A million reasons to travel can be discovered only when one starts travelling. Perhaps it would take you a lifetime to discover all those reasons. I do, however, have a few genuine reasons from my experiences which I would like to share here. Hopefully, by the time you finish reading, I would have encouraged you to travel more than what you do currently. And yes, I’m not saying only Indians should travel more. It applies to many, although these reasons might appeal/fit Indians well.
I love to travel and want to inspire others to experience the joy that comes out of it. And when I say travel, it specifies no boundaries and only means exploring new places. As far as I have noticed, Indian men and women these days get to travel more for work and less for leisure; either as a family or solo expedition. The decision to travel, however, often meets with a lot of self-doubts that compels us to drop the venture or simply postpone it. Factors such as availability of time, safety and financial standings in my view, could be few of those self-doubts.
Should one travel at all?
I know that we all burden ourselves with numerous questions for which we don’t have answers to. Questions such as “Will I be able to get a job?”, “Will I complete this task within the deadline?”, “Will this person like me?”, “Will I ever get married?”, and so and so forth. When you start travelling, these questions that keep playing in your head vanish. Empty that glass of water and start filling it up with beautiful memories.
To sum this up, one should travel to discover and realise that we are not here to find answers to purposeless questions but to learn what life is, one day at a time.
Here’s my story
During my school days, my family (parents, two elder sisters and me – tada!) only got to travel once every year (summer vacations) and that too for very few days As we grew up, this annual ritual started vanishing slowly. Ask me why and I really don’t have an answer for that. Even if I were to pose that question to my father, I doubt if his response is going to be any different. Once I finished my bachelor’s degree, I had the opportunity to travel to Canada for my higher education. This phase of life helped me discover the ‘wanderlust’ hidden within me. I wore my explorer hat and explored a number of places in Canada during my course of study. The satisfaction I derived by travelling made me feel positive and simply put – HAPPY 🙂
Back then, being on my own in a foreign land was a different experience. Perhaps the differentiating factor was the independence, something that’s limited to most Indians, and every travel memory since then has been priceless. Zoom into the present day, one thing remains constant, and that is, nothing makes me more happy and content like travel does. Thanks to Vancouver (the city I lived in) and Canada (my first international country) for the experience and inspiration. Wonder if I would have ever discovered this love for travel.
Do Indians travel at all?
Let’s get to the point. Here is my observation from various experiences I’ve had in India and outside. I have met my fellow Indians as well as people from other nationalities. And with every trip I take, it has always made me wonder why Indians do not travel as much as they can. Even when I am not travelling, the conversations with friends lead to excuses for not executing that travel plan. I believe, and strongly, that these factors listed down could probably be the key reasons why we Indians don’t travel as much as we should. I would say that they ought to precisely be the reasons to pack that bag and leave It’s not that complicated – read on!
Indian History, Heritage and Culture
We are born into one of the most beautiful, historic and cultural heritage-rich countries. Land in Sri Lanka/Cambodia/Thailand etc and you will wonder how our history (read Ramayana) is so famous here. It looks like our ancestors have travelled far and wide unlike us. From the City Palace in Udaipur in the north to the Bekal Fort in the south, we have some of the best forts that not only represent Indian history, but also architecture that has stood through the ages. We have white sand beaches and crystal clear blue waters of Andaman & Nicobar Islands and in Lakshadweep. Not just me, but anyone and everyone can go on and on about what this beautiful country presents.
So it’s not that India as a country doesn’t give you enough opportunities or reasons to travel.
From what I know, it has become a thing among Indians to save and invest for the future. If not that, we tend to spend on consumables and least on ‘experiences‘. I’m sure many wouldn’t agree with me but take a minute, look around you. Ask your friends (and yourself) when was the last time they actually saved money for a family vacation. The answer you will get is far less positive than you would imagine. Vacations (travelling, sightseeing) are never really a goal in an Indian household. Well, it should be. We need to understand that travel offers deep insights into many things around us. It could be with relationships, it could be art, or it could be freedom after all. It can be about one or more things that it leads you to deep conversations with oneself.
And that my friends, is LIFE.
I know of friends, families, couples who yearn to travel but put it off for the sake of some other commitment. Our upbringing and thought process is a huge setback when it comes to travel. I need to buy a house, oh we just had a baby, I want to upgrade my car, my boss wouldn’t give me permission, yada yada yada – these are commitments that we cannot do without, can we? I understand the gravity of these real commitments and don’t intend to say that these can be shrugged off. All I want to emphasize on is that you add travel to that huge commitment/savings list and try to go on that vacation you/family/friends deserve. Don’t say you get nothing out of travel; it has a positive effect on various levels. You will realise that everything else will automatically take a break and will make you feel glad that you took one. I can promise you that!
FEAR of Travelling
We are afraid to take that plunge. Again, you may not agree with me, but I do PUSH people I know to start planning their vacation – short and long. Uffff!
First example – parents. They are old (that’s their fear) and they wouldn’t want to step out of the house (read convenience). Luckily, my father’s collegemates started yearly trips a couple of years ago and I ensure that my parents are a part of it. After their first trip with that group, they don’t mind travelling often, as they’ve realised that wherever you go, you do get things (that usually reads as food) as per their convenience.
If you really want to gift your parents the break they need, you will always find one way or another. At the end of it all, I see them way more connected and relaxed than I have seen them before that first group trip.
Second example – friends. We all believe that all travel plans need to be executed as a group or none. Why? Because you believe it will be boring and/or be unsafe? Oh, my dear friends, travelling alone or as a small group will only make you experience the exact opposite of what you fear.
Travelling opens up your mind. It helps you meet new people, listen to different stories, make you do things that you thought you will never do. And once you travel alone, the urge for one more, and one more, and one more begins. Welcome to the world of being a travel addict, and that’s a positive addiction, let me tell you that!
I’m glad I have been able to convince a few of my friends that their most memorable trip will be of the solo kinds. I got inspired by seeing other friends who knew this much before I did. There is something to look forward to when you travel, perhaps a strong reason to sleep peacefully and wake up every single day with a smile on your face.
Third example – colleagues. The fear of applying for the holiday you deserve is one of the worst fears in my opinion. There is a certain sense of realisation when you know that a vacation or a travel plan needn’t involve applying for those leaves. There are places in and around the city that you live in that can be explored in under two days. And for those who work six days a week, let’s look forward to long weekends 🙂
All that was required was a small nudge from my end. The result, I have had my colleagues showing me pictures and telling me how their kids were happy and for those two days, they had nothing else to worry about. Taking a break is that simple, really!
The fourth example, my husband. Narayanan loves to travel, and I have seen that glow in his eyes when we just plan to start packing. Now you can imagine how excited he gets when we see new places and connect with new people across the globe. I love that sight of him, and every time I see his face, I feel like an Angel :D. Fine, I’m not going to get mushy here, but the thing is, before this transformation happened, there was a lot of convincing to do. To get rid of that fear, “no saving means no money for the latter part of our life”, was a time-taking task. Today, our happiness is contagious, works well for us, and the bond between us only keeps getting stronger.
“Lame” Excuses & Procrastination
Let’s get one thing straight – travel is for everyone and not reserved for the ‘privileged few’. There have been instances where people have asked, “Why do you travel so much?” or “Why take a break when we can relax at home and sip a hot cup of tea?”, “Why don’t you invest that money in some form of savings?” and so on. So frustrating!
The other set of people are those who say, “No time to finish XYZ, may be I’ll travel next month”, “It’s too hot to travel”, “I don’t have so much money” etc. I laugh at most of the statements and excuses that come my way. Again, I’m not ridiculing the real reasons so let’s not read between any lines.
Math time: let’s assume you will live 80 years, that gives you about 4160 weekends in all. There are about 4000 cities and towns in India alone, and there are 196 countries on Earth to explore. In all these years of exploring new places, I have been able to set foot in 11 countries, 10 States in India out of the 29 and 2 Union Territories of the 7. Can we start planning that trip now, please?
Whether you earn in hundreds or in millions, travelling is for everyone. My solo trip to Hampi cost me less than ₹6000 (94$ or 88€ – all expenses put together for three days). In fact, almost all my trips fall under the ‘budget’ category. Take the flight or a ferry, take the train or cycle away, take the bus or walk it to explore that new place. EXPLORE. The clock is ticking, and those monumental problems that you have will take a back seat.
Current trend among Indians who Travel
Not all of us can take that one-and-a-half-year break to travel around the world or take a month off with family to explore new places. Too fancy a thought, especially when we earn in Indian Rupees. The good news is that the trend is changing for certain. There are so many these days who take up jobs that lets them travel, so many groups organize weekend treks to connect with nature, friends talk about the bachelors and bachelorettes in Thailand if not Goa, and now instead of kitty parties at a nearby restaurant, there are now kitty trips to Spain, girls taking solo bike trips and what not! What can be more inspiring than this?
Don’t feel bad when you see your family and friends post their trip photos on Facebook, Instagram or even Twitter for that matter. Don’t say “Look at those lucky people, I’m sure they are loaded with money” etc. Most aren’t lucky or rich, they just plan well.
That’s the missing dot my friends.
My mother took her small weekend ladies only trip to a temple town, my friend did that bungee jump during his solo Rishikesh trip, and another friend (mother of a two-year-old) set aside all her excuses and made it to her 30th birthday celebration to a hill station with a bunch of her friends. My husband and I have agreed on a pact, to make THAT one trip every year to a new country or a new place that we have never been to for a span of a week minimum no matter what. End result: Splendid memories that Mastercard can’t buy, those moments are just priceless!
So bhaiyo aur behno or mitron (Modi ishtyle!), are you ready to take that trip already because there could be no tomorrow? 😉