How do I travel so much?

This is the question posed to me by many friends. They are surprised that how I can find time to travel with all family commitments. True, it is not an easy task if you are married and have kids. The flexibility of bachelor life cannot be expected but that does not mean that people have to stay indoors. In the subsequent sections, I would try to explain how I manage to handle my travels.

By the way, contrary to the title of the post, I do not consider that I travel a lot but that perception is built.

Chaya and Tanu in Andaman Islands - December 2014
Three things are fundamental for travel. They are interest to travel, health and wealth in that order. If person or the partner is not inclined towards travel and to experience new places, there is no point in looking at other points mentioned in this post. In worst case, if one is not interested to travel, at least allows partner to travel with friends/solo. Willingness to travel is critical. So, first try to convince oneself and/or partner and then rest are ‘manageable’.  

I must say that I am lucky on this front.

Tanu in Rajasthan - December 2013

This is a big issue for many people. There are still people who believe that leaves are there to encash!! People also consider that taking leave amounts to doing less work in Office!! I do not know from where this thought process has born but have seen many people with such school of thought.

My calculation is simple. Let us consider the amount of days I can get off from Official duty.
Weekends – 104 days
Holidays – 10 days
Privilege leave – 20 days
Christmas shut down – 5 days

That puts total to 139 days which is about 38% of days in a year. Isn’t it amazing? With this math, even a person dedicated for outdoor life can only travel max 2.5 times than an Office person. Of course the mathematical calculations can give a false picture but the point is that there is enough time for everyone to travel.

I cannot travel on all these days as I have to keep other commitments. There will be family functions to attend; festivals to participate, paper work to complete which eats up the free days. That is normal. In 2014 I travelled for 58 days utilizing about 50% of total free days available. In that 58 days, 30 days was on long travel (longer than a week), rest being done on a weekend.

Annapurna circuit trek - October 2013

I make a list of places that I want to visit beginning of the year. It is not a detailed agenda but good enough for me to plan my leaves. Weekend trips are executed in an ad hoc manner but long trips get planned well in advance. Any long trip plan starts with booking a flight ticket. Usually, flight tickets are cheaper when booked early. Since my daughter goes to school, the longer durations family trips can only be planned during April-May, Navarathri or Christmas. These are peak seasons and planning well in advance saves lot of money. Also booking flight tickets puts pressure to execute the trip. Else, I will lose out money on cancellation!!

I also go for couple of trips every year with my friends. That is usually during June-October period.

Beginning of the year, I send my leave plan to my Manager so that he/she can plan activities during my absence. I always had their support!! Ensure that things do not get messed up during the absence.

Chattisgarh - December 2012

Cost – Domestic travel
All my domestic travels are self sponsored.

Once I had to cancel my trip to Ladakh after booking flight ticket. I realized later that the costs were too much to handle. I learnt one lesson from that experience. Plan properly keeping budget in mind. Allocate certain amount of money for travel each year. The amount allocated does not matter but once I allocate funds for that year, I know what I can do with that money. Other way is to plan the places and then allocate budget.

Other than the flight price, lot of other parameters dictates the cost of the trip. They are the mode of transport, kind of hotels to stay, food we eat and luxury. Sometimes, location itself will be expensive.  For example, there is little scope to handle cost for Kailash Manasa Sarovar trip. It is expensive, period. We can only control flight ticket price.

Kailash-Manasa Sarovar - July 2012
Cost – International travel
Most of my international trips are part of Official travel. I utilize the time by seeing places during weekend. Travel outside South East Asia and Middle East will be very expensive. It gets super expensive to travel with family to Europe/America/Africa/Australia. I haven’t yet travelled outside Asian continent with my family. It needs better planning in terms of cost.

Budapest - October 2012

Final words

In spite of all these, there are times when one cannot travel. Priorities differ during the course of life. For me travelling is a hobby. I do not know why I travel and what kind of traveller I am!! I go to religious places, treks, touristy spots and less visited areas. So, I do not belong to any “type” of traveller. May be I am still trying to discover myself!!

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