‘How do you travel so much?’, I am often asked. The simple answer to this one is, ‘Well, I want to.’
Then, people ask me how do I manage to travel so much. Well, to that, there’s a bunch of things I do to manage travelling in a schedule as busy as it gets.
So, here is the list of my secret ingredients that had infused my life with all sorts of travelling flavours:
1. Never call in sick
You see I work in a corporate set up where you have to reach at a certain time but there’s no time to call it a day. There are timelines of submissions, roll outs, launches and multiple decks. So, I take work home. I stretch. I take calls at all hours and I do whatever is required. That sometimes takes a toll on most of us and we (unwillingly) give in. And for that respite in the middle/ start of week, we call in sick. I don’t do that for:
a. It sets the foundation for a wrong habit. You do it today. You will do it tomorrow.
b. It’s a colossal waste of my leave. I better spend it travelling
Never call in sick. Do not give in to the temptations & save that one-day leave that you would have otherwise spent.
2. Treat your weekends like a gift of life:
Most of my trips are weekend trips where I leave on a Friday – spend the weekend away – and come back and join office on a Monday. Yes, it gets hectic. Yes, it drains you. Yes, you might not be as relaxed on a Monday as you should be. But hey! You got to do what you got to do.
I love travelling & I don’t mind those hectic Mondays because the weekend that I spent amidst the sand dunes, or in the lap of the mountains, or in an old fort, or in a bakery with no company other than Bob Marley’s makes it all worthwhile.
3. Plan for long weekends 3-4 months in advance
As soon as you get the Holidays list from your office, put a plan together. Each year brings with itself 7-8 long weekends. You got to plan at least 3-4 of them. Do not plan the one where you know you might be buried under a mountain of work. Do not plan the weekend where you might have a big review planned. You got to be aware of busy and lean times. So, plan the weekends of the lean season & plan these trips to a quick destination that could be done in 3 days. For example, if you live in Delhi, a flight journey to places such as Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Odisha, Khajuraho, Amritsar – could be done in 3 days. Plan well.
4. Set aside a monthly travelling budget
My close friends would know how I feel about advising on money. I am that ‘girl in the green scarf’ from ‘Confessions of a shopaholic’ and thus quite embarrassed about talking about money. But hey! I got cover. So, I spend all my money on travel and shopping. But I would definitely not advise you to do that. I know plenty of people who are doing as much travelling as I am without spending all their salary on it. You don’t have to do it either.
If you are a travel fanatic, set aside 20% of your salary else 10%-15% is a decent amount too, and is manageable.
5. Don’t indulge in Staycations. That’s a bullshit term
Sorry if I have hurt you. But hey, staycation is not traveling. That’s just a luxury stay that could be done anywhere. You need not to pick or choose a place for that. Just take Club Mahindra membership and crash anywhere. But if you really want to explore, enjoy and experience, try travelling which means – stepping out, moving on, roaming, eating local and stretching yourself a bit.
In April, I had a big, big launch happening at work. And to make that happen well, I worked non-stop for 3-4 weeks with long hours and continuous to-do list on my mind. Not exaggerating, but I would wake up in the middle of the night thinking what needs to be done to make sure I meet my timelines. I didn’t sleep well either. And by the end of it, I was dead exhausted with aching heels from being in high-heeled sandals for more than 12 hours a days for two days. All I wanted to do is – sleep. And had it been someone else in my place, they would have only slept and recuperated during that 2 day leave post the event. But no, not me. I reached home around 9 pm, packed whatever I could lay my hands on & caught the next flight to a nearby, not-yet-explored place & spent 2 days of ‘recuperating’ leave, getting relaxed in the middle of the most beautiful valley on Earth.
What I mean to say is – you can either travel or you can stay. If you choose the latter, don’t talk to me. 😀
6. Wake up. Stand up. Show up.
That’s originally a learning methodology wherein you help the learners wake up. And all that they have to do to demonstrate the changed behaviour is to stand up and show up – where they ought to be.
You need to do the same, literally, while you are travelling. Wake up early. Get ready. Stand up and leave your hotel as soon as possible. And then, you show up wherever you want/ ought to be.
I generally research a lot on Tripadvisor & MakeMyTrip for local attractions and plan my (very little) days accordingly. So, I never have to laze in, snooze or sleep till late. You do the same & absorb the place to the last mile.
7. Club the nearby places together & make a solid itinerary
You don’t ditch Sarnath or Chunargarh fort when you go to Varanasi. You don’t miss the Gadisar lake, sand dunes and Kuldhara when you go to Jaisalmer. You try and squeeze in Palampur & Khajjiar when you go to McLeod. That’s how you should travel.
That’s how we travel. We club places. We get greedy. And we do more in less time.
Now, this is a personal choice. You might want to spend two days on Baga or Colva beach or you could be me – chasing all the beaches from South to Central to North in 2 days. I mostly do the latter, and get the thrill off the many pictures I get at the end of the day
8. Click pictures. Not Selfies, pictures!
That’s just plain bullshit that you can’t enjoy the place if you try and click it. You most certainly can. It all depends upon you. The only time I haven’t been able to enjoy a place as much as I could was when I was continuously talking to some people on WhatsApp. That conversations when my mind was on something else altogether took the charm of the place away. Later, I regretted and resolved to not take anything on my mind when I am meeting India. Sometimes, you can’t avoid it. And that’s just fine. Just click pictures.
And make memories of all your trips. Because those would stay forever. Yes, those would. Try!
That’s just how I travel. And of course, I have got an excellent travelling company.