Curious case of mango traveler

Photo of Curious case of mango traveler 1/1 by Shailja Vasisht

Have you ever been at a party, trying to explain people that why trekking is not your thing or why you would prefer going to Rajasthan over Europe or maybe why road trip is not your idea of going to Ladakh? If answer to any of these questions is Yes, you belong to the club of mango travelers – mango men and women who love to travel in an ordinary manner, but can never enter the elite club of pro-travelers.

I am surprised at how traveling has developed its own caste system where the adventure lovers (trekkers, hippies, hitch-hikers, etc.) belong to the upper most caste, then come the ultra-rich travel elite who can cruise on private ships, travel in first class and stay in villas that are more expensive than per capita income of many countries of the world. The third category of travelers are middle class family travelers who would save all year to make that one trip possible for their entire family and make sure everyone is happy with their planning. Then comes us- the untouchables of traveling, ones who don’t have any agenda for traveling, we can stay in a hostel or a five-star hotel (if we have credit card points accumulated), we want comfort of air journey but do not want to go to a crowded touristy place, we do not mind staying at a friend’s house but not sure about the risks of hitch-hiking, mountains excite us but trekking exhaust us…. and us my friends are lowly mango travelers.

The thing about travel is that it gives you happiness, which is subjective. I remember arguing with friends on why I would rather take a flight to Leh and spend all my energy in exploring Ladakh instead of going on a bike trip from Manali. Yes, people who are into trekking enjoy much better views than people who hire taxis/ bikes to go to hills, but it does not mean that the degree of enjoyment can be compared. Mango travelers deserve to be given more importance in tourism landscape because we will buy Maggi at roadside stall or would prefer a 1000-rupee pair of shoes than Nike sneakers or trekking boots. Mango travelers would not mind a hotel without swimming pools if it is near to beach and save on taxi. So, it is high time that hospitality industry starts respecting us in a way we deserve.

During my Manali trip, I struggled to explain others that I am neither there to do a Kheer-Ganga trek, nor to smoke baba ji Ki booti or even to do shopping on mall road or pay exorbitant prices for paragliding. I just want to roam around the hills around old Manali and eat at a riverside restaurant with an amazing view. Similarly, during a Thailand trip, why is it important to buy some counterfeit products when you can spend that money on a jet ski ride.

Yes, I know some pro-travelers would argue that I do not need to explain my idea of traveling but it is more about telling people that every kind of travel can be equally amazing- just to different types of people.

One more plight of us mango travelers is that no travel blogger wants to cater to us. Everyone wants to cover the unseen beauty of nature or how they traveled across India in just Rs. 10,000. It further increases the class divide amongst us travelers and we mango travelers can’t help but feel sad, looking for information for our type of travel on the platforms which do not cater to us.

It is high time that we mango travelers stand up for our rights and demand equal treatment. It is our right to bargain for our hotel stay, say no to trekking or shopping and demand for dedicated travel blogs for us. After all, for every 1 ultra-fit trekker, there would be 2 high society girls who go to one day trip with 30 kg luggage, and for every such girl, there would be 3 families who would be filling their travel bags with souvenirs for relatives and for every 1 such family there are 4 of us who would roam around lanes, eat local food and click pictures for our friends and come back with our untold stories.