When I sat down to piece together 10 Indians Who Did Not Quit Their Job in January 2016, the intent was to take the focus away from folks who had quit their job to travel.
You know you are doing something right when it gets picked and replicated by a bigger brand within the industry. Vol. I was the most-read post of 2016 on my blog. And Tripoto ran a similar feature not too many months later featuring some of the names from my post. And I wonder why it took me 15 months to come up with a Vol. II!
Why take the focus away from folks who had quit their job to travel, you might ask. After all, I’d made it to that glorified hall of fame myself, right?
Well, hardly anyone was talking about what they were doing to make travel happen after cutting their funding source off. In the instance that there was a response to that question, it came in the form of some vague terms – ‘savings’, ‘freelance’, ‘digital nomad’ and the biggest sham of all ‘influencer’.
My gripe is against the positioning of those stories.
You’re allowed to disagree with my point of view.
Sorry, but I’m not sorry.
Of course, I’m guilty as charged.
I’ve used almost all of the above terms myself – except ‘influencer’; That’s because I still don’t know what it means. I can barely influence my mother to cook a meal of my preference. What other clout could I even claim to have?
Now if only brands would reach out to me on the merit of my writing skills and not this aforementioned non-existent clout… I’d have a revenue model to gloat over!
And yet, there was something alluring about the notion that someone we knew was throwing caution to the wind — and thanks to social media, everyone knows everyone.
But the tribe of I-quit-my-job-to-travel has been earning itself a bad repute! Well, that’s what happens when you create a click-bait revenue model out of scrubbing toilets or beggary.
I’m making amends of my own. Adding myself the count of those who’ve chosen dreams over stability, was one! The second amend is this post.
Meet another bunch of schemers.
People no different than most of us.
Except they’ve gone after everything they’ve prioritized. It’s a word that echoed through every response. Ditto for last year. It goes without saying that ‘travel’ made it to that list of priorities along with supporting families, managing work, shouldering household responsibilities and setting a fund aside for that proverbial rainy day…
I present before you 12 such schemers and one special mention (in alphabetical order); people who’ve quit the excuses but not their jobs!
Aditi, 25 | Thane, Maharashtra
“Travel experiences are worth a zillion times more than accumulated leave balance encashment”, says Aditi – a Chartered Accountant with a 9-to-whatever-time-your-boss-leaves-kind-of-a-workshift at a consultancy firm – to anyone who feigns that work does not allow them to travel!
An aficionado of both treks and leisure trips alike, Aditi makes it a point to capture at least one sunrise and one sunset from every trip she’s taken. “Travel makes you modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world” she quotes Gustave Flaubert to describe her travel style.
“I HAVE to take two long vacations during the year; one around my birthday and one during Christmas and weekends are mostly dedicated to nearby treks. Small getaways are very essential for me to stay sane at work”, she says while divulging that Uttarakhand’s Valley of Flowers is the destination for her birthday this August. Trust a trekker to swear by the virtues of travelling light and as she aptly puts it, “Your shoulders are more important than an extra pair of T-shirt”.
Aditi has fond memories from her trip to the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat and her trek to Kalsubai in Maharashtra because of the strangers who’ve turned into very dear friends she reminisces.
Aditya Rane, 24 | Mumbai, Maharashtra
Quoting Bukowski’s “You have to die a few times before you can really live” to describe his travel style, Aditya – an analyst at an impact investing fund – quips,“There is nothing like not finding time for anything, if Elon Musk could find time to date Amber Heard and make Tesla cars on the way, you can definitely take out time to visit Zanzibar.”
From hot stone steam baths in Bhutan to karaoke-ing on I will survive with drunk guys in Japan, Aditya prefers local immersive cultural experiences whenever he hits the road – which can be between 4-5 times during the year. “…Getting small meaningful gifts for your bosses from the place that you’ve visited helps. I’ve never heard of anybody getting fired after a cup of cocoa from Ghana!”
Point duly made.
Deliberating between Spain, Nepal and the United States of America as one of his next destinations during the year, Aditya is emphatic about travelling as locally as possible. “Eat at shops where your guides or your drivers eat. Smile; nothing puts someone at ease like a smile. Start a conversation with one random person a day. You’ll definitely find something interesting that no guide book will tell you.”
Citing his interview on live television as a guest of Manchester City Football Club at half time in 2016 as being the most surreal travel experience he has ever had, a travel hack Aditya relies on when travelling outside India is to search for budget airlines like JetStar, AirAsia, etc. which offer fantastic discounts.
Atique Sheikh, 26 | Mumbai, Maharashtra
“At the start of every calendar year, prepare a list of long weekends and of public holidays falling on a Tuesday or Thursday. By utilising your paid leave for a working day between a public holiday and a weekend, you will have more days in your kitty to travel.” That’s Atique’s hack on how to strategically plan leaves to travel.
Responsible for recruitment as well as the planning and execution of employee engagement activities at an IT firm, for Atique the Bollywood film – Zindagi Naa Milegi Dobara – best describes his travel style. An avid user of mobile apps that offer discounts to book accommodation on budget at two and three star hotels, he maintains that, “It is a mandate for me to travel over every long weekend” which when planned in advance “helps everyone on the team to enjoy their vacation without being preoccupied because of the work getting piled up.”
Currently making the most of the long weekend by chilling out with friends in Goa, Atique recommends using the incognito mode on your browser when planning travel and using the mobile app once the plan has been decided upon.
Atique continues to remain mesmerized by Amritsar’s Golden Temple.“Visiting the Golden Temple for the first time at dusk with prayer songs playing in the background and reflection of the temple in the water still gives me goose-bumps. The vibe was so positive that you feel like all the negative thoughts within you have been destroyed.”
Atique in the digital world: Facebook
Manjusha, 28 | Mumbai, Maharashtra
“Rumi’s quote – Out beyond the ideas of right doing and wrong doing is a field, I’ll meet you there – best describes my travel style” affirms Manjusha, who juggles between being a freelance event manager and a pet-sitter.
Personifying what going with the flow implies she says, “I never do the bookings in advance. I prefer approaching people and talking to them; especially when I am looking for home-stays. Because sometimes, IF they like you, you get amazing discounts!”
With Himachal Pradesh next on her mind, Manjusha’s advice to anyone who claims they don’t have enough time to travel is “Zyaada mat socho. If you want to get out and travel, you’ll find time; even if it’s for the weekend. Just start somewhere”. She attributes her career choices as being instrumental in making it possible for her to pack her bags once every 3-4 months for a 10-12 day break.
As someone who appreciates travelling in luxury when she can afford to, Manjusha enjoys living with locals and taking a lot of photographs when she’s on the road. Speaking of the trip that has left a lasting impression, she says “Oh it has to be Nongriat in Meghalaya; my first solo. The best part is I had not planned it. The walk to this place almost killed me but when I reached, the pain in my body left me and I was content. Like, after a long long time, I felt deeply content. I couldn’t fathom how the locals climb those 4000-odd steps twice, sometimes thrice every day!”
Pradnya Kulkarni, 31 | Bangalore, Karnataka
“I travel slow and don’t try to fit everything in a trip. I choose one place and do full justice to it. I do not prefer combining two countries in a trip.” – Meet Pradnya, a consultant by profession itching towards the life of a full-time digital nomad, who travels every alternate weekend. And that is aside from six big trips (i.e. ~10 days) during the year either abroad or within India. And as if to premeditate eyebrows disappearing into hairlines she adds, “I carry my laptop sometimes when I can access WiFi and work to compensate for the leaves.”
Ask her what travel hacks she swears by and she goes, “I always email myself copies of my passport and e-visa. I send myself and my sister an email about my full plan along with details of stay, their address and telephone numbers. In case I don’t have a fixed plan, she is at least aware of my location; in case of any untoward incidents. I call the credit card company before I leave to ensure I have access to the card in that country. I download offline maps to my phone before arriving at destination, to avoid hunting for Wi-Fi or asking for routes.”
Now isn’t that comprehensive?
To those who claim work does not let them travel, she says “Great things happen to people who ‘take time out’. There will ever be enough time to do office work or tend to household responsibilities. But we forget that our life is slipping away in parallel.”
With her sights trained for her trip to Meghalaya in May, Pradnya says her first solo backpacking trip to the United States of America, Canada and the Caribbean’s has been her trippiest till date.
Prasad, 27 | Mumbai, Maharashtra
“It’s not what we say is a priority, but what we actually DO that’s a priority.” I have friends who tell me ‘Oh I LOVE travelling, I just don’t have time for it.’ In reality, they prioritise everything else like, watching TV, staying up late surfing the internet, hitting the pubs, shopping and so on. I believe that one does not need to travel too far to have fun – sometimes travelling around your own home can be liberating.” Wise words from Prasad, a Chartered Accountant, who prefers starting and ending his day on time so that his weekends are his to travel.
“I love being on the road. Be it a treacherous trek or a leisurely holiday or backpacking or an engrossing train journey” says Prasad who attributes him experience of bungee jumping in Rishikesh as being his most memorable one till date and whose travel style finds resonance in the song “zindagi ek safar hai suhana, yahan kal kya ho kisne jaana…”
Headed to the Valley of Flowers in August later this year followed by Kudremukh and Gokarna in Karnataka and then Sandakphu in West Bengal, Prasad categorises himself as an economical traveller as it allows him to travel longer rather than spending money on things that aren’t needed. On offbeat travel he opines, “Many memorable travel experiences have happened in areas that are not easy to visit. I travel to popular sites as well but never rule out other locations just because they’re not on the tourist trail.”
Prasad in the digital world: Facebook
Rashi and Shubhabrata, 36 and 42 | Bangalore, Karnataka
“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us” is the mantra that defines the travel style of Rashi and Shubhabrata – who are employed in the IT sector and travel one long weekend every quarter in addition to extended weekends around birthdays and the anniversary plus that one 10-12 road trip at the end of the year!
Fans of road-tripping, this duo swear by two things: (a) leave early and be out of city limits before everyone’s up; and (b) travel during the off-season, especially if you’re a photography enthusiast. To the extent possible they also carry back their own garbage and try to leave the place as pristine as they would want it to be! Now that’s ingenious.
Ask them where they caught this road-trip bug and they unanimously chime in saying “…Ladakh. It was that 12 day trip that really got us going. We’d gone right after the cloud burst in 2010. The experience of talking to people amid the scenic environment and gorging on food just made it worthwhile in spite of the circumstances around us. Ever since, we have only done road trips.”
Eyeing a road-trip from Banagalore to Goa and then another in the Western Ghats during the monsoons in the immediate future, both are of the view that, “(Travel) lies in making up your mind. After all, what are you working for? Choose between “Live to work” or “Work to Live”. Remember one thing “Work will never end, life will.“
Rohit J. Thampy, 29 | Trivandrum, Kerala
“My most memorable trip so far has been to Malaysia in 2016 where I covered almost all of Kuala Lumpur and Penang by foot with just a map in hand and rode a scooter around Langkawi” asserts Rohit, a deputy branch manager with a private sector bank.
Just back from Sri Lanka and already planning for New Zealand in 2018 (besides travelling domestically between now and then) Rohit prefers home-stays as they allow him to blend in with the local culture as well as to enjoy local food.
“Working with a bank has helped me to visit few places as I get transferred. But to an extent, it also restricts me from doing multiple trips of longer duration due leave constraints. I usually plan long trips during the first quarter of the financial year when the work load is less”, he adds.
His advice to those who struggle to travel is, “Consider work as the fuel to fulfilll your travel bucket-list. A well planned savings from your regular income will definitely help a lot with enjoying your travels without any worry!” And to make that further simpler here are nuggets of information he shares: “I usually use Kayak for flight rate comparisons among different airlines and also set-up a price alert. Apart from that, I now delete my browser history and cache memories to get better deals while making bookings. I’d also recommend checking your bank website for any travel-related offers.”
Rohit in the digital world: Facebook
“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living” those words by Miriam Beard sum Snigdha’s travel style up. Employed in the Sales division with an Indian bank, she identifies with the kind of travel that is “budget yet comfortable; as there is no place that cannot be visited because it’s too expensive” she maintains.
Looking forward to her trip to the Land of the Rising Sun – Japan – in May this year, Snigdha says, “I try and travel at least once a month. And when possible, I extend work-related trips. I have developed an understanding with my boss that I will always be available for any emergency.” She further emphasises, “A full time or a hectic job (and mine is both) is never a reason to not travel. With a little planning and being better organised, anyone (with no matter how demanding a job) can travel.”
Recounting her trippiest trip to date, she says “On my trip to Konkan, I stayed in an eco-homestay atop a hill in the village of Parule. My room opened to a fabulous view of the Arabian Sea and my alarm was the chirping of birds. I had a wonderful time just walking around the village and the local people kept inviting us into their homes and feeding us in exchange of our stories on life in Mumbai.”
When asked about a travel hack she swears by, Snigdha says, “Keep track of sales on airlines to book cheap tickets. You can also use Skyscanner’s flexi travel feature to see the cheapest tickets to any destination anytime during the year.”
Quoting “You only regret the chances you didn’t take!” as the line that best describes her travel style, Trina who works in the Fraud and Investigation department at a bank, says she plans two ~10 day trips a year besides clubbing the public holidays and weekends for smaller trips. “Monsoons call for some weekend treks – which result in a few late Monday mornings at best!” she adds tongue in cheek.
Given her dedication for travel, it comes as no surprise when her advice to those who don’t travel as much as they’d like to is, “Adventure will hurt you but monotony will kill you. Plan smart and save up and go experience life in the unexplored!”
“Planning well in advance is the key. Prepare a detailed itinerary… Prepare daily budgets so that it doesn’t leave hole in your pocket in the end. Apps like ‘Splitwise’ help in managing finances between groups while travelling. Likewise explore ‘Hostelworld’ to scout for good dorms” she recommends.
Looking forward to her trips to Uttarakhand’s Valley of Flowers in August followed by the Sandakphu-Phalut trek in West Bengal in November and a possible trip to Gokarna in Karnataka, Trina recalls that her trip to Spiti has been her most memorable thus far. “It was trek covering four picturesque villages on foot and we were staying with locals. The absolute contrast of the rough terrain and the calm in the atmosphere has left me spellbound. Life there is tough; being snow-clad for 7-8 months in a year but the people are the most peaceful ones I have ever met.”
Tushar Gogia, 36 | Mumbai, Maharashtra
“Weddings and marathons normally dictate my travel calendar” says Tushar who loves planes, digs long flights and has made it his mission to discover local vegan food while travelling.
“I travel a fair amount for work and play” declares this entrepreneur who runs a leadership coaching program (Emerge) and a local healthy snack food company (The Orange Bowl) when he isn’t travelling – which according to him is around 15-20 times a year! “I try to blend some play time on work trips and explore work on play trips. At least two trips a year are meant to simply unwind and relax – no internet, no computer”, he explains.
“Choose travel and it will happen. Choose work and it will happen, Choose love and it will happen. If you really want to travel, you make time and save money for it”, he says to those who cannot seem to make enough travel happen. He further adds, “At one company, I was the only employee to get a 5-day work-week, the rest of the team worked Saturdays. It sounds crazy but I asked and they agreed. Always ask, else you will never know.”
With a marathon in the Tushar mountains of Utah in July in his travel kitty, he recalls his trip to the Andaman Islands where mornings were spent diving in some of most pristine reefs on the planet and doing the Macarena underwater, as being among his trippiest till date.
Probe him on travel hacks and he says, “Really simple stuff here…at airports, hotels, stations, anywhere …ask people their names and address them by it. People in the travel industry meets so many people, building connections with them helps get you the best service.”
No. XIII. is a special mention.
At the time of this post going live, Ameya had quit his job and booked a one-way ticket to South America. But it does not take away from his story the passion he has had for travel while still at his job. And for that reason and that reason alone he has been featured alongside.
Ameya Kolambekar, 34 | Mumbai, Maharashtra
“’A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow’is a quote thatsums my travel style, says Ameya, a spontaneous traveller who has had over a decade long career in the field of marketing.
“I’d be very disappointed if I haven’t done four trips in a year. At least a couple of which, are outside the country.”, he says when asked how frequently he travels in a year. Thinking back to his most memorable trip he adds, “I spent a month, backpacking in China. I packed my bags for a week and came back after a month. A really cold December, no language skills, lack of vegetarian food and a lot of it through the rural parts of the country. Completely unplanned, amazingly challenging and met some fabulous people too.”
On the claim that work does not leave people with time to travel, he adds, “I think we all work in different capacities, earn our pay-checks with usually similar time on hand. For those who don’t travel enough, it probably suggests they found a way to make use of it, in a way, which was more plausible or appealing for them at that point in time.”
Sharing travel hacks he says, “This isn’t so unique anymore but ‘Couchsurfing’ is essentially a large travel community where you can stay with local hosts (around the world) for free. Some of the closest friends I’ve made, are through this website!”