By the time you’ll be reading this, I’ll be flying over the Black sea, inching my way towards Oman, before finally boarding the flight to New Delhi. If you already do not know, I am arriving home after a 2-month backpacking trip across Europe. But all this time, as I backpacked across Europe, a part of which seemed more like a business trip, and less like freestyle-backpacking, I wondered if this was originally how I planned my travels would end up as I’ll progress as a travel blogger.
I very well remember that before the commencement of this journey, I had thought that these two months in Europe are going to change the way I travel. I thought I’ll venture into a kind of lifestyle that will follow more short-term and pre-planned trips than hitting the road for a longer time like a directionless nomad. But I never knew that I was not prepared for such a thing. And it is why I’ve decided that I am going back to where it all started!
Two Local Experiences Vs Everything Else Put Together
Speaking of my 2-month travel in Europe… I divided the journey into two parts.
One part included two volunteering experiences (lasting 15 days each, or one month in total) at two places — a very slow way of travelling, where I lived with a local family and experienced their lifestyle.
Though I admit that during this time I could not explore many tourist highlights because I was working for someone, I explored a way of life that I otherwise could not, had I not stayed with the local families, shared their dinner table and engaged in all those long conversations. There were more learning and self-development in those experience than I could imagine (whether it included the way I used to think or the way I shared a joke).
The other part of the journey, that, again, lasted for a month, included visiting 12 cities, across 6 countries — giving me an average of fewer than 3 days per city.
During this time I was on back to back media trips. I worked like a robot, behaved like a tourist, and collected more stories than there were days. But to tell you the truth, this is how paid/sponsored media trips for journalists have always been and that’s also how many Indians like to travel. But honestly speaking, there’s no fun in that.
You can’t say that you’ve experienced a country if you haven’t mingled with the locals, experienced their way of life, sampled local drinks, tried public transport, and found the beauty of a place by losing your way.
The temptation to accept an international trip on poor terms is far too great, and I’ve battled with it!
So I repeat… I’m learning to walk away (learning because I would still be taking media trips from time to time, to fulfill the need of the hour, and explore more places until I find a reliable source of income to fund my travels) from such sponsored travel-blogging trips that neither offer freedom nor guarantee real experiences.
And with such introspection, I announce that my upcoming journeys will include a slower and a more local way of travel. I’ll be talking — if not more, than just as equally — about people, than places.
With the final call to board my flight I slowly closed my eyes, trying to get a flashback, and a quick rendezvous of all those moments of wonder, and uncountable memory I’m bringing back home with me. The momentary blink reminds me of what Robert Frost had once reminded us all…
“Two roads diverge in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that’s what made all the difference.”