It gives me a different high to think about travelling to new places. The idea of knowing a new place excites me and tickles my wandering mind. I am always curious to know what it feels to be in new places, new city every-day. I almost feel now and have actually experienced that travel for me is like a therapy to cure myself from being able to free my mind of mundane self. This is when I found that it is truly rewarding to be able to migrate from the microcosm to the macrocosm of life which is appreciating each wonder of life & this world. Heavy,eh?? Ya I know it is but is true!!
I have always loved everything about travelling from the beginning, be it searching organising planning an itinerary advising my friends, family, relatives on how to arrange trips by giving tips out of my own travel experiences always felt like interesting hobby. Till two years back, I used to have planned holidays set itinerary customised tours, basically everything designed by some lame overpriced tour agents who happily agreed to charge me every-time almost more than double just to design a tour which otherwise if done ourselves would have been much cheaper. It was until last to last year when something happened and changed outlook towards my life completely. I was to otherwise go into depression, as there was a huge financial burden and pretty much stressful situation which compelled me to change my priority about setting my travel plans. I could no longer afford to travel luxury. But wishes never ceased to end and the desire never seems to extinguish. That’s when I realised that one doesn’t really always require money to travel. Its always about travelling smart. And thus my journey of becoming a traveller from a tourist begun!!
Making a puppy face while carrying this furry ball at Paro- Bhutan
Needless to describe my grin after a hike at Taksang Monastery
New year Sunrise at Auro Beach (Pondicherry)
I started taking up random unplanned short trips around my incredible country. I cut down on all my unnecessary extravagant expenditure and started saving up. Infact, I didn’t have to do much sacrifice on that, as my passion for travel was much more than to sulk over such petty sacrifice. So it happened automatically once the priority changed. I realised that the only way I could recover from being lost is when I start to do things what I loved doing throughout my life, TRAVEL!! So having to travel in a frugal budget for visiting one of many places out of my bucket list was to be set. I read somewhere that in order to pursue your travel passion, it is necessary to be open with choices and not stick to one plan or destination. Thus, my idea of picking a destination totally depended on the comfort of choosing the travel route based on my budget. While planning a budget travel, the major chunk of your budget goes while to choose the mode of travel and the convenience of it. Hence, I started picking up my destination by searching cheapest airfare deals or train tickets availability. It’s always wise to set up a fare alarm, so that one can grab the best deals. So, usually a planning of atleast three months in advance for a big trip is suggested in order to get hold of the best fare deals. While I m still stuck with my corporate job, I have to plan my leaves wisely too. So planning a leave well ahead is also crucial. While travelling solo, I realised the fun factor which comes along with a fact that you get to meet so many interesting mind on the way. Each day is exciting having to see new interesting facts. And the best part is, you are free to design your trip as per your needs and choice. For each trip that I took solo, I made so many friends and got even better ideas to make my future travel budget friendly. When we evolve as a traveler, that is when it gives you a parallel opportunity to come out of your comfort zone and test your capability as an individual. Ofcourse, it also happens, when money involved covering the travel expense is low but the wish-list to fulfill the desires is high.That’s when I learnt that if we balanced our budget between activities/sightseeing and accommodation/cheap food into the ratio on 70 : 30,one can easily do a long trip on a short budget. While travelling abroad or in India as well, I prefer using travelling portals like couchsurfing, airbnb or hostels.com just to make my accommodation more economical and interesting in order to get an opportunity to stay/interact with locals. And being a hard core foodie, tasting the local street food always tops my priority list. So instead of spending exorbitant on dining at a restaurant, I rather stick to local authentic street food, which not only does wonder to my gastronomical delight but also saves my pocket from getting a hole. Next comes the transport, for every destination that I choose, I often download an offline map of the city which gives me fair idea of the routes and places. So hence by doing a little research on how to commute cheap in the city/town by using public transport like buses /tuk tuk rather than opting for overpriced cabs, always help in saving a bit of money. That way I get to interact with locals to get a better understanding of the place.
Sandakphu Tea house base camp (Spring trek)
So in general, if I could really take care of these main things like the stay, transport and food. I realized that I could cut down the expense to almost half from what I used to pay before as a tourist. And also gives me better exposure to know the places well, I visit.
Some typical differences from being a traveller to a tourist:
- Being a tourist, one is stuck with a fixed itinerary based on pre decided route. Whereas, being a traveller gives you a freedom to choose the itinerary as per your need.
- Tourist end up paying more price for food and stay which might not give an opportunity to change, while as a traveller it gives a freedom to choose stay and food as per like/budget/choice.
- Tourist can only cover the places which are pre-decided by the agent whereas traveller can opt for the places as wished, every moment every second.
- Being a tourist one is stuck with a set number of people to interact with, whereas for a traveller every second gives an opportunity to meet new people.
- Being a tourist is all about the destination, for a traveller it’s the journey that matters.
- Tourist gets to see only what the agents wants to show but a traveller gets to see what the heart wants to see.
- Tourist pays more and sees less and traveller pays less to see more.
Dordena Buddha Point, Thimphu (Bhutan)
Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage- Srilanka
Hope that helps to define the true spirit of being a traveler just in-case the wanderlust is kicking your minds every now and then.