As someone who has been born and brought up in the mountains, I was never really enamoured by my hometown or the frequent trips that my family and I took to the mountains. Going hiking before breakfast or running to hidden spots to catch the sunsets were activities that I did on a daily basis. Don’t get me wrong, I truly enjoyed growing up in the mountains, but I never really appreciated how lucky I was to be there.
It was only later in life when I shifted to Jaipur and a national obsession with travelling grew, especially among my generation that I realised how fortunate I was to have been travelling and living in the mountains as a child. Instagrammers started documenting their travels and stories from the mountains, and I fell in love with the mountains when I saw them through their lens. I had seen the same sights they talked about, I had walked the same paths as they did, but I never saw them with the love and fondness as they had. I had never appreciated my connection with the mountains, but as I scrolled through my feed, I yearned to head to the mountains and truly feel their sublime beauty.
When Shivya Nath wrote about her solo adventures through south east Asia, when Abhinav Chandel of Abhiandnow penned his musings from Mcleodganj or when Vid and Savy of Bruised Passports travelled to exotic locales around the world – something changed in me. I wanted to travel again.
While scrolling through Internet one day (surprise, surprise!), I came across pictures of a friend who had visited North Sikkim in extreme cold of December! I was fascinated, I was used to taking easier trips, but minus temperatures and high altitude regions were unchartered territory. I decided to book a trip with The Doi Host who organise sustainable trips to the Himalayas. I was soon tugging along River Teesta with a bunch of six strangers I had never met before!
This was such a new experience for me. I had never thought that I could travel with people I didn't know and have such an authentic experience in a remote destination. After this trip, the way I approached travel changed even more.
After returning from Sikkim, I planned trips to more destinations. These were places I probably wouldn’t have known of if I had not become a part of the travel community through Instagram. When most Indians travel, they only discover one layer of a place. I was one such tourist too, till I learned how to go beyond the traps that are set for tourists become a traveller who gets to the heart of the destination I was visiting. I didn't just visit a new place to shop and eat north-Indian food.
I didn't take short, weekend trips, I saved up on holidays and money to love in a place for longer. I would spend my vacation not ticking off place on my list, but interacting with locals, eating local and even shopping local. Once I started travelling in this manner, I came face to face with the beauty that the Instagrammers wrote about. Travelling became a more immersive experience for me, so much so that I loved being the road as much as possible.
If it weren't for Instagram, I would have never had easy access to a whole new world where people were evolving by learning as they travelled. While there's a fair amount of criticism of social media and the way Instagram is taking over our lives, it all boils down to how you use it. I used it to widen my horizons as a traveller. I followed people who are showing us new ways of travelling, and most importantly, travelling in a sustainable manner. 3 years ago I wouldn't have imagined myself saying this, but now, my life revolves around travel, and I wouldn't have it any other way!
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