LOST IN WANDERLUST
Becoming a full-time traveller and writing posts and blogs seems to be a glamorous job. But think again before you embark. There is a lot of hard work, planning and sacrifice involved. Amrita Prasad catches up with a few individuals for whom travelling is serious business.
Imagine sitting in a tent amidst the floating clouds, and sipping coffee from a mug and watching a gushing river making its journey from the Himalayas to the plains. Simply mindblowing, you’d think. The mere thought of packing your backpack and heading to an isolated, serene place where you feel close to nature is heartwarming.
Travelling is one of the most enriching experiences of life. It refreshes, rejuvenates and detoxifies you, and helps you reconnect with your inner self in the most organic way. Which is why the present generation is on a spree to satifsfy their wanderlust. When you see people posting their travel pictures on social media, travel bloggers posing with some of the most unknown tribes on the planet, solo travellers taking part in adventure activities, you feel like joining in the fun.
Some take their passion a few notches higher by becoming fulll-time travellers. Quitting their lucrative jobs, they set out. Their travel stories inspire you to set forth on a journey and explore the world as well. But to become a full-time traveller and earn a livelihood is not an easy job. Travel is much more than those perfectly-captured Instagram or Facebook moments. The amount of hardships and struggles that full-time travellers go through and the sacrifices they make, is something you may fail to see.
We speak to a few dedicated travellers to know the behind-the-scenes work and what goes into the making of ‘perfect’ travel stories and why they take up the exhilarating yet challenging task.
Parnashree Devi, a full-time travel blogger (www.traveldiaryparnashree.com), feels that unless you are dead sure about quitting your job and travelling full-time, you should not think about it.
She says, “Money becomes the challenging factor after quitting a job. Even if you have an alternative income source, say, a freelance job, it is not quite the same as earning a salary every month while on the job. It will lead to compromises on your lifestyle and bar you from doing many other things. I planned my travels before I decided to take the plunge.”
Manjulika Pramod, former telecom engineer and now a traveller and blogger (www.manjulikapramod.com), who travels almost every month, iterates that you must be prepared to cut down on your expenses the day you decide to travel. “I love exploring places and my job looks glamorous. My friends often feel awed at my life but I must confess, it isn’t easy to go for trips every month, balance freelance assignments, take care of the home and blog about places that I visit. For me, travels are not holidays. Sometimes, I have to miss my family events. I don’t have Sundays and Saturdays because I have to work every day. People often don’t realise the seriousness of freelance work or travelling for work. The general notion is that if you are not doing a 9-to-5 job, it means you are not doing serious work.”
Ruchika Shankar, who often travels with her husband Avinasha, feels that the biggest challenge is figuring out financial sustainability while travelling and once you have sources of income figured out, travelling full-time is an incredible experience.
They blog at www.secondbreakfast.in and share their travel experiences on different social media platforms. “It’s easy to post a picture of yourself with your laptop at a beachside cafe, but then you actually have to work for 10-12 hours a day and write about it. Freelancing and blogging do not guarantee a regular monthly income, so we have to plan our month. But despite all the challenges, travelling is one thing that makes us really happy,” says Ruchika, who along with her husband, makes travel videos and short films.
A SOCIAL MEDIA FAD?
So for the globetrotting generation, is travelling just a social media obsession? Says Devi, “Travelling is much more than the glamour on social media. It has multiple connotations to different people. Each traveller travels for his/ her own reason. That said, social media does introduce you to new destinations, stimulating business and providing easy access to information. But on the other hand, it also leads to the destruction of the natural habitat of the place and promotes urbanisation in remote corners of the country.”
A lot of time, you’ll see pictures of women in exotic locations wearing beautiful dresses, makeup and heels in a rain forest or on a mountain top. “It’s easy to get carried away by the attractive photographs but you have to realise that your experiences are unique to you. And travel is not what you see on Instagram. Of course, social media is an outlet to show the beauty of a place, no one wants to see pictures of your food poisoning, you in dirty, sweaty clothes after a hike, or a long sad bus ride or having to sleep at airports during a layover. But these things are a huge part of travel, and moments you’ll remember long after your trip — the charm of unpredictable encounters, impulsive road trips and getting lost in unfamiliar cities,” shares Ruchika adding that updating the website/ blog and fitness are two other major challenges while travelling.
SAFE FOR WOMEN?
For, women travellers, the job is even tougher. “The biggest challenge for women is to convince society about their unique choice of career as a traveller or travel blogger. Safety is another issue that women face while on the road. But I believe if you are talented, aware of the world and have a burning desire to follow your passion, you can turn it into your profession,” points out Devi.
There are safety concerns in certain places but mostly, safety is just common sense. “Don’t do things in other countries that you won’t do in your city!” cautions Ruchika. The Shankar couple gave up their home, sold all their stuff, packed their life in a suitcase and are on a never-ending journey across the globe.
PLAN IT WELL
Just like any other passion, having a concrete and a foolproof plan before setting out on a world tour is important. “I would not advise anyone to quit their job to travel. It looks glamorous and trendy. But in reality, it is extremely difficult to sustain yourself without any financial support unless you have financial backup from your family, or you have planned your life accordingly. You can’t just follow trends and successful individuals, who might be having a completely different social conditioning and financial background. It’s great to follow your passion, but put sustainability on top of your priority list,” quips Devi.
Pramod doesn’t deny the low moments that often haunt her. “It is hard to explain why I blog. The more curious ones also want to know how much I earn. A few are still waiting to see me return to my regular job. It needs a lot of courage to hold on to the thought that travelling for passion will become lucrative someday,” she says.
A good idea would be to travel on weekends and find out what you enjoy and what you don’t. “If you really feel that your priority is to travel and you have achieved a balance in life, then only go ahead,” adds Pramod.
Travelling just because your friend travels a lot and you love his/ her life doesn’t make sense. “Most of the time, you may not get homecooked food. You may fall sick in certain places. You may not like a few places but you don’t have to crib. There will be many a time when you have to give away your luxury indulgences and look for cheap stays. Also, one must be prepared to respect the sensibilities of the place and its culture. When you are visiting a different country, you have to follow their rules,” says Pramod.
Before you embark, save as much as you can. Also, learn some skills that make money on the road like writing, programming, photography, etc. “We set up a lot of freelance projects before we started travelling so we could travel while we worked,” quips the Shankar couple.
If you have been bitten by the travel bug, go ahead and seek adventure and fun but at the same time treat it like any other full-time job. It’s not all play and no work!