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Why I Quit My Job To Travel

Smiling faces

Last week, I took a wee trip to Rishikesh – the land of sadhus and of many people’s spiritual rebirth. I have a personal affection, some attachment to this place. This is where I once spent two months, practicing meditation and taking spiritual lessons.

But this time, my arrival was accompanied by a sense of unexpected realization. I wondered, as I grabbed myself walking along its frenzied, confused walkways, that how lucky I am to experience places like Rishikesh again and again. And yet, it is never the climax of my trip. It is always the beginning.

“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other places, other lives, other souls” Anais Nin

It has been more than two years now, since I quit my job and started travelling, yet I never shared here why and how it all happened. It would be nice to say that I wanted to understand myself, and find my inner consciousness, but frankly speaking, it’s not true. The only part which is true is that I’ve had enough living the same boring 9 to 5 corporate life every day. I wanted to do more than that. I wanted to see the world. Meet new people. Learn better ideas. Find out what’s wrong with this system of corporate culture, that it never made anyone happy – no matter what they achieved in their life. Simply put, I wanted to educate myself in a way that no school, no job ever did before.

traveller

But one thing is saying that I want to do this and the other thing is realizing I am actually doing it.

Traveling is no less than a pursuit of happiness for me. Yet, throughout this time, I’ve often stumbled upon questions like “Why I quit my job to travel” or “How did I manage to make such a decision” or “What’s next” – with all this, what others actually wanted to ask me was why did I not go for a two-week calculated holiday (or a couple of month’s sabbatical, if I am being pretentiously brazen about it) to quench my thirst of travel, as an averagely sane person would otherwise do.

The truth is, there is no fun in that. I have taken enough of these recreational holidays – as people often term them – in my life. When I was working I found myself claiming the boundaries of my city almost every weekend, with a couple of friends, drinking a bunch of beers and coming back, but that was no solution. The minute you enter the premises of your office, the next day, it feels as if that sweet, sally trip, that in fact, went past in the blink of an eye, actually never happened. I wanted something more than that. Something bigger. Something permanent.

Discontentment Is Good

Discontentment is the very first step to a new beginning. My discontentment towards my job brought me into this. I’d always loved India, but I never loved my life in India. I loved my profession (of writing), but I never loved my job. It seemed I was just accepting things as they came, and as everyone says “this is life and you got to learn to deal with it.”

But I think I never managed to master that art. Though I tried to suppress my unsatisfied soul the traditional way, by changing jobs and running after money. But it was just not enough. My audacious, fertile mind – discontented and grumbling – kept pushing me until I shifted focus.

writing

The Journey That Changed It All

I took my first solo trip back in 2014 (you can read about it all here), while I was still working, to trek for a few days under the colossal Himalayas. It was a life changing experience. Though there was nothing extraordinarily great about the journey, the freedom in travelling solo was, in fact, quite addictive. And that was it. I spent the next few months, saving as much money possible from the job I was doing, having a very clear focus in my mind – to leave this lifestyle behind and travel the world.

“I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world” Mary Anne Radmacher

As they say that life experiences aren’t something to be denied, but to be celebrated. I think I just happened to celebrate my first solo trip so strenuously that it eventually became a way of life. I know it sounds pretty cool and easy how I managed to quit my job and get ahead with my operation Mission-See-The-World. But trust me, it wasn’t.

 

Further Reading: How To Deal With The Dilemma Of Leaving Everything Behind & Travel

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Ordeals Of A Solo Female Traveller

Madhurima is a blogger by passion, traveller by choice and business analyst by profession. She carries multiple hats with elan with a generous amount of exploring every year which keeps her sanity in check. Her blog orangewayfarer is a wonderful account of her journeys and memories. And speaking about her ordeals as a solo female traveller, this is what she has to say…

The ordeal of being a female is never ending in human civilisation, no matter where you belong to, or what your skin colour is. Add to that a female aspiring to be atraveller and that her heart and soul with exotic experiences and a blast for taste buds. Misogyny looms large at every corner in the society.

But Sylvia plath had said, “I took a deep breath and listened to the old bray of my heart. I am. I am. I am”. And I adore her beyond words. I decided to let go the stigma taught to me by elderlies, “Äkeli ladki, khuli tijori” (a lone girl is a treasure trove) and break the norms. Of course I live in a country and world which at large has accepted women’s lives outside the confinement of kitchen.

Of course I am not the first one of my clan. Under different circumstances, my fore-mothers have left countries, fled I would rather say, swam Bay of bengal and reached the new shore and given birth to my parents. But they were not explorers by choice. I am for I had the privilege. I had to say this prima facie considering a full disclosure to this fortune is essential.

In a span of 3 years I have traveled and lived in different parts of India, Thailand and Vietnam. My experience has been a mixed bag of extreme moments of pleasantry, shock, confusion, calm, denial, surprises and many more emotions. Not much different than a usual life of a woman, except for the woman is undergoing all these bursts of emotions while moving. To have handled all these with my monthly bout of mood swings!

I, devoid of swimming skills, dived straight into Andaman sea once, only to be rescued by the Thai boatman, Ali, whom I remember with gratitude. I remember fondly the ladyboy Nim from the Tiger Bar of Patong who gifted me a darkly tinted lipstick in exchange of my coral red. I must mention the shopkeeper at a Platinum market who bickered me for wanting to try out an outfit before buying, for I was afraid it would not fit into my size. Such eccentric was the Thai life, with cordial people as well as knowing the aggressive ones of them.

In the heart of India, at Delhi, I have a haunting memory of few stalkers who would wait for me at the bus stop on the way to the office or the one who stole my prized apple phone from a crowded bus or the rickshaw puller who cheated me while reaching a train station. But Delhi has her Dil(heart) intact for she has had me befriend a genial auto driver who drove all the way from Gurgaon to the airport so that I could catch the flight to be beside my ailing mother. The punjabi mother’s love made Kadi and chole kulche taste gleeful. A delight was a walk through the lanes of Old Delhi and discovering the stone entrance of Mirza Glabib’s ancient home. The sheer moments of pleasure that heals all maligns from the heart. No wonder Delhi remains my loveslaborlost city, even with such a short stint.

I read volumes before travelling to Vietnam. The war and the win had left me awestruck. While strolling in the much-acclaimed war remnant museum in Saigon, I encountered a newspaper report from days of yore. The Bengali newspaper, published from Kolkata, had a woman in Saree carrying a placard stating to down with imperialism and walking in the forefront of a procession. That was a moment of truth and profound happiness for me. A woman travelling from far meets a woman from her own land.

While backpacking in Kerala, I took refuge in a treehouse for a couple of days in Munnar. The treehouse was run by a woman who also managed the adjacent coffee plantation and her triplets. The husband was an expat. “My father in law has gifted me the property. He used to speak to the plants as if they are his kids. How could I abandon all these for an expat life?”She discussed with me with a banana after dinner. It is a norm to eat banana here after the night meal.

I grew up in the city of Kolkata. At the age of seven, my aunty first taught me to strategically place the elbow while walking on the road to avoid an unexpected grope or even to not let the neighbourhood grandpa not kiss me with betel nut red lips. I am still punch drunk in love with the city and her people for the rainy evenings, the wonder of gothic architecture by colonial masters and amazingly tasty Biryani with a portion of potato.

I have been left terrified in the street of Bangalore while trying to video record a guy making Besan Khakras. He threatened to break my phone but had let to record him fully performing the act. But I can never have said enough about the beautiful weather and crowd of the silicon valley of India.

All these to testify that as a woman, a lone one, traveling comes with its own perks. There will be moments of desperation, you will cry out for help and may feel left all by yourself. But hold on girl before calling the quits. People mostly will try to help you. You are left with more time to

observe and embed newer aspects of social life. Try to relate and explore with an open mind. A robust plane and basic common sense coupled with respect for local culture are mandatory to make the process smooth and utterly enjoyable!

What are your experiences as a solo female traveller?

Looking for more inspiration as a solo woman traveller? Read: 4 Women Who Conquered Mountains To Travel The World Solo | Tips For First Solo Women Travellers

Europe: In Pictures

Europe is a long, long way away. It takes tiresome hours to fly to. Getting there and staying is expensive than many people can afford to. The exchange rate between Euro and with whatever currency you’re holding to is also not very encouraging either. And if any discouragement was left, the super-cheap all-inclusive packages to Bali and Indonesia cost just as much as a return airfare to Europe. So why even bother with travelling to Europe at all? Well, let us count the ways in Europe in Pictures.

Europe For Neoclassical Architecture

The revival of Classical architecture during the 18th and early 19 century, defines Europe. Almost in every big city, and even in small towns, you can find an elegant piece of architecture characterised either by the grandeur of scale, or something just as charming. Take St. Stephen’s Basilica in Budapest, for an example, which looks both reviving and ancient feel to the city, with its 100-meter high dome, it represents a neoclassical and period architecture, simply beautiful.

Europe For Beautiful Drives

Whether driving with a purpose or for a moment of joy, in Europe if you’re on the road, you’ll inevitably be treated with nature and beauty. From grassy patches to terraced vineyards to wheat farms – there will always be a lot of green and yellow on the road.

Europe For Charming Cities And Their Birdseye Views

With almost every city offering its own version of the birds-eye view, it’s difficult to choose your personal favourite. But for some, however, including me, the view from the top of the “Main Tower”, overlooking the streets and neighbouring skyline in Frankfurt, is the best.

 

Europe For Graffiti Areas

Where graffiti, in many places, appear as an act of vandalism, in some places it does not. And Ljubljana’s Metelkova City artistic is definitely one among them, where Graffiti, was taken as an art form. With its several weird and wonderful buildings, standing still, almost harmoniously, for you to marvel at, for hours, Metelkova city was once a sad and prominent area acting as military Barracks. But not anymore!

 

Europe For History And Stories

Europe is full of history. And each city, through its own art and public attractions, tell some history associated with it. For example, this statue of US president Ronald Regan at Liberty Square, in Budapest, speaks of the respect and tribute to the man that many Hungarians consider as, even today, an important person for ending communist rule in their country.

Europe For Street Food

Though street food is often considered a thing of the East – or Asia, to clearly say it – some cities in Europe are not ready to give away the title so easily. Vienna, for example, is definitely one among them. And all the credit goes to Viennese sausage stands, known as Würstelstand, that are more in number than anything else in the city. These sausage stands that look an integral part of the Viennese cityscape, have always been a true Viennese culinary trademark too. So if you’re wondering what to do in Vienna, make sure you visit at least one of these sausage stands

Europe For Scenic Landscapes

One thing that makes Europe a big beautiful continent is its equal share of green and white-concrete. And this nearly Ariel view from the observation deck of 216.61 m high Television Tower, in Stuttgart, Germany portrays that beautifully.

Europe For Cobblestone Streets And Sunsets

European Cobblestone streets add to a romantic sunset or sunrise experience. But beautiful among all, are the streets in Prague, and in Prague, the popular Charles Bridge. With its army of tourists squeezing through a gauntlet of hawkers, the Charles bridge looks just as beautiful as something staged and fabricated does. If you want to experience the bridge at its most atmospheric, try to visit it at dawn.

Europe For The Love For Trams

No other place in the world can beat Europe for its tram system. In many cities like Prague and Budapest, a tram ride can just be the highlight of your trip, and if not, it will surely prove to be an ideal way of exploring the city. Tram number 2 in Budapest, for example, takes the entire river route from one side of Pest to the other — while taking you across city highlights like the Parliament, the chain bridge, and the market hall.

Europe Takes You Back In Time

It’s amazing how the many historical cities in Europe take you back in time. A horse-coach ride in Vienna, for example, can be the best way to experience a sense of nostalgia. The baroque style architecture in the background will moreover add to the charm. Do not miss it on your next trip and feel Imperial Vienna at its best.

Europe For Unbelievable Landscapes

The huge diversity of natural scenery in Europe also never fails to surprise the tourist. From rugged Scottish Highlands with glens and lochs to Norway’s fabulous fjords, seemingly chipped to jagged perfection by giants, you can find anything and everything here. Take Elbe Sandstone Park in the Czech Republic for an example – an unreal sandstone formation carved by hundreds of thousands of years of continuous erosion, that still looks more powerful than anything around them.

Europe For Romantic Riversides

One thing I totally adore about most popular European cities, including BaselBudapestZurich, and Prague, among others, is their beautiful riverside. Each city defines its charm by defining how beautiful its Riverside looks. And they all excel in it, almost equally. But when it comes to the riverside of Frankfurt, perfectly beautified with a dark blue river and an impressive skyline with a glow, things become even more blissful. A vibrant outdoor eating and drinking culture around the river makes Frankfurt Riverside its visitors’ top pick.

Europe And Its Storybook Towns

The many romantic streets of Europe, beautified with ancient boulevards, famous thoroughfares, and cobblestones, are ripe for exploring. But if you’re keen on upping the cuteness quota on your next vacation, look no further than the romantic streets of Prague.

Europe For Its Eternal And Ancient Cities

Other than quaint, adorable streets what dominates the towns in Europe is the long lost history. And no place can be better to experience than Rome. After all, Rome is a result of 3000 years of ad hoc urban development. In Rome, where ancient icons, such as the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Pantheon testify to its historical role; the many Italian stone pine, cover the city in its own penetrable green, and add an eternal flourish to the city’s captivating looks.

Europe For Money And Power And Beauty

European history is full of the modest families that rose to become one of the most powerful and gracious of their time. And the Rennaisance period in Rome testifies for the statement. The gardens of Villa d’este, a16th-century Renaissance villa, famous for its landscaped gardens and lavish fountains, are still the most beautiful and beloved highlight of Italy.

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How To Do Southeast Asia In 1 Month

If Southeast Asia is world’s top backpacking location then there’s a reason for it. It is perfect for millennials, who neither have money, nor time. The kind of people falling in my category. Here, the visas are cheaper, or not required at all, travelling through one country and another is possible by land, and flights cost as low as flying in your own country!

And if you just happen to be someone who needs visas for Southeast Asia, please note that right now is even better to do so, because to increase the tourist inflow, Malaysia and Thailand have just cut slashed their visa costs, and they’re particularly focusing on the Indian market. [I’ve just grabbed my 15-day Malayasian Visa for less than INR 1,500. Read: Malaysia eNTRI visa]

For Southeast Asia,  all you need is a bit of planning, a little bit of time and you can do (almost) the entire continent in a bargain.

If I had one month, and wanted to cover as many countries as possible, in a budget, this is what I’d tell myself…

Don’t Touch Philippines or Indonesia

You fly to Philippines, you fly back. You fly to Indonesia, you fly back again. So why even do that and bleed unnecessary money, unless you really want to do the two countries. Rather, cover a few others in the mainland Southeast Asia.

The Mainland Southeast Asia

Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore (if you’ll call it a country, I don’t!) make the mainland Southeast Asia and offer you a lot of freedom while travelling between them. You can travel by land inside them, without having a need to fly. Moreover, the visas to all of them can be obtained electronically or on arrival. The only problem, however, can be long distances and a limited time (you need more than 1 month for them). So, rather focus on 4 countries, namely, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, the distances between them aren’t brutal

4 Countries | 7 Highlights | No Flying

Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok offer the city highlights in Southeast Asia. Both capital cities are safer to travel, cheaper to eat, and entertaining to spend some time. I totally loved Thailand for its ease of travelling. You name a thing and Thailand will provide that. Malaysia, on the other hand, is a little sophisticated and offers a better place for grown-ups. If you want something more wild and raw, you have Cambodian and Vietnamese capitals. Siem Reap is all about history and people. And Phuket, a party city. The seven cities, altogether, moreover offer centuries old history and a rich cultural experience. You stay in Phnom Penh a few days, and you understand the country from inside out. Same thing applies to the rest too, making each one of them a must-see and a know-it-all city.

Use Kuala Lumpur And Ho Chi Manh As Your Entry/Exit Port

Kuala Lumpur and Ho Chi Manh have always been one of the two major highlights in Southeast Asia keeping their airports among the busiest airports on the continent (alright Bangkok has busier airports, and two of them, but its location doesn’t suit us). And because Kuala Lumpur and Ho Chi Manh are busy, flying to and from them is always a comparatively cheaper and better deal. From India, and in India, from Chennai or Kolkata, you can fly to either of the two in under 7,000 INR, with Ho Chi Manh being a comparatively expensive deal, but still a bargain!

If You Had A Little more time

Traveling from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok, overland, is a highlighted and an awesome route, with tons of incredible places to see along the way. So if you’ve at least 20 more days to spare. I’d suggest Travel from Malaysia to Thailand exploring a few places in between. The route offers you a chance to see the best of hippie beach culture and some gorgeous islands — a kind of journey to cherish. As per my proposed route, and from what other people recommend, this may just be your ideal route map starting from Kuala Lumpur… Cameron Highlands, Langkawi, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Phangan, Bangkok.

Also Read About: Thailand Visa On Arrival | Cambodia Visa On Arrival

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Reasons For Schengen Tourist Visa Rejection

A Schengen tourist visa is one of the toughest visas to obtain. Its process is strict and complicated, and its result, unexpected. You may have provided everything to your best knowledge but you can never predict what the country embassy you’re applying for your visa with, has in store for you. Some people say that countries like the Czech Republic or Hungary are the safest options and guarantee high approval chances, but as far as I know, such a factor is less likely to play in someone’s favour.

So if you’re applying for a Schengen tourist visa, be careful, and avoid the following mistakes to improve your chances. These are the top reasons for a Schengen tourist visa application rejection:

False Travel Documents

One of the recent rejection cases I came across, of a friend, who provided a photoshopped flight itinerary, made me understood that false travel documents are not going to get you a visa. So don’t even try to submit them. If you do not have a required document mention it in your cover letter. For example in my case, when I travelled Europe for 58 days, I was asked by VFS to provide a proof of transportation inside Europe during the entire 58 day period. And since I couldn’t, I mentioned that very clearly in the cover letter. I wrote that I didn’t provide the proof of transportation inside Europe because “I will be travelling using interstate buses and trains and my plan will be spontaneous.” Similarly, be clear with what you do or don’t have. Present your visa officer with nothing, but transparency.

Insufficient Explanation For The Purpose And Circumstances Of The Planned Stay

The whole idea of asking you to write a cover letter with your application, mentioning your intention of travel, is to get an idea of What, When, Where and How are you planning your stay in Europe. Write 2 pages or 4, it doesn’t matter, just make sure you convince the visa officer about the purpose of your travel, which is HOLIDAY. While I applied for my Schengen travel visa, I’d no job, no regular credit history, but I mentioned that clearly. I wrote that I’ve recently started travel blogging after quitting my job.

So be very clear about why you are travelling and what all places, and back them up with as many documents as you can – from transportation to accommodation bookings, to everything else in between. Your inability to offer declarations about the purpose of travel and stay can lead to a dismaying rejection.

Lacking To Prove The Travel Itinerary

Since the definition is so broad, consider that your application’s outcome depends upon the visa consulate’s mood and behaviour. And that’s the problem with Schengen visa. I’ve seen people having their visas rejected, despite having two Schengen visa stamps in their passport already. If your visa officer isn’t convinced that your original intent to visit Europe is travelling only, you cannot guarantee a positive response.


So present a pre-booked accommodation for each destination and each night you’re going to spend in the Schengen Area. Provide a booked return-flight ticket. Have a travel insurance during your time of travel, covering at least 350,000 in Euros. Provide travel tickets for each destination to be toured in the Schengen Area. And if anything is left, make sure you mention that in your cover letter.

Further Reading: Schengen Tourist Visa ProcessTips For Australian Tourist Visa | Australian Tourist Visa Process | Thailand Visa On Arrival | Cambodia Visa On Arrival

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Australian Tourist Visa Process

After dealing with a long list of documents, a tiring visa application and high-rejection chances, three months ago, while applying for a Schengen visa for Europe, when it came to planning a tourist visa for Australia, things felt pretty easier and uncomplicated. And that was not just me. A few other people, I spoke with, to get an idea about their experience, moreover said that Australia has always been humble.

Though of course, if you compare a Thai or a Malaysian tourist visa process, Australia still demands better planning and a little more paperwork, if you compare it with a Schengen, a Japanese, and a few other visas considered as tough, getting your hands on an Australian tourist visa, and doing it all by yourself, is pretty easier. Yet if you’ve your doubts and aren’t sure what are your chances, read my Tips For Australian Tourist Visa.

To get a better idea of the process, however, read ahead:

What Documents You May Need

Australian embassy, on its website, has mentioned that it discourages any prepaid hotel booking and reserved flight tickets, before the issuance of your visa. It moreover doesn’t want any health insurance, like US and Schengen European countries do. You can check the list of documents you need to provide by clicking here.

However, the documents I provided include: A cover letter mentioning my intention to travel Australia and a rough travel itinerary I had in mind, a flight PNR number which I booked (at no cost) using MakeMyTrip, sufficient travel funds, proof of my occupation as a travel blogger.

The First Step

Download the Application Form clicking this link. If you’re applying the traditional way, visiting VFS centre click the third option Visitor visa (Subclass 600). Completing the application form takes less than 15 minutes, and if you’ve any doubts, they can be cleared at VFS visa center while submitting the application form. You can even pay 1000 Rupees to VFS and they will fill it for you. Please note that Australian visa process is entirely electronic, and you even get a soft copy of your

Please note that Australian visa process is entirely electronic, and you even get a soft copy of your sanctioned visa, it doesn’t get stamped in your passport. You can also use an eVisitor option and (subclass 651) at no extra cost and courier your documents.

Submitting The Application. And Post Submission

Since I submitted the visa application by personally visiting the VFS center, I can assure that it was an easy process. Unlike a Schengen visa, here you do not need to book an appointment with the VFS. Just hop in, finish the process — which takes less than 30 minutes to payment (as you’re not required any biometrics) — and wait for an email as a Yes or No to your application.

Please note that Australian embassy does not stamp their visa in your passport, you come to know about their decision in an email. You print out the confirmed email and carry it along with you while travelling to Australia.

Further Reading: Tips For Schengen Tourist Visa | Thailand Visa On Arrival | Cambodia Visa On Arrival

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Australian Tourist Visa: Practical Tips

If there’s one thing that annoys me as traveller, thanks to my weak Indian passport, is applying for visa. You want to travel to Europe, and you’ve all the money and time it wanted, you still need to go through a lot of hassle and paperwork. Though of course, some countries are more reluctant, and some, fairly welcoming, the unapologetic fact that you still need to waste your time and money — no matter how small — is always a disappointment.

And my disappointment turned into a dismay, very recently, when it took more than one month for the Australian embassy to offer me a tourist visa. Though the folks in the embassy were quite humble and allowed me multiple entries for a period of one year, the price I had to pay for it was a little startling.

Australian Tourist VISA Was Expensive

With most Southeast Asian countries charging around 2 or 4 thousand Rupees, Canada charging about 6.5 thousand, and 26 Schengen countries in Europe around only 6 thousand, Australia, God knows why has set its own uncompelling visa price tag. For an Australian (class 600) Tourist Visa valid for a 3 or 6 or 12 month period, you will be required to pay a whooping 9 thousand Rupees, bringing its price closer to a USA tourist visa, that promises free entry for 10 long years.

Always Request For A 12 Month Validity

As I said above, Class 600 Tourist Visa, for Australia, can allow people to travel for a period of 3 or 6 or 12 months, depending upon their travel history and the intent to travel Australia. My personal advice would be requesting for a 12-month visa in your cover letter, so that your next visit, in an will be free. I mentioned in my cover letter that I needed a 12 month visa because I work as a travel blogger, and I’ll most likely be revisiting Australia in next 7 or 10 months period. Though it only entitles me to stay for a maximum of 3 months during each visit, I still have the freedom to land in the country for an unlimited number of times within one year.

Don’t Pay An Agent: The Process Is Super Simple

Australian Tourist visa process, in one word, is Simple. The application takes no more than 15 minutes to get over with, you also do not require to have a medical insurance or hotel bookings or a return flight ticket. Though if you can, it’s always the best idea to show as many papers as you can, but in this case, even if you can’t, you should be fine. Just mention in your cover letter about your plans and a rough itinerary, or the place you’ll be travelling in the country. In my case, I showed an unreserved flight itinerary, that I managed without having to pay a penny and by using MakeMyTrip. I’d no hotel bookings, and no medical insurance either. But everything still turned out good.

Moreover, you are not required to deposit your passport with your application, which makes the process even more easier. Unlike with other visas, where you’re required to collect your passport after the visa stamp or receive it at home if you’d paid for a courier service, for Australia, you don’t need to worry about anything. Just submit the application at your nearest VFS centre with a few photocopies of your passport and wait for an email to be received, with your visa grant ID. The only disappointment, however, may be the amount of time the Australian embassy takes to say their decision, so plan much in advance.

Plan Much In Advance

I heard so many people mentioning that their Australian visa application took ages to come back with an answer, as so was the case with me. I received the email from the embassy, granting me a 1-year tourist visa, after 34 days of submission — almost 2 weeks more than how long my Schengen Visa took, and a month, for Malaysian. So make sure you apply it as soon as you can, with at least 1.5 months of a buffer period.

Further Reading: Tips For Schengen Tourist Visa | Thailand Visa On Arrival | Cambodia Visa On Arrival

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5 Beautiful And Very Distinct Places In India Everyone Must Visit

Ever thought of taking that much-deserved break and losing yourself in a place virtually free from all sorts of communication? If yes, then this is a perfect place to start from. The places mentioned below aren’t your standard honeymoon destination, these are those places which can take your breath away and leave you shell-shocked at the beauty that India has to offer.

Pangong Lake, Ladakh

Restricting Ladakh tourism to just Pangong lake would be an extreme injustice, but if you ask me to pin point the most beautiful place in the region, then Pangong would definitely top my list.

Pangong Lake doesn’t have a heavy traffic or inflow of tourists, so if you want to scream at the top your voices unabashedly, come here. The sight of the lake can instantly instil a sense of peacefulness in your mind. The lake located at a height of about 4350m is around 124km long and is also home to various migrating birds. Ladakh is definitely a travellers paradise and is also heaven to a large number of people who would love to get lost for some time from the daily hustles of city life.

Lakshadweep, India 

Imagine scuba diving on a hot summer day in endless blue waters, that surround exotic cottages and beaches. Sounds not very Indian, right? Well, Lakshadweep is one place which could definitely make you wonder if you’re really in India.

Tourism packages and accommodation offered by the Lakshadweep administration are world class and would definitely be a good summer trip or could make for a very lovely honeymoon. Located around 400km from Kerala, you can reach Lakshadweep via sea as well as by flying, organised by the Lakshadweep administration.

The Lakshadweep Sports Authority hosts a lot of water activities such as scuba diving, water canoeing, para gliding etc. Of all these scuba diving could be considered as the most fulfilling owing to the rich beautiful marine life which Lakshadweep hosts.

The blue lagoon located in Lakshadweep is a treat to every photographer. The rich turquoise blue of the water combined with those islands would be enough to make one dumbstruck. Not many places in the world can boast of such a visually appealing landscape. I’d say this for Lakshadweep, it is one the most underrated tourist spots in India, but one visit to this very beautiful set islands would be worth the money and could change your mind forever. Nowadays, many cities offer daily direct flights to Lakshadweep such as New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore. You can even try make my trip offers running right now on daily domestic flights to Lakshadweep.

Dudhsagar Waterfalls, Goa

Dudhsagar falls located on the Goa-Karnataka border presents a very untypical Goa. Falling from a height of around 1017ft, it gives it a frothy white colour and thus the name Dudhsagar (Sea of milk).

One can get to Dudhsagar waterfalls through rail or a jeep trek. To reach the base of the waterfalls you can opt for a jeep trek from Kulem railway station. The Jeep doesn’t take you directly to the base but drops you at a point of which it’s a 1km trek. Jeeps can be hired at prices starting from Rupees 1200 which can carry 6 people or more. The Goa Tourism Department offers impressive tour packages which include food, jeep trekking etc at nominal rates. If there ever comes a point in your life where you want to vanish from the very place you live in, then Dudhsagar is definitely your place.

Gavi, Kerala

Gavi is a small village located in the Pathanamthitta district, Kerala. With its lush green landscape and a cool climate, it would definitely be worth visiting once or twice in your lifetime. Gavi is a part of the Periyar tiger reserve and is also home to wide variety of flora and fauna. The one small problem associated with it, however, is that it is very environmentally fragile and thus restricts the number of vehicles entering each day. You would have to seek prior permission to enter Gavi with your vehicle, but the Kerala Forest Department hosts a variety of programmes like jeep trekking and accommodation at nominal rates which could definitely cheer you up.

The corporation also allows for certain transport buses owned by KSRTC to pass through these areas. Apart from trekking, Kerala Forest Department also hosts other activities like boating, bird watching etc. The beauty of this place gets particularly enhanced during the monsoon season and is also an area where modern technology has had minimal damage on.

Jim Corbett National Park, Uttarakhand

Jim Corbett National park, which lies in the Nainital district of Uttarakhand is supposed to be India’s oldest national park and is famous for its huge tiger reserve. This place, a definite visual treat for tourists and wildlife lovers houses more than 488 different species of plants and a huge variety of fauna ranging from tigers, elephants and leopards. What makes this park more unique is its various geographical characteristics.

Spread in around 520 sq.km, this park boasts of hills, marshy depressions and also a huge lake. The park owing to its ecological sensitivities permits tourism activities only in certain areas of the park, but these are more than enough to blow away your mind.

The rest houses located inside the park are offered at a nominal rate of Rupees 6500 and would definitely be a one of kind experience with all sorts of spooky animal noises, but don’t worry because the rest houses are secured with electrical fencing. Jim Corbett national park with its huge wildlife and hills would definitely serve as a picturesque location and would be a very good weekend getaway.

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Travel Tips For Slovenia

What people think about a place, and what it actually is, can be two different realities. And so was the case with me before I travelled to Slovenia. While I was planning the route-map for my first backpacking trip across Europe, I considered Slovenia as something totally different than what it actually turned out to be. I expected it as a part of ‘wild west’ or Eastern Europe. Moreover to my guilt, my heart was always more drawn to the neighbouring countries of Italy, Austria and Hungary. But since there was no way to travel from Hungary to Italy, via land, without bypassing through Slovenia (because I didn’t want to cross through Croatia with a Schengen Visa), I decided to stay in Ljubljana for a few days.

[Read: My First Impression of Ljubljana]

So if you are visiting Slovenia for the first time, then read ahead. These four significant misconceptions are the most useful travel tips for Slovenia.

Don’t Mix Slovenia And Slovakia

Slovenian people are very friendly and well-versed. For almost always you will find them smiling, but if there’s one thing that really annoys is someone referring to Slovenia as Slovakia. True, the names might sound similar. But these are two different countries. And guess what, they don’t even share a border with each other. But often tourists get confused between the names, sometimes even on the very formal level. After being an independent country for solid 25 years, Slovenians simply cannot understand “where is the problem”?

And when in Slovenia, you never want to get involved in comparing the two countries. Just keep in mind this friendly advice. And everyone will be happy!

Your Russian Won’t Help Your In Slovenia

If you are a Russian speaker travelling Slovenia, be aware that this language won’t get you very far in the country, because in Slovenia people don’t speak Russian, as is often misconceived. The official and national language of Slovenia is Slovene, which is spoken by a large majority of the population. Even though some of the words might be similar to Russian, Czech, or even Slovak, most people in Slovenia don’t speak these languages.

Carry A Few Warm Clothes

During the peak tourist season – i.e. between May and October – Slovenia remains pretty warm and maintains a kind of weather that makes you want to carry shorts and tshirts. But since Postojna Cave and Škocjan Caves, are two highlights of Slovenia, and any trip to the country without visiting the two cave parks is incomplete – chances are you too, eventually, are going to visit them during your trip. And when you do that, you need pretty warm clothes, no matter what time of the year you’re visiting.

Postojna Cave has a constant temperature of 8°C to 10°C with a humidity of 95%. So, warm jacket and decent shoes are advised in any season of the year. Though you can also rent a waterproof jacket in the Postojna Cave, you at least would want to bring some long sleeves and good shoes for the caves with you.

Never Rent A Car For Exploring Ljubljana

If you arrive in Slovenia by plane and are heading towards the capital Ljubljana – there is no real need to rent a car at the airport. Because Ljubljana city centre is car-free. There are regular buses and shuttles going to Ljubljana from the airport. Taxis might be a bit pricey, with the prices even up to 40 euros, while the shuttle transfer costs around 10 euros. Moreover, if the taxi cannot drop you at your hotel door (in case you’re staying in the city centre) then what’s the point of hiring a taxi anyway.

What To See And Do In Manali

I consider Manali, in Himachal Pradesh, my second home. And it isn’t just me, but everyone who lives in Delhi. Manali’s close proximity to the capital, and other big towns like Chandigarh, makes it a favourable holiday destination, particularly during summers, when the heat in Indian cities becomes unbearably harsh and people fancy a quick escape.

Other than Indian tourist, Manali has also long attracted the hippies of the West, particularly if we talk about Vashishth (the town next to Manali), which can also otherwise be perceived as the GOA for hippies in the north of India. It might have had something to do with the world famous elusive and guarded Malana cream from the nearby town of Malana, or perhaps something else. But whatever, the reason Manali is one of North India’s top tourist attractions.

Things To Do In Manali

From enjoying the views of the Beas to experiencing therapeutic hot springs in Vasisht, to driving to Solang Valley and rolling down the hills – there’s enough to do in and around Manali. And speaking of the highlights, here are some…

Stroll Along The Mall Road: Though after a few visits the Mall Road (the main shopping street in Manali) seems more like a tourist trap and less like an attraction, for the first timers, it indeed remains a worthy highlight for first timers. Here you may find all the Nepalese shops in the world selling yak wool blankets and ponchos, cute hats and gloves, and adorable coin purses. And if that doesn’t catch you fancy, you can get some fake North Face backpacks and hiking boots. Just keep in mind they aren’t worth what the guys say they are worth.

Explore The Nature Park: Around half a kilometre from the Mall road lies an oasis of greenery & a real treat for nature enthusiasts. The park is full of tall Deodar trees, a wildlife reserve, and an ideal place to spot Himachal’s state bird, Manual Pheasant. There’s a small entry fee though, which around two years ago when I visited the park, was 10 Rupees.

Rent A Bike And Visit Rohtang Pass: For adventure junkies, and the first timer mountain visitors this should be high on the list. Rent a bike in Manali (1200 Rupees per day for a Bullet and 800 for a Pulsar), wear your heart on your sleeves and ride through the Rohtang Pass with snow on either side and majestic views of the valley.

Adventure Activities: From trekking and paragliding to mountain biking, jeep safaris and rafting, Manali has plenty in its kitty for adventure junkies. Though it’s a different thing that most of them take place either 10-15 km north of Manali, in Solang Valley; or the south, around a town called Jagatsukh. And to save a bit of your money, it’s always better if you head to their respective location. Head north, to Solang Valley for activities like paragliding, zip-lining, quad-biking, and camping. For river rafting, however, head south.

Camping: Camping near Manali can also be a great activity. There are many campsites nearby, but if you ask me, I’d recommend something I know very well. A secluded little land, partitioned by a stream, in the Pir-Panjal range of Himachal. Though in definition it may sound a faraway place, it’s located only 15 mins drive from main Manali, and if you’re coming from New Delhi, you don’t need to go all the way to Manali at all.  Here, a little introduction to the campsite.

Relax: Packed full of pine trees and surrounded by snow-capped mountains (including some of India’s highest peaks), Manali is a perfect place for a chilled out vacation. If nothing suits you, and you’re looking for nothing much but relax, then that can be done too. Follow my Where to Stay Guide, and find yourself a peaceful place. Though I’d recommend Vashishth and its native feel.

Where To Stay

From a quick budget option to something more comfortable there is no dearth of accommodation in Manali. But I’d recommend the town of Vashisht (right next to Manali) for its better location, cheaper prices and a peaceful experience. Compared to Manali, Vashisht is a tiny little town, but enough to suit all your needs – from booze to scooter rentals to a German bakery, and in between, a few dozen guest houses and hotels. You can walk the two-kilometre distance to Vashisth (from Manali) or even take an auto-rikshaw that costs 100 Rupees per ride.

During off-season, a nice double-bed room, overlooking the river Beas (as Vashishth sits on a hilltop), costs as low as 300 Rupees. I’ve personally stayed in Vashisht for at least 4 or 5 times, and my first choice, always, is a place called Darma Guesthouse, that charge me between 250 to 500 Rupees depending on what time of the year I visit. You can contact Ramsingh, the caretaker, and ask for availability and prices at +91-9736130375.

Other than Manali, I also recommend Hallan Valley. Hallan (20 minutes drive from Manali towards Kullu, has a great homestay culture. I’ve explored some great options. For one, Anu Homestay in Charanag  village is my favourite, and here’s a snapshot from its window…

Where To Eat

Babushka  – In Vashishth, lies the hippie corner called Babushka. With solo travellers from around the world, looking for friends, the kind of atmosphere the place gets is friendly. The food is super good too.

Café 1947 – This vintage and traditional Italian café is one of the highlighted and Manali’s first music café in Manali. Relish a meal, read a book, or play your favourite tunes – Cafe 1947 promises a perfect ambience for solo travellers and big groups alike. I’d rate it as my personal favourite.

Casa Bella Vista – Popular for its Spanish and Italian cuisine, Casa Bella Vista guarantees picturesque panoramas of Manali.

Reaching Manali

Since there’s no rail connection in higher Himalayas, and flying to Manali (the nearest airport is in  Bhuntar, 50 kms south of Manali) is perhaps not a great idea, the only and the best way to get there is by road. You can self-drive a car or take a public bus. From New Delhi, there are regular buses run by Himachal Roadways, which can be booked online for approximately 650 Rupees for an ordinary bus, or 1500 for a luxury.

Taking a night bus from Delhi and reaching Manali the following morning is always the best option.

Have you been to Manali? Do you have anything to add? Any places you like and recommend?

My favorite trek near Manali, is also the most uncommon: Read Trekking Near Manali

10 Day Trips In The UK

After living in the UK, for a couple of years, during my post graduation, if there’s one thing I learned about it, it is… traveling in the UK is easier due to its pretty compact size. You can drive all the way from London to Edinburgh in under eight hours on a good day. While that doesn’t make for a good day trip in itself (you’ll have spent the whole time driving), it does get to the point that wherever you may be staying in the UK, you’re probably only a short drive or train ride away from a whole different kind of attraction or destination.

In the post, I won’t be assuming one place or another as your “base” in the UK. Rather, I’ll just be looking at 10 great things to see and do around the country, many of which can be managed in a day trip from one area or another.

Hike Hadrian’s Wall

You won’t be able to hike the whole thing on a day trip—it’s about 150 miles long—but journeying to this ancient wall and hiking along even a small portion of its length can be an otherworldly experience. It’s a nice way to get some exercise and connect with the island’s history, though you may also want to organize the day to see some of the Roman museums that stand along the wall.

Take The Warner Bros. Studio Tour

If you’re not staying in London and you want a specific reason to venture into town, the Warner Bros. Studio Tour is as good as any. It’s fascinating for any film fan, but this is a particular draw for fans of the Harry Potter franchise, given that it shows and tells you a lot about how the magical movies were made. I’m not even one for this sort of tour ordinarily, but this one is special.

Visit Stonehenge

Stonehenge might just be the most legendary landmark in the UK, so naturally it belongs on the list. It’s the sort of thing that shocks you in person, even if you’ve seen it in a thousand pictures before. The scope and scale of the monument will blow you away when you see it in person, and the sense of history is incredible.

Check Out The Eden Project

When you think of the best countries in the world for green living, most of them are in Europe. Japan has made enormous strides in this area, and other countries around the world are also taking innovative steps. But it’s mostly the Scandinavian nations that are leading the way. The Eden Project is one indication that the UK is attempting to follow suit. It’s not a large-scale environmental effort, but it’s a celebrated attraction celebrating plants from around the world and contributing to the environmental education of visitors. The massive biomes housing plants and lighting up at night also just make it a beautiful sight to behold.

 

Play At London’s Empire Casino

Casinos don’t really seem like noteworthy attractions anymore. That’s because online casinos are getting more and more professional, and have now given birth to gaming apps with the best slot and card gaming experiences out there. There’s no need to visit a casino these days, but the Empire Casino in London is another good excuse to visit the city beyond general sightseeing. It’s a large, spectacular and luxurious venue that will make you feel like a true high roller, even if you aren’t gambling personally.

Catch A Soccer Match In Manchester

Truth be told, catching a soccer match anywhere in the UK can be an amazing experience. But if you want to see the best fans, the most historic venues, and often the best teams, Manchester is a nice city to aim for. Man City and Man United are consistently among the better teams in the English Premier League, and a ticket to either club’s match will undoubtedly enhance your trip. Visit historic stadiums like Manchester United’s Old Trafford to soak in the history of one of the world’s most famous teams.

Take A Cotswolds Balloon Ride

The UK is known for its beautiful expanses of land, and the Cotswolds in England represent the best of the best. This is a region full of rolling green hills, sprawling fields, and quaint villages filled with cottages, winding paths, and stone bridges over creeks. Any way you can find to tour the Cotswolds can make for an incredible experience, but a hot air balloon over the region is particularly special.

Tour Oxford

The University of Oxford might be the most historic school in the world. It may also be one of the more picturesque, which puts it right up there with the UK’s most famous landmarks as something to see on a day trip. Touring Oxford almost feels more like wandering through some kind of sprawling palace estate than visiting a college. Plus, if you take a guided tour, you’ll wind up learning quite a bit about the fascinating history of the school and some of its noteworthy alumni.

See The Lake District

Like the Cotswolds, the Lake District is among the most beautiful areas in a nation famous absolutely loaded with scenic sights. You can camp, hike, ride a bike, or even take a canoe or kayak out on the water. Simply seeing this gorgeous national park district in person is well worth however long the drive takes from where you’re staying.

Relax At The Blackpool Sands

If there’s one thing that’s decidedly underrated about traveling in the UK, it’s the beaches. The climate can be a little unforgiving for much of the year, but there are beautiful and unique coastal stretches all around the country. Blackpool Sands is one of the best beaches, and almost feels more like a Mediterranean getaway than a corner of England.