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.
A long way gone.
Three and a half years ago, when I left behind the stability of my corporate job for a path less travelled, my wildest dreams couldn’t have foreseen what the road had in store for me.
I started 2014 cycling along the countryside of northern Thailand, rubbed shoulders with the exotic wildlife of South Australia, went deep sea diving in the Philippines, hitch-hiked along Romania’s Maramures region, had my first tryst with Uncle Sam, experienced island living in Honduras, lived with the Mayans in Guatemala and the Bribris in Costa Rica, and am currently discovering the remote hinterlands of Nicaragua.
I have been traveling without a home for 16 months now.
My journeys have given me perspectives no books or education could, and changed me in ways I’m still comprehending.
On my long journey as a travel blogger, I feel like I’m finally starting to arrive. I made enough money this year, directly or indirectly through blogging, to fund 90% of all my travels and continue paying my student loans.
The final feather in my cap was one I aspired to in my foregone corporate life – being awarded one of India’s most talented social media professionals by CMO Asia.
The triumph is bittersweet.
The road can sometimes make you feel like no dream or destination is impossible. I was riding on the high of that feeling when the realities of my own physical limitations hit me. I came down with a severe throat infection in Sikkim, which spread to my ears while diving in the Philippines, and got out of hand in Romania. It became so bad that I could hardly hear my own voice and the pressure imbalance in my ears made flights a complete nightmare. By the time I recovered in Bombay and Dehradun, more bad news awaited me – the family history of high cholesterol had found its way into my body.
Despite making healthier choices on the road, 2014 came as a reminder that I need to slow down and give my health the attention it needs.
And in slowing down, I refer to my work life balance. Until December, I didn’t completely take a single day off. No Sundays, no weekends. I buried myself in work, emails, deadlines – despite being on the road every day of the year.
I woke up one morning in Costa Rica with the realization that as much as I love everything I do, I have to prioritize. It boiled down to a simple choice really, of time and effort vs dollars and cents.
And that’s why, with a heavy heart, we have decided to sell or wind down India Untravelled. I have no doubt that a few more years down the line, it has the potential of becoming India’s foremost responsible travel enterprise, but our team doesn’t have the resources to grow it any more. If you know someone with a vision who does, please get in touch.
Update Sept 2015: We sold India Untravelled in early 2015. Here’s what I learnt from running and selling my travel startup.
The road ahead.
2015 feels like a blank canvas, waiting to be painted with the adventures I choose.
This is the year I want to push the boundaries of my comfort zone, take on challenging travels that don’t need me to be in India or in connectivity.
I want to live free, make a new beginning. And I guess, every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.
What do you want your canvas to look like in 2015?
Any contributions to my Travel Fund will be much appreciated!