Go local

incredible india

According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the travel and tourism sector accounts for approximately 10 percent of total jobs and almost 10% GDP globally. That’s an estimated 8.8 trillion U.S. dollars annually.

On April 3, WTTC said in a release that 75 million travel tourism jobs are at risk globally due to COVID-19 pandemic.

The common takeaway within the Indian travel fraternity right now is to focus single-mindedly on promoting domestic tourism immediately. It is imperative that governments and tourism bodies put their focus exclusively on regenerating Domestic Tourism and Aviation, as it is one of the first levers of recovery for the local economy: restaurants, hotels, attractions, etc, they all depend on local travel until foreign travelers return.

After months of isolation and self-induced coma, as cities end their lock downs, people will be allowed to start roaming the streets again.

They will become more interested than ever in discovering their own city as well as the local/ domestic area.

And as when planes start flying again, most travellers will essentially be looking for travelling within the country and taking short ‘ feel good ’ trips rather than going on long haul international trips.

Most travellers would be vary of taking and exploring cities with walking tours, with a group of strangers in a foreign country, due to some restrictions that might still be in place. For instance, traveling abroad might be limited due to safety issues.

As such, local/domestic travel will remain the only viable option for travel, with most travelers interested in quick getaway trips, with a focus on wellness and sustainable tourism.

When travel starts to recover, it will begin with flights and accommodation at the forefront, so naturally the expectation of the people will be to become more interested in budget tours, price-sensitive activities and better value for money and budget-friendly activities post-crisis.

The focal point will be specifically on short vacations, boutique or quieter hotels with fewer rooms and smaller groups or individual solo trips.

India’s strength has been its diversity of tourism potential with mountains, hills, beaches, backwaters, jungles, forests, flora, heritage, spirituality, pilgrimage, wellness, sheer relaxation, arts and crafts, cuisines, and cultures.

However, what we need to understand is that the old world order no longer exists. It’s kaput.

We need to have a new vision board for the future. Minimalistic design with a deep rooted but conscious approach keeping hygiene as the top priority will be the new bespoke for hotels, restaurants and airlines.

Curated, custom and tailor made vacation with mindful travelling along with an affordable cost will be the new norm.

-Madhavi

 

 

 

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

Your place or mine?

exchn

The first time I heard about Home swapping or Home exchange was via the Hollywood flick ‘The Holiday’ starring Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz, the story about two lovelorn women from opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean, who arrange a home exchange to escape heartbreak during the Christmas and holiday season.

What a brilliant idea this was!

Swapping homes could be the perfect way to expand your horizons and holiday for free in exotic locations.

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Jetting off and arriving at your own ‘home away from home’ is an appealing thought. But since most of us can’t afford a foreign holiday home, the trend for house swapping, where holidaymakers move into one another’s homes – saving the expense of paying for commercial accommodation – is becoming increasingly popular. Home exchanges make an ideal base for one-day or weekend excursions.

People who have gone in for home swapping have made good friends along the way. You get to live as they live, shop where they shop since the exchange partner will often leave insider information about the area. What’s so fabulous about home swapping is it’s not just a holiday, it’s a lifestyle. And you get the most out of an intercultural experience.

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But home swapping is not everyone’s cup of tea. Some folks love to swap and do it several times a year because it allows them to experience new places without paying for hotels, restaurants or, in many cases, transportation (the use of the family car is included in many home exchanges). However, some travellers are turned off by having to cook and clean on their vacation, while others feel uneasy about having strangers living in their own homes.

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However there’s more than one way to do a home swap:

  • You can stay in your exchange-partner’s home while they stay in yours (a “simultaneous exchange”).
  • You can stay at a home-swapper’s second home or vacation home (a “non-simultaneous exchange”).
  • Or you can stay as a guest in a home-swapper’s abode while they’re also in the house (a “hospitality exchange”).

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There are various home-exchange sites online that cater to different types of exchanges. Usually with the companies listed on a home exchange program  buying a membership is mandatory.

A lot of footwork is necessary. Both the owner and the holiday maker have to do their homework well before getting into such agreement. Check references, find them on social media or /and ask your home-exchange company for more information about prospective home exchange partners.

Home swapping is more or less a safe way to arrange a stay, with none or few cases of reported theft or vandalism. In the end, when it’s a simultaneous exchange, mutual trust is fundamental.

Here’s some pointers on how home swapping works.

  • By joining a reputable company via an annual membership. You’ll be able to list your property on their website and make contact with other owners to arrange your exchange.
  • Most house-swap firms don’t visit properties, so it’s imperative to study photos carefully, and look at feedback and definitely ask the owner questions.
  • Most of the companies have a guest points system where you earn guest points when you host and spend guest points when you stay as a guest.

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For many travellers, a home exchange /home swapping is an economical, comfortable and fascinating way to vacation far from home. The possibilities for home exchanges could be endless.

Madhavi

 

 

 

OS: Daily Mail UK /  PC:Shespeaks;Readers Digest;Hitster;Froodee;TripSavvy;

Continue reading “Your place or mine?”

Going SOLO

me goa

Everyone remembers their first solo journey. For some women it was a long time ago, and there have been many more trips since. For others, the memory is still quite fresh.  I know mine is. It was the year 2009. Taking the leap of faith I plunged into a 2 night trip. Things had come to a head on the personal front and I wanted to break out of the rut of work and home and head out to the safest place I knew . Goa!

I know. I know. Who in their right mind takes off to Goa alone? But that’s me. Never following the herd, I have made my own rules.

me kochi

Coming back to the solo trip, it’s true almost everyone has some anxiety before setting out. But there is not a single woman out there who has regretted doing so.

Solo travelling is becoming more important and more popular for women today .It’s an opportunity to discover more about themselves and the world around them.

Although I have to say that the Indian woman is still a little conservative when compared to her western counterpart.  India is an old school country, and where women’s safety is often a massive concern. Many women aren’t allowed to or are afraid to be travelling alone. However, things are changing. More and more strong, independent women are choosing to travel alone and do not let the patriarchy hold them down. Right from backpacking across India to hitch-hiking in another country altogether, these women are inspiring others to give up their fears and have major travel goals.

However there are a few Travel Tips I would recommend for Women Travelling Alone.

  1. Do Your Research! Choose your destination with Intent.

Preparation is the key to success! Or safety in this case. I cannot emphasis enough how important the research you undertake before or during your trip is. User review sites are really useful when looking for advice on where to stay (hotel/hostel/Airbnb) but usually you’ll get some insight into the surrounding areas from people who have been there. This can mean the difference between staying in a shady area where you’re afraid to go outside or a comfortable place full of like-minded travellers and friendly staff.

For example Scandinavia, Ireland and New Zealand,Verona (Italy), Hilo or Oahu (Hawaii) and Amsterdam (Netherlands), just to name a few countries/cities that are safe for women travellers.

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  1. Frequently Update Someone on Your Whereabouts.

Whether it is your mum, dad, brother, sister, friend etc. always keep someone informed of your movements. It is always better to be safe than sorry. Regularly call a friend or family member, where you can check-in and they can rest assured!

  1. Be Smart with Your Smartphone.

We’re lucky that these days everything we need for getting around is in the palm of our hands. So be smart and download the apps on your Smartphone before you take off. From navigation to interacting with locals who have shared interests it’s essential for every woman traveller. Apps like Uber, Google Maps, Toilet finder etc are smart applications that will keep you covered.

Additionally do invest in your phones data plan before you leave so that you can use the data for your maps/Uber etc, without it pinching your pocket on buying a local sim card.

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  1. Make Copies of Important Documents. 

Make copies and additionally take pictures of your travel docs and store them on a secure online server, such as Dropbox, that can be accessed from any computer. If any of your documents are stolen or get lost, this is a sure way of helping your Embassy allocate new ones for you so that you are able to continue on your travels and/or get home.

Passport

  1. Don’t be a fool. 

You’ve made the super-smart decision to explore the world, now just make sure that intelligence extends to your everyday life during your travels. Just general common-sense including, not going down dark alleys on your own or talking to strangers, securing the locks on your purse or locking away your things are few things you need to keep in mind. Just be observant to the world and goings-on around you.

  1. Don’t flaunt your cash. 

If you’re travelling alone, be careful of where and how you keep your cash/credit card. Make sure your purse/bag has a hidden pocket for your wallet. Pack light. Protect your documents, cards and cash

  1. Don’t Trust People Too Quickly.

There are a lot of like-minded solo travellers and friendly locals out there, but not all of their intentions are as fun-filled and honest as yours. Women travelling alone should try to avoid going down anywhere too remote or hidden or when it gets too dark and you are far away from your hotel. Trust your gut, if something seems peculiar, strange or weird about someone, you can walk away. Always remove yourself from uncomfortable situations as quickly and quietly as possible.

  1. Blend In.

 This seems quite obvious, just try and blend in as much as you can. Do not wear too revealing outfits and pay attention to your surroundings; do not walk around with your camera around your neck and your nose pressed into a map.

 

The first step is taking the first step. Yes, it’s scary and I’ve found that feeling doesn’t necessarily go away, but if you don’t do it you’ll always regret it. The bigger question is what if I don’t do it? You will be amazed where your strength will come from.

It’s no doubt wonderful to travel with your bunch of friends or your family, but I feel travelling solo once in a while nourishes your soul. I have taken many a solo trips since that day in 2009 and believe me I just can’t get enough.

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Good luck with your life’s experiences!

Madhavi

 

 

 

PC: Personal; Getty Images

My Travel Bucket List

Each day that we are alive, a page of our life is turned over, never to reveal itself again.

While most of us concentrate on our career progressions, how many of us actually take time to let loose and work on those little things that keep us truly happy, such as travelling to new destinations, exploring and learning about new cultures.

Haven’t you ever sat down and excitedly wondered ‘my next holiday will be in …….! Well what are you waiting for? Quickly grab your pencil and paper and write down your very own bucket list of the places that you absolutely want to see. And then go and make that happen. For Real

So far I have been fortunate enough to experience and tick off my list

The Taj Mahal, India  

The Pyramids of Giza, Egypt,

The Grand Canyon,USA,

The Stonehenge,UK,

The Auckland Bridge, NZ,

The Milford sound ,NZ 

The Christ Redeemer, Brazil.

But there are still a few places mentioned below which I definitely want to see and experience before I die.

  1. The Northern Lights

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Right there on the top of my list is what every traveller’s bucket list should include. The Northern Lights, one of nature’s spectacular phenomenon. Believe me from what I have heard from friends and family who have visited them, it’s beyond magical. The Northern lights have the power to take your breath away. The dancing lights in the north and south hemispheres are nature’s way of providing us with a free light show. I just can’t wait to witness Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights in the North)

2. Cruises- Alaskan, Mediterranean. Caribbean – All of them? Maybe…Why not?

Carib cruise

Sailing into the sunset is one of the best ways to experience life. Cruises are definitely more fun, have more entertainment, amazing food and offer more than one destination to explore. Caribbean cruises to Antigua, Barbados, Dominica, Martinique and St Kitts, the Cayman Islands, Jamaica and Mexico, Aruba, Trinidad & Tobago offer such a wide verity of destinations to explore.

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Cotton-white views, untouched ice scapes, breathtaking scenery, wildlife and some spectacular glaciers, I mean who wouldn’t want to see the spectacular fjords, glaciers and mountains along Alaska’s coastline.

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From gorgeous Italy to sunny Spain, Turkey and the Greek islands of Santorini, Mykonos and Crete to destinations such as Venice, Rome and Sicily in Italy, Monte Carlo, St. Tropez and Barcelona. Mediterranean cruises offer activities for the whole family on board the cruise liner and ashore.

3. The Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia

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If you have a travel bucket list, I can bet my last rupee that The Great Barrier Reef will make an appearance! And why shouldn’t it? This largest living organism in the world is an intricate maze of colourful corals, unique marine life, turquoise oceans, and white coral sands. Spanning over 1400 miles, the largest collection of coral reefs in the world, can be seen from space, and it’s among one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World. Can you think of anything more defining than swimming alongside a school of large fish? The Great Barrier Reef is the place to go diving, offering a one-of-a-kind display of underwater life.

4. Eastern Europe

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What can I say about eastern Europe? Amazing cultures, budget friendly prices, unique cuisines, traditions and landscapes mixed with modern influences. And some of the “le crème de la crème” places such as Croatia, Poland, Ukraine, Romania . These are just some of the places that are a delight for wine tasting, historical sites, castles, cathedrals, museums, breathtaking natural beauty, and well-preserved architectural gems dating back to medieval times. Of course there are so many more hidden gems that will guarantee a holiday of a lifetime.

 

Do you have a bucket list of your own? Do share in the comments

 Madhavi ❤

 

 

 

PC: Pexels,National Geographic,Viator