How to travel at any age

I’m 26 but that’s not going to last forever. And I want to be able to travel even when those digits get reversed. Is that an impossible goal? Not really, as I discovered on my last travel blogging trip to the forests of Madhya Pradesh. There, I met Inderjit Ahluwalia, a travel writing veteran and author of ‘Meet me at the border’, a rich anthology of diverse travel stories from his own suitcase. His zest for travel, work and new business ideas amazed me and I felt good knowing that the road doesn’t have to end all that soon. Here are 10 ways to keep travelling, at every stage in life.

1. When you’re studying: Don’t miss any trip opportunity

I speak from personal experience. There will be trips in college your parents may be reluctant to give the green signal for and there will be others you might avoid because you don’t like your classmates or you’d rather be pursuing an internship at your dream company or cramming for an upcoming exam. But take it from me, there’s no better time to discover the world beyond your city than when you’re uncoloured and un-jaded by the travails of full-time adult life. I say full-time because the real drudgery of adulthood doesn’t begin until you’ve signed up for a 9 to 5 job. And most of us do, not only because we have to pay the bills but also because society demands it of us and somewhere, we demand it of ourselves. When you’re in college, you can absorb the world and allow what it gives you to shape your future. If your parents can’t afford to fund trips, pay for them with a part-time gig. It’ll be worth it.

2. When you’re under financial constraints: Push the limits of budget travel and find a job that involves travelling

Travelling can be expensive; especially if you’re thinking of foreign travel. I’ve had times of severe budget constraints and I still managed to go on several trips. How? I used public transport and stayed in people’s homes or low-budget hotels. Sometimes, low-budget hotels can be an issue because of safety concerns but homestays are nearly always comfortable and affordable. If you’re going to Goa, how does it matter where you crash when you’re going to be at the beach all day anyway? Roughing it out in sleeper compartments and overnight buses has a charm of its own (no I’m not being sarcastic). But the best thing would be to take up a vocation that lets you travel. I’m not just referring to the glamorous ones like travel writing, film-making and photography. You’d be surprised to know how many jobs involve extensive travelling – sales and marketing for one. Event management is another. PR can also involve a fair amount of travel. Yes, these will be work trips but there’s nothing stopping you from exploring the city in your leisure time. Travel is all about making the best of what you get; a planned holiday is a luxury that doesn’t come by too often.

3. When you’re newly married: Take your spouse along

If you’ve been used to travelling solo all through your single life, marriage can feel like a big full-stop to your travelling days. But it doesn’t have to be like that. Travelling as a couple can be extremely rewarding and offers more support and variety than solo travel. Even if you don’t travel together all the time, you can definitely do so at least half the time. Ideally, marry someone who is open to travelling, if not a lover of new destinations. Exploring places together can stoke the romance in unexpected ways!

4. When you have kids: Explore kid-friendly destinations and have a support system

The next spanner in the works might be the one thing you love the most – your offspring. How can you go exploring when you have a demanding, temperamental toddler with you? First things first, don’t create a monster. Instilling good manners  and non-negotiable public behavioural standards goes a long way in smoothing travel plans with your kids in tow. In fact, you might find yourself utilising the gaming and recreational facilities of resorts much more thoroughly when you travel with your kids! Additionally, try and build a good support system that allows you to leave your children in the hands of people you trust when you go to non child-friendly places. You might have to keep these trips short and infrequent but as long as you’re travelling, you’re okay.

5. When work overwhelms you: Make weekend getaways your friend

Many of us love to travel but we have demanding jobs and we do enjoy the high that we get from accomplishing challenges in our working lives. I’ve found that taking a week off is easier when you’re lower on the corporate ladder and don’t have as many pressing responsibilities. But as you start courting success, your window to long, unmonitored leaves decreases and that’s when you should wrap your head around weekend getaways. In many cases, I’ve found Friday-Sunday trips to be as rewarding as longer ones. You can always choose niche destinations like villages and plantation resorts where a two night stay allows you to get the complete experience.

6. When you start ageing: Adapt habits to stay fit and alert

Mental and physical fitness aren’t quite the same, though one often leads to the other. Make some form of exercise (yoga, walking, running, swimming, tennis) a part of your daily routine and start as early as you can. I’ve been exercising in some form or the other since I was a child and I’ve found a palpable dip in my energy levels whenever I slacken. This link becomes all the more crucial as we advance in age. To keep forgetfulness, Alzheimer’s and other forms of mental degeneration at bay, solve crossword and sudoku puzzles daily, learn new skills and languages and keep your mind engaged and active at all times. Luckily, travelling tends to be an all-round workout for the body and mind!

7. When you can’t find people to come along: Go solo and don’t be scared

Last year, I got an opportunity to travel to London and Paris and no one was willing to come along because the cost was simply too high. I was dead scared when I embarked on my first solo journey abroad but I ended up having a wonderful time and today after several solo trips, I feel it’s a piece of cake in most cases. If you’re new to solo travel, stick to cities and well frequented destinations. I’d advise this all the more if you’re a woman. But you’ll find the wings to experiment as you graduate in your journey to solo travel.

8. When you’re no longer young: Embrace slow travel

When we’re young, we have a lot on our plates. Not only do we have the energy to rush from place to place and engage in ‘speed travelling’ of sorts, but we are also compelled to do this because of a growing career. When you’re no longer in the corporate rat race, you’re free to take advantage of the time at hand and spend several weeks exploring a place, allowing it to grow on you. I have heard so much about the magic of slow travel and I dream of having a month to myself where I end up feeling truly at home in a new place.

9. When you have health constraints: Take advantage of modern comforts

I know of Shubham Mansingka, a well-known travel writer who used to suffer from asthma and other breathing problems. He recovered completely when he breathed in the pure air of the Himalayas. I too have found that ailments have a strange knack of disappearing when you’re totally immersed in the sights and sounds of nature. But I know all too well that an achy knee or a delicate stomach can diminish the pleasure of travel considerably. This is where you need to big goodbye to ‘roughing it out’ and go the luxury way instead. Opt for comfortable stays and destinations and if you need a tour company’s assistance, ask for it.

10. When your family won’t let you travel: Take them along or put your foot down

This is a serious issue for many people because travel is seen as taking you away from your family and other commitments. The simple way to overcome this obstacle is to make your family see how and why travelling is important to you. And if they’re game, take them along. We’ve got one life and this entire, breath-taking world to see. Your family and friends have got to understand why you want to hop on the next plane to just about anywhere! Do plan your travels such that you’re not skipping on vital areas of your life; else there won’t be a life to come back to. Happy globe-trotting!

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