Travel is undoubtedly one of the most talked about things today. Any gathering of friends, relatives, and cousins sees these discussions springing up about some ‘fantastic group place for our kind of group that my friend recommended’. At the start of the year, every employee marks the long weekends of the year and starts to plan with family or friends as to which places can be visited around that time of the year. Then there are the solo travelers who also make sure they have their long weekends invested in going to good places. And then of course, there are the wannabes who want to go to new places simply to flood their Instagram accounts!
We primarily see young people engaged in these discussions and plans, but essentially people from other ages are also no exception. Regardless of the purpose that each one has in this activity, travel is definitely on everyone’s mind. My grandmother likes to call it the drug of this decade that everyone is addicted to 😛 We hear the words ‘restless feet’ ‘wanderlust’ ‘nomad’ ‘vagabond’ ‘backpacker’ so much more often these days than say, 10 years ago.
There are reasons to this increased travel interest and awareness though. One important reason is the remarkable ease of travel and bookings. With online bookings on the rise, gone are the days when ticket bookings meant contacting agents or standing in long queues in the wee hours of the morning. We may all curse and swear at the IRCTC website every now and then; but we have to admit that its existence has made bookings so much easier for us. And then comes stuff like Makemytrip and Goibibo. Planning a trip is just a click away. The second reason for this increased awareness is intense documentation and availability of a plethora of information on travelling through a variety of websites. Besides, the popularization of travel on social media is tremendous. People have begun to communicate their travel experiences on the web with so much detail; and accessing these is also easy (I would assume 80% of people from our generation have at least one travel blogger among their friends!). In the earlier days, travelogues and some articles in magazines were all that people could lay their hands on to read about places to visit. But that’s not the case anymore. Social media sites are also full of pictures of destinations that people have visited, giving you not just information but also stirring all your travel desires to go and see these places yourself. The third one is the evolution of work structures these days that allows people to have some degree of flexibility in planning their work. When we were little kids for example, a typical Indian middle class home could afford a vacation only once a year – and that too with intense planning centered on which part of the year was suitable for our parents to take a break; and when our schools also had vacations. Planning of work such that work shifts are suitable, working remotely, working in advance and taking compensatory breaks later is possible with some ease now than earlier. Which makes you give travel a little more priority when needed.
Different people seek different things from a travel experience. Some are the conscious travelers planning to every detail; while some will just not plan and let the day decide what their schedule is going to be like. Some are adventurous and will pick the toughest terrain in the most challenging season; while others are the play safe ones. For some people, visiting civilizations and new cities is fun, while for some others it’s purely being amidst the wild with Mother Nature that is priority. Then there are photographers of each kind who also often have their preference of travel place (sometimes dictated by the availability of their camera lenses :P). To each man his own, every traveler is unique.
I am no exception to this new age travel bug. Visiting new places has been an interest since long; and like I said earlier; it is now complemented very well by the ease of traveling. My range of travel interests is quite wide; and I have listed here top 12 things that I seek to gain from my travel experiences. I would love to hear from you all, what you seek from your travel experiences.
- Travel – the excitement of the concept
Yes the very first thing I gain from travels is daydreams and excitement. Seriously. Once the trip is planned, I spend a significant amount of time in imagining how the visit is going to be, and I find that very exciting!!! I daydream a lot, and the concept of going to a different place is enough to give me a pre-trip high 😛 Packing, making to-do and to-pack lists, splurging in the name of ‘trip essentials’ all contribute to this pre-trip high. And I so love it!
Planning, listing, packing. The travel high!
I like traveling in all modes of transport – walking, cycling, bikes, cars, trains, aeroplanes (not including a ship here since haven’t really traveled in a ship yet :P). Fortunately for me I don’t have motion sickness so any mode of travel maintains the comfort of the journey, and I don’t really have a preference here. Or maybe I guess I love trains the most!!
As we cross various other parts of the roads/tracks, we leave behind something and look forward to something. This journey part is where my retrospective self is at its peak of activity. I often get the most needed introspective thoughts in journeys. I also sub consciously get answers to a lot of questions that I am stuck at during a journey.
On the non retrospective side, I also enjoy noisy journeys with friends and family; with a lot of games, leg-pulling, unveiling of secrets and random (non) sense chatter!!
The route is often more beautiful than the destination (Ranikhet, Uttarakhand, India)
- Nature – its beauty and adventures
My first choice towards a travel place is quite often dictated by the geography of the place. I love to experience different geographical terrains, as also structures that have been created by nature. Needless to say, mountains, rivers, beaches, valleys, forests have a special place in my heart. Trekking my way up on mountains or even casual mountain walking are equally enjoyable. And so are barefoot walks on the beach. I think walking amidst nature is the best way to ‘breathe in’ the place 🙂 I love the way the grandeur of nature reduces you to insignificance. One of the best reality-check feelings you can get in your life.
Mountain walking in the monsoon greens, and the views from the top of a mountain (Rohida, Maharashtra, India)
- Adventure activities
An adrenaline kick is essential. The way it gives you a ‘zing’ up your head is just awesome. It sort of functions like the (Ctrl+ F5 = refresh) function on my life!! Something whose mere memory as well can make you feel good later. And so rock climbing, rappelling, rafting, para gliding, snorkeling trips are important for me.
Equipment for snorkeling!!
- New animals and birds
This is almost a follow up of the different geographical terrain category. Because with differences in geography and climate conditions, the animals and birds found in different regions also differ. One of my favourite interests is to observe these local variants of animals and birds and how they have had adaptive changes due to surroundings. And of course these are incredibly cute!! Their colours, fur and skin texture, food habits, level of domestication make for interesting self-study projects!
Furry Himalayan sheep were superb posers for pictures!! (Spiti, Himachal Pradesh, India)
- Quality time with family / friends
I seek this aspect over and over from my travels. Because with our present day lifestyles, we are so swept off with work and home commitments through the days, that casual conversations are often left behind. Even while living in the same house, we struggle to find time. Catching up with friends over lunch after many months often leaves you with a ‘we should at least get to spend a day together man! 3 hours are not enough’ feeling!! My better half and I have also been a part of this struggle for spending enough time with each other. And travel provides the perfect solution. I have seen traveling with friends or family lets you spend substantially more quality time with each other since you are free from other time commitments.
Conversations and quality time 🙂 (Lavassa, Maharashtra, India)
One of the most important parts of any trip for me is to get acquainted with new kinds of food and the local produce of the place. Like they say, ‘you are what you eat’, food gets us a fantastic introduction to how the local people are. The life of any place and the hardships that people face is reflected very well in the food you get there. Gastronomical delights from different locations are a must. Trying out crazy cuisines and drinks is indeed a top priority in any travel.
For the love of seafood! Calamari masala (Goa, India)
Photography or documentation of places is something that I really enjoy. Now I am not your friend with the DSLR who carries his/her big camera and lenses everywhere though. I have a small basic digital camera and reasonably well equipped phone camera. And my photography interests are mainly capturing different elements of a place in a frame, and capturing colours.
A simple camera is all I need for capturing memories!
9. Civilizations and lifestyles
I love to look at life and its variation all around me. Every place visited differs from your native place in several aspects of its civilization, lifestyle, people, local arts, town structure etc. These are heavily influenced by the geography of the place. Every place in this world witnesses a different ‘everyday’ from another one and has had it’s own spectrum of evolution. Studying these variations, cultural differences, local artists and craftsmen gives you a greater insight into the personality of different regions.
Local artists (Udaipur, Rajasthan, India)
- Monuments and history
This is one of the typical tourist-like interests that I have. Along with natural beauties, monuments, man made structures of grandeur, buildings that have survived and through years of human civilizations are an element of tremendous curiosity for me. It gives me goosebumps while stepping on places which have witnessed history. Since I like reading about history in general; I end up looking up a city’s past before visiting it; and going to man-made places of historical importance.
The Charminar (Hyderabad, Telangana, India)
Yes religion. But not ‘a’ religion. I am always curious about studying different religions, their places of origin, their predominant beliefs, ways of worshiping and so on. And that’s why looking at the religious sentiments and religious history of any place is of interest. I find it really fascinating to be at a place which has been implicated in religious scripts and is worshiped by people.
The mesmerizing Ganga aarti (Haridwar, Uttarakhand, India)
12. Relaxations, a wee bit of luxury
Now who doesn’t love this? A little bit of relaxation is fun. Though this isn’t the top priority for most of our trips, some amount of grandeur and luxury is always appreciated 🙂 Just spending some time at a new place doing nothing in particular, just soaking up the place and the sun!
Luxury resort islands (Maldives)
These are of course just the top 12 things that I seek from travel. But the real deeper impact that it has on you as a person is much deeper. Regardless of your age, travel is an enriching investment, and adds to your life a dimension that nothing else can. And hence I hereby wish all readers a fulfillment of all the travel desires in their lives 🙂 Bon voyage!