Travelling around the world and seeing the wonders the world has to offer.
Isn’t that something everybody wants? We Indians are no different, at least people like you and me want to see more of what the world has to offer. So, we make a list of countries we want to visit. We browse through different websites, compare rates and research in-depth about how to travel on a budget to different countries. We discuss with our friends about how you should plan a trip to this place and that. But that is where it stops.
It ends within the confines of a coffee shop where you discuss with your friend about how nice it would be just quit your job and become a globetrotter.
The word globetrotter has such a nice ring to it. It sounds so exotic that it makes you want to drop everything then and there, pick up your passport and travel until you drop. But let me break your bubble. Indians is, at least most of us, not globetrotters and were not made that way. No matter how much we talk about quitting and love to travel, at least verbally, we are afraid to take the risk. We would rather be in the grind than give up everything to travel and learn. This is because for us, travelling is a luxury, which could be easily traded off.
They are not without reasons. If you had extra money, it would make sense to save in a bank or invest in gold or property. But travelling? What a waste of money. That how people from most middle class families view travelling. Being brought up in such environment we have always been told that travelling something you do not do very often. I was not an exception.
I was born in a middle-class family where both parents were working. I have not traveled much. Until few years ago, travelling the world was not even in my agenda. Sure, I dreamt about going to Paris and take a picture with Eiffel Tower in the background. That was one greatest wishes I had when I was a kid. I would have been satisfied with that. But not anymore.
I, like thousands of other Indians, go through travels blogs and make a huge wishlist. I sigh over blog posts of people who have quit their career just to travel. I envy them. I promise to myself that I will try to travel more. But with next business meeting at work the promise is forgotten. I remember it only when I meet my friends, where we talk about how great it would be to quit your job and just travel. In the end we decide that it is not for us and go on with our jobs.
But why is that even though we wish it and have a means we do not travel as much as we want to? It is because, like I mentioned before, for majority of Indians saving up money comes first and money spent on travel is deemed unnecessary. So people put it off for times like post retirement. But there is more to this than just our upbringing.
Unlike Western culture, taking more than a week off from work is not acceptable at all. Westerners have the affordability, accessibility and means to travel around the world. They have flexible work timings that entitles them to take enough time off work to see that world. Indians of course do not have the luxury. With an Indian passport and rupee, our options are limited. Also, when we are salaried employees and the company you are working for is so stringent when it comes to vacation, where the hell will you get time to travel.
When I was working in an IT company, getting 3-4 days is such a big headache. You need to answer so many questions from your boss even if it is your paid leave you are availing. When I met a Canadian, the topic of travel came up and he asked me, quite genuinely, why cannot I take my own vacation time off?
It was hard to explain to him how company leave policy works. I had to tell him that even if they give you 20 days off in a year, employees are not encouraged to take more than a week off continuously. It shows up in appraisal and may affect your pay. We just cannot risk our careers so we end up toeing the line. No wonder Indians are not known as great travellers.
But most of all it is our inherent hesitation when it comes to travelling. When I travelled recently to Europe, I was asked all sorts of questions. People reactions ranged from complete awe to utter disbelief that I would spend so much money travelling. I was dubbed ‘a heiress’, which I was obviously not, for being able to travel with the money I saved just for the purpose. This is not how we Indians’ mind work. We love to travel for official purposes, when someone else is sponsoring. But when it is your money, you always put it off.
So what am I trying to say. Yes I understand that with our currency and Indian passport, there are not many places that are affordable for us. But there are some, where we can obviously go if we wish for it. So instead of making excuses, if you really want to travel I’m saying you should just do. May be not to Europe and the US. But there are so many places in India and nearby countries like Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka you can visit at an affordable.
Well, that is if you really want to. So happy travelling!