How we evolved as travelers

Traveling means different things to different people. The first time I ever traveled outside of India, I went with my mother (to the UK) and stayed with some close relatives who had organized the entire week’s activities for us. I didn’t know what the plan was; I didn't know where all we were going to go and I had no idea what was there to see in the UK. I did no research at all. I just relied on my uncle’s family to make the perfect plan for us. And since it was my first trip ever, no doubt, it was super! I loved every bit of it. I was in awe of everything – the country, the people, the roads, the cleanliness, the malls, the organized queues (something very hard to find in India), kind people (well, mostly), the history, the architecture, everything!

But that was the last time I traveled with zero research. And with relatives! Don't get me wrong, the experience was amazing and the family was a great host. But I wanted to have my own experiences, planned by myself, as per my own interests. And I realized – I don't like traveling with too many people, even if it is family!

We evolved in our research

The next trip was our honeymoon to Mauritius – and I very excitedly planned the trip – researched the places to see, things to do. I found us a fantastic ‘Honeymoon Package’, booked it through a travel agent, and we were good to go. And that was the last time we ever bought a ‘travel package’. Or used agents for booking vacations for us.

We evolved in our planning

Over the years, I have realized, the fun of traveling is in the planning! Going through blogs, websites, reading what people have to say about places, checking out pictures – these are the things that build up the anticipation of seeing a new country. I have no qualms in accepting that I am not the kind of person who can just land up in a country and figure out what needs to be done. I cannot afford to miss out on the months of research, planning and reading up because that is what makes the vacation all the more exciting for me.

We evolved in our exploration

When it all started, it was about covering maximum ground in minimum time. We would spend not more than 2 days in a city and sometimes cover only the main cities in a country so that we could cover the maximum countries in the minimum amount of time. When we traveled to Europe, we went to Paris & Nice in France; Rome, Venice, and Florence in Italy and Amsterdam in Netherlands. We had 2 weeks, we spend 4 days, covered 3 countries. But what about the amazing St Tropez, Lyon, Bordeaux, and Strasbourg? What about Milan, the Amalfi coast, Positano, Palermo, and Portofino?

It is no more about covering maximum countries. We would rather go to one country for 2 weeks and make sure we see as many cities as we can in the limited amount of time that we have! Yes, it is a pain to apply for the Schengen Visa every time you have to go to Europe (disadvantage of having an Indian passport) but so what! At least we don't look back and regret not having seen more cities.

We evolved in our interests

Our trip to Calgary made us realize our love for mountains, lakes, and hiking! It made us plan Switzerland, New Zealand and Norway within a span of one year. We just couldn't get enough of rugged natural beauty.

We evolved in our preparation

Although I still prepare my excel sheets with a day wise itinerary, we realized after our trip to New Zealand that sometimes, we need to be open to ideas and suggestions of the local crowd. Itineraries cannot be carved in stone; heartfelt testimonials of certain areas we didn't plan to cover as per the initial plan made us change our plan midway. Canceling hotels, re-booking last minute available hostels, buying a train ticket, etc. is not really the worst thing!

We evolved in our thinking

We were pick-pocketed in France, lost our license and car (seized by the police) in New Zealand, had to face a cyclone in Mauritius, had a major car breakdown in the middle of the Empty Quarter. Fuck ups are a part of travel. Things can never go very smooth – no matter how hard we try. We are slaves to weather, crime, and circumstances and if anything, these are the incidents that make for great stories about our trips!

We evolved in our tastes

We evolved in our tastes – a trip to Thailand made me fall in love with Thai food. New Zealand made us realize that coffee does get better than Starbucks. Italian Gelato made my husband develop a sweet tooth. Malaysia proved to us that street food could be way better than a fine dining restaurant in a hotel. And nothing surpasses the (magic) brownies of Amsterdam.

33 thoughts on “How we evolved as travelers”

  1. Loved reading your post, about how you evolved as travelers and something I can totally relate with my travel too. How one travel taught me to get adapt to new tastes or new culture. I loved how you found out great coffee other than Starbucks in New Zealand in the same way I got interested more in Thai cuisine as earlier I did not liked it much. Evolution of thinking and planning also takes place though many of us don’t get aware but when we plan our next travel, we plan it more differently and wisely compared to our previous travel.

  2. Man I completely relate to this! From traveling as a “younin'” with my parents, to traveling solo as a grad student, to now traveling the world together with my husband, my style and interests have definitely evolved. It is interesting to think back on that journey.

  3. I hadn’t thought about it before but I guess that as travelers we all evolve. I’ve always been a bit of a control freak so I tend to plan my own but I’m going to try a travel agency again next year – just once. I’ll probably drive them crazy! And I love Street food – it’s tge best way to see the authentic life. I’ve been fortunate with no major dramas, although we did have to cancel a trip to Venezuela just after an attempted coup. I also find that traveling has led me to evolve at home and go more with the flow.

  4. We too evolved as we became more experienced at traveling. When we started traveling across America, we would travel six to eight hours on each travel day. Now we only go an hour or two, so that we don’t miss too much. When we go to Europe and Asia we might not be able to go quite so slow, but your idea about spending two weeks in one country to see more is great. I might need a few weeks to explore all the different varieties of brownies in Amsterdam!

  5. So true everything you mentioned! Travel really opens your eyes to the world, and makes you see good and bad things. Hope you keep evolving even further!

  6. This is a great post Medha – I think not only have you and your husband evolved as travellers, you’ve also evolved as adults, grown together. And that’s a really special bond to have with someone x

  7. This is such a heartwarming post, Medha. Loved your pictures!
    I think I have evolved as a traveller as well, and a lot of it has got to do with travelling with my husband. Now I’m trying to let travel be our kid’s first love as well. 🙂

    1. That’s amazing Aditi! I totally agree with getting travelling into your kid’s life from the very beginning. All the best and happy travels with your family 🙂

  8. Love this, the post I released today is exactly the same, how I’ve evolved as a traveler over the years 😀 – Do you ever just sit back and get amazed by just how much you have learnt and changed since you first started to travel?

  9. The more you travel, more your perspective about travelling changes. Its good to know that yours have changed for better. Happy travelling!!

  10. Completely agree with your post. Everyone has a different reason for traveling, and maybe this reason evolves over time. Along with that evolves the research, the planning, the thinking etc. I’m looking forward for my first completely solo trip, because I know it will be a huge step in evolving as a person.

    1. You’ll absolutely love your solo trip, Wallis, I’ve done it a few times now and it’s amazing. Have a blast! Where are you off to?

  11. I think my way of travelling has definitely changed over the last few years – especially recently in the last few months, where I was more open to meeting up with strangers and taking a risk on spending time with someone that I have never met before x

    1. That’s one thing I also struggled with – interacting with strangers. I guess it was when I travelled solo for the first time that I began to get comfortable with that 🙂

  12. I too love the process of planning for a trip. I make lists, hand-drawn maps and photo documents to get myself properly excited. But when it comes to travelling around, I like to just wander and not constrain myself too tightly. I’m definitely getting more into slow travel as time passes.

    1. I couldn’t agree more about not constraining yourself too tightly. With experience, I also realized that sometimes not having anything to do and just strolling around, observing and absorbing your surroundings can be a very rewarding experience.

  13. That’s such a great read and I could not agree more. Over the years, my way of travelling has changed too – I’m not just ticking off main attractions but I’m also interested in what the locals do, I fell in love with all types of food and I do a lot more outdoor activities such as hiking. My boyfriend hated swimming but since we’ve been snorkelling in South America, he can’t get enough 🙂 This shows how travelling can really widen your perspective, too!

    1. I can relate to your experience about the snorkeling bit husband is scared of water but he tried snorkeling in Thailand and although he was afraid to move too far away from the shore, he actually loved it!

    1. I know right, tasting cuisines from all over the world is one of my favorite things about travelling 🙂

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