As I sit down to write this post today, I can’t help feeling that 2013 has just flown by. It seems like one minute I was penning down my travel targets and resolutions for 2013 (you can read more on it at 2012, the year that went by and 2013, the year to come) and suddenly it’s time to plan for 2014. But a year has definitely gone by and a lot has been achieved, many lessons learnt and many stories collected. When I had set my targets my 2013, I was so focused on travel that I set all my targets and energies just around it, but in the real journey I actually ended up learning so much more and meeting so many amazing people that I feel I have grown as a traveler and a person.
So how did 2013 finally turn out? Well, overall it was a very good year personally, professionally and for the travel and blogging journey (touch wood :)). Despite a full-time demanding job, I spent 60 days on the road and was very happy with it. In terms of travel I ended up visiting 10 countries (Hong Kong, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland), 8 states in India (Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Delhi, Rajasthan, Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat) and explored a lot of hidden nooks and corners of my own city Mumbai (as a tourist). While I have already shared some of these travel stories, many still remain and I hope to clear the backlog as soon as I can.
Each of these trips that I made were fun, eventful and a few things here and there that made them truly memorable. As a quick recap, I visited –
1. Chennai, Tamil Nadu – I started the year with a quick 3 day trip to Chennai. Met with two of my dear friends and loved all the play and prayer sessions with my friends’ three year old daughter. 🙂
2. Hong Kong – In February I visited Hong Kong for a short work trip, but spent all evenings walking around Central, Kowloon, the Ladies Night markets etc. I loved every minute spent here and explored quite a bit of the non-touristy side of Hong Kong.
3. Kerala – I ended up in Kerala twice in this year, once in March when we went for an office offsite to Leela Kovalam and then in October for an office training session in Kozhikode. We ended up exploring Kozhikode before and after the training sessions and I then traveled further to Kochi (for a personal trip) and spent a few days in Fort Kochi.
4. North India – Delhi, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal – In April we had some personal work in Uttaranchal and some holidays around that time. Hence we combined both, went to Delhi and then visited some offbeat villages and temples in Rajasthan, drove through Uttar Pradesh and then spent some time with the Himalayas in Dehra Doon, Uttaranchal. In Dehra Doon, we also met the inspiring and creative women of Stree Shakti and you can meet with them here.
5. Europe – In May this year, I found myself in my favorite continent Europe again and spent around 20 days here. Loved exploring Prague in a new light, was amazed by the “artiness” of Bratislava, explored Budapest in a unique way, absolutely loved Ljubljana and the stunning Slovenian landscapes, didn’t enjoy Venice but Florence, the Tuscan countryside and the gorgeous views of Cinque Terre more than made up for it. And as always, we ended the trip with meeting my friends P and J in Düsseldorf and then explored small unknown parts of Germany, Belgium and Netherlands with them.
6. Gujarat and Maharashtra – I did 2 small day trips in June – July one to a small village called Mahua in Gujarat and another to Pune for a friend’s wedding. Both the drives were gorgeous as it was in the rains, the entire landscape was in a vibrant shade of green and we drove through clouds and mist.
7. Gujarat – In August I went for a quick 5 day trip to Gujarat and ticked a few things off my travel bucket list. Did the beautiful heritage walk in Ahmedabad, spent the Indian independence day with Mahatma Gandhi at the Sabarmati Ashram, enjoyed the various Gujju versions of international cuisines, saw the stunning Sun temple in modhera and the Unesco world heritage site of Rani ki Vav in Patan.
8. Kaas – In September, I visited the colorful valley of flowers in Maharashtra with Jungle Lore. Had a blast amongst the riot of colors and met the mischievous bonnet macaques.
9. Switzerland – In November I got my first opportunity to visit Switzerland on a FAM trip and explored Interlaken, Zermatt and Zurich through various adventure sports and other activities.
10. Lonavala – And I finally ended the year with a short weekend trip with friends in Lonavala. Also got emotionally blackmailed by a dog 🙂
Apart from all this travel, I finally managed to participate in a short photography course and improve my photography skills (something that I had been wanting to do since a while). So hopefully you will now see better pics on the blog. 🙂
In this year, I finally left my fear for water aside and learnt swimming. Though I am not swimming like a pro, its still a start and an entire new avenue of water sports has opened up 🙂
In this year, I also met Priyanka at a travel related event and through the travel meet ups that she organized met many more fellow travelers. Many of their travel stories were super inspiring and has added many more offbeat places to my travel bucket lists :). We also started exploring hidden gems of our city, Mumbai (as a tourist) and got featured in the DNA (a local newspaper). 🙂
So building upon 2013, what’s in store in 2014 for traveling and blogging? Well, I now hope to –
1. Try and blog at least 3 times a week, as this will help me be more disciplined with my writing and also clear the growing back log 🙂
2. Try and revisit a lot of my older posts and revise them. I feel that I have grown with each post and rewriting them helps me provide a different perspective. Also, revisiting the older posts helps me in reliving those trips too
3. I have now added a new section to the blog called – Books on Travel. This is not for reviews on travel guides but a book list and reviews of all fiction / non-fiction books written by local authors that I want to read or books that have inspired me to travel
4. Visit at least 3 new countries, hopefully a new continent too
5. Visit 10 new places in India including at least 2 new states and 1 UNESCO world heritage site. I really hope to be able to visit North East of India in this year
6. Make the most of the weekends and try to visit loads of places close by. This will help me discover some unexplored and offbeat places around Mumbai too
7. Try and do one agri-tourism holiday. India is an agricultural economy and hence a large part of the population still survives on it. Hence I would love to stay with one such family and try a hand at farming
8. Continue to explore more of my own city, Mumbai and its hidden nooks and corners. Also, try a lot of hole in the wall places for local food and drinks
9. Explore a lot more of interiors of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka which I have not yet done
10. Try a new adventure sports activity, thinking of surfing.
11. Try one crazy local activity / tradition in any of the places that I visit
12. Try and do one completely solo trip. Till date I have just done these in parts i.e. a few days alone and then with a friend
13. Try and do one jungle safari as I have never done one these before either. I also hope to see a tiger 🙂
14. Try and wake up early on each trip to capture at least one beautiful sunrise in every place that I visit 🙂
15. Make many many more travel friends in every city that I happen to be in 🙂
16. On Sue‘s suggestion, I’ll do a 5/10 km walk/run either in Mumbai or during one of my travels. I loved the idea and I think it will help me reduce weight too 🙂
Any other suggestions / ideas that you feel I should add to this “To Do List” for 2014? If you do, please comment below or tweet @traveler_budget
For now it’s a warm welcome to 2014 and to all the excitement that follows a new year, with new plans, new ideas and most of all a chance of seeing many more new places and meeting many more people.. Happy Travels 2014 people 🙂