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birthday retrospect: 10 things that Travel taught me

Every year around my birthday, I write my birthday retrospect, and truthfully I have been planning on writing the big 30 birthdays retrospect for almost a year now.
 Initially I decided to write my list of thirty things to do before turning 30, and yes it sounds like the resolutions one makes every single year. But this was different, every year after breaking the resolution, one got to say, well better luck next don’t turn 30 every year and so putting a finite date put things in perspective and truly I got a lot done.
 There were small things like drinking 8 glasses of water ( which was bloody hard!) , to the profound; like working at my dream job ( which I managed, even though it doesn't pay much), then there were the existential; like becoming a millionaire by 30 ( not a million US dollars, but a million Indian rupees in savings would be nice).
But this blog post is not about if I actually became a millionaire, it’s about being a different kind of rich.

So for my milestone birthday, my family gifted me an all expense paid trip to Istanbul, Turkey, and as I was on a 12 hour journey back home I ‘retrospected’ on what this trip and other journeys have taught me about life. (to read a detailed foodietrail of my istanbul trip go here)

1.       Don’t carry extra baggage: It’s a good thing they charge for extra baggage at the airports , because even in life extra baggage not only weighs us down, it can cost us a pretty penny as well. walking through the cobbled by lanes of Rome dragging your bags behind you is no fun, or if you perhaps have a home stay on the third floor without a lift. (interested in the best pizzas in Rome, my food trail here)

2.       Have an itinerary: It may not be perfect, may not be the same as everyone, but having an itinerary helps optimize your time. And time is finite. Sometimes in life ( well most of the time) we feel we will live forever, and have unlimited time to do all the things we want to do. But life like all journeys have to come to an end. Everyone wants to do different things and its OK if you choose to spend 3 days sipping wine in cafes and having pasta galore, or you may choose to score the streets in search of quaint boutiques and arty museums. Have a game plan. Keep adding and deleting from it. Make time for all that you want to do, make sure you do them before the final boarding call.

3.       It’s OK to call it quits: everyone has a different arrival and departure time, we all come in on different flights. You may want to do different things and no matter who is footing the bill, remember it’s your trip too, and you are paying for it with your life. 3 days in Munich and a few would be happy to drink beer and visit the football match with their fav football club, but if that’s not your scene speak up say ,” football and beer, no thanks I would rather visit a Nazi concentration camp.” In life too we hang around while others live their dream, remember time is ticking and you have no one to blame but yourself if you waste your trip doing what other people want you to do.

4.       Read reviews: There are those who have done this journey before, ate in this very same restaurant before. You may listen to everyone's reviews on a hotel, restaurant, and all the travel websites and still decide to wing it and go off roading discovering a place as you go. There are people like our parents, and teachers who have their fair share of experience. Make use of their reviews on people , professions and relationships, just like you would when you decide to venture into a different continent or country. If it rains on your life at least you carried an umbrella.

5.       Collect souvenirs: they help you remember your journey. Yes it’s true we will not be able to carry anything away from life itself but small souvenirs of your baby’s first birthday, your first day in college, graduation, they act as small capsules filled with memories. The key-chain from  Barcelona, the t shirt from paris act like a small piece of the place and time you visited.

6.       Share your experience:  Facebook and instagram. Solo travel has its own charm, but show me a solo traveler who hasn't come back and gushed about his experience to another person, or twittered about it or instagramed a pic of a great sunset done in ‘solitude’ and then shared it with the ‘world ‘ at large . We love to share, and that is how it should be, in travel as well as in life. Riding on a roller coaster is great fun, but when you have someone by your side who screams while you both go down , and rides with flying hair as you both go up and as the ride ends both of you sigh in relief, then get off the ride light headed and giggling and decide “ chal, lets do it again!” well that is more fun. I don’t speak only of love or friends, but every one craves companionship.If you find the right partner to ride on the roller coaster of life, you will want to get off it giggling asking to do it again.

7.       Rejoice in the beauty: Isnt it amazing how everything is ‘superb’ or ‘awesome’ on a holiday. How the view is just perfect and the food great. Its something special and you savour your time spent in exotic locales. Well one persons home is another persons holiday destination. Look at your home, your every day city/town/village life though the eyes of a traveler. In most parts we are all travelers. The Bombay rains and local trains may be every day nuisances but see it through the adventurous backpacker travelling through Mumbai who waxes eloquent about the mundane.

8.       There is no duty free: You will be taxed for everything in life. You are not leaving this journey without paying your dues. There are no free lunches, you spend “your time” at work, you will have to pay for it at home, your limited time will have to stretch between all the things you have to do and want to do, there’s no way around it. Think you've got away with it, guess what there might very well be a customs check at the end of the journey as well, and that customs officer will not be fooled.

9.       Some people like to be part of guided tours: All the Thomas cooks, and tours and travels are not a bad way to travel. Some plan to follow a plan, not necessarily their own, nevertheless a good plan. Some one who will take care of the nitty-gritties and we just have to follow the guide. If you wing it, chances are you will make a mistake, take a detour and land up at a dead end, find yourself in an unsavory neighborhood. I think that is the same logic that people use while following the path their parents chose, or their community leaders chose. Do this job, marry this girl, have a child now, all good advice and frankly some people just like the comfort of guided tours.

10.   Some journeys are doomed: Holidays gone wrong, missed flights, thunder showers on your honeymoon, lost baggage , stolen passports. They may not all be fun, but they teach you a lot about yourself and others in your life. Sometimes you come out unscathed, and sometimes bruised, but even the bad trips have good advice.

I guess each one of us take back different things from our experiences. Travelling helps us not only discover the world around us, but also the kind of person we are. It’s just an observation, but the way we lead our life is also the way we tend to journey to different places. The conventional traveler, the adventure seeker, the back packer, the luxe tourist. We don’t all need to take months off to travel to make these discoveries, even long weekends, or overnight road trips can change your perspective in unknown ways.

My fourth point was, we should review, and I am a big one on reviews. I like to read what other people have to say, and on turning 30 I read a lot on the internet about what other ‘have been’ 30 year olds wished they had done in their 20’s and I even read what 70 year olds said that they wished they had done in life. And guess what , in almost all the surveys and confessions, and advice columns they all said they wished they had traveled more, spent time with family more, seen more of the world, very few of them wished they had bought the latest Iphone  in their 30’s. Clearly travel is the new black. No matter what the age, travel will always be trendy.this journey from womb to grave is one grand big journey on steroids, its got all the drama, high octave fun, nail biting mysteries that one can ever hope for, and even if you aren't enjoying it, it's just like the long 12 hour flight home, no matter how much you crib, you really can't get off this ride, so might as well enjoy it. buckle up.


Bkunal said…
A very detailed observation and study of the subject. More authentic by photographs. But my worry I hope you are not becoming another chetan bhagat.

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