Our vacations are meant to give us joy, leave us smiling in every photograph, and generally just leave us with nothing but happy memories. Of course, we seek that great escape for a break from our daily grind. It’s why we travel. Even those who are lucky enough to go somewhere exotic on work.
Is it enough to make us ‘happy travellers’? Things can and sometimes do go wrong on our travels — no matter how exotic the destination. For us Indians, things are currently going very wrong with our poor Indian rupee getting poorer by the day. Nowadays, we can’t possibly be string the words “happy” and “travel” if our ideal vacation is flying abroad.
But is an international holiday all that is enough to make us “happy travellers”? We vacation within India or go on weekend getaways any chance we get. Goa has often made us all happy on many occasions. But if there’s one growing concern in India when it comes to travel, it’s safety. Not money, not infrastructure, not lack of electricity, but fear for one’s personal safety. I could joke about we would be Happy Travellers if we came back home safe, but it’s not funny anymore. We dread to travel to certain less-travelled regions, and even some popular tourist spots these days, purely because of creeps there out to scam you or worse — harm us physically. It’s been even worse for female travellers — Indian or foreign. It’s these basic issues over safety that has hurt India’s tourism image very badly.
Not so happy now reading that, huh? Truth hurts, but it’s something shameful we Indians have to live with until radical social changes are made.
Until then, what can make us happy travellers here in India itself? For one: great company. More often than not, more than the destination, my most fun travels have been purely because of the company I had. I remember the drive to Gandikota, a yet-to-be popular place in Andhra Pradesh, six hours drive from Bangalore. There wasn’t a whole lot to see, but I still fondly remember the laughs I had with my good travel buddies both on the drive there and at night over drinks. We didn’t even get to eat proper food there because of how remote and under-developed the region is, but we still remember it as one of our best road trips. It makes me happy every time I think about it.
“It’s about the Journey, not the Destination“. It’s a popular saying — for good reason. How many of us had happy travels purely because of the fun we had on train rides, or bus rides on excursions during our college years? Whether it was the strangers we met on these journeys we could end up trusting and having fun with, or the stop-overs in the middle of nowhere to chit-chat over a cup of piping hot chai.
Many a times, it was the journey that got us there that was more fun than what we did once we got there. People too. I’ve made many friends or came across several “characters” that brought a smile to my face (often due to their drunkeness :)) and kept me entertained on my travels. Some of those friendships blossomed even after the trip was over, and those that didn’t still made for a memorable note in our travel diary.
So the next time you embark on a “yatra,” remember that even if the destination may not sound as exciting, how you get there, the people you meet on your journey or the friends you go with can in the end, still make up for everything. And it’s these experiences that make us Happy Travellers.
P.S.: But if you’re still eyeing that foreign vacation, join me in my prayers for the Indian rupee to strengthen against the dollar. *chants*Hmmmmmmmmmm…*chants*