Frankly, I'm a little tired of hearing about those who have quit their jobs and are now happily trotting around the world. When you ask, they tell you about how their travel writing, freelance work and odd jobs are helping them survive and fund their tickets, stay and travel.
Don't get me wrong. I think they are remarkable people. Using their life to just travel, they are truly living their dream. But that's the problem. This is their dream.
I'm happy with my job and I like where I live. But I also like running off every few months to get away from it all to a destination where everything is new and unseen. The difference is at the end of it, I want to come back to where I now feel like I truly belong. And this is my dream. Travelling, but keeping my job.
But how do I do it? Will my boss understand when I need to take off every once in a while? And if I exhaust all my leaves travelling, what will I do when I fall ill or want to just laze around at home?
To answer all these questions and more, I got in touch with seven Indians who are travellers in every sense of the word, but with full-time jobs.
Makrand Lowalekar, 32, Software engineer
Before his visa was rejected, Makrand Lowalekar's first big trip was supposed to be to Spain, right out of college. That's when he realised that rebuffs were part of travelling. He jumped on the next opportunity to take off and joined his friends in Langkawi a few days later. It was Ladakh after that, and he hasn't stopped ever since.
Why he didn't quit his job
"I love the comfort of cubicles, which most people hate or pretend to hate. I like to be in a routine and as a change I travel. Travel motivates me to work with dedication because my pay cheque will fund my future travels," Lowalekar says.
The holiday calendar ritual
"I check the holiday calendar at the beginning of the year and try to find slots where I can travel. I will utilise most of the long weekends. You can ask me any day about all the long weekends of the year and I remember them by heart. I will not take a day off just because I am feeling lazy."
Madhuri Mukherjee, 25, Markets risk analyst
It was on her first solo work trip to Switzerland that Madhuri Mukherjee experienced the freedom and thrill that comes with exploring a country alone. After she came back, she longed to discover an alien culture again and meet new people. That's it. The travel bug had firmly made itself home.
Life and its pre-conditions
"I personally find it quite utopian when people quit their jobs and travel and there are so many pre-conditions that need to be satisfied that for someone from an average middle class family it's much harder than it seems in the blog entries," Mukherjee says about when asked why she didn't quit her job to travel.
Secret to managing office leaves
"I undertake 2 long holidays in a year and utilise the public holidays for shorter getaways. I do sometimes work on public holidays, if I don't have any trips planned. We get compensatory days off for it, which I then use later for travel."
Sudeep Shukla, 31, Assistant brand manager
Sudeep Shukla has always been fascinated with travel. During his college days, he explored pretty much the whole of south India. But he has decided that quitting his job to travel would not be a sensible decision. His life has liabilities and loans. But that has only encouraged him to travel within budget.
A flexible organisation makes life easier
"I plan most of my travel in advance. I try to club long weekends or the holiday season to get the best deals. Since I don't take many regular leaves, it becomes easier for me to get travel leaves. Also since my organisation is understanding and flexible about my travel, it also makes life a bit easier for me," Shukla beams.
Get your boss on your side
"My travelling inspires him. Since he knows beforehand that I travel, he is quite supportive. Till the time work is getting done on time, it isn't a problem. It is important to have your boss on your side to be able to travel while being employed."
Shri Ayyangar, 31, Corporate communications expert
Something made Shri Ayyangar want to plot locations on a map of India. And so he went off on his first trip as a "tourist" with a bunch of friends. Eventually, he realised that there was more to see at a destination, if he used the eyes of a "traveller" instead. Since he is the only breadwinner in his family, he decided to stay in his job and use it to his advantage.
He has a "serious traveller" tag at work
"There's a lot of support at work. Usually, I don't leave any work pending and ensure that everything is attended to before I leave. Also in emergency situations, I am available on phone. Also, I usually contribute my travel experiences as a blog/write-up on travel portals, so my colleagues and boss get a sense that I am a serious traveller," he says.
Reserve extended holiday weekends for offbeat travel
"I like to avoid the rush, so I keep the offbeat locations for the extended weekends. And so many Indian destinations are unexplored. I am surprised when I narrate my experiences of my stay in Chanderi, Madhya Pradesh, and many people don't even know where the location is on the map."
Divya Behl and Vikas Plakkot, 27, Educators
Wanderlust got Divya Behl and Vikas Plakkot together. They had just started dating, when they decided to take their first trip together. They learnt so much about each other during that time that it broke the walls between them, and travel became a way of life. Ever since then, they have been plotting ways to find hidden deals to travel the world.
They chose careers that let them travel
"Every year in June, we sit together to understand the leaves we can afford and the holidays that are common. It is an unsaid understanding between us that every year in May, we're off for a good three weeks at least and it goes into our work calendar well in advance. We've planned our holidays until October 2017 and it gives our teams ample time to work around our absence. Key is to ensure that we do not use up any leaves unnecessarily when we aren't holidaying. Both of us did not take a single leave on any day last year beyond our planned holidays. Additionally, we've also consciously chosen careers that offer us this luxury, even though it means lesser income."
Shreyas Panduranga, 27, Computer Engineer
Shreyas Panduranga's love to travel started from his own village in Mysore. He would take off for the whole day on his motorcycle and explore places on his own. Now when he travels he doesn't care if it's touristy or offbeat. He believes that the only thing that really matters is the attitude with which he travels. Even if he goes to a popular place, he keeps an open mind.
A vehicle can give you freedom
"The freedom that a motorcycle gives me, makes travelling easier. On a motorcycle I can go anywhere, take any turn I find interesting in a new city or on a highway in the middle of nowhere," Panduranga quips.
He's not a "full-time traveller"
"Quitting your job is not a good choice, until I have found ways to make a living out of travel. I am not even sure I want to make a living out of it. Sure, I love to travel, take pictures and document it in a bit of writing, but being a full-time traveller isn't everybody's cup of tea. But who knows what the future holds!"
Akanksha Dureja, 30s, Software Engineer
There is only one thing that Akanksha Dureja loves more than travel – Shah Rukh Khan. Otherwise, travel never fails to bring out the poet in her. She feels that wanderlust is a way of life for her. If you want to gift her something, she says, save your diamonds. Travel vouchers to exotic destinations and an expensive camera will do much better for her.
Her leaves are only for travel
"Unless there is an emergency, I don't take any regular leaves. Festivals or a visit to the hometown are managed with weekends and just company holidays. Most of my leaves are taken for travel, sometimes planned and sometimes unplanned," Dureja says knowingly.
Quitting your job isn't all that great
"Travel writing seems glossy, but then it doesn't really pay your bills unless you're writing for the biggies. As much as I would love to be a nomad, the reality is that it's not all that great. Also, I have worked hard to be where I am today and don't want to give up one thing for the other as long as I can manage both!"
I've got several practical tips from these guys. It seems like I can easily manage travelling and a full-time job.
Do you know anyone who is living their travel dream without quitting their job? Leave their name and a link to their profile in the comments below.
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