From Egypt To Artic Circle, This 82-Year-Old Grandpa Has Travelled To 90 Countries To Fulfil His Dad’s Dream

by Sanjana Shenoy
From Egypt To Artic Circle, This 82-Year-Old Grandpa Has Travelled To 90 Countries To Fulfil His Dad’s Dream

Visiting Egypt’s Pyramids of Giza, going on an ostrich ride in South Africa, catching the Northern Lights in Norway to the Arctic Circle, this is not a wishlist. These are in fact adventures and experiences straight from the travel journal of 82-year-old Mumbai-based Arun Narayan Sabnis, lovingly called Ajoba ( grandfather) by ‘Gone Game’ actor, Shriya Pilgaonkar. Arun Sabnis has travelled to 90 countries on 7 continents plus and the whole of India since 2021. His goal is to complete 100 countries within the shortest possible time. And this is not just a number or target, but his father’s dream which he is proud to fulfil.

82-Year-Old Arun Sabnis Started Travelling To Fulfil His Father’s Dreams

It all started in 1962, when Arun Sabnis, a boy in his 20s, after completing his MA in psychology, visited his home in Nashik. He went through his father’s cupboard against his wishes and that’s when he came across old travel pamphlets and postcards of Kolkata and Hyderabad. Arun also saw a black and white picture postcard book of Pompei. At that time, his father returned from work and caught him peeking through his things.

Picture Credits: ScoopWhoop

But instead of shouting at him, he gently asked him what he was doing. Arun’s father then told him about his dream to travel and see the world, and how he couldn’t afford it as he had to earn for his five siblings. At that time, Arun Sabnis saw a very different side to his own otherwise “strict disciplinarian and authoritarian father”. He wanted to help his father fulfil his dream to visit Pompei. Alas, his father passed away a year later. That day, Arun Sabnis vowed to travel and see the world through his father’s eyes and pay tribute to the wonderful man who wished to travel.

Picture Credits: ScoopWhoop

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Completing His Family Responsibilities & Giving Travel Priority

While Arun at the tender age of 23 decided to fulfil his father’s wish, travelling the world certainly wasn’t an easy feat. He revealed to The Better India that for the first 10-12 years of his career, he was a psychology and logic studies teacher in a school. From there, he went on to become an estate manager, marking manager and personal manager. He worked at CIDCO (City and Industrial Development Corporation of Maharashtra) for 25 years and retired at the age of 55 in 1995.

Picture Credits: The Better India

Arun fulfilled his family responsibilities of marrying his daughter, actress Supriya Pilgaonkar and his son, Sumit Sabnis, a pilot. After completing his family responsibilities, Arun dedicated his life to peacefully fulfilling his father’s wish, travelling. With his son’s pilot perks that include parent’s travel allowance and his own consultancy fees and dividends invested in Mutual funds and SIPs, Arun Narayan Sabnis became a full-time globetrotter.

Picture Credits: The Better India

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Preparing For Trips Through Financial Planning & Encyclopedias

When it comes to planning for his trips, Arun Sabnis is an avid reader of encyclopedias. He gathered information about countries, cultures, history and more from the British Encyclopedia. To maximise his experience, he researched thoroughly, made notes on his readings before he visited a destination. In this way, he often had more knowledge than the tour guides themselves. His granddaughter, Shriya Pilgaonkar vouches for this that her ajoba was 100 per cent more informative than tour guides.  It was only in the year 2006 when he became computer literate and started gathering knowledge online.

Picture Credits: The Better India

Apart from the thorough research, Arun usually aims to cover a number of countries in back to back trips. He practices early morning yoga ensures he gets vegetarian food at all times and never misses on his medicines. Shriya revealed that her Ajoba meticulously maintains travel diaries, where he writes his travel experiences in absolute detail. This motivated her to also take up journaling and she continues to do this. A strong pillar of good financial planning also helped him tremendously to fulfil his bucket list.

Picture Credits: The Better India

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Travelling To 90 Countries In 7 Continents

The 82-year-old grandfather has a bucket full of adventures and experiences that have taught him valuable life lessons. While his domestic travels commenced early in the 80s when he went on Kailash Manasarovar Yatra and trekked over Om Parvat, his international escapades started a little later. Arun witnessed a powerful volcano in the quake-prone Iceland, a stress-free environment in Bhutan, jaw-dropping architecture in Russia, the historically rich Egypt, robust New Zealand and Norway, among many others.

Picture Credits: Story Pick

While Arun’s wife, Manjiri doesn’t usually travel with him, the couple celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in England.  He also took to Instagram to sweetly post a photograph of their trip to Switzerland, his favourite destination.


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A post shared by Arun Narayan Sabnis (@arunnsabnis)

And yes, Arun Sabnis finally fulfilled his father’s dream of visiting Pompeii, with his granddaughter Shriya. It was an emotional and heartwarming experience for the duo, where two generations held hands and took forward a family’s legacy.

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Facing Life-Threatening Challenges In Antarctica

According to Arun, his trip to Antarctica was one of the most unforgettable trips due to the challenges that laid ahead. In 2011, he went on one of the riskiest oceanic cruises in the world. While most of his co-passengers were terribly sea-sick during the journey, Arun thought he would nearly die. He even had many nightmares of people searching for his dead body in the ocean.  But once he reached his destination, Antarctica’s penguins, whales and ice-covered lands made everything seem worthwhile. And while the thrill of this super risky 60-hour return voyage from Antarctica brings back the chills, this has never stopped him from continuing his passion for travel, adventurously.

Picture Credits: Shriya Pilgaonkar/ Tripoto

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Inspiring Everyone While Aspiring To Hit A Travel Century

Having travelled to 90 countries on 7 continents, coupled with the whole of India, Ajoba or Arun’s story is nothing short of inspiring. His zest for life and travel all started with a simple wish to fulfil his father’s wish. Today, he aspires to complete his goal of visiting 100 countries in the shortest span of time, since he is 82 years of age.

Picture Credits: Shriya Pilgaonkar/ Tripoto

With Siberia and Mongolia being the next destinations on his agenda and Switzerland being a country he can’t ever get enough of, there’s no stopping him. In Arun’s words, his thrilling travel experiences have generated a feeling of submission, to nature. A feeling that we owe something to nature and we are nothing but a small part of this earth. And that’s a beautiful lesson for all of us. So, here’s hoping and wishing our Ajoba, an ever-youthful globetrotter proudly hits a travel century.