Travel is an experience like no other…these 5 stories are proof!
They say that jobs fill your pockets and adventures fill your soul! It couldn’t be truer. After all, to travel is to take a journey into yourself! So, on World Tourism Day, dive into these adventures and plan your next adventure!
“We first met 45 years ago—it was an arranged marriage set up! And although it was a rishta meeting, there were no inhibitions; we spoke about everything, and when I learnt she loved to travel like me, I knew she was the one! Phir kya tha? Chatt mangni aur patt biyah!
And on the first day after our wedding, I made her sit on my bike and we took off to Srinagar; it was the perfect honeymoon for us spontaneous beings! These ‘unplanned adventures’ became our thing. Whenever we’d get a few days off, we’d get on my bullet and travel where the road took us, be it Nainital, Dehradun or Shimla!
Even when we had kids, we didn’t change our ways. Infact, when they were teenagers, I took Sushi for our first international trip to Singapore.
It felt like we were on our 2nd honeymoon–we’d walk for hours hand in hand and sing ‘Do lafzon ki hai dil ki kahani’; it’s our favourite song! We realised we’d missed the adrenaline rush that came with impromptu travel plans. So, we waited for a few more years and once our kids settled down, we decided to travel the world!
At 58, we opted for premature retirement, selected a destination and took off! Again, we let the road lead us–we ended up exploring Bhutan, Nepal, Leh and Ladakh. That gave us the confidence to explore more and soon after, we were driving across Europe. My favourite part about that trip was jamming with Sushi to Amitabh Bhachan songs while navigating the most picturesque roads. I remember, when we reached Switzerland, it was like we were in a Yashraj movie–we didn’t shy away from recreating the iconic Bollywood poses. And I ensured Sushi felt no less than a heroine! I treated her to candle light dinners with the Alps as our backdrop. It felt like we were still in our 20s! It’s been amazingly topsy-turvy! Once we got stuck in a pothole in Leh–people gathered around to help, they didn’t think we’d be able to get out. But when we did; they all clapped! Another time, I almost drowned while river rafting!
And in our 60s, we joined a biker group–we were the oldest couple there, yet we’d go for all biking trips! We’ve seen it all, from the backwaters of Kerala to the temples in Pushkar. People even started recognising us as the ‘bullet couple’.
But at the start of this year, I had knee replacement surgery. My doctor asked me not to ride my bullet. But sitting at home felt suffocating. So, I took physiotherapy and after 6 months, we went on a biking trip to Mussoorie! Being on the road again made all my pain vanish!
Honestly, if you ask me, we’ve been on our honeymoon for the last 45 years; we’ve travelled to more than 22 countries! Together, we’ve ticked off a lot of items from our bucket list– from paragliding at 68 to trekking the Himalayas at 70! All this because pretty early on in life we realised ‘Zindagi na milegi dobara’ toh bas hum har pal jee rahe hai!”
“I was an ambitious girl and I had certain goals that I wanted to achieve -- a well paying job at a stable company, independence, and savings for my future. For a long time, that was the ideal picture for me. So, once I finished my MBA, I started working at a great bank.
I was there for 3 and a half years. One day, on my way home from work -- I noticed how every day I was stuck in traffic at the same place for a long time. And that’s when I realised that I was stuck in life too; not moving forward, or doing anything new. In that moment, I resolved to not waste even a single minute doing something I didn’t like doing. So, I decided to take a solo trip to Pondicherry. It was a task to convince my parents, but they saw just how desperate I was to travel and let me go.
I had great expectations from that trip. On my first day, I rented a bike and went sightseeing, but just then, my bike overturned -- I slipped and fell, injuring my leg. People nearby rushed me to the hospital, and I had to spend the rest of my trip, stuck in a hotel bed.
But sitting on a bed in Pondicherry, still made me happier than what I was doing in Mumbai. So after coming back, I started saving up to take 2 weeks off for my birthday, and go backpacking to Eastern Europe!
My first stop was Hungary -- I remember I was sitting near the reception at the hostel when suddenly a bunch of people walked in. They were really drunk but were laughing away. It felt like they were the best of friends. They sat next to me and asked me what my name was. We got to talking, and didn’t stop for hours! Turns out they were all from different cities and had only met each other a day before. I spent the whole day with them, and then even went out partying at night!
After that, I travelled to Innsbruck, Salzburg, Vienna and Prague. And as cliche as it sounds, when I came back from my travel, I was a transformed person.
I told my parents that I was quitting my job and taking a break. I used my savings to plan trips and created an online blog. Soon, I even won a contest through which I was taken across India and even got a travel show to anchor on national television! I realised that faith was all I needed to live the life I wanted too.
Today It’s almost been a year since I became a full-time traveller. It’s not easy -- there are days when I don’t know where my next income will come from. I don’t have anything stable ‘cushioning’ me. But it’s okay, because the times when I’m sitting at some random corner in the world, marvelling at the beauty of it all, laughing with strangers -- I feel content, my life feels complete and everything else just fades away.”
“Ever since I was a child, there were only two things that I wanted - to travel and to adopt a dog! So when I started living by myself and my friend’s dog gave birth to a litter of puppies, I knew it was time to get a special member into my family. That’s when Frodo came into my life. We're inseparable - he's watched me go through some monumental moments! Even when I decided to quit my job and move to Mumbai - Frodo came with me!
While I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do - I met Priyanka. I was always an avid traveller, and she ran her own travel company! We connected over Facebook and met up for a beer. There was an instant connection--we spoke for hours about how we wanted to travel and see the world. I remember telling her how I wanted to travel with Frodo and make him see these exotic locations!
She was so excited to join me for all these ‘plans’. She started hanging out with me and Frodo a lot and fell in love with both of us. Around that time, she came across this family who had a puppy but didn’t want to have him around anymore. So she decided to adopt him, and just like that, Cruise came into our lives!
Every weekend, Priyanka and I take Cruise and Frodo somewhere for a brand new adventure. Soon we learnt how to take care of them while on trips, and decided to embark on the biggest adventure of our lives. A 100 day trip all over India...just the 4 of us!
It took a month of planning, approaching brands for sponsorship, saving money, and making all the bookings before we finally left! I remember when we reached Manali, it was the first time Cruise and Frodo saw snow -- they were so excited! Frodo is just like me, mesmerised by the mountains and Cruise is just like Priyanka - a complete water baby. We’ve hiked to different peaks, explored different beaches, and met so many people.
Cruise and I even celebrated our birthdays on this trip together! As a family, it’s been so amazing so far, and we plan to go on a hundred more adventures. With them by our sides, whether we have bad days or good, we’ll always have them wagging their tails, showering us with love. and making our world absolutely pawfect!”
“I was in my early 40s when I went through a midlife crisis. The only thing that made me happy was being on the road–be it motorbike expeditions from Amritsar to Leh or cycling from Bombay to Goa; I loved challenging myself. I continued going on such adventures for 10 years and on my 50th birthday, I decided to be on the road for 300 days at a stretch!
My friend and I wanted to cover 60 countries and 70000 KM in 300 days. We had to get visas that would allow us to enter 60 countries and also a permit for my car! We planned for eight months. I’d envisioned doing this since I was 40, so for a decade I’d saved for it. My family was more excited than me, helping me with the planning and packing. With their support, I finally took off on 8th April, 2019.
We didn’t want to aimlessly drive around, instead we wanted to meet people from around the world, indulge in conversations and imbibe from their culture. So, along the way, we met so many different people. Like a refugee in Thailand who aids 4000 free child births every year. A German who’s incubated and accelerated 5000 start ups. A Bolivian who creates opportunities for women led businesses. I’ve met actors, singers, and travellers, as crazy as me.
But, it’s the people’s compassion that’s stayed with me. Like Sofia, a café owner in Kazakhstan who, upon seeing hunger on our faces, took us in and catered to our ‘veg only’ request at her hot dog eatery. She got us warm breads filled with melted chocolate and a jug of cranberry juice. She even refused the payment, saying, ‘Nobody goes hungry from Sofia’s!’
And to think of it, I had trysts with humanity in the places I’d been warned about. Once, I lost my wallet in Mexico, and while looking for it in a dingy alley around midnight, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I thought that was it… but it was a café owner who’d found my wallet and had been looking for me to return it!
The locals always made me feel like I belonged, so even when my friend left mid way, I continued. Because, after a point, the landscapes are alike and the sky has the same colour palette, but it’s the people that gave my travel experience meaning!
So I returned home on 16th March, 2020 after covering 59 countries, 74000 km in about 330 days with the widest smile and the heaviest heart!
At 50, I challenged myself and took a gap year to travel, and now, a year later, I’m preparing to climb Everest, because tomorrow is so uncertain that I want to make every single day count.”
“Earlier this year, when I was sipping on some wine at home, something inside me snapped and I thought, ‘I want to do something crazy and impromptu.’
I said to my wife, ‘Let’s go to Goa!’; Amrita was on board instantly! We then telephoned Usha, our school friend and asked her whether she wanted to join us. Usha, Amrita and I have been friends since we were 15–even in college, spontaneous picnics and sunset treks were our thing.
The next thing we knew, the three of us were in my Scorpio driving down from Chandigarh. We’d only carried some nuts and biscuits to eat on the way and a pair of clothes each.
Although the initial plan was to head straight to Goa, whenever any of us saw a signboard on the way, we’d take a detour. And just like that, the 12-hour drive from Mumbai to Goa took us 4 days!
In the evenings, we’d enjoy the sunset with some chilled beer while chatting about our good old college days. It was other-worldly–just us friends and the ocean! And like our college days, the girls ganged up against me–early in the morning, they’d head out to discover some new hike route without telling me. I’ve never been much of a walker, so I’d patiently wait for them to return. Be it our 20’s or 60’s, some things never change!
And the best part was that everything was unplanned. After making stops in Bengaluru, Hampi and Chennai, Usha said, ‘My son has a resort in Andaman, want to fly there?’ We left our Scorpio behind and took a flight to Port Blair–the next 9 days, we were happily lost in the woods!
On the way back from Andaman, we stopped by Pondicherry–once, we were lost and asked a local for directions, but he started speaking in French! We somehow responded in broken French that we’d picked up from the movies and managed to get our car back; it was hilarious!
Time just flew; we didn’t even realise that it’d been 40 days since we’d left Chandigarh–we’d covered 4500 KM on road! And what a journey it’s been! All three of us got tattoos, we’ve met people from all walks of life; we’ve gotten lost, and had a cook-off with a group of Russians (our chicken was much better than their dumplings)...we’ve really lived!
And now after coming back home, my peers keep asking me, ‘How did you travel for 40 days straight at the age of 68?’ and I tell them, ‘You have only one life to live...So, switch off your TV and switch on your car. That’s the best way to be!”
Being India’s largest storytelling platform, Humans of Bombay is all about bringing you extraordinary stories of ordinary people. On World Tourism Day, we bring you these extraordinary travel stories to inspire you to explore the world and live your life to the fullest! If you’d like to read more such stories, check out our book and dive into the diverse tales of Bombay.