A couple of months ago I was invited by a local travel club to speak about my travel experiences.
The husband and I are not really travel bloggers. We've only covered a small fraction of the world averaging at about 3 countries a year in the last 9 years, with full time jobs!- far from enough I know- but it is the classic conundrum, you need jobs to pay for your travel but if you quit your jobs to travel more how will you fund it? However, we do know something about travelling on a budget and travelling with a baby. The little one has accompanied us in ALL our travels in the last 3 years and is quite the pro herself.
I see more and more people taking to travelling. I see new couples writing about their travel experiences, single girls talking up solo travel and parents exploring the world on their own after retirement. It is heartening to see travel become the topic of discussion on all forums. As for K, I and the little one- if we are not travelling, we are jonesing for one or planning one . So, I thought why not share some common travel myths and try and bust them during my talk. The talk was quite well received (to my surprise) so sharing them here as well.
Travelling with babies and kids is very inconvenient.
Iy was 3 months old when she took her first domestic flight and overnight train. She was only 10 months old when we spent 4 weeks in Europe travelling through every medium of transport from buses to trains to short & long haul flights to ships and ferries. She eats what we eat and never fusses about the amount of time outdoor. Kids are more resilient than we make them out to be. Here are some tips on how you can make your life easier while travelling with kids.
Kids are kids, aren't they? Even Iy has her moments. But so far we have never had to think twice before planning a trip just because a toddler is also travelling with us.
Well this is as true as saying "shopping is an expensive hobby" or for that matter anything else. When you have a given amount of money to spend you need to think twice before planning the expense and mindful saving goes a long way towards this. I would love to own a designer bag or yet another pair of sunglasses but being able to afford a holiday is more important.
Also, while you are travelling, making small changes like booking tickets way in advance, giving up an all-inclusive luxury stay for a self- catered apartment, eating street food or cooking at least one meal yourself, using public transport rather than cabs (especially in Europe) help cut down unnecessary expenses. I remember sharing a room with 3 other people in Aguas Calientes, Peru for a night because we couldn't find a separate accommodation which was affordable.
Over the last few years, everything has become more accessible and comparable and thus cheaper. I remember getting lost in the lanes of Venice years ago because we did not have GPS on our phones to locate our B&B or carryig our luggage 4 flights up in Copenhagen because we did not know the apartment building had no elevator!
It isn't easy to find food especially vegetarian food abroad.
K and I are largely vegetarians. We've had never had a problem finding food in any part of the world. We recently went to China and even with the language problems and "sea food" everywhere situation we managed to find lots and lots of vegetarian food.
Even if you prefer Indian food you can find it in almost all corners of the world. We've had the most delicious biryani ever in Florence at a Pakistani restaurant. Of course, when you are travelling, you may have to keep a few reservations aside like "I only eat at fine dine restaurants", or "the restaurant shouldn't also serve non-vegetarian" or "there is no garam- masala in the dal!". If you are this finicky, you should probably carry your own food.
In Beijing, in a community lunch, K & I had to manually remove pieces of lamb from the salad so we could eat the vegetables. There are a few other stories but all of these become anecdotes we remember fondly later. We also cook extensively when we are travelling (mostly K actually). It is quite fun to try the local produce, talk to the local grocers.
You can only be one kind of traveller- luxury/shoestring/adventure/relaxed/spa/beach/snow.
If only I could tell you how untrue that is! Each of our trips is so different from the last one. Infact, even in the same trip we end up being different kinds of travellers depending on the place we are visiting and our budget at that point of time.
In Seychelles, for the first 2 days we enjoyed a luxurious 5 star resort with a private beach and then moved to a self- catering villa for the rest of our stay. When we travelled to Capri, we spent all our money on the ferry. We were left with just enough to share a pizza for lunch and a quick nap on the beach. We were much younger then; all of this frugality sounded romantic and also saved us some much needed Euros. Of course, if we were to go back today, we would do the same holiday with much more frivolity as far as finances are concerned.
Treat each trip differently. Enjoy being various kinds of travellers. Every one of these is fun!
It is not safe or convenient to stay in apartments.
For the last 4 years we have been extensively staying in airbnbs and self- catering apartments. Apart from being really really convenient- you can treat the whole place as yours- even if it means feeling like eating maggi at 2.00 AM in the night or doing your laundry after weeks of travel. You can cook if you want, order in or just step out to the nearest restaurant.
An apartment in the middle of the city is much cheaper as compared to a 4 or 5 star hotel room in the same area. And truth be told, we very rarely use the hotel amenities when we are on the move so what's the point of paying for them. I remember staying with the kindest hosts in Prague. They weren't physically in the city but always just a message away.
Our hostess in Shanghai stocked her apartment with extra milk and eggs to make sure Iy was comfortable and our hosts in Johannesburg cooked us some local delicacies on our last night in their apartment. I have several other stories like this and in most cases we never got to physically meet the hosts but my point is- apartments are way better than staying in a hotel.
Do not wait for a better time to travel. There isn't! Do not wait to save up more- you don't need to. Don't wait for the perfect plan- it doesn't have to be. Don't! Just get up and go (and yeah thank me later ???? ).
Here are some pics from the talk and what I wore to the event: