The journey begins with you
Recently a friend of mine proposed we go for a couples trip to Mussoorie. Now if during a boring day at office, someone suggests a trip, you respond with a yes. Irrespective of the place, the duration of the trip or your budget; especially if you are suffering from a vacation hangover! And that’s precisely what I did until my lovely friend sent me some options for our stay.
The options included some of the most expensive hotels/resorts in Mussoorie and all I could calculate was the number of trips I can take with the money which will be spent on a room. It was a sad moment when I realized we will not be able to travel together this time. She very kindly suggested that we can stay at a hotel with a much lower room tariff but I refused.
Should the same situation have occurred five years ago, I would have ecstatically and instantly agreed. But now, not a chance.
Bring in the change slowly
I am now a firm believer of the philosophy that ‘your travelling experience is one aspect of your life that should be above and beyond the demands, needs and wants of those around you’. And yes, this includes mummy, papa, husband, sister, niece, uncle, best friend, best friend’s mother et al.
It’s your travel experience and yours alone; what you take back from a journey will stay with you forever, so make it worth it. If it’s not our close circle of friends and family influencing our travel plans then it’ll be the numerous articles on must visit places, Instagram pictures of food you HAVE to try and Facebook posts of museums, forts and palaces that you just can’t miss.
What can a poor traveller do, then, but make her itinerary according to everything she reads online, everything people around her say and the unsaid pressure of ‘travelling right’. How many times have you heard the phrase “What! You went to A and didn’t visit B?” “Tck tck, that’s one useless holiday”.
Well, thank you so much. But no, I didn’t visit a place you thought I definitely should have and yet I had an amazing trip so quit making me feel miserable.
The day I started travelling for myself, I was a much happier person.
For a long time, it was very difficult to explain this to anyone, including myself. I had to pull myself away from forts, palaces, churches and temples, I had to unlearn, I had to accept. Because quite frankly I didn’t enjoy it; for some reason forts just seep the energy out of me and it was time that I accepted this about myself. Yes, perhaps one day I will visit Rome and enjoy the history it has to offer but I will any day be happier in Naples amidst natural beauty.
For the love of travel
So, for the love of travel, for your peace of mind, travel the way that works for you and no other way. Even if travelling in a group or as a couple, you can enjoy your vacation if you travel with people who understand and appreciate your way of doing things.
People have an opinion about everything, including the kind of clothes we wear, the food we order, even the ‘strange’ way we walk. So the one thing you can save yourself from is their incessant comments and remarks about what time to wake up while on a holiday, which famous place you absolutely need to visit, which places you shouldn’t visit and how you should spend your time with yourself.
Now this 'doing things your way' is especially difficult for people who travel just for the love of it and are up for anything (read me). I used to go along with any plan as long as there was one. It didn’t matter where we were eating, what we were doing or where we were going until I realized the number of places I have visited was much greater than the number of places I had experienced.
When visiting a place, you are giving a little bit of yourself while experiencing its myriad offerings; you are also taking back a little. Let this exchange not be influenced by anyone else.
As a request from one traveller to another
Stay up late or wake up at 6, eat ice-cream or bhel Puri for breakfast, go paragliding or while away time in the room. Do as you please and do it well.
I am a seeker of natural beauty and that’s what works for me. I don’t like expensive hotels; I love homestays and visiting small cafes. I don’t appreciate sitting around watching TV in a room; I’d rather go trekking. I can spend hours looking for the perfect café, I can also spend hours shopping. I’d rather play a game of monopoly over black tea than dance away the night. I may also dance away the night, one holiday, rather than tucking myself in at 8 pm. I may click a 100 pictures and not upload any; I may click 10 and apply filters to them all to upload 20.
It’s my wish, my holiday and I’ll experience it the way I want. It's time we all start.
P.S: It took a lot of unpleasant holidays/trips/travels to reach this happy state.