Don’t we all love to travel, visit exotic locations, explore the world et all? Yes, of course..what a dumb question! The real question my friends is, “Do you feel anxious before, during and after every travel? “Do you want to travel like a pro, but lack the confidence?” Hmmm, now that got you thinking! When I say anxious, I could mean, nervous, edgy..a little fretful, well, now I am just throwing synonyms of the word anxious here;-) You get the point though…For all of us who are not full time travellers like the ones you see on Instagram, the ones who quit their jobs and travel full time, backpacking around the world confidently, globetrotters creating itineraries for the rest of us, following their passion, we are the ones who travel once or twice a year or sometimes once in two years as we have commitments that come in the shape and form of kids, jobs that we can’t get out of, or whatever the reason maybe, and since we are not pro travellers, we always have travel related stuff that give us the heebie jeebies! No matter how well prepared I am before every travel, apart from the usual excitement of course, I feel butterflies in my stomach too and not the good pretty ones!
Here is some travel related advice or my pearls of wisdom if you will, that’ll hopefully help you with your crazy travel aches! It’s nothing but a list of things that used to get me all worked up, and how I overcame them. What a weird thing to share you may say, but, believe you me when you finish reading it, you’ll be thanking me all the way and would feel much more confident as a traveller. Read On!
Don’t travel for Instagram: Yes you read that right! Travel for the love of travel, to know what other cultures look like, or what our beautiful planet’s landscape outside of your building community looks like! Take your holiday as an opportunity to know what it feels like to be a part of that region, that country. Immerse yourself completely in that moment and instead of being a tourist become a local. Become a “Glocal Traveller” (clearly the word hasn’t been added to the dictionary yet!). Even if it’s a “No agenda” travel and the idea is to just relax on the beach, then DO THAT!, leave that selfie stick behind for once….in the hotel room I mean…jeez! and carry a pocket size journal/note pad along instead. All this ‘Gyan’ (Hindi term for knowledge) comes from my personal experiences. I have learned this the hard way though. I started feeling that I was using my phone too much during holidays, missing out on moments. While my kids would be enjoying their time to the fullest, my concentration would be more on capturing the moments rather than living them, getting that shot right, getting the selfie right..for what?…social media approval and acceptance I guess! I still do that sometimes, old habits die hard, but my kids are helping me overcome this by immediately giving me a disgusted look or throwing a fit if they see me making a duck face ready to add another ridiculous selfie to a million on the net that nobody cares about! I mean just click a few and put that thing away….what’s the obsession with perfection?? Oh and btw. did I mention my IG handle is @rupaligkalra, you can follow me there 😉
Choosing destination: It all depends on where you are in your weight loss regime. Time of the year or season has no meaning here, if you are looking your best and can carry that body with aplomb in a bikini, then beach it is! Who knows how long you’ll stay away from that burger so might as well show that sexy bod while it is sexy! I never paid attention to this very important fact in my earlier stupid avatar. People go crazy, “summer is coming” “time to hit the gym”, “Get that hot body”, “Get that beach body” Why I ask! I don’t have time for all that pressure and negativity…. I don’t time my BMI according to the season, I decide the destination according to my BMI and not the other way around! This works perfectly as you end up exploring places during non peak time(that is if you are not in shape;-), and isn’t that the best time to travel? Avoiding all unnecessary touristy crowd, over expensive accommodation and flights. So, avoid any unnecessary tension, go where your body tells you to, not where trip advisor or other travel sites advise you to.
Over packing/under packing – This is the most crucial part of travel especially with kids. I have gone through both the scenarios, solo and with kids, and have learned my lessons. The principle of packing is very simple, “only take what you can’t do without on THOSE days”, no “EXTRAS”. Most of our packing is anticipation packing, “what if I need this”, what ifs can increase baggage weight by 5 kgs (note to self!). The fear of forgetting important things for the trip makes us pack a lot of unwanted and unnecessary things. Like for example, I used to take two or three books to read thinking, “what if I finish one during the first half of the trip”….and all my books are hardcover! Later on I started taking one book, and would read that through the entire holiday bit by bit. Here’s another thing I used to do, carry full bottles of toiletries:-) I didn’t know miniatures existed!! Extra towels, extra clothing, extra footwear, extra food (now that’s an Indian thing!) nothing of this ‘extra’ ever gets used! We’d have one bag per person with necessary stuff and one extra per person with “just in case” things! How rediculous! Now I just pack what’s important in those days. We took a 9 day trip to Barbados last year, and this is what my smart ass packing list looked like. You are welcome!
Airport stories/In flight discomforts- Don’t treat them like discomforts! If you are the economy class traveller then feel privileged, cuz YOU are one with best airport and flight stories to tell your friends! I spend the first 30 min of my flight time to simply observe fellow travellers and sometimes more. I am right now smiling writing this as it instantly took me back to my last two flights, London-New Delhi and London-NY in December of 2016. London-New Delhi, one passenger (wouldn’t like to disclose ethnicity), engaged me in a conversation at the waiting area after security check, he then followed me till the boarding gate, talking throughout..super talkative fellow, seemed harmless…general small talk I thought I’ll play along. He was carrying one hand luggage I noticed…once at the boarding gate ready to board any minute, this person turns around and tells me if I could take care of his baggage for like 10 minutes as he had to quickly go buy something from duty free..seemed like a last minute thought, fair enough, but why leave your bag behind with a stranger?? The worst, he didn’t even bother asking, he conveniently assumed that we were best pals now since we were chatting for last 10 minutes…just got up, made an innocent face and left!! How freaking crazy…my first reaction was, WTF!! few minutes later..I panicked and my obvious thought, I know what you are thinking…could there be a bomb in his bag?? Is this where I die…Heathrow airport?? I immediately went and complained to the security personnel and handed over the bag to them. For some weird reason they gave me a look as if I was involved in the crime, one that hadn’t been committed yet! Anyway, they took care of the bag and I carried on boarding the flight, hoping that I wouldn’t see his face again….but lo and behold..this person ends up in the seat two seats away from mine…luckily he didn’t spot me….phew! Ok, so there was no bomb in his bag, he was an innocent traveller….blah blah blah, but this is absolutely inappropriate behaviour…one that is strictly against airport protocol!! I somehow felt guilty, avoiding him as if I was given a responsibility that I did not take care of!! Anyway, we all came out alive at the end of the day, but what an experience. Airports and flights can be adrenaline pumping fun too or thought provoking. I once bumped into a famous fashion model, don’t know her name, she just looked famous;-) and she asked me the dumbest question ever. So, we are standing in line for coffee at the airport and she is right behind me, she looks around, carefully choosing a person to whom she can ask this question, I was that lucky one, she opens her beautiful mouth and asks, “Hi, would you know which side do flights to San Francisco fly?”…yep go figure…I am still trying to answer that question in my head!! You know why she chose me? cuz the rest of them looked too cold, or were inaccessible due to headphones, or reading a book while standing in the line, or just disinterested. I am so glad she picked me;-). Btw we ended up chatting for several minutes until she figured which way to SFO.You must be thinking what’s the advice here, that I am just ranting about my airport experiences…well, that’s my point…travel for me doesn’t mean reaching a destination quickly, I have heard a lot of people say that the worst part of holidaying/vacation is the journey and how it’s a hassle, well I say that the BEST part of a vacation IS the journey!!! For me journey is everything..travel begins from the word GO! If you want to call yourself a true traveller then these experience are extremely important and should therefore be a part of your travel portfolio. It’s not about how many countries you’ve visited, it’s about how you got there and what stories you come back with that define the quality of your travel….advice is, don’t be so engrossed in yourself while in transit, read that book, listen to your music, watch those movies, but look out for interesting stuff too…epic shit happens when you are not looking, so keep your mind, eyes and ears open to new unusual experiences, you never know your next “once upon a time…” may have you in it!
Post Travel Trauma: Yes, just like postpartum depression, only more lethal! I start getting withdrawal symptoms on the penultimate day of every holiday. Do you get that too? That feeling of going back to everyday routine life, mundane schedules… gives me depression. I have the perfect solution for that too…throw a “Back from Holiday party” for your friends and include the ones who you went out with, if any. This way you get to re-live the moments and feel good, secondly, start planning your next trip, like serious planning, create a list of top destinations that you’d like to visit next, start checking out flight details, I say go ahead and even book some refundable cheap ones. According to a study, planning a trip pumps more adrenaline then real time travelling, and I have personally experienced it. In fact not just planning, after I come back from travel, I Write about it too, this just keeps the excitement chain alive! Post your best FEW pictures on social media to stay in the moment for a bit, family, friends and strangers would like to know where you went, what is good about the place…you’ll feel good talking like an expert on the place, and that, my lovelies.. will only happen if you stick to my point # 1, of learning about the place like a local and not as a tourist! And for the love of God, stop being a jackass and please DON’T bombard your account with too many pictures…I have noticed people posting 100+ pictures and all in the same god damn pose…all you see is selfies with hardly two or three badly taken pictures of the place…it’s clear how no thought went into exploring the destination. It get’s irritating, people!
All this is just a quick fix though, you’ll eventually have to come out of your travel bubble and face reality. But don’t get disheartened, there is one more thing you can do which works wonders, at least it does for me, and that is watch travel related documentaries regularly. One of my favourites is a 6 part documentary series on BBC -Stephen Fry in America, Karl Watson travel videos on YouTube and any videos about Mt. Everest cuz that’s on the cards!
I have always said this “You know you are a true wandering soul when you are either physically present in a place or dreaming about it” and from that definition I am perpetually travelling.
Now go, plan that trip and kick some ass. Please do share your travel stories with me too I’d love to hear!
Keep travelling keep exploring!