My Philosophy of Travel

Last year I had the opportunity to travel the United States. Yes, Amrikaa!! The trip was supposed to be for 20 days, but ended up lasting 101 days and upon return, the most common questions I got was if I was going back again (Answer: hopefully), if I was planning to migrate (Ans: No) and if if I went to a strip club (Ans: No).

For my non-Indian readers, migrating to America is the classic Indian dream. No one ever asked me if I was planning to migrate when I returned from any of my previous international trips.

Truth is, I visited New York City, and parts of Ohio and Washington DC. People ask me how come I didn’t go to Las Vegas or California after being there for so long. I got the same questions after returning from the tour of India where I traveled only 5 states in 4 months.

Why I Travel

Before I explain my philosophy of travel, let me explain why I travel the way I do.

I travel in search of experiences that will help me find more about myself and my limits. I travel to meet new people who can tell me stories and give me new perspectives. Seeing places and visiting local known landmarks and eating their food is just part of the experience, not the end goal of a journey.

This is probably why I am not super keen on writing about my travels and instead focus on the experiences and stories that came out of it. Honestly, I find the process of writing a travel journal like this: 50 Shades of Letting Go to be laborious and exhausting. I rarely enjoy reading travel journals that just speak about what to see and what to do and what food to eat and its highly time consuming to collect all the facts and piece them together.

Souvenir shop of The Library of Congress. In National Treasure, Nicholas Cage bought the imitation of the Declaration of Independence here.
Souvenir shop of The Library of Congress.

(About the above picture: In the movie National Treasure (2004), Nicholas Cage bought the imitation of the Declaration of Independence here. You can see the scrolls in the background. Wanted to be here ever since I saw that movie when it came out.)

It is said that the slower you travel the more you learn. I tend to travel at a very slow pace that right now a 4 day weekend trip doesn’t even feel like I left home. I like it better when I leave home and do not know when I will be coming back.

How Its Done

The philosophy that I adhere to when I travel can be summarized as below:

  • Travel as slow as possible. Use local transport and forms of travel that will let me meet as many locals as possible. During my trip in India, I used my car only for city to city travel and then used local transport to travel within an area. Traveling on a bicycle will teach you more things than traveling on an airplane.
  • Do everything a locality has to offer before moving on. The probability of me visiting a distant place twice in my lifetime is very low. So while you have the chance, see and do whatever is possible there.
  • Live at a place long enough to get bored of the place. This is why I tend to stay out longer. My idea is that its only when you get bored of the place that you start to see it the way a local resident know the city.

For instance, during my India trip, I spent 6 weeks in Mumbai and I absolutely hated the place for the first two weeks. I couldn’t see why anyone would want to live in the filth and the noise and pollution. But as I got to live the Mumbaikar life, I fell in love with the city and began to understand what the fascination is all about. When you live for an extended period, you will be forced to shop like a local, and eat like one. The charm of fancy restaurants and the cash in your wallet always tend to disappear after the first week or so and you will begin to think and live like a resident.

One of the perks of living longer is that cost of living goes down considerably. You can rent apartments on a monthly basis instead of staying at a hotel. And cook your own food or eventually discover cheap eateries. And when you look at the trip as a whole, the fixed costs like flights and visa charges are spread across more days.

Most people have that itch to go back to the places they have visited because there are things left to do or they want to do the things they did again. I make sure that the itch is taken care of. Not that I wouldn’t want to go back to the places I have been to. But I have been to enough beaches and clubs now that the desire to go party in Goa that most Indians share is taken care of.

Be A Traveler, Not A Tourist

Happy travels.

p.s. couple of things:

To my email readers (not one yet? sign up here), there was a malfunction with the feed and because of which couple of older posts were sent out via email. This issue is fixed right now.

I have a new page where you can ask me anything anonymously. So Ask Me Anything here.


One response to “My Philosophy of Travel”

  1. […] recently had the chance to read about Arun Basil Lal’s travel philosophy on why he spends weeks in a destination than visit every popular spot that the destination has to […]

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