‘Surprise Me’ trips

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The days of walking into your local travel agent’s office or meticulously planning an epic vacation days in advance may be over.

Most of the travel agencies today want to specialize in planning specific types of vacations, including one of the industry’s biggest current trends: Surprise trips or Blind trips.

If you’re unfamiliar, a surprise trip is one where travelers provide some information to an agency, and the agency then books travel and accommodations without the travelers having any idea what destination they will soon be visiting.

It’s a perfect opportunity for spontaneous or indecisive people, or people who don’t want to do any of the work that goes into planning a grand adventure.

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This wild new travel trend has gained serious attention in the last several months especially with Insta followers who are up for all and any kind of adrenaline adventure, with searches for such agents having gone up by almost 200%.

Since then, buzz around surprise travel has continued to circulate, but those interested in this one-of-a-kind vacation experience may not know where to start.

There are quite a few such agents in India who can personalize your trip, with the destination remaining a secret until the journey begins. All you have to do is provide a brief or complete a short survey, where you can key in all your travel preferences, along with the budget, the accommodation you prefer, and the dates.

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Usually the itinerary, is kept flexible, in accordance with what the person wishes to do.

While most cross-India trips are relatively easier to plan, the challenge is in planning trips abroad. Visa requirements mean that the destination doesn’t remain a surprise. Which is why, most travel companies plan trips to countries such as Thailand, Bali, and Maldives that allow visa on arrival.

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To keep building on the surprise, these companies send emails and envelopes a week before the trip commences, with little hints as to what lies ahead: the weather at the destination, packing essentials and some go so far as to send people curated playlists, or books or movie recommendations based on the destination.

Half the fun of reaching a destination is playing the guessing game weeks before the vacation actually materializes. It’s all about stepping out of your comfort zone

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Imagine this – a tempo traveller stops in front of you and asks you to get in. You have no idea where you’re headed to, but you have given your consent to being ‘taken’ beforehand.

Ultimately, there is an element of excitement in giving away control and being open to whatever surprises life — or the travel company, to be more accurate — throws at you. Would you like to be led on this way?

Do reply in the comments section.

-M

 

 

 

PC:- TNW;USAToday:Myturntotravel:WallstreetJournal

Incredible India

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The sun filtered in through the windows. Far in the distance, the temple bells mingled with the call for Namaaz at the mosques. A new dawn in the cramped streets and lanes of India is coming alive.

India,  the oldest civilization in the world, including 4 major religions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism.

India, a unique destination, which offers a mystic experience of combining business with leisure and networking with tourism.

India, a kaleidoscope of spirituality, philosophy, culture, heritage, architecture, science, and technology.

India, a country which does not believe in the term “personal space.”

India, where you’ll find traffic jams, cows walking the busy street, wedding party’s dancing in the midst of the traffic, and a political parade all happening on the same narrow street .

India, overwhelmingly diverse. It’s people multi lingual. It’s food assorted, lip smacking and extremely tasty.

India, a melting pot of tradition with modernism, offering a unique blend of the old with the new. Welcoming each tourist with warm hospitality into its rich tapestry of culture without any discrimination of race, religion, caste or colour. ‘Athithi Devo Bhava’ ( the guest is God) a slogan that we follow with our hearts and minds

From the mountains to the beaches, from the forts to the palaces and everything in between, there is so much to explore, discover, and see here.

India: Incredible. Intriguing. Historic. Beautiful. Mesmerizing. Mystifying.

 

 

 

Satisfying my wanderlust -one step at a time

Whenever I travel to any new city, first thing I do after checking in is to frantically figure out my way around town, the use of public transport if any, and  how do I buy and use the oyster/subway cards or on what side of the street do I catch the bus on. But I am always utterly delighted when I discover that I just need my own two feet.

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So, I just want to say a big thank you to some of the world’s walkable cities -I am pleased to meet you, and appreciate you for the fact that you allow me to explore your beauty all on my own.  I love getting lost on your cobblestone streets and quaint bazaars. I love watching the street performers and stop by to listen to them singing or playing funky music on the guitar. I appreciate the quiet privacy I get even when sitting on a busy street bench, enjoying my Gelato and people watching (Something I can never do in Delhi).

Walkable towns and cities offer so much more in terms of sightseeing, something a bus or train ride can never lay claim to. But I have to warn you that not all cities are well suited to pedestrians (I’m looking at you, Los Angeles), and offering my utmost respect for those people that prefer to get around on foot (I’m looking at you New Yorkers).

I’m amazed at just how many miles I walk by the end of my trip (always forget to turn on the app on my phone) and the excitement of exploring a new city always trumps the exhaustion of a long day on my feet.

 While I may not do enough justice by listing out all those cities here, there are some of the few here I have had the opportunity to explore on foot and are just fantastic to walk around.

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New York

This one literally takes the cake. I am amazed at how much walking I can do in NYC even if I do not want to do all of the touristy things. I always look at Google maps and the subway app before I venture out and work out exactly where my must-sees are, in relation to each other. I feel grouping things geographically is by far the best way to maximize my time and minimise unnecessary walking. Using the subway does get you pretty close to most of the sights, such as Highline and Brooklyn Bridge, but exploring all of New York City takes more than a subway ride. Around Central Park, Times Square, the Empire State Building, and Rockefeller Center it is much easier to walk the blocks exploring this frantic city as you go by.

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Philadelphia

Consistently ranked as one of the country’s most walkable cities, Philadelphia is ripe with colorful neighborhoods, great buildings, and cultural sites to explore. Seemingly a world away from Philadelphia’s colonial sites, the South Philly section has a rich history of its own. Cheese, chocolate, spice, and olive oil stands are plentiful at the famous outdoor market, which is open daily and is America’s largest.

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Boston

Smaller when compared to New York City, Boston has its own charm coupled with  elegant neighbourhoods, historic streets, and American landmarks from the Back Bay to Beacon Hill and  the Freedom Trail. Newbury Street known for its trendy shopping, Copley Square for its beautiful open square and the Boston Public Library and Trinity Church give a cool vibe to this city. The Boston Public Garden one of the loveliest green spaces in the city also has one of the most photographed statues — the Make Way for Ducklings sculpture. The North End is a captivating, lively quarter, with its many Italian restaurants and picturesque streets that transport you back in time.

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Washington, DC

One of the best features of Washington, D.C., is its walkability. Not only are many of its major sites and attractions grouped together on the National Mall, but the city is a series of true neighborhoods knitted together, easily traversed by foot. Whether it’s historic or cultural, food- or monument-centric, watching the cherry blossoms in full bloom or taking a tour of the memorials by moonlight, DC has many things to offer its tourists.

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Vancouver

Vancouver is popularly known as the ‘walker’s paradise’, all thanks to the pedestrian way finding maps that encourage a person to walk through the city. Among the most famous walks, False Creek to Granville Island takes the front position where we would stop by and shop at the Public Market for locally grown fresh produce. Downtown Vancouver, Gastown, Stanley Park and the Buchart Gardens which is an easily reachable place from the downtown Vancouver adds to the list.

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Venice, Italy

Probably the originator of the “getting lost” in Europe mentality, (which I have yet to feel) Venice is the ideal place to explore on foot.   Of course, a gondola ride along the canals is a wonderful treat; however, the true magic can be found in the streets along the canals.  Walking on the Rialto square and around St Mark’s square, you will experience the locals going about their daily business shadowed by the city’s historic structures.

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London, UK

London is one of the most foot-friendly cities in the world and one of my favourite too. Its bridges and the London Eye (on a clear sunny day) provide some of the best views in London. Central London has most of the landmark locations which are closer to each other. The City Visitor Trail also known as “the Square Mile” a guided walk maps a route through the heart of the City, taking you past a range of famous attractions on a stroll through the historic heart of the capital to see St Paul’s Cathedral, Guildhall, the Bank of England, Mansion House, the Monument, the Tower of London and Tower Bridge – along with a host of City churches, like the famous St Mary-le-Bow.

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Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Amsterdam’s flat, compact, and lively streets make the city an ideal place to explore on foot. In fact, walking may be the best way to appreciate gorgeous 17th-century canals, leafy parks, and former industrial docklands.

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Shanghai, China

With clean, wide sidewalks, and interesting sights along the way, Shanghai has lots to offer for a fun walk. The Yu Garden is the number one tourist attraction in Shanghai, and the only example of a Classic Chinese garden left in the city from the dynastic period of Chinese history. The added advantage is that it borders the Yuyuan Tourist Mart, where one can browse through a wide selection of touristy trinkets and test out bargaining skills. There are two parts of Shanghai, worth visiting –one a scenic/cultural part of Shanghai in the French Concession, and the second covers a famous temple and Shanghai’s art district through a more local route.

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Sydney, Australia

The 6km trail from Bondi to Coogee is perhaps the most famous coastal hiking trail in Sydney, New South Wales and perhaps even Australia.  Bondi Beach to Coogee Beach walk treats visitors to some of Australia’s best beaches and most impressive ocean views. Not only tourists but even the local Sydney-siders come to Sydney’s east coast every day to enjoy Australia’s best beaches, stunning ocean views and lots of parks, cafes and restaurants on the way.

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New Delhi, India

If you have ever been to Delhi, you will notice that it is a huge maze, and to manoeuvre it can be a task—especially if you are new to the city. The best way to soak in the rich culture of Old Delhi is to take some guided tours that are a combination of walks and cycle rickshaws rides, as you absorb the street vibe , the historical sites, and bazaars, and experience the various culinary treats and street foods. Although there are many heritage monuments dotted around the city, the Heritage Walk is an excellent way to connect the historical dots, since the guided walks are themed. That way, you learn what one monument has to do with another, as it was intended all those years ago.

Another interesting tour is the Cycle Tour where a group of 8-10 participants is accompanied by a friendly tour guide in bright orange, who will maintain a nice pace as you pedal through Old or New Delhi.

While you will definitely enjoy most of the ‘walking tours’ in some of these places, do note that you need to take heed of the following steps before you do so.

  • Walking tours usually involve long distances with each excursion lasting around two to three hours. While you’re possibly used to walking around your hometown, it is advisable to check out the general terrain of the city where you’re going. I have seen many a person who is part of a group tour getting excruciatingly tired after a few miles of walking that the entire group feels the strain.
  • Condition your body and build adequate stamina so you can enjoy exploring your vacation destination. Wear proper footwear and break in your trekking shoes by wearing them regularly for a few weeks in advance.
  • One of the prerequisites of enjoying a walking tour is keeping up energy levels and hydration. Eat a filling breakfast to fuel your body for the trek and bring bottles of fluids.

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Exploring a city or town on foot is one of the most exciting ways to get a closer view of its inherent charm. Not only do you get an immersive experience of its attractions and people, but you’ll understand it better than any conventional excursions.  Guided walks and city tours are available just about everywhere; to find them, do an Internet search, consult a good guidebook or contact the local tourist office.

Enjoy!

Madhavi

 

 

PC: Visitphiladelphia;Planetware; Touropia;Sydneywalks;Spinmonkey

 

Top of Form

Is being Insta-worthy really worth it?

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The golden sunset was like nothing I’d seen before. An expanse of the sky mixed in with a cocktail of colours -baby pink, magenta, bright orange, yellow, violet and grey. It was a fluid painting in motion.

The dreamy location was the Tanah Lot. A Balinese temple perched high on the rock, facing the wide open ocean.

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The setting was perfect with the crashing waves below, and the dramatic colors of the dusk sky in the background, glowing softly with the spectacular light of the slowly setting sun.

There I was, completely mesmerized by the brilliant sight, waiting patiently for the sun to loving merge with the ocean when suddenly; a hand was thrust in front of me.

Holding the latest iPhone, the hand took picture after picture of the sunset, hoping to capture the wonder on a 14-centimetre screen.

I was annoyed and distracted. My moment was broken.

Why did this happen? I asked myself. I wanted to witness this daily and magical ritual.

I wanted to “feel” the moment.

I wanted to stare at the magic of the sun drop its curtains for the day.

I was not thinking of capturing images on my phone to relive it later. No siree!!

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I admit that Instagram is just great. And the fact that it is something quick, something that you can just do on the go, is probably its biggest appeal.

While travel companies, agents, hotels, cruise ships, tourist locations, airports and airlines have started to reshape their businesses with visual posts in mind, becoming Insta-famous is a double-edged sword.

But as the Instagram effect continues into 2019, destinations are thinking of ways to fight back–and fight off the teeming hoards of selfie-stick-wielding visitors, specifically to those places which are unable to handle the massive footfalls.

Instagram has gone from something fun we do when we travel i.e. clicking pictures of ‘been there, done that’ to becoming the main reason to travel.

It’s not just about ruining others’ good time, living space and nature; it appears that the quest for the perfect ‘Instagram selfie’ and travel shot is also destroying people’s lives.

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A recent study into death by selfies found that 259 people died in a six-year period while attempting to capture the perfect selfie.

Photogenic destinations like Cinque Terre, Barcelona, and Santorini are starting to limit how and when tourists visit in hopes of preserving the landmarks for the future.

Where does this leave us? Travel photos have been around for decades and they’re not going to stop. The responsibility for keeping people safe might have to fall to government and local bodies.

Can pictures or rather instagramming them, do justice to the visual drama, the vibrancy happening in front of us. Sadly the ‘likes’ and the ‘comments’ are ruining the pleasures of “living in the moment”

For as long as humans have experienced wanderlust, travel has always been made sweeter by the tales we get to recount and narrate for family and friends, long after the holiday has been over. But in today’s image-obsessed world, unfortunately we have traded the “art of story telling” into a Insta Story that vanishes after 24 hours.

 

❤ Madhavi

It’s holiday time

It’s that time of the year again. Summers are here and can the planning for a special family holiday be far behind? In fact some of the children have already decided where the family will go this year. They are after all the ones deciding the destinations ,aren’t they? While we all love taking the weekend or middle of the work /school days breaks, Summer vacays are a big deal. Like they say there are holidays and then there are the summer vacations.

While some destinations like Santorini and Phuket are done to death by over-crowding, people are always on the lookout for newer and unique places to vacay, places that bring out the storyteller in you.

So whether it’s the lofty peaks of the mountains, or the calm beaches, from adventure holiday spots to the sober quiet walking trails, that fascinate you, travelers will find that perfect holiday spot to quieten their wanderlust.

Listed below are some of the trending go-to places in 2019 in no particular preference.

Egypt – Egypt is emerging as the new art pilgrimage destination. The Egyptian Museum will have everything – bejeweled sandals, embroidered tunics etc. the Nile cruise with sailings of its boutique wooden boats, kitted out with art deco fixtures and leather deck chairs to sink into while gazing at Nubian sandstone cliffs and the teeming ancient tombs and temples of Luxor.

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The Peloponnese, Greece– Forward thinking visitors are heading to the mainland and discovering the wide-open spaces of Greece. This laidback region has been a destination for wellness and fitness.

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The Scottish Highlands -Think big skies, mind-blowing landscapes, superb food and hospitable people ,the most beautiful and romantic castles in the world – and you’ve got the Scottish Highlands.

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The Turkish Riviera-An area of southwest Turkey, the most stunning part of Turkey’s Mediterranean and Aegean coasts with its perfect sun, clean beaches, ultra luxury resorts, charming nature, ancient history, good entertainment and nightlife.

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Valle De Guadalupe-Mexico’s wine country. This boulder-strewn bronze sweep of Baja California has been luring wine-lovers and weekending West Coasters for some time. Known as Mexico’s Napa Valley, Guadalupe is a weekend getaway just 2 hours from San Diego and is known for its architect-designed wine tasting rooms.

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New Orleans -renowned for its distinct Jazz music, Creole cuisine, unique dialect, and its annual celebrations and festivals, most notably Mardi Gras. The historic heart of the city is the French Quarter, known for its French and Spanish Creole architecture and vibrant nightlife along Bourbon Street.

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Tahiti-the largest of islands that make up the French Polynesia. Tahiti is a barefoot beach-shack island with smart new places to stay.

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Namibia -Sharp new lodges in the outback of the outback. With its otherworldly landscapes and elemental emptiness of the desert, of the dunes, of the savage Skeleton Coast, Namibia is famous for dune-climbing, beach-combing for whale bones and spotting seal colonies and Wilderness Safaris’

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Patagonia– Quite literally at the end of the world. Patagonia has epic landscapes and with its increasing appeal being one of the least populated regions anywhere. With its unique wildlife, hiking trails and being a bird watchers delight, adventurers are drawn to the vast emptiness of its desert and the drama of its Lake District.

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Singapore –Sound and light shows and flash designer shopping malls. Singapore is more than just a stopover city, for its tropical British colonial grandeur and futuristic architecture, for street food in the night markets and night safaris, sundowners in Marina Bay Sands’ rooftop pool, and for its Slings at Raffles.

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Israel– Shiny new trains, airports, and hotels are all catapulting the ancient land into the modern age as the rest of the country catches up with vibrant Tel Aviv.

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And of course there are some of the faithful holiday spots in India that are on most people’s summer to-do list. One can always spend a good 4-5 days exploring and relaxing at these below listed hill stations.

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  • Manali– Manali is a popular backpacking and one of the most popular summer holiday destinations in India. Nestled idyllically amidst the Pir Panjal & Dhauladhar Range of the Himalayas, Manali has some cool adventure activities and holy places.
  • Nainital– The quaint hill-station is still a very popular hill station in India. Though the list of places to visit in Nainital is pretty long, the Naini Lake and the Naina Devi Temple attract the maximum number of tourists.
  • Mussorie– The varied flora and the lush green hilly lands attract a lot of tourists to the little fairyland. From shopping on Mall Road to cable car rides to Gun Hill, and from Kempty Falls to the Jwalaji Temple; the summer destination has a lot to offer to its visitors.
  • Kanatal– If you are looking for an offbeat summer destination then Kanatal is a quaint village located at a distance of 38 km from Mussoorie. It is surrounded by lofty mountains and is lush green. People who love camping will love this place .
  • Auli– Auli is a great town to be in during the summers. The majestic snow covered peaks and the lush green meadows are the highlights of this town. One can have a good time while indulging in many adventure activities. Enjoy the local sightseeing, delicious local cuisine, and wander around in this quaint town.
  • Shimla– The capital city of Himachal Pradesh, Shimla is a favourite summer tourist destination. The cool temperatures make it an ideal spot to go to, as it is easily accessible and have a lot of tourist attractions.

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  • Panchmarhi– The only hill station in Madhya Pradesh, Pachmarhi is among the lesser-known summer holiday destinations in India. The decently high hills, forest gorges, stunning waterfalls, prehistoric caves, and rock paintings at Pachmarhi attract a lot of tourists every year.
  • Munnar– A perfect destination to spend your summer holidays in India, Munnar is famous for its salubrious climate, lush hills, and the vast expanse of tea plantations. With a myriad of things to do in Munnar, the hill station from God’s Own Country – Kerala –makes your vacations an ultimate peaceful and rejuvenating affair.

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  • Kodaikannal– Kodaikanal is to Bangaloreans what Nainital is to Delhiites or what Darjeeling is to Kolkatans. Meadows, grasslands, waterfalls, valleys, forests, and lakes of the quaint hill station of Tamil Nadu make it one of the most popular summer holiday destination in India from the peninsula.
  • Ooty– Udhagamandalam, or Ooty, Located in the Nilgiri Blue Mountain hills, is often called the Queen of Hills. The famous toy train takes you through the nearby lush hills. The little hill station also offers a lot of places to visit and adventure activities to its visitors.

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  • Goa– Goa is India’s most accessible destination and is eternally popular with tourists from both within India and across the world. It boasts laid-back vibes, some beautiful beaches, and a thriving party scene. Goa remains utterly charming, and fully deserving of its prominent place as the jewel in the crown of Indian tourism.
  • Mahabaleshwar– Perched atop a height of 1,372 m above the sea level, Mahabaleshwar is another ultimate getaway. The breath-taking views of the valleys and mountains, the colonial buildings, verdant forests, sparkling rivers, sonorous waterfalls, and Pratapgarh hillfort have been major crowd pullers. The scenic hill station is, without doubt, an ideal retreat away from the hustle-bustle and the punishing weather of Mumbai.

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  • Darjeeling and Kalimpong are the best entries from the east of India. But what gives Kalimpong an edge over Darjeeling is that it is untouched and less frequently visited by people. Sitting on a ridge overlooking the Teesta River, the hill station is a perfect summer destination owing to its pleasant climate, magnificent views, and proximity to other tourist attractions. River rafting and visiting buddhist monestrey is a major draw in Kalimpong.

These are just some of the places you can enjoy this summer. The world is too large to just fit into a page.

So enjoy your dream summer vacation and make some memories to remember forever!

PS: Don’t forget to carry that camera.  🙂

Have fun

Madhavi

 

PC: Lonely Planet,Getty Images, Viator

 

 

The Journey Begins

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Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta

Indeed!!! This quote completely sums up the feelings travelling invoke.

The chance to see a new destination, the opportunity to soak up new cultures, the awe on seeing the natural wonders across continents, the mega cities, the remote landscapes, the tantalizing cuisines; travelling is food for the soul if you ask me. There is so much to experience, motivate, inspire and imbibe when you travel.

Welcome to my blog  Tailwinds & Touchdowns – your very own podium to explore, discover and learn about the multifaceted Travel, Tourism and Aviation Industry

I have been meaning to write this blog for a while now. The experiential nature of travel is ideal for sharing, and I am glad I found this platform to do so. I am so excited to creating content that will keep you informed about the various trends and topics related to this industry.

Let’s sit together to hear stories, to be humbled by the history of yesterday, to witness the growth of the industry, to be informed about the policies and regulations of today and to be excited by the possibilities of tomorrow.

Join me, as together we embark on this journey of learning and sharing information, ideas, and news about the travel industry. Let’s inspire, connect, and empower each other and lets educate those young ones who are enamoured of, and interested in making a career in the travel and tourism industry.

Fasten your seat belts and Jet Set Go!!

Madhavi

 

 

PC: Pexels