“Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before” —- Dalai Lama

I love travelling, exploring new places, so I couldn’t agree more.

So it is vacation time, like so many people, we also decided to go on a short holiday.  As it always happens, the responsibility of planning and executing the holiday falls in my lap. As I started searching for that perfect place to go for a holiday, the brief was clear – not too far, not too expensive, not too hot and close to nature (added by me). Well, that left us with fewer destination options to choose from.

I started my destination search on the various travel sites. The one grouse I have with the travel portals is that they make all places look so beautiful, you want to go to all of them.

Once we zeroed in on the destination, the next hunt is the place to stay and that is a tough decision to make too. There are so many options to choose from. Again thanks to all the various online travel portals, it can be quite confusing and but at the same time very helpful. Finally, after a lot of reading, checking reviews, I zeroed in on the place to stay.

As we were landing at the Kozhikode airport, we could see lush green tree tops all around the airport, such a welcome change from Mumbai. That sight itself gave me a feeling that I was going to have a good holiday. We got in our cab to go Wayanad, it was early morning, the town was just waking up and I told the driver to switch off the air conditioner so that I could open the windows to soak in the fresh morning air, sights of the town & smells of the new place. The burning woods, kids going to school, elderly sipping on their morning tea while reading newspaper, all of it. Luckily for us, the weather was pleasant. Kerala is so blessed with nature, to top it is a prosperous state, we saw beautiful mansions, bungalows all through our route. Not to forget the mosques, churches & temples.

I love road travel, I believe that’s the best way to explore new places. And we had a wonderful experience even though it was short. Right from eating local food like appams, puttu, meen, chicken, Kootu curry, driving down to Kabini through the beautiful jungle roads, watching the kids run around their village homes, waving at us in all their innocence, seeing farmers working hard on their fields, watching elephants straying onto the road. Each of it was memorable experience.

The deceptively quiet yet full of life jungle is altogether a different experience. Each leaf, tree, animal, bird, countless creepy crawlies, each different from the other, yet co-existing so beautifully. That is nature at its beauty best, it never ceases to amaze me.

Well, I am drifting from the moot point, it was not about my holiday experience!

As I sifted thru the very many options, one thing was clear, it is not cheap to holiday in India, especially during the holiday season! Firstly, due to lack of time, we have shifted to travelling by air, and secondly hotels charge you double the normal rates being the peak season. And above all, as luck would have it, we always seem to end up choosing that hotel which is among the top 10 hotels. So obviously, adding the travel, stay, food cost, sight-seeing, it can be quite a pocketful.

So then, how can we go to newer and sometimes farther places every year!

One option is that we go in off season and avail discounted rates. May not be possible all the time.

Second option is to have a more long term and sustainable plan i.e. have a travel fund.

Just like you build a fund for medical, education, marriage, house, you should incorporate travel also as one of the financial goals.

Build a travel fund that allows you to have a domestic or international holiday as you wish. Generally, it is seen that whenever we want to go on a holiday, we remove the money from our savings or use the bonus money to meet the travel expenses. But once you start to invest small amounts every month for travel, a systematic investment for travel, over a period of time you will see that your fund also contributes towards your travel. Reduce that one lunch or dinner outing every month and invest that money for the travel fund.  So in a way, you may be travelling in the peak season but at discounted rates!

So do what it takes, but travel you must!

I once read somewhere – “The purpose of life , after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience. “ Eleanor Roosevelt.