Highways & byways

Amrita Prasad
Sunday, 15 July 2018

Mohit Kharbanda, an avid traveller, photographer and storyteller with around 60,000 followers on Instagram, talks about why it is important to travel.

His Instagram handle @movingcompass is a testimony to his relentless passion for photography and his unending thirst to explore the world. Mohit Kharbanda, who is smitten by wanderlust, started amateur photography with his phone and later, developed it into his passion. An off-road enthusiast, he has travelled solo almost the entire country in his open Jeep. 

Apart from India, the 34-year-old Delhi-based traveller, writer and shutterbug has explored other countries such as Switzerland, Austria, France, Czech Republic, Belgium, the UK, Italy and Nepal, to name a few. With about 60,000 followers on his Instagram account, Kharbanda not only showcases mindblowing photographs but urges others to travel as well. He tells us more about his adventures:

What inspired you to travel and what are some of the destinations that you have covered so far?

For me, travelling started at the adolescent age. Fortunately, being born and brought up in Patiala, Punjab, ensured that there were frequent bike rides to Chandigarh, Shimla, and Amritsar. After my graduation, I started travelling more. Once I got a job, I took my first international trip to Europe, which I have covered mostly, and I have also explored Southeast Asia, and my own country extensively.  

What are the challenges of a solo traveller?

My idea of travel is to explore beyond what is there on the tourist map and massively flocked by people. In doing so as a solo traveller, I am often presented with a set of challenges such as language, food and weather. 

Language: Travelling to cosmopolitan cities is easy if you know English. Stepping beyond them gets tough without a basic knowledge of the regional language. I have to rely on signals and gestures which have often saved the day for me.

Food: Every kitchen in the world has a unique flavour assigned to it. Each cuisine is a different form of art. But, food being an individual choice can be harsh at times. The cooking oil, process, local versions of the used ingredient and of course the cook — everything leads to a variation. It gets more challenging for a vegetarian since the options are limited. Carry some go-to food wherever possible if you’re not willing to explore options.

Weather: With global warming, the weather at any place comes with a certain level of uncertainty. A bright sunny day can often make ground for a thunderstorm by evening. Be prepared and always keep clothes that offer protection.

Explain the relationship between travelling and photography. 

As aptly quoted by Roger Kingston, ‘A camera is a save button for the mind’s eye’. Through a camera, you don’t have to leave your footprints anywhere. You may well carry them home captured forever. Photography not only satisfies your creative instincts but also acts as a partner while travelling solo. Funny as it might sound but I talk to my camera on a regular basis. On a larger platform, photography has been a game changer for the travel industry. Blogs, Instagram, travel sites and several other platforms are flourishing on the basis of photography. People are more likely to make opinions about a place or a property rather than a documented format.

What is the secret behind such a large number of followers on your social media account?  

There’s no secret behind the numbers. To be honest, I do not have any followers — they are travel aspirants and hence they like to see the relevant posts and photographs. Anyone who travels as much and shares similar posts will have the same numbers, if not more. I hope that I continue to travel and keep sharing stuff that people like and benefit from.

What kind of pictures get maximum attention on social media and why?

There are a lot of landscape pictures available everywhere. From waterfalls to mountains and beaches. However, adding an element like a car, a human etc can bring some relatable touch to it. Hence pictures like these are more likely to connect with the audience.
How can those, who love to travel, strike a work-life balance?    

Work is part-time but travel remains a full-time engagement. You need to travel to work and for work. A little planning helps you make a perfect balance. Travel for work has taken me to various places around the world and I prefer to club it with an extra couple of days to explore around. However, do not plan to travel every weekend. Have a respectable break between travel. Else, you will not enjoy it to the fullest. Work hard to realise the full potential of a travel break.

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