So this post goes out to all of you who dream of building a life of travel. If you are sitting on the fence about quitting your job, this is a plan for you in real dollars and cents (or should I say, in meagre rupees?):
Last week in the Pico Bonito forest reserve of Honduras, I met Juan and Roberto of the indigenous Garifuna community. I was fascinated by their affection for the dense rainforest and the diverse life it harbored, but even more by their culture, an integral part of which involves celebrating death as a new beginning. When one of their own dies, there is no mourning at the funeral; instead the community gets together to play the upbeat Punta music, dance and make merry – One last celebration!
I’m cozying up in my favorite boutique hotel in Bangalore as I write this. This is the closest I’ve come to calling a place home over the last seven months, when I gave up my apartment in Delhi and adopted a nomadic life (Read: I’m Hitting The Road, Indefinitely). I’ve slow-travelled in Thailand since, sampled island life in the Seychelles, celebrated Christmas in Germany, splurged on Australia’s wine countryside, dived in the Philippines, and scratched India’s surface just a little deeper. I’ve experienced varying degrees of joy, nostalgia and frustration, but the feeling that has become a constant is that of liberation. In my mind and in my words, I feel no shackles. I plan to go as long and as far as the road will let me, but not before making these confessions:
Earlier this week, I arrived in my hometown Dehradun, to find a big box waiting for me to open. I was overwhelmed to find a sparkling trophy inside, engraved with my name – a physical testimony to the “Best Travel Blogger” award that I won at the Indian Blogger Awards 2013, held by Indiblogger! A big THANK YOU to everyone for your support, especially those who spared a moment to write a testimonial for this blog.
Looking back at my travels in 2013 has left me filled with nostalgia. One minute, I’m hitchhiking in Bahrain, the next, walking on a glacier in Canada. I’m going down memory lane in Singapore, and joining the Fallas street parade in Spain. I’m indulging in the most delicious Thai food in Chiang Rai, overdosing on hoppers in Sri Lanka, and sipping gluhwein in Germany. What a year it’s been!
I sit 30,000 feet high, writing this as the sun sets above cotton-shaped clouds. The last two months have been a roller coaster ride, along the beaches of Karnataka, the backwaters of Goa, the terraced valleys of Kumaon, the forests of Madhya Pradesh, on trains and buses, and now, on my Indigo flight, headed to where it all began, Bangalore. It’s been two months since I packed up my life from Delhi and went location independent (Read: I’m Hitting The Road, Indefinitely). I’m euphoric on most days and nervous on some. I’m introspective on some days and carefree on others. As Shams of Tabriz once said, with a home nowhere, I have everywhere to go.
I find myself penning this post rather unexpectedly. I’m staying at a 500-year-old Portuguese house, restored by a charming Goan family, in a sleepy little village called Aldona, in the hinterlands of Goa. This will be my home till the end of September. I’ve spent the last few days strolling along pristine backwaters, little hamlets stuck in time, lush green rice paddies, and streets adorned with abandoned Portuguese houses and old churches. Wake me up when September ends.
This was long coming. I’ve been planning and un-planning, thinking and re-thinking, and I’m finally going to do it. I’ve given up my apartment in Delhi, I’ve sold / given away most of my possessions, I’m leaving some clothes at an aunt’s place and some in the boot of a friend’s car, and I’m hitting the road. Indefinitely.
This post was initially intended to be a rant, about how my life as a travel blogger isn’t as perfect as it can seem, how everyone’s always asking for free content, and how ‘knowing people’ can have more value than good work. I’ll be honest; July has been a pretty terrible month. Having reached a point where I really needed to focus on earning some money, I decided to put all my travel plans on hold this month and work with a vengeance (Read: How I Afford My Travels and How You Can Too). Let’s just say I didn’t meet my financial goal, but that wasn’t the disappointing part. The disappointing part was that karma, and I dare say life, bitch-slapped me in so many ways this month. In the midst of penning this rant, I started to recount how amazing the first half of my year had been – I got my first taste of the Middle East in Bahrain, stumbled upon hidden beaches in Thailand, journeyed from coast to coast in Canada, reveled …
This week, two years ago, I tendered my resignation at my first and only corporate job. I was 23, restless, and ready to chase bigger dreams – of which travel was one. I didn’t know then that becoming one of India’s top travel bloggers was on the cards for me! But there were other things I didn’t know, things that would have saved me so many sleepless nights. As I reflect on my transition in the last two years, from a cubicle dweller to a digital nomad, I hope to give you some practical perspective on what it’s like to quit your job and travel the world (Read: The Story of How I Quit my Job to Travel).