Off the beaten track

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Do you remember what your doctor ordered you to do, to keep your body happy and healthy? Err, do apples ring a bell?

Great! So if I ask you what it is that you should do to keep your soul happy? What would you say?

Well in my opinion it has to be travelling.

Wouldn’t it be a perfect world if every couple of months, we would be able  to take short weekend getaways, far away from the hustle and bustle of the daily life.

A chance to stay in a fancy hotel, eat delicious food prepared by top chefs, lie on the beach drinking cocktails and going shopping sounds like the ideal way to de-stress away the daily grind.

Of course there is no doubt that indulging in luxe travel is absolutely fabulous, but sometimes let’s make that adventure junkie in us take over and have us explore new places as they are meant to be seen.

So how about getting off the beaten path and away from sponsored tourism?

If you really want to ‘see’ the place and ‘feel’ the experience rather than just taking a vacation, then here are some ways you can go about it.

Try backpacking

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Rather than staying at five-star hotels or dining in Michelin star restaurants, go away from the glitz and glamour of tourist hot spots. Try Backpacking. It allows you to see a destination in a completely different way. It’s a much more humble way to get around and appreciate a destination for what it really is beyond the conventional tourism.

Of course you’ll mainly be traveling on foot and or by public transport which will enable you to really immerse yourself in the place you’re in, allowing you to see it as the locals would and not simply as a tourist. You’ll be discovering places that you simply wouldn’t come across if you were on package tour. Not only is it an inexpensive way to travel, but it can give you really meaningful experiences. You will leave a place feeling as though you know it, rather than just skimming the surface like you would as a tourist.

Stay somewhere different

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Instead of staying in a hotel, why not look into different accommodation options when you travel? For instance if you are in Kerela, try staying in a houseboat. The experience you will have will be like no other. Or you could choose an AIRBNB rather than an upscale hotel. It’s a lot cheaper and can completely change the feel of your trip. There are plenty of websites which offer home stays and vacation rentals with the entire house if needed.

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I have personally had some amazing stays at Washington DC and Montreal at comfortable and well maintained AIRBNB’s .  Although these were a little further out from the main tourist destinations, it allowed me to stay in a location that I may have never found, had I stayed at a hotel. Or if you are solo traveller you could look into travel hostels, these are cheap and cheerful and can be a great way to meet other travelers.

Once you’ve decided on your destination, do your research and consider different options for where you could stay. Going with something a bit more unique such as Houseboats, or Swiss Tents could add another dimension to your trip and make it extra memorable.

Speak to the locals

Speaking to the locals is one of the best ways to find places that are off the beaten path. There are certain streets that bring out the vibe of a place. And speaking to locals would certainly help in exploring it.

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On my recent trip to Singapore, walking through the streets in Kampong Glam, I was pleasantly surprised to find Haji Lane. It’s fabled to be one of the narrowest streets in Singapore. The street had some quirky and vintage boutiques, funky graffiti on its walls and quaint cafes.

Neal’s Yard in London was another such gems I found on my travels.

Google and travel guides will, of course, tell you all about popular places and the things that you want to see, but there will be so many additional things that you’ll be able to discover by chatting to the people that live there.

Travel off season

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Most destinations will have a peak season and an off season, mainly dictated by the weather. Ideally try going during either on an off peak or shoulder season. Not only will it be less expensive but it will be less busy. Sure, there won’t be as many shops, eateries, clubs and other hot spots open but as a traveler, this won’t be the kind of thing you’re looking for anyway.

On the downside, there might be not so ideal weather conditions during the off season depending on where you go, so do your research and go prepared. For example, many hotels in Goa have excellent packages during the monsoon season between June-September.

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Travel, should not be a break from everyday life. Travel should be the time when you feel the most normal, centered, and at home.

There is no high more intense than being someplace new, and feeling like just a little piece of a vast, vast world.

 

Happy Exploring!!

madhavi

Lazy Much? Chill with a “Horizontal Holiday” with my pick of India’s best places to do nothing!

There are times when you feel like packing your bags and taking off somewhere, and do absolutely nothing at all. All you want to do is, laze, sip a beer or a coffee while watching the sunset, read a book or lie around in a comfortable bed with room service only a call away

Check out some of these places in India that will get you out of the hustle and bustle of city life to unwind in nature and calm your nerves, and not worry about the never ending to-do-list, the time, work or anything at all.

Goa

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While Goa is considered as the party capital of India, its tranquility is hidden in few of its non-commercial beaches. Agonda Beach in Goa is one such beach with its long and desolate shoreline, bordered with palms and casuarinas. It’s not unusual to see some tourists to bring a tent and set an overnight camp for getting a real thrill of living by the sea. If you are seafood lover you will be able to enjoy some mouth watering dishes available at nearby restaurants. However, strong undercurrents, can abstain you from indulging in swimming at Agonda Beach. During the month of September, the beach serves as a nesting ground for Olive Ridley sea turtles. With some water sports like Surfing, Water Skiing, to add some excitement to an otherwise dull day this beach which is apprx 70 km from Panaji, is picturesque and calm.

Kalimpong

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The first thing that strikes the traveller visiting Kalimpong is its quiet atmosphere. A modest hill-station for a relaxing break with its tea plantations and scenery filled with old churches and monasteries, and with little ambition, gives you full freedom to choose the way you want to unwind yourself. Yes, there are some bustling bazaars selling traditional handicrafts if it gets too dull for you. On a very clear day you can view the majestic Kanchenjunga peaks at sunrise.

Rishikesh

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Ever since the Beatles visited the ashram of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the late ’60s, Rishikesh has been a magnet for spiritual seekers, and today is the ‘Yoga Capital of the World’. Rishikesh becomes what you want it to be. It could be your spiritual nirvana, a wisp of adventure, chilled out cafes or relaxed time off in yoga ashrams. With its so many faces, you choose which one you want to lose yourself in. Rishikesh is not all spirituality and Yoga, it’s also a popular white-water rafting centre, backpacker hang-out and Himalayan-trekking gateway.

Dhanaulti

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Dhanaulti is a small town near Mussoorie, beautifully nestled amid the lofty Himalayan peaks. It can be a destination in itself, but it’s more of a serene pit stop for travellers heading for longer journeys or leisure Uttarakhand holiday. Thus, places to visit in Dhanaulti are not any grand attractions, but small and beautiful places that offer solitude and peace, close to nature.  Devoid of fancy hotels and modern cafe-style eateries, this is the place if you are seeking a weekend of privacy in the hills.

Munnar

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The idyllic hill station Munnar once the summer resort of the erstwhile British Government in South India is famous for its sprawling tea plantations, picturesque towns, winding lanes and exotic lush greenery, is located in the Western Ghats, in the state of Kerala. It has a host of well-maintained trekking trails and picnic spots . Munnar also has many protected areas which are home to endemic and highly endangered species like the Nilgiri Tahr-an ungulate that is endemic to the Nilgiri Hills and the special Neelakurinji flower that blooms here once every 12 years. The hills turn blue and nature lovers come in large numbers to view this natural phenomenon in person.

Coorg

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Proudly called the Scotland of India, Coorg is situated on the Western Ghats in the state of Karnataka in India.  Coorg is the largest producer of coffee in India. With its Lush green vegetation and forests covering up the hills, Coorg has some famous trekking and scenic wonders like waterfalls and viewpoints.  Resorts in Coorg have their own charm, having multiple choices for homestays in Coorg provides for the homely feeling and an unmatched hospitality by the locals, the one that always ends up attracting people to spend in the lap of nature an wake up to the smell of fresh coffee coaxing them out of sleep.

Pondicherry

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History just doesn’t leave this town called Pondicherry, where time stopped a bit when its streets, shops, food, styles, and architecture borrowed inspiration from the French. The French know the art of doing nothing better than anyone in the world and Pondi has preserved the art of living a laid back life. There are more than one ways to relax here from its beaches, ashrams to yoga and meditation.

Havelock Island 

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Havelock Island is one of the most pristine and scenic islands of the Andaman and Nicobar group. Its sparkling white sand beaches, transparent sea water, plush greenery, and serene surroundings are tempting and fascinating. And is an ideal nirvana for peace loving travellers. Popular as a backpacker’s heaven, this splendid island can be a perfect destination for a super romantic honeymoon or a lovely family holiday

Awarded as the best beach in India and world’s 7th most beautiful beach by the Time Magazine, Radha nagar Beach is the showstopper of Havelock Island in Andaman. The beach is adorned with snow white sands, sizzling shores, crystal blue water, and pristine forests.

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The untarnished beauty of the Kalapather Beach or Kaala Pathar Beach makes it one of the most scenic splendours of Havelock Island. The sizzling coastline is dotted with black rocks, sparkling silver sand, and aqua green waters that create a surreal contrast.

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A moderately calm and gentle retreat, the Elephant Beach is a perfect escape for honeymoon couples and solo travellers. Tourists love to explore this place that is known for its navy colour clear water and tranquil surroundings. Travellers can indulge in swimming, scuba diving and coral spotting or merely relaxing on the beautiful beach.

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Have a chilled out break doing nothing !

🙂

Madhavi

 

Leave the spot better than you found it!

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You’ve most likely heard of Sustainable Tourism sometime or the other. Natural resource preservation at some of the major destinations around the globe and the people who visit them are becoming more attuned to the environmental impact of tourism.

While traveling sustainably is becoming ever more popular, many people are still unfamiliar with the concept and just how easy it can really be.

Being sustainable does not mean being uncomfortable!

The very importance of sustainable tourism lies on its three pillars

  • The Ecological pillar: e.g. conserving and lowering the impact on the environment the natural environment of the destination
  • The economic pillar: support local businesses intending to generate employment and income for the local people
  • The social pillar: respect the culture and the people

The tourism industry in all its forms helps boost the economy of a country, which is a great thing. Not only does it generate reasonable foreign exchange but it also incidental in creating job and employment opportunities. Tourism is often responsible for increasing regional development and infrastructure particularly in isolated areas.

Because we are travel nerds over here, we are going to focus on specific ways you can spread the green gospel while traveling. Hopefully, these tips will inspire you to be a more conscious traveller on your next adventure and journeys to come.

Stay longer and reduce carbon emissions:

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How we wish we can zip across the world in a more eco-friendly way! Until that happens we have no choice but to fly. Luckily, there are a few ways to cut down on carbon emissions when flying. Consider the length of your trip in relation to the distance you’re travelling. In practice, this means the further you fly, the longer you should stay there. So if you’re considering a trip to the Caribbean then you should stay for at least a fortnight rather than flying there and back in a week. Avoid taking multiple flights within a country. Instead look at train travel or alternative modes of transportation that cause less emissions output.

Ditch the Plastic

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Plastic is a problem.  Bottles, packing materials, plastic bags.  Yeah, it’s not good. Bring A Reusable Water Bottle With You While Traveling: It may seem simple to purchase a bottle of water at the airport, at your hotel, or at the train station. But it is far more lovable to the nature if you have a reusable bottle that you can fill up for free. More and more places are adding in water fill stations, enabling you to get fresh water and also save money! Also don’t forget to carry a reusable bag for your shopping.

Did you know:-Plastic bottles have surpassed plastic bags as the biggest threat to oceans and rivers

Support Local Farmers Markets

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Hey foodies, we know you love chomp chomping away on your travels. After all, isn’t eating like 95% of what we travel for? Pretty Much.
So here’s the deal, why don’t you buy groceries from a locally owned market or farmers market or try dining at a farm-to-table restaurants while traveling? Also food tours that highlight local grown produce are a great way to enjoy the local cuisine.

This is my favourite! Shop local!

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Chances are you have an Armani or an H&M in your hometown, but still you are completely blown away by the window display and are itching to shop. How about gifting your loved ones something meaningful and small, that are run or made by locals, women and those that promote sustainability? Nothing beats bringing home a gift from a place that no one else has!

Take public transportation as often as possible or get a bike! Enough said.

Last, but not least, stay at environmentally-friendly accommodation.

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I know this is a hard one to swallow for the honeymooners or budget conscious couple. You can actually travel affordably abroad through Air B-N-B and still get your privacy. Not to mention some of these homes are GORGEOUS! Or you can do your bit even if you stay at a swanky hotel. Chances are you’ve seen signs at hotels you have stayed in suggesting that you reuse your towels and bed sheets. Conserving electricity and water can make a huge difference even while you are on vacation.

Some of the places that support Sustainable Tourism:

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Faroe Islands are truly cinematic. The islands are known not only for their picturesque nature, but also for their sustainable fisheries, unique gastronomy, and preservation of culture. You can explore verdant rolling hills, and dramatic waterfalls throughout the island.

 

 

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New Zealand has long been at the forefront of sustainable tourism and they have a vision of being the world leader in such efforts by 2025. Considering nature is the most profitable export of New Zealand, it is understandable that the country tries to protect it. The country is an outdoor Mecca for nature and adventure enthusiasts.

 

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The Kingdom of Bhutan operates on a “high value with low impact” model of tourism. With very strict entry requirements, travellers to Bhutan must be with an approved tour operator who will arrange all travel while in the country. All visitors must pay a daily tariff, of apprx $65 as “sustainable tourism” royalty.

 

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Kerela has been honoured for its path-breaking ‘Responsible Tourism’ project in Kumarakom, which has successfully linked the local community with the Hospitality industry and government departments. It has the first ever totally sustainable adventure park in the world, the Jatayu Earth Center, which is described as “a masterpiece combination of artistry, mythology, technology, culture, adventure, leisure and wellness put together to give every visitor a spellbinding experience.”

Did you know: Thenmala in Kerala is the first planned ecotourism destination in India created to cater to the Eco-tourists and nature lovers? 

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Kenya: Over the years, Kenya has developed a number of voluntary programs to support and demonstrate its commitment to sustainable tourism. Many hotels and lodges away from the cities are now investing in alternative energy sources such as Solar power.

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Ljubljana, Slovenia: Most people skip over Slovenia when planning a trip to Europe, which is a shame since Ljubljana is not only gorgeous but also one of the most eco-friendly destinations in Europe.

 

 

The responsibility to travel the world in a sustainable way lies with us. While there are other things you can do to be sustainable, taking these simple steps can make a huge difference as far as your impact on the planet!

The concept of “being green” has filtered down to all of us in one way or another – but how do we ensure it doesn’t become another Instagram trend?

It’s time we all engage seriously with the issue of sustainable travel.

Go Green!

Madhavi

 

 

 

 

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