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Another year has flown by. I had been burnt out in 2014- an introspective year that I spent in exercising, yoga, some slow travels and long walks. It was a time for slowing down.

I was mellower in 2015, starting with a visit to Como’s new luxe property in Phuket, along with my daughter. The trip showed me how the beach and quiet time with my daughter can be restorative. How bonding time like this can be, and well spent.  2015 took me all over the globe and looking back these were the lessons that it drove home:

You must prioritize things

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I know that I want to travel as much as possible. But I want it to be really something meaningful and something that really interests me. I turned down many invitations which were not in line with my overall perspective. I want to travel more than ever in India- three great trips this year to West Bengal, Uttarakhand and Nagaland have made me more determined than ever!   I want to explore Africa more, and perhaps make a foray into South America.

Practice the attitude of gratitude

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It’s human nature to grumble about things. But thanks to my burn-out last year, I have developed an attitude of   intense gratitude. Travel gives me a window to see how so many people around the world are happy with very little- Meeting people on a tea estate in India and in small villages in Kenya, re-iterated the fact that less is more.  I am more excited and thankful about life than I ever was. I count my blessings every day.

Slow travel is what makes me happy

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The high that hits you upon arrival in a new place is like a drug.  And the more you expose yourself to it the more you want. This can mean  skipping out on places just to experience the ecstasy of arrival again. The results are obvious: less time in places you thought you wanted to see and ultimately, burnout. The tendency to try to cram more places into a schedule is often hard to control. One trick I’ve found to deal with this is to have a minimum stay:  at least 4 nights in every destination. Avoid press trips that have me in a new bed every night I want to experience a place- not tick it off my list. While I’ve had great one-night stops, I have moved on…it isn’t sustainable or desirable for me to do too much of this. The best time this year was spent on a tea estate near Darjeeling- Glenburn Tea Estate, doing pretty much nothing (except reading and walking).

Working on the road non-stop is something that does not work for me

There was a time when I wrote stories and pitches on the road. Days were spent travelling, evenings were spent working. Nowadays I have taken a conscious decision to experience the place fully, when I am there- I wait to get back home and write slowly – or on the long flight home.  I do have commitments to keep, editors who pressurize me, but I have managed to set realistic deadlines that work for me. This has made me less anxious and fretful, more relaxed and heightened my experiences in a new destination. One thing at a time- that’s my mantra for the future

To take less photos, is to enjoy a place more

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Another  important thing travel has taught me this year, is to take less photos. When you are travelling you are so awed by beauty, that you want to record it forever-snapping away furiously.  I travelled with a talented photographer this year. I watched him click a few well thought out images and then put his camera away. Every now and again put the camera down. Just take it all in, be in the moment and don’t worry about taking the perfect picture. This moment is special and fleeting-Enjoy it!

Solo travel is as meaningful as travelling in a group.

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In 2015 I did quite a few solo trips- to Australia, to Nagaland, to Ireland… and loved the feeling of following my own pace and rhythms in exploring a place. I enjoyed the ‘me time’ and used it to catch up on reading and writing. I did group trips to Israel, Armenia, Uttarakhand and the Seychelles and that was as enjoyable, because I made new friends and enjoyed interacting with them over new experiences. I always love travelling with family and did quite a few of these trips- to Slovenia and Croatia, to Thailand and to Wyanad ( I have to confess: nothing beats travelling with people you love dearly) Have a mix of  all three to make travel really enjoyable and meaningful!

Head to the mountains or the sea or just be near a water body like a lake or a waterfall.

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Two places that really restore my spirit and health and work better than any medicines.  Raw nature- the mountains and the sea… lakes and waterfalls. Where you reconnect with your thoughts and you get back to the city with a refreshed mind and soul. One of the most memorable trips of the year was to the Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia- a day spent around water. I am determined to get fitter so that I can trek and hike, swim and walk with more energy. And head often to the mountains or to the sea.

Balanced presence on social media is enjoyable and rewarding

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I took a few steps back from Face book and spent more time on Instagram- this is a medium I really enjoy- Seeing different people’s images of this large, beautiful world. Do yourself a favour and join Instagram. (no- I am not connected in any way with their marketing team!)

Happy Travels all and have a meaningful, 2016, filled with rich experiences. Be healthy, be happy. Travel slowly and be in the moment. It’s here and then gone forever. Embrace it now.

And do leave your comments on the blog itself. What has 2015 taught you?

 

 

 

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