As the traveller that I am, I had known that once I get out of my MBA college, I would travel as frequently as I wanted. But I got placed in a location straight out of a wild imagination- in Chhattisgarh from where finding frequent public transport was difficult, and had a 6 day working week. Travelling on weekends was next to impossible. But like the person I am, I resigned after a few months, literally citing out the reason to be travel to the senior HR. And no, I did not become a digital nomad or something, I joined a travel company itself, doing marketing for them. And I am travelling now as freely as I can.
The Plan: To travel every alternate weekend in 2018
Did it work out: No, but I travelled every weekend in the month of September and December to compensate
Budget: I was paying off my student loan while travelling, so travel took all the expenses that anybody else would make on clothes, intoxication and other pleasures.
Leaves: I cut down on the sick leaves and bad mood leaves, to take leaves only for travel
So this is how I travelled to 26 states/UTs in 2018
1. Gujarat (On Republic Day, Leaves taken: 2)
I took a 33 hour long train journey from Champa, Chhattisgarh to Ahmedabad. It might surprise you, but if I had taken flights, the journey would have been longer. The occasion was college alumni meet, but that didn't mean I wouldn't travel beyond the college.
February-March (Leaves Taken 7)
In February I travelled in parts of Chhattisgarh on weekends, and took a long vacation-I mixed my leaves with weekends and Holi off, making it a 11 day continuous trip to the South. I landed at Kochi and travelled by road & railways to Alleppey, Varkala, Kannyakumari, Trichy, Pondicherry, Mahabalipuram and Chennai.
4. Tamil Nadu
After leaving my job in April, I went on a week long trip to Jammu & Kashmir. I took a train from Delhi to Jammu and then travelled by road and railways to the Kashmir valley.
6. Jammu & Kashmir (In between jobs, Leaves Taken: 0)
May ( Travelled on weekends, Leaves Taken: 0)
As I joined a new job in May, I did not travel in the month at all outside Delhi NCR. But Delhi-NCR itself has got a lot to explore when it comes to events and activities.
June (Travelled on long weekends, Leaves Taken: 0)
I compensated by travelling on long weekends in June. I made two visits to Uttarakhand, one to Lansdowne and another one on a long weekend to Nainital, Almora and Ranikhet
July (Leaves Taken: 3)
In the month of July, I travelled to Bihar to meet my parents who are currently teaching there. We travelled to the nearby areas and went to some holy places in Jharkhand & Bihar.
August ( Travelled on weekends, Leaves Taken: 0)
The end of July that slipped into August saw me travelling to Orchha and Khajuraho on a weekend.
12. Madhya Pradesh
September (Leaves Taken: 5)
September was meant for an international trip to Bhutan. The Bhutan trip saw an Indian leg too, with me visiting Kurseong and Darjeeling. The trip set a lot more wanderlust in me, and I happened to travel every weekend in the month, going to Agra, Fatehpur Sikri, Amritsar & Chandigarh after coming back from Bhutan.
13. West Bengal
14. Uttar Pradesh
October ( Travelled on Dussehra and weekends, Leaves Taken: 1)
Come October and Dussehra, I went to Mumbai to meet my friends, but also planned a trip to the tiny Union Territories of Dadra & Nagar Haveli (Silvassa) and Daman & Diu (Daman) very close to Mumbai.
17. Dadra & Nagar Haveli
18. Daman & Diu
November (Travelled on Diwali, Leaves Taken: 2)
I travelled to Bangalore to celebrate Diwali with my parents and brother. But as the travellers we are, we planned a trip to the coffee estates in Chikamaglur. Later in the month, I travelled to Pushkar during the camel fair on a weekend.
December (Travelled on weekends and Christmas-New Year, Leaves Taken: 5)
I used my pending leaves in December for a 11-day backpacking trip to the North-East in the later half of the month. But before that, I spent three weekends travelling to Rohru in Himachal Pradesh, Bikaner in Rajasthan and Dhanolti in Uttarakhand.
22. Himachal Pradesh
23. Arunachal Pradesh
Except for the four long trips that I took, all the other trips were on weekends, and I spent an average of Rs 3000 on these trips (including transportation, food and stay). I travelled using state transport buses and stayed in hostels and budget accommodations, and used different apps for discount.
On my long trips, I travelled at night to save on accommodations and relied only on offline bookings which are always cheaper than online options (if you are travelling in off season).
If the idea is to just travel, and not travel for social media or for the vanity of it, travelling isn't expensive. There are beautiful and interesting places all around the country, and your nearest favourite evening spot might not be on a popular travel list. But it's your escape from the world. Travel and find more such spots, after all travelling is all about finding an escape to some place that isn't a part your regular life.