In the second half of April 2020, New York Times decided to temporarily stop publishing their renowned travel section in the Sunday edition. It is a harsh realization that with all international borders sealed, interstate movement restricted, and air and road travel grounded, travel has come to a standstill across the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, with the human need for exploration and discovery, it’s only a matter of time when we begin planning our next big vacation.
In the last two decades, travel has evolved drastically with newer nuances and sensibilities coming into play. Travel, as we know it, will spin on its axis once the world recovers from the coronavirus pandemic. Dency Mathew, an avid traveller and a travel industry professional explains, “This pandemic has made us rethink and review our businesses and practices.” Like everything else, we as travelers, will have a new normal to deal with.
Exploring India never looked better and odds are we’ll be fueling up and driving to a lot of lesser known locales in the subcontinent as domestic travel is set to take over international travel in the months to come. It will be also be an opportunity to make travel more worthwhile with a focus on sustainability. “Travel in the future will become more intentional, more immersive and more experience oriented, embodying #TravelDeeper,” believes Neeti Mehra, Founder and CEO of BeejLiving.
As we eagerly wait to see how the world of travel evolves post Covid-19, nothing stops us from reminiscing the days when documenting our explorations on social media helped us memorialise our travel. So, we reached out to some of the most unique travellers to share their memories of wanderlust and also share their go-to destinations when things come back to normal.
Sit back and enjoy this armchair travel trip across some of the most beautiful destinations in the world and start adding to your bucket list now.
The Tiny Taster
The energetic Roxanne Bamboat is a traveller, her honest and relatable stories and videos make travel real in the true sense of the word. One of her favourite memory is of her time in Maasai Mara, Kenya—“The stunning variety of wildlife had my heart bursting with happiness, because it was one of the places on my bucket list that I didn't think I would ever get to visit.” She also remembers her visit to the holy city of Jerusalem, Israel soaking in the marvels of the ancient city. “I was sitting next to the Western Wall, this ancient lime stone wall people also know it as the Wailing Wall, wondering how I got so lucky to explore this fascinating country that's seeped in history.” But if you ask her which is her most memorable trip? It’ll be her first-ever international trip to Thailand and the pristine beaches of Phuket.
I’m packing my bags for: “I was supposed to be in South Africa this month; my heart and soul is craving to be in the jungle. I think I will run to Kanha Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh or Tadoba Andhari National Park, Maharashtra.” Once international travel resumes, she has Russia and Japan on her travel bucket list.
Urban Eye by RG
Shuttling between Mumbai and Colombo, Sri Lanka, Riaan George is a rigourous traveller. According to him, major destinations preferred by Indian holiday makers will be badly affected such as Italy, UK, France, HK, Singapore, USA. In that case he recommends his second home, Sri Lanka. He says, “Some of my fondest travel memories have been in Sri Lanka which in my opinion is one of the most tourist-friendly destinations in South Asia right now.” Turkey, is another nation close to his heart. “It is such a beautiful country with such gracious people, who truly lend themselves well to tourism and hospitality.”
I’m packing my bags for: “I would love to go to Australia to see my family. Or maybe Paris to practice my French!”
As a slow living expert, Neeti Mehra believes in indulging in mindful experiences. Her last trip before the lockdown, to Kerala, was a perfect example of the belief. “I visited Ashtamudi, Poovar, Trivandrum and Kovalam. I immersed in nature, pristine backwaters, secluded beaches and the depth of their Ayurveda experience and delicious food” These regions aren't as popular on the tourist trail, and their relative remoteness is a telling factor of how over tourism destroys and dilutes your travel experience.
I’m packing my bags for: “I am going to stay right here in Mumbai! I want to rediscover the charms of my lovely city, Mumbai, which has been overburdened with development and over population. As others clamber on planes, my intention is to support local businesses, and spend money on everyone who have suffered and served us during the lockdown.” Once things have settled down, Mehra wants to make a beeline for south Goa with a couple of books to heal myself from the after-effects of Covid-19.
Lifestyle and travel writer
The prolific lifestyle and travel writer, Priya Pathiyan, doubles up as a tour guide showcasing lesser known corners of Mumbai. She shares her plans to Italy for her 10th wedding anniversary, which were marred by the coronavirus spread. “The plan was to visit Rome, Florence, Tuscany and the Amalfi coast, which obviously won't happen now,” she rues. But she is grateful for the opportunity to celebrate her birthday last year in Kasauli. “I love going up into the mountains, as they give me the peace and purity that being close to nature bring,” she explains. Exploring the Gilbert Trail was the highlight for her along with the day drives to surrounding areas. “We did little treks and savoured the local life. Himachal and Uttaranchal are filled with sylvan spots comparable to the best that Switzerland and Austria offer and I can't get enough of them!” she exclaims.
I’m packing my bags for: “I'd love to explore Arunachal Pradesh, as it seems to have the perfect mix of forests, mountains, wildlife, interesting tribal culture and food. I've been to most other states of the country but haven't travelled beyond Meghalaya in the North East.”
Travel is a calling for Dency Mathew, which led her to join the travel industry while she tends to her proverbial itchy feet. She remembers her visit to Tanjung Puting National Park in Borneo, Indonesia as being truly special. “I was sailing for three days in the Sekonyer River and traversing through the narrow jungle river. The deeper my cruise went into the national park, the further I was away from civilisation.” The highlight of the trip however were the primates. “I spent about two-three hours each at the three feeding stations for orangutans watching the apes enjoy their meal.” The ice on the cake was the starlit night sky and falling asleep to the symphony of jungle sounds.
I’m packing my bags for: Staring at buildings and living in the concrete jungle has made her value Mother Earth. “I would love to go for an African safari and stay in a national park. But until international travel resumes, I am planning to go to Goa or Kerala just for the beaches and greenery,” she says.
A trip that was meant to be only for 40 days led to Kaushal Karkhanis spending six months in South America. And although South America may hold on to his heart, his soul belongs to Goa. “It was in Goa where I found meaning, balance of goals and a growing sense of wonder and joy while living simply,” he says as he looks back upon the three months he spent there in 2010. “I moved to Goa to live, work and take up boxing—and it was the most wholesome I’ve ever felt in my life.”
I’m packing my bags for: “I'm keeping my options open—Maharashtra, Goa, Kerala, Sikkim or Odisha,” says the pragmatic Karkhanis. He wants to visit the monsoon paradise of the Sahyadris (just after Wai and Satara) so as to appreciate nature in its full glory. “But in all likelihood, it's going to be Goa. It's the one place where I feel most alive, and it's always on my mind!” he confesses.
The hills are alive, with the sound of music, believes marketing wizard Aditi Chakravarty. Her most recent trip to Himchal Pradesh is one that will stay with her forever, she describes it as “the best-ever travel memories.” Just off Manali is Hampta Pass, known for its scenic trekking route, but for Chakravarty it was worth halting at and exploring. “We in eco-friendly camps at 3500m with the mighty Dhauladhar’s snow-capped peaks looking at us. It was breathtaking!” she exclaims She even went on a 4 km long snowy trail-walk to the Sethan valley. “Singing 'Dooba dooba rehta hoon' while sipping chai was a moment of sheer happiness I will never forget.”
I’m packing my bags for: “The first place I am visiting is my hometown Delhi where I can finally see my mom and give a tight hug!”
Taarini N Balsara
The Good Life Pot Pourri
Taarini N Balsara doesn’t care if you think its clichéd or touristy but memories of her trip to Paris always makes her nostalgic—“I’ve always been fascinated by all things Parisian, having been a fashion and design student.” She did all things quintessentially Paris, a late night show at Moulin Rouge, visit to the Notre Dame, and Louvre, understanding the significance of Champs Elysees and not to forget the gastronomical experiences with authentic French food (including escargots). One cannot go to Paris and not go up the Eiffel Tower! “I've romanticised it for as long as I can remember,” she says. Her belief is to strike a balance between "being touristy and a traveller" because there are some things that will always be part of bucket list gems that one has to tick off from an ever-growing list.
I’m packing my bags for: “I want to go to Norway and Iceland to witness and fall in love with the Aurora Borealis. Hopefully, the earth would heal some more by the time we get to travel again, which means clearer skies to embrace the most beautiful light show put up by nature.”
Don’t forget to share your favourite travel memory and also your bucket list destination, in the comments below.
Featured image: Shutterstock.com