Scratch that travel itch!

Smriti Modi of The Itch List recently interviewed me over email about my journey to becoming a travel blogger. Here are a few excerpts.

As a journalist, you must have a demanding job and you were called one of the best travel bloggers in India. How do you balance?

I’m figuring it out as I go! In my view, if I turn travelling into an occupation, I risk getting tired of it and I’d never want that. Besides, my focus will always be writing. I aim to use the inspiration from travel to write life-changing poetry and prose. I like the stability my job provides and I wouldn’t wish to give that up at this point in life. I steal time to travel – I compromise on the length of my trips, which hurts sometimes, but that’s the only way to balance it out. Work while you work; travel while you travel and give it all your heart. That’s the maxim I follow.

Did you always have itchy feet, what inspired you to travel and start a travel blog?

Honestly, no. I always had fingers that itched to write but never feet that itched to travel. I actually missed a couple of trips in college which I really regret now. But back then, my focus was entirely on making it big in the media industry. The travel bug bit me when I was pursuing post-graduation in Pune and when it did, it simply wouldn’t let go. Those two years allowed me a lot of time for introspection and I felt this void in my life. For the longest time, I didn’t know what would fill it until I realised that I wanted desperately, to see the world beyond my city. It was hard to work out trips without an income or friends who would drop everything to travel with me. So, I waited until I began earning and that was when I began travelling (my first trip was to Kerala with a friend) and travel blogging. I was already an avid writer and blogger and this transition to travel writing seemed destined. Things didn’t pick up until recently, however (when I migrated the travel section on my blog to a new domain called Trail-stained Fingers). These days I never seem to stay home on weekends! And the travel blog consumes me completely. I love this phase and I’m excited to see what lies ahead.

You must have a lot of interesting memories from all your travels. Could you give us one anecdote that stands out?

This is a tough question. But I’ll go with a flattering one. So when I was in Paris’ Montmartre area, I felt famished after hours of roaming around and exploring the Basilique de Sacre Coeur, the fromageries and endless staircases. I didn’t have much money in my wallet and so I looked around for a takeaway restaurant, although the al fresco cafes looked ever so inviting. I saw a small restaurant advertising the French staple – croque monsieur, a decadent grilled ham and cheese sandwich. Alas, the proprietor spoke only French but he was a friendly fellow and we got by with my broken French and his broken English. But yeah, a lot of giggling happened and perhaps that sent his thoughts running in a different direction because he kept asking me “Drinks tonight?” while I kept trying to walk away. And well, eventually, I pretended I didn’t get him and left, leaving many chuckles in my wake!

There are a lot of people who want to travel, but are afraid due to some reason or another-any words of wisdom you would like to share?

Quitting their job to travel is not for everyone. If you ache to discover new places, start in whatever way you can. Begin with exploring your own city and soon, you’ll find the motivation to visit a new one. Weekend getaways are possible for most people and you can slowly build up to longer trips; perhaps international ones as well. I would also advise travelling with other people initially; especially when venturing into exotic locations and going solo once you’re familiar with navigating in alien surroundings. As for budget constraints, it really doesn’t cost much to travel if you’re okay with public transport and basic accommodations. It’s all a matter of priorities. If you really want it, do it.

You can read the complete interview here: http://www.theitchlist.com/storiesofus/a-poetic-sojourn-through-off-beat-places/

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