I am Chandan Sharma, a banking professional from Bangalore. The one thing that makes my heart beat with passion, is travelling. Growing up I always felt like a big fish in a small pond and the middle-class kid in me was quite satisfied. But once I stepped out for higher studies, that’s when the door of opportunities opened up for me. I could see a whole new horizon waiting for me to explore, and that’s where it all began, my passion for travelling. So here’s the story of how, I, a banking professional have travelled to 33 countries in 9 years, and even enjoyed the joy of solo travelling. Read on to find out about my adventures, learnings, challenges from my travel experiences. I have even given some tips to you, fellow travel enthusiasts below.
How My Passion For Travelling Started
As a middle-class kid in India, we always aspire to see the world but the reality is, forget about seeing the world but to come out of your small town also is not possible. Resources are limited, exposure is limited only to what we see on TV. If you see anybody going abroad then the assumption is that person is supremely rich and maybe the luckiest person you ever came across, I was no different when I was a kid in the small town of Gangtok in Sikkim during my junior school days.
Fortune started changing when I took admission in high school, where most of the kids were from a defence family, where kids use to talk about going to Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore for higher studies. For me whatever they used to speak it didn’t make any sense, because until then I had no idea or aspiration to go anywhere outside my town. Gradually I realised that going out of town and studying outside is one of the best things I could do to change my life. Luckily I could get enough grades in high school to convince my parents to send me to a bigger city for higher studies and then I landed in Bangalore for my business management studies.
With my pocket money, I could manage to visit a few nearby places but anything beyond that was still not possible. Three years went in a blink of my eyes and there came “Graduation Day”, big day in our lives, with a degree in hand and all I needed was a perfect job to start my career. It didn’t take much time and I was part of a multinational financial firm. Everyday speaking to clients from various countries was fascinating, but the urge to personally visit was still unfulfilled and the urge was growing day by day. One day my boss came to me and asked, “Chandan do you have a passport?” That one question made me so happy that much before I actually made to flight, I could speak to all my friends about it, all my friends’ circle knew that I am going to travel abroad.
It was a business trip, but for me, it’s my first international trip. Finally, I had all approval and ticket booked, my first flight to Frankfurt, Germany. First time in a foreign land is involved more of wondering about anything and everything than actually enjoying it. After spending about a month, I was back in India again. I wanted to make more and more trips but there was no business requirement and I didn’t have enough savings by then to go on my own, and honestly, I didn’t have the courage either to take any foreign trip on my own.
Luck Favours The Brave
Many time luck plays an amazing role in shaping our life and, you get what you always wanted from the least expected source. A similar thing happened to me, I got an offer to work with another financial firm from their office in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I just wanted to visit abroad and now I had an offer to work abroad full time. At that point in time, there is nothing else I could have wished for. In a few months’ time, I was in Kuala Lumpur, and soon as I settled down, I started exploring Malaysia with my new friends there. Malaysia has a few of the exquisite beaches and I visited many of them. And now it was time for me to explore countries nearby. Did you know Malaysia Declares Country Visa-Free Entry For Indians In 2020?
Working in Malaysia gave me a decent income that I could afford a trip to nearby countries in South East Asia and booked my first-holiday trip abroad. And one choice was obvious, Thailand. An all-boys trip to Thailand was my first-holiday trip and to my surprise, Thailand was much more beautiful than what it’s usually perceived from outside. Amazing beaches, vibrant nightlife and delicious food all available at reasonable rates with the best quality.
It didn’t take much time for me to plan the next trip soon as I was back from Thailand and this time it was Seam Reap, Cambodia. The famous temple of AngkorWat was gorgeous and one of its kind to visit. When night falls Pub Street turned to be a place where one should be. One mug of beer in just about $50 cent, probably much cheaper than buying a bottle of water. While drinking a beer I meet another traveller who changed my life completely as a traveller.
The Thought That Changed My Life
I met a slim tall lady from Poland and I asked her what she does in Poland. She told me she worked as a waitress in Poland, and whatever money she earned in those six months, she used it to travel the world for the next six months. For me, this was the least expected answer at that point in time, it was so fascinating that somebody works for six months and travels for another six months, by doing a very basic job. Immediately next thought in my mind was why can’t I do that? As a waitress if she can travel so much than with my decent income working as a finance executive I can definitely afford more than her, I may not be able to travel for six months but to visit one country in six months shouldn’t be a challenge at all. That’s when it was encrypted in my mind that I have to travel to one country at least once in six months.
Soon I was back from my Cambodia holiday, I made sure to make my next plan to Singapore in less than six months time. Singapore ultra-modern country was a totally different experience then what I had in Thailand or Cambodia. But life does not go smooth always, it has its own twist and turns and I cannot be an exception for sure. For some reason still unknown I decided to quit my job in Malaysia and come back to India and my only worry at that time was, going back to India means lesser income and lesser income means lesser travel which I was in no mood to reduce it by then.
Exploring The World With My Friend
Landed back to Bangalore again started a new job as expected with lesser income than what it was in the previous job in Kuala Lumpur. But by then I was already in a traveller mode so even with the lesser income I didn’t want to lessen my travel. Luckily a college friend of mine whom I knew for years had developed a similar passion and we decided we will travel together to as many places as possible. With two people together we could plan well and manage cost well below an average cost to visit those places. Together in the next three years, we travelled a number of countries starting, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Egypt and also our first holiday trip to Europe covering, Vienna, Prague, Budapest, Krakow and Bratislava and many other cities within in India. Since we both were in different job profiles it wasn’t always possible to travel together, and then started a time where if our timing matches we travel together and if it doesn’t it will be solo travel.
Solo Travel Experience
My first solo trip started with the Philippines, with its white sandy beaches was a perfect choice to start with, soon it was followed by Indonesia, and Turkey. I also planned my solo trip to Europe again covering, France, Portugal, Spain and Italy I could also manged to see Bahrain with my 24 hours transit visa. If you too want to try your hand at solo travelling, then here are 5 Handy Tips For Solo Travellers
By now I and people around me already knew that I have to travel every six months no matter what the condition is, no specific country in mind, just pick some random country where I get a good deal for air tickets and just book it. Later I visited Taiwan and again back to Europe covering the northern part which was left out in my last two visits, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Finland as well as Belgium and Netherlands was in the list this time. When it comes to solo travelling, remember Solo Travel Makes Sense Whether You’re Employed, Married Or Full Of Social Commitments
Challenges I Face Solo Travelling
The main challenge which I face while travelling alone is maintaining travel budgets without compromising safety and cleanliness. It’s always hard to get decent accommodation in the city centre which is reasonably priced and hygienic. And the only way to deal with it is, to look for an option like hostels where you tend to meet likeminded people, the cost is reasonable and generally safe. I usually make use of ratings and reviews available online before I book it. I also make sure that while making travel plans I do some research on what are the common crimes in those cities, that helps me to be aware of the potential scams that might cross my path there. But thanks to the challenges I face and overcome as a solo traveller, I have become more responsible and independent. It has also widened my thought processes and enabled me to look at places from a different perspective.
Countries I Have Visited
I have visited Germany, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Macau, Vietnam, Philippines, Egypt, Indonesia, Czech Republic, Austria, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Qatar, Turkey, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Bahrain, Taiwan, Belgium, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Lithuania, Netherlands, Vatican City and ofcourse India.
Tips For Travel Enthusiasts
1. Don’t wait for someone to join you, pack your bag and start travelling.
2. Be flexible with your travel date if you keep your date fixed you may not get a good deal.
3. Make sure you try local delicacy wherever you go.
4. Keep a pack of basic medicine handy.
5. Book your ticket at least 3 months in advance so you get enough time to do your research about that place.
Now when I look back and take a count of last few years, I see that I crossed across 33 countries covering many big cities and small towns, some were ultra-modern, some were very remote, some were popular for its historic significance while others for their modern marvel. Every city and country had a different experience to offer and every visit of mine made me even more tempted to visit more and more in days to come. Many people ask me how do I manage to travel so much between my full-time job? My answer to them is, if you plan well and really want to travel then it’s not so hard, everyone has the same number of days in a year, it all depends on us how we want to make use of those days, either we can eat sleep and repeat or we can get up, plan and travel. The only way to know the world is by seeing it yourself.
To know more about my travel adventures click here
This article was contributed to Curly Tales by Chandan Sharma. If you have an article or similar experience to share, do write to us on firstname.lastname@example.org