage in the past. Simply bring in the learning from the baggage into the present and future.

Happy Life 🙂

EatStreet at Brisbane. Food paradise in Australia

When you are in a new country, the first thing you look for is food, be it your native food or the local food. But when you have the option of pampering your taste buds with not just your native food but also local foods and delicacies from all over the world, what do you do? Yes you are in the Food Heaven!

In brief – EatStreet is a place at North Shore Hamilton, Brisbane where there is a food festival on all Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays of the year. From food, beverages to live performances at more than 2 stages, you can enjoy your time and dine by the Brisbane River watching the mesmerizing sunset.

On the occasion of the 5 years anniversary of the EatStreet, here are some of the moments captured.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Another of my Moon shot 🙂

If you are at Brisbane, definitely visit EatStreet for some mouth watering experience!! Happy travelling 🙂

 

 

Foods of Sri Lanka. What to taste when in Sri Lanka

Wherever we go, whatever we do, every trip and everything remains incomplete if we don’t taste the authentic local food of that place. My taste buds are always on the lookout for tasting the delicious traditional local foods of all places. Here are some of the most yummy dishes I came across during my trip to Sri Lanka in 7 days. The entire trip was under INR 20,000! You can see the itinerary and other details here.

Indian is known to be the food paradise for food lovers and I being a big time Indian foodie tried all kinds of items I got in Sri Lanka.

Here are some of the most delectable items you must try out once you are in Sri Lanka.

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The above photo is of the following –

  • Small ones are Mix gram wadei
  • Thosai on left and String hoppers on right with coconut sambol
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Traditional Sri Lankan desserts

The above photo is of the following –

  • Sweet trickle hoppers( pani appa)
  • Baby jack-fruit cutlets (something spicy)
  • Caramelized coconut balls (pani pol guli)
  • Sesame and trickle balls (aggala)

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Simple coconut ‘tadka’ with plain rice – ‘Coconut Sambol and rice’
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Kottu – Traditional Sri Lankan food – A trademark of Sri Lankan Street food
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Traditional Sri Lankan thali with rice, vegetables and papad
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Home made delicacies
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Fresh Avocado juice with traditional thali

 

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    The above is the coffee. I found it to be granular and not getting dissolved easily. Also I observed that people there use milk powder often rather than the normal liquid milk. Hence, the tea and coffee tastes are quite different.

 

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Common Burger
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The above ones are home made sweets like the Gujiya that you get in India –

  • Long one: Mun Keum
  • Round one: Kokis
  • Square one: Aluwa

If you have tasted some other delicacies in Sri Lanka, do share in the comments, would love to hear.

Happy traveling 🙂

 

 

Some natural beauties of Sri Lanka. Birds of Sri Lanka

With a rich history and culture, Sri Lanka has its uniqueness in own way. Traveled to Sri Lanka for 7 days and captured some beauty of nature in my frames.

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White Throat Kingfisher

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Intermediate Egret
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Grey Heron
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Indian Cormorant
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Oriental Darter
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Common Kingfisher
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Chamelion
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Golden fronted Leafbird
4
Black Crested Bulbul
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Oriental White Eye

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Crested Serpent Eagle
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Brahminy Kite
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Female Leafbird
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Peacock
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Great Malabar Hornbill

Along with birds, some animal too! 🙂

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Giant Squirrel

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White Rumped Shama

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Giant Squirrel

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White Rumped Shama
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White Bellied Blue Flycatcher

Sri Lanka in 7 days under INR 20,000. Solo trip from India

Tear drop shaped island country, one of the nearest neighbors of India – Sri Lanka holds the same historical relation with India in context of Ramayana. Covering Sri Lanka in 7 days under INR 20,000, that too Solo trip from India needed a bit of planning. Although in size it is smaller than a state of India, Sri Lanka has diverse flora and fauna, food and culture. The innumerable National Parks, beaches and hills make its an ideal holiday destination for people across the world.

Caution – Long post ahead 😉

I started from Mumbai on a Friday and reached Sri Lanka on Saturday. It is not much of a distance but my layover was for around 4 to 6 hours at Chennai.

Day 1:

Colombo – Negombo

Since I reached in the morning, I had booked a homestay at House of Le Meridien at Negombo through Booking.com. The distance was very close to the airport, hardly 30 mins. Traveling to short distances is really cheap using the cab services like Uber and PickMe.

The Colombo city can be visited in a day and you may spend sometime by the ocean near all the big hotel chains. Especially in the evening the Ocean line looks beautiful!

Lots of sea food available anywhere that you travel.

The entire country is surrounded by water on all sides hence, there are some good places for beach lovers. To name a few- Mirissa beach on the south, Trincomali on the east, etc.

Since I have seen lots of beaches, this time planned to explore something else.

Day 2:

Sigiriya-Habarana

Traveling is cheap by local transport across the country, but it is quite time consuming. I took a bus from Negombo to Dambulla (there are AC and non AC buses, both with reasonable cost Ask the locals/ at the bus station about the AC buses if you want to travel in that). And from Dambulla to Habarana another bus (here only non AC buses).

Accommodation : Jungle Paradise

I would especially like to mention about the accommodation here. All nature lovers would love this place! It is simply amazing! There is a tree house, mud house, camping. All in the lap of nature. Everything there is eco-friendly…in literal sense! The electricity is generated through the owner, Rukmal’s personal solar panel.

The food, stay everything will give you an authentic experience about how we should treat and respect Mother Nature. He is an amazing person who would help you in deciding your further journey and also might accompany for an adventure trip!

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A special memory – Since I didnot have any company for Minneriya National Park where I wanted to see the ‘gathering‘ of Elephant herd, it was too costly for me to have the Safari alone and most importantly I wanted to see Elephants in a natural way. Hence decided to go on a real raw adventure…at night, in the jungle!

Rukmal has his tuk tuk(auto vehicle). Around 9:30 pm we decided to go in the middle of the jungle (this accommodation is just beside another small National Park) to see Elephants.

Next moment, we found ourselves in the pitch dark path of the Jungle with just a torch to spot Elephants 🙂

Within 5 minutes, the 1st small Elephant family was spotted – 2 big and one small kid. As soon as we were looking at them for around 30 seconds, the largest Elephant among them started to move towards us! Next micro second, we vanished from there!

Within next 2 minutes, we spotted another single Elephant who was waiting like a gentleman just on the footpath to cross the road. We waited in front of it just hardly 5 metres away until it smoothly crossed the road.

Next within another 5 mins, we spotted two Elephants together. We paused, they paused. We moved, they moved. It was as if we were playing ‘copy-me’ game 😀 Next second, one of them started to advance towards us and again we ran from there within a micro second!!

The final Elephant we spotted was a bit scared of us it seemed. It moved away instead of coming towards us.

We could get this experience just within a few metres at night without any guide or restriction. We just saw them and came back! It was a great feeling and experience! Not disturbing or using Elephants as in Safari and getting the real experience of simply watching them in their natural behavior is something I was looking for, and see…got it! 🙂

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Day 3:

Ritigala-Pink Quartz- Sigiriya- Pidurangala

There are some places in Sri Lanka which are extremely famous tourist spots and you will find those everywhere on the internet and most of the people visit only those. Due to this the entry of foreigners to these specific tourist spots are extremely expensive!

But there are certain places where only a handful of travelers go and explore. I did that. These have equal importance and significance in history and are some of the most beautiful and adventurous places you can go for.

Ritigala – It is believed that it is one of the places where parts of the Himalayan mountain fell while Hanuman was carrying it to cure Laxman, as per Ramayana. It is the ruins of an ancient monastery with beautiful ambiance and environment. It has around 70 rock caves that were believed to had been inhabited since first century B.C.!

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One of the many caves in Ritigala
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A portion of the ruins of the Buddhist Monastery

Pink Quartz – This hill range is entirely made of pink quartz! The view from the top is mindblowing! You have got to visit this place once you are near Habarana.

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Pink Quartz

Sigiriya – The famous Lion Rock of Sri Lanka. Famous for its giant structure and the ruins of ancient rock fortress at the top of it. It was formed from the magma of an extinct volcano. The entry fee here is approx INR 5000! Yes, it’s pretty expensive!

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The Lion Rock – Sigiriya

Pidurangala – Climbing to Sigiriya and Pidurangala are different experiences and cannot be compared. But when I was climbing Pidurangala, the Nature was at its best! Just near the top, the incoming black clouds of the monsoon engulfing the entire green stretch in front was a mesmerizing beauty! Waited near the giant sleeping Buddha structure for around 45 mins for the heavy rain to stop so that I can climb the top of Pidurangala.

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The Giant Buddha @ Pidurangala
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Sigiriya – Pidurangala

Trust me, you HAVE to climb to the top, the view is speechless! And not to forget, the ‘climbing’ part is more than a trek, you literally need to climb like a monkey! It’s way to adventurous. Wear a good grip shoe so as not to slip.

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A view from the top of Pidurangala – The engulfing monsoon clouds pacing towards us!

Day 4:

Kandy

Next day the journey from Habarana to Kandy took around 3 hours in bus. In Kandy stayed at a place near the Kandy Lake. Reached around 11 am, freshened up and went to see Temple of The Tooth. The entry for Indians or in general foreigners is INR 1000. Yes it’s comparatively expensive again.

It is a Buddhist temple with houses the relic of the tooth of Buddha. It’s nice inside. But personally I felt it is not worth INR 1000 to visit.

After that had lunch at . In the evening roamed around the market. There are lots of beautiful flower shops. You may buy local stuffs but see to it which are local and which are imported as lots of things are imported from Chennai.

Day 5:

Ella

Now when it comes to traveling to Ella from Kandy, 99.9% people would tell you to take the train from Kandy Station. It is known as the most picturesque train ride. And yes it is! The train ride took around 6 hours! Yes, traveling takes a lot of time in Sri Lanka as compared to the given distance.

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A view from the Train window during the journey

Few tips for the train ride:

  • Even if you go early to book the ticket at the Station, it’s of no use since there is no seat reservation system.
  • It’s hell crowded. Yes, just like Mumbai local, you have to travel. If you are lucky enough then you might get a seat in between.
  • But all passengers manage to sit somewhere on the luggage or on floor given the journey time.
  • Take some snacks and water with you, although you will get some snacks on board by the vendors.
  • If possible, then get on the train prior to Kandy i.e. one stop before Kandy just to try your luck for the seats! And yes, it works for most of the people.

The people are very humble and helpful, so the train ride is not of a big problem even if you don’t get a seat. Some good people offer their seat turn by turn.

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Train Journey to Ella

In Ella, I stayed at a place known as Rodger’s Hideout. It is a bit far from the main Ella center. You get bus from the station easily. But I just cannot say what an ultimate experience it was. I will detail it out in my next article. Just in brief, it is a place where you will be completely in the middle of nature – jungle, free flowing river, natural river pool, paddy fields, hills all around and a great host/owner of the place with his amazing dog named TJ.

The train ride takes about half a day, so reached Ella in the evening and explored the next day.

Day 6:

Little Adam’s Peak, Ella Rock, Nine Arch Bridge

Started early in the morning. From Ella Station stop, it is walking distance. Trek up to the top of Little Adam’s Peak. The view is mesmerizing! There’s a Buddha status on the topof the hill. Climbed down and then Ella rock. It was too tiring altogether, given the weather was too hot 😦

Have food at Flower Cafe. As the name depicts, the entire cafe and its surroundings are filled with plants and trees. It is a treat to the eyes and soul.They have their own Avocado tree and you get to drink the juice in the cafe made from that.

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Downhill, there is a path, in a way short cut leading to Nine Arch Bridge. It is considered to be one of the best examples of colonial-era railway construction in Sri Lanka.

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Nine Arch Bridge

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Day 7:

Finally the day back to Colombo. Took a bus from Ella since it takes less time than train. Sri Lanka in 7 days under INR 20,000 can be easily done by anyone. Go and explore for yourself!

Entire trip was a mix of adventure, relaxing, tiring and fun altogether. If you want to cover all the beaches, definitely choose to visit North eastern and Southern part of the country.

Happy traveling 🙂

How to travel frequently having a full time job

How many of us wish to travel often but are pulled down due to our full time jobs? We all have at least one friend who fits in the above scenario. Or rather, some of us are the exact ones. Just imagine if you get the trick to travel frequently even with a full time job, how brilliant does that sound? Amazing right!

I have been working in a full time job since few years now, but the urge to go and visit new places, meet new people and most importantly try out amazing delicacies, has always kept a fire burning in my heart since a long time. In simple terms, explore the amazing World given to us by Mother Nature! In most of my travel stories shared with you all in my blog, maximum have been done during weekends, be it with family/friends or solo. You can check out all those with budget and itinerary!

Trips with friends and family are always welcome, but the problem comes when the time adjustment as per their availability does not match with mine and vice-versa.

Hence, I decided to take the plunge and raft with the flow. But the entire planning authority and freedom is mine for these trips and it gives an amazing sense of accomplishment and freedom!

So, most of us have 5 days job. But few even have Saturdays working. So what you can do is –

  1. First, look for long weekends where you can combine 1 or 2 days extra along with Saturday and Sunday for your trip, if not even then it’s fine
  2. List down all the nearby destinations from your location (you can always include the far off destinations with one night journey if you feel like)
  3. Check the train/bus/flight availability

If you are on a budget, then better to take train/bus. Some good websites to book online – IRCTC (I guess foreigners without user id cannot book from here, but there are other options) 

Yatra (some good offers are available round the year, just keep an eye on it)

MakeMyTrip (again look out for offers and discounts from time to time)

Goibibo (good discounts especially during the festive seasons)

Easemytrip (they don’t charge for the convenience fee)

4. Do some research about the place – Now this will be according to your taste and likeness which means if you are an adventure seeker, look out for what you can do in that place or if you are going with your family then what all options are available to explore

5. Set your budget for the entire trip including tickets

6. Calculate your travel time. If you are at a place say for example, Mumbai or Delhi and after office hours if you have to catch the train/bus at Friday night, then how many hours will be taken to reach your destination next day morning. I would suggest not to waste time beyond morning of the next day (Saturday), then you can utilize the max amount of time in the destination

7. If you are more of an explorer like me instead of a tourist, then checkout for hosts/travelers in Couchsurfing . The locals give you the better information about places and activities that tourists don’t get easily

Check out sites like TripAdvisor , LonelyPlanet, Tripoto . There are forums where you can even post your queries and get answers from genuine travelers.

8. If you are fine with not booking in advance for your accommodation, that’s okay but only if that’s a non-peak season. It’s advisable to book accommodation in advance especially if you are traveling in peak season

Booking.com (this is amazing to book good accommodations including homestay, hotel, resorts with excellent deals and you can even book without any advance booking fee and can cancel anytime before a specified timeline!)

My travel is mostly – start friday night, reach Saturday morning, Sunday again start for the return journey and Monday morning back to base. But if there are some mondays or fridays that can be taken as leave or clubbed with any National holidays, it’s more beneficial!

If you need any help or brainstorming regarding any place/trip, do get in touch with me. Always ready to help 🙂

Happy traveling 🙂

 

Why Travel? 11 Benefits when you start traveling

“Not all those who wander are lost. “

— JRR Tolkein

Why travel? Why do people travel? Why do you travel or want to travel? There are different kinds of answers to these questions by all of us. But the fact remains same that traveling open the doors of our brain, mind and soul. It channelizes our energy to understand deeply about things that we otherwise fail to understand.

We all have come across many articles, stories, videos and blogs on people of various culture, different age groups who travel the world for their own desires and thirst for exploration. Some do it for fun, some for the adventure while rest to get the experience of a lifetime.

Let me tell you why traveling is so important and why everyone should be doing this more often. (Am talking about traveling for self – not the compulsory work/business travel that the respective people get frustrated and fed up with 😦 )

  1. Travel teaches us problem solving skills in any situation
  2. Travel teaches us to be more compassionate towards fellow human beings and animals
  3. Travel allows us to be friends with amazing people, some for lifetime
  4. Travel shows that there are more good people everywhere than what we see on TVs and virtual world
  5. Travel teaches us to be punctual, disciplined and responsible
  6. Travel makes us more creative
  7. Travel boosts happiness and satisfaction
  8. Travel makes us happy which in turn help in lowering depression
  9. Travel makes us more smarter
  10. Travel teaches us to be reflective upon the situations we come across, thereby helping in making wise decisions
  11. Travel helps us to be independent when we think we cannot!

Whatever and to what extent the benefits are, we should always keep in mind to respect Nature by not littering any places or misusing the resources that are provided to us by Nature for our own existence. Happy traveling 🙂

 

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