1) Tell us something about yourself.
I am a believer in God, and the purpose of my life is to do everything only to glorify Him. I wear multiple hats. My day-job is to do risk analysis for a leading investment bank. However, my core identity is based on travel and writing. I blog at Oindrila Goes Footloose and share my daily travel stories on my Instagram gallery – https://www.instagram.com/oindrilade/. I am a pioneer “runcationer” – I design vacations around my marathons in various places. Also, I enjoy interacting with people and getting to know more about their lives, cultures, habits and thought-processes.
2) What’s your favourite holiday destination in India and why?
Asking a true traveler to pick her favourite holiday destination is akin to asking a mother to choose among her children. I have loved every place that I’ve seen in India so far. Still, if I had to be a stepmom to all destinations except one, I’d say the Himalayas are the dearest to me.
I did the Har Ki Dun trek in the Himalayas of Uttarakhand earlier this year, and that trip exposed a lot of my weaknesses and fears to me. It was a beautiful experience learning to cope with extreme temperatures and living without basic amenities (which we take for granted in our city-lives). The sights I saw each day were stupendous!
3) What did take you into blogging?
I have enjoyed writing ever since I was taught to write. From writing essays and poems in school to short stories as an adult, I have thoroughly relished the journey. Blogging was a natural progression from the paper mode to electronic mode. I started blogging in my college days and found my niche in travel blogging. I started my travel blog 4 years ago, and have been sharing social updates on my Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/OindrilaGoesFootloose/) too.
4) Did you ever have any inhibitions that your travels have helped you vanquish with time?
I used to be apprehensive about a lot of things – talking to strangers, thefts, pick-pocketing, racism, availability of vegetarian food, etc. Travelling has changed my erstwhile myopic thinking and expanded my horizons. I’m much bolder now (I’ve done solo hikes in the Alps); I easily make friends and am excited to talk to and live with total strangers (I have tried couchsurfing multiple times now); I have learnt some smart ways to keep my things safe and arrange for backup money in case the need arises; I’ve mostly found a lot of help and smiling faces in every foreign land; and, I’ve found interesting and delicious vegetarian food options in the unlikeliest of places!
5) How do you manage your fund while travelling? Is there any strategy for the same?
The money I carry on my trips is split into cash and non-cash. I always keep enough local currency in cash before I head abroad. I also stash the notes in multiple bags. It’s a good idea to keep 3-4 envelopes with you, divide your money and store a portion in each packet. Hide one envelope between your clothes in your suitcase/rucksack. Hide another in your daypack, and keep one more in your pocket/ money-belt / waist-pouch.
Other than cash, I carry a forex card loaded with enough amount of the local currency. I also carry a couple of credit cards (in case I run out of money when I’m on a shopping spree 😉 ). It’s a good idea to leave the details of all your cards with somebody at home (or someone you trust) so that you can get your card(s) blocked if they get stolen.
6) Tell us 10 things, a traveller should have in their bag?
10 things that you should not leave your house without:-
- Identity proof (or a copy)
- Credit and debit/forex cards (much lighter than bulky coins and paper-money)
- Cellphone with charger and earphones
- Sunscreen lotion (doubles as a regular moisturizer at night)
- Lip balm with sun protection
- Sunglasses (not required for a night out, obviously)
- Sanitary-napkins / tampons / menstrual cup (If you’re male, it doesn’t hurt to have these as you can help your female friends in emergencies.)
7) Do you have any specific experience that you think every traveller should be aware of?
I have so many experiences that I want to share with the world! This is why I keep a blog and regularly tweet (https://twitter.com/OindrilaDe). I’ll share the most recent experience of having trouble using the German keyboard.
Earlier this month, I was in Munich and I had to use a computer at the airport to print the airport bus ticket. (It’s very strange that the Lufthansa Airport Bus doesn’t accept e-copies in a country so technologically advanced!) It was a nightmare trying to operate the computers at the information centre, as all of their keyboards had German typeface. I could not even enter my password properly. Even though I have worked in Catalonia before (and on Spanish keyboards), I was fumbling with yet another new type of keyboard. I started panicking as I’d have to pop another 50c in the coin-slot to use the internet beyond 15 minutes. I finally gave up and got myself a U-bahn day-pass, which was so much simpler to buy (from their ticket dispensing machines).
This experience was a reminder that it’s always a good idea to have printouts even if you have everything online.
8) Other than travelling and blogging is there anything else that you enjoy doing?
Besides travelling and writing, I take pleasure in tasting local cuisines, trying out adventure sports, long distance running, reading, speaking in public (I’m a Toastmaster), and having in depth conversations with interesting people. Very recently, I’ve taken to cooking, and I get a nice kick out of it.
9) Do you have a bucket regarding the places you want to go in future? If so then what’s there on it?
I would put the entire world on my bucket-list of places to visit! 🙂 In the next few years, I’d like to see North American countries and a little bit of Africa. Within India, I would love to explore the north eastern states.
10) Please advice the newbie travellers some of your advantageous tips.
For those who have just started travelling or are thinking of taking the plunge into the world of wanderlust, my first advice is to smile. You are going to cherish every bit of the world you see, especially if you explore nature!
While you will receive a lot of help from locals and fellow travelers on your way, don’t forget to pay it forward. The next time you see anybody in need, extend your helping hand. Be a responsible traveller – follow the local rules, keep your space clean, and be sensitive to the culture of those you meet.
Finally, be a little courageous and try something new. It could be a new dish or a new activity or a new way of doing what you have always done another way. Use travel as a tool to grow.