Ways of the millennials

Tripping on travel: Wanderlust has become a must for India's millennials. However, the reasons for their globetrotting come with depth

Travel has a liberating effect, enabling people to break away from all shackles and explore their free spirit.

One of the oldest advices children have received from their parents is, “Save for a rainy day.” Many of today’s youngsters have taken the suggestion seriously, not to insulate the future, but to feed their wanderlust. The younger generation has increasingly begun to dip into their savings to explore the world, often taking a career break, to get a new perspective into life.

Eckhart Tolle, author of the bestseller The Power of Now, should be a happy man that the youth nowadays are investing in the present, while the older generation is usually lost in the past and the future. As much of the pain is caused by people’s insistence to control their lives, the author suggests letting go of worries about the future by enjoying the present moment. And that is what the youngsters are doing today.

Mallika Arya of Delhi was only 23 when she decided to take a gap year, even before she had a proper job. Mallika always loved the outdoors, but was virtually grounded for two years when she enrolled for a rigorous teaching fellowship that took away all her time. “When the fellowship ended, I was burned out and I decided to take the year off and enjoy life. This was definitely not common for people of my age who were busy trying to settle down, but my parents were supportive and allowed me to pursue my passion.”

With her savings of two years, Mallika first set out to Himachal Pradesh where she spent six weeks in a small village near Manali, staying in the house of a local resident and teaching at a government school. “This was a very humbling experience that allowed me to meet some extraordinary people,” she says.

She then backpacked across South India where she stayed in accommodation costing Rs 50 to a maximum of Rs 1,000. “I mostly visited small towns where I knew nobody. I made no plans, no reservations, no bookings. I would decide on the town just a day earlier and take a train or bus the next day. Sometimes, I made new friends and we even travelled together. I found the South very safe as compared to the North.”

After a hiatus, Mallika once again hit the road, spending a few months in the United Kingdom, the United States, Argentina and Antarctica.
This time, she tried something unique to fund her travel — crowdsourcing. “I ran an online campaign and managed to raise most of the money for the Antarctica trip through crowdsourcing. When people know you are motivated and sincere about your goals, they do not hesitate to be a part of your mission.”

Antarctica brought to life the environmentalist in her. “It was mind-blowing to see such natural beauty. My resolve to protect and save this planet only became stronger after I visited the last great wilderness.”

Now, having completed her masters in sustainability in Australia, Mallika is in the process of applying for jobs. “The gap year helped me slow down, experience and understand life. It has also taught me that once I take up a job, it is important to make a conscious effort to maintain a work-life balance,” she adds.

Burnout. That is the keyword in most cases. When monotony and insipidness set in, youngsters do not hang on till the tide changes, but break free from what is holding them down and return refreshed to face new challenges.

At 32 years, Kishore Acharya, an entrepreneur and media professional, was at the cusp of a promising career, when he decided to hang his boots. “I wanted to pause, reflect and decide on what I wanted to do next in my life in general, and career in particular. I had reached the point of exhaustion at work.”

Before he knew it, Kishore was on a 52-day backpacking trip with his wife Pooja and a few friends, across Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh.

Kishore did have some initial apprehensions about quitting a well-paying job at a crucial stage in life, but he implicitly believed that the universe would have something better in store for him. “Away from the repetitiousness of a daily routine, travel gave me the mind space to get in touch with my other passions and view life from a fresh standpoint. Meeting people from diverse cultures, exploring varied cuisines, experiencing completely different climatic conditions expanded my understanding of the self. When I returned, I was a new person, ready to take on life.”

Shout-out to universe

Kishore had rightly trusted the universe. The travel broadened his horizons and inspired his entrepreneurial venture in the food sector, which soon attracted angel investors putting it on a strong foundation. “Had I not taken a break, I would still be stuck in a dreary job, cursing every moment. But now, I walk with a spring in my feet and look forward to each day,” he notes.

Like Kishore, 25-year-old Sahana Ashok Nayak too did not have any apprehensions about her future when she decided to put in her papers and take the less trodden path. “I am not worried about what lies ahead. I am sure that with my international experience I can build a strong career,” she asserts.

The urge to travel was ignited in her at the age of 13, when she immigrated from Karnataka to the US with her single mother. “Moving from one country to another left me with a thirst for travel and the freedom to discover all that this world has to offer.”

No sooner did she obtain a degree in economics from the University of California, San Diego, Sahana joined the US Peace Corps, to serve as a volunteer in Kosovo. After an eventful stint, it was now time to settle down, or so she thought. She took up a job, bought a fully furnished condo, a car, and in due course, even paid off her loans. And then, the call of the road came once again. Without hesitating a moment, Sahana quit her job, sold her condo and car, and packed her bags. While the proceeds from the sale of her assets are safely tucked away, the travel is being funded from her savings. “I never obtained a loan, nor do I recommend others to, as there are several affordable avenues for travel.”

Besides the US and Kosovo, she has so far visited Mexico, Colombia, Spain, Thailand and Macedonia. She has in her bucket list South Korea, Brazil, Peru, Japan, Morocco, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

“I have been travelling to different countries learning new languages and exploring different cultures. Besides finding new mysteries in far-away places, travel has enabled me to discover secrets hidden within me — about how I can push myself, how I can be independent, and how much I can accomplish on my own. I have learned that if you welcome the world with an open arm and heart, the world will welcome you back.”

Travel has helped Sahana change her outlook of the world and understand how connected humans are. “No matter where I have travelled, I have realised we can connect with people on the simple term that we are all humans. The world is a truly wonderful place and I did not understand its depth until I started travelling. Wherever, I am in the world, I look at the night sky with its beautiful spread of infinite stars and realise I am at home anywhere in this universe of ours,” Sahana explains.

Cut the clutter

For 23-year-old model from Shivamogga, Anvitha Devaratti, the motivation to travel was to clear the cobwebs in her head. “I was looking for some answers in life when I decided to take a break and travel to Dubai and China with friends. The trip helped me unclutter my mind, opened new vistas. Having realised that travel is therapeutic, I have decided to embark on my first solo trip soon.”

Travel has a liberating effect, enabling people to break away from all shackles and explore their free spirit. Dishan Muthanna, a fitness enthusiast and personal trainer from Bengaluru, always led a protected life under the watchful eyes of his parents. He had never ventured out on his own until he took his first solo flight at age 23 to Delhi and joined his friends who were travelling to Himachal Pradesh.

It was a completely unplanned trip with the boys deciding to take each day as it came. Most of the trip was covered by foot, trekking across mountains, exploring local villages, sleeping in tents and eating at temples, while the lack of oxygen often posed a challenge. Dishan, who had saved enough from his first job for the holiday, notes, “For a person who had never ventured out alone, it was a life-time experience that brought about a metamorphosis in me. Spiritually I became stronger and returned a totally transformed person with a new world view.”

Emboldened by his first travel, Dishan now regularly goes on cross-country bike-trips which help him unwind and delve deeper into his inner self.

The travel bug bit 31-year-old Shagun Segan almost a decade ago, but the two-three week trips that he regularly undertook never seemed enough and he yearned for more. In 2015, he set a deadline for himself. He would save enough money by cutting all unnecessary expenditure, kick his job, and travel for at least a year in 2018.

At the end of three years, he had not only saved enough for his dream travel, but had also fallen in love. Shagun quit his job, got married and the couple took off on a five-month trip across Egypt, Turkey and Europe. And even as they unpack and sort out the hundreds of photos taken during the tour, they are already planning their next trip to Indonesia and Philippines.

But, was he not frightened of taking such a big risk at a young age — quitting the job, getting married and blowing up all his savings — all at the same time? “Having a supportive family and a good educational background, I know the future will be safe and sound,” says Shagun confidently.

Unlike others, Budhaditya Roy started a little late in life. At the age of 38, he resigned from his job as vice-president in a television network to reignite his spirts. “The job was rewarding and challenging, but after 10 years, boredom had set in and I was yearning for a break. I have always wanted to visit all the places Asterix and Tintin have been to; see Federer play, in the flesh; appreciate the art by masters like Michelangelo and Van Gogh; watch test cricket in England; soak in the Matterhorn at Switzerland; and dip in the Italian seas.”

Budhaditya travelled for 140 days covering France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Netherlands, Belgium, England and Scotland. Though the trip did not really change him as a person as he was already widely travelled, it nevertheless rejuvenated him. Budhaditya is now looking forward to joining his new job and restarting life.

A common thread that runs through young travellers is that most of them return home philosophical and spiritually awakened. They are more confident in life, have a positive bent of mind, and would rather go with the flow today and savour its beauty than worry about an unseen tomorrow.

They have an unwavering faith in the universe and believe that the future will take care of itself. And it will.

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Ways of the millennials

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