Feliz Año Nuevo! Lounging in the shadow of Volcano Mombacho in Nicaragua, 2014 feels like a gust of wind that blew away too quickly. That I have journeyed through countless countries this year is humbling. That my book is somewhat taking shape is thrilling. That I’m winding down my startup is downright heartbreaking. But such is life. Sometimes you’re left with with no choice but to let go off one dream in pursuit of another.
By the time you’re reading this, I’ll be flying over the Indian Ocean to the exotic Seychelles islands. I haven’t stopped dreaming about the pristine beaches and turquoise waters since my trip to Mauritius last year (Read: What a Fisherman Taught Me About Paradise). I didn’t think the seagulls would call me back so soon. In fact, I didn’t think I’d be travelling internationally for a while. And there’s only one reason. I’m learning to walk away.
As a child, I always dreamt of being a writer. While my friends fantasized about being astronauts and detectives, I wished I could weave stories that would give wings to the imaginations of those who read them. I wrote often, but mostly for myself or on the many blogs I started before this one. It was only after I quit my job and moved back to India in 2011 that the dream of seeing my words in print revisited me.
Just over a week ago, I was a starry-eyed travel blogger on my way to my first TBEX, “the world’s largest gathering of travel bloggers, writers, and new media content creators”. When they said largest, I didn’t realize I’ll be one among 1,000+ travel bloggers, albiet the only one travelling from India! Among them were renowned bloggers, some of who have inspired my own journey. Then there were those who have recently found their blogging legs, like myself. And the newbies. It was a mix, that over the course of the weekend, gave me a whole new perspective on travel blogging.
By the time you read this, I’ll be whizzing above the oceans on my Air Canada / Lufthansa flight. If Canadian Tourism Commission’s plan for us is anything to go by, it’s going to be one epic travel + blogging adventure! Unlike most other press trips I’ve been on, I love the amount of free and easy time we have on this trip to explore Canada on our own. As always, I’ve made no firm plans, and will be seeking suggestions from the locals I meet. A big thank you to those of you who’ve been kind enough to recommend hangouts and eateries, or offered to show me around!
You heard that right. I’m one of 28 international bloggers to be invited by the Canadian Tourism Commission this May, for what sounds like an incredible trip to explore the maple leaf country. I’m going to be the only travel blogger from India, so that’s a little overwhelming! This 15-day trip will start in Vancouver, often ranked among the best cities to live in. From there, we’ll board the VIA Rail to the mountain town of Jasper, and to Winnipeg in the Canadian Prairies. The trip will end in Toronto, where we’ll be part of TBEX, the greatest international travel blogging conference. Seeing another one of my travel bucket list items turn to reality is unbelievably exciting!
The Shooting Star has recently made it to the top 30 travel blogs in India (based on global Alexa rankings). While I still have a long way to go to reach the level of the world’s top travel bloggers, this post is an attempt to share my experiences and experiments so far. Many of you have asked me on Twitter and via email, as to how you can go about starting your own travel blog and what it entails, and this post is something of an apology to those unanswered questions! I started my travel blogging journey in May 2011, before which my blog was a platform to rant about life and share the occasional travel tales. I must also confess that I started (and dropped) 5 blogs before The Shooting Star, each after a few posts, when I faced the writer’s block. That is perhaps the greatest challenge of starting out as a blogger, travel or otherwise – you might receive little or no traffic in the initial days, and a lot of efforts may feel …
2013 has started on a high note for me professionally; my travel story about a small Himalayan town got published across four glossy pages of the January issue of the National Geographic Traveller India magazine, and New Woman India magazine ran a page-long feature on my journey from a cubicle to the road in their first issue of the new year! I haven’t yet set out of Delhi (for good reason, you’ll see in the updates below), but I shall soon be announcing my very first (and very exciting) travel adventure of the year, fingers crossed.
During the last one month, I have travelled across the countryside of southern Spain, from Europe’s only desert, to beautiful Arabic cities, to a small town where people still get around on horses! If you’ve been following my live updates on Facebook and Twitter, you probably know that I’m wrapping up my trip and heading back to India soon. As I soak in the last of the olive countryside of Spain and bid goodbye to my eggs-and-potato diet, I want to hand over the reigns of this blog, to you. This “Ask me anything” is inspired by my friend and fellow travel blogger Neelima, who in turn was inspired by Reddit. She gave me whole-hearted permission to steal replicate the idea, so here I am, asking you to ask me anything! You can ask me about my travels, my vegetarian adventures, what’s in my backpack, places I’ve been to, or any other questions related to travelling or travel blogging. I shall refrain from answering anything too personal or inappropriate though, so let’s keep this clean! You can …
This is the 3rd post of my Travel Secrets series. Most people will be alarmed at how my bank account balance fluctuates every month. It holds the biggest clue to how I afford my travels; I choose to take risks. I am 24, and choose not to be disillusioned by the ‘need’ to save every penny for something better and bigger in the future. I choose not be dismayed by thoughts of a very rainy day either. I choose to take it as it comes (and to take it when it doesn’t come), the money that is. I choose to live in my today, instead of dreaming about what may be in the future. That might sound foolish to some, at best naive, but through these five mantras that have afforded me 99% of my travels, I shall strive to prove otherwise.