Next month, we will complete five years of being on the road. Over these five years, we have met many travellers from the world over who have inspired us to see more, explore and do more. But at the same time, we’ve encountered many eager souls with itchy feet, with dreams of places distant and near in their eyes but absolutely stuck in one place, unable to move from the cushion of the city life. On further probing, we’ve concluded that most of them truly believe either or all of the Myths mentioned below are the ultimate truth and have blindly accepted them.
This small article is our attempt to bust these myths and hope to encourage more people, to get that backpack on their shoulders and hit the road! The world as they say, is truly awesome and the rest can wait.
To Travel – You Must Quit Your Job
Agreed that having no job leaves you with a lot of time, it isn’t imperative to quit your job entirely. 52 weekends in a year translate into 104 days of travel, explore the city that you live in, go on weekend hikes and roadtrips around the place. Long weekends as a result of national holidays and festivals also mean longer trips. Moreover, keep fit – eat healthy, exercise and sleep well because fewer sick leaves = more leaves to travel.
A regular job ensures steady income which you can save up to fund your travels. If your job involves travelling then you can utilise those opportunities to explore newer places, build relationships with the locals and this will go a long way if you ever visit again on a holiday.
To Travel: You Need A Lot of Money
Having a sizeable bank balance doesn’t necessarily mean a lot of travel. Of course, you can fly frequently and save your leaves if you have cash but then here’s a little secret – some of the best unexplored places don’t have airstrips.
Getting around in India isn’t expensive. The Indian Railway provides for the lowest common denominator and if you are ready to let go off your comforts, then the Sleeper Class is an excellent way to experience India. Ditto for state run transport buses that ply within every state of India.
Stay in a Homestay or a Guest House, avoid Hotels. They are cheaper, are most locally owned and have a lot more character and offer a welcome change from the standard atmosphere of a hotel.
Eat at a Dhabba or at small places where the locals eat, it is your best bet to experience local cuisine. Don’t fall for tourist traps. Once you hit the road, we are sure you will find your own set of techniques to save on costs and make the best out of a small budget.
To Travel: You Need Company
Wrong. In a country like India, you are never without company. A group of friends or relatives might seem like a good idea to reap the benefits of collective bargaining but that’s where the fun ends. Matching your dates, food preferences, destination choices and such conflicting ideas with your loved ones can be both tiring and frustrating. Often plans are made but never implemented because some or the other backs out and the plan is shelved.
Instead, we encourage travellers to join travelling groups such as ours or just go on your own. Yes, travel solo. It is a fulfilling experience. To travel with like minded folks, to interact with travellers over a hot tea in a cosy cafe or just to spend time looking out of the window as your bus makes its way through the valley is an amazing feeling. Shared experiences help you connect better and make the trip even more memorable. Travel is known to help you to discover yourself and helps you get out of your comfort zone. It actually works best when you aren’t obligated to make a conversation!
To Travel – You Need to Make Reservations, Plan in Much Advance
Nothing, absolutely nothing can compare to the joy of setting out on an impromptu trip. And now with the upgraded IRCTC website, booking a Tatkal ticket is now very much possible without taking the help of an agent. On some of our trips, we have followed the No-Reservation policy and that has got us some amazing deals! If you travel in the off-season, just landing up at any place can ensure you some heavy discounts and business is low and everyone in the business is keen on making a few bucks.
With improved mobile internet, planning on the go is possible and of course, the age old guidebooks never fail to help. Local knowledge can help you plan better but make sure it comes from a reliable source and not from a tout out to make some extra bucks on the side by ‘helping’ the traveler.
To Travel is Unsafe and Risky
Like all things worth their while, travel can be full of risks. But only for the foolhardy traveller who disrespects local customs, underestimates the potential of risk and doesn’t take into account hazards of travelling in an unknown land. The idea is to minimize and mitigate these risks through proper planning. This doesn’t mean going overboard and loading your self with more information than necessary, but being aware helps.
Don’t take undue risks – venturing out late at night in a small town or getting drunk with strangers at a bar, divulging too much personal information to strangers, co-travellers. Also make sure, you carry enough protective gear to save yourself from unruly weather, carry extra cash and don’t rely on ATMs.
Spending a day in a big city like Bombay can be very risky for a newcomer but with the right amount of information and pre-emptive measures, hazards can be kept at a distance.
There you have it. Our small attempt at encouraging you to get that backpack up on your shoulder and hit the road!
If you’d like more articles like these in the future, do let us know in the comments section below! See you on the road!
Text by Rushikesh Kulkarni for Team Breakfree.
Photos by Rajiv Kalra, Gandhalee Purohit, Samkit Khatadia