Young Indians Who Quit City Life To Travel

Young Indians Who Quit City Life To Travel

“Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.” -  Jack Kerouac

If you’re going to quote Kerouac or Twain (Read: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.”) right at the get go, you’d better have good reason and even better stories from the road to back it up.

Naturally, we have both. In the rat race that is life in the 21st century, it takes more than a little bit of courage to leave everything behind and it made us think about the few we knew who had. Quitting jobs, leaving families and stability behind, all in the pursuit of travel is the stuff most people’s dreams are made of and the ones who cut off those strings usually find there’s more to learn than they had ever imagined.

We’ve always had immense respect for those who throw caution to the winds and dare to pursue their passions regardless of how impractical it might initially seem. Whether it’s these two volumes of individuals we showcased who are juggling dual professions in one lifetime or those who’ve straight-up made their choice (and how) by choosing their dreams over stability--we’re out to find more of these people and make their stories known. Today, we take a turn towards those afflicted with wanderlust in this compilation, to explore the story of young people who decided to take to the road and stick to it, quitting their jobs to follow their hearts. Until you can do the same, here are their tales to tide you over...

[Note to readers — these stories are in no particular order of preference.] 

I. Mishana Khot (Optimistic. Reserved. Brit Lit Geek.) & Amit Thaker (Good-humoured. Organised. Adventurous.) 

Who: 34-year old Mishana and 36-year-old Amit used to work at a digital advertising company, in social media and client servicing respectively. With about 10-12 years work experience each under their belts, both of them adore travelling and had travelled quite a bit prior to their big trip, but always found that it was ‘never enough’.

“Travel can cure... that niggling fear that our lives will tick away while we sit at our desks.”

The big trip: A 6-month-long criss-cross trip across the globe. After almost a decade of work, the two media professionals decided to take the plunge. While Amit had always dreamed of long-term travel, Mishana was keen on experiencing new destinations like a local.

“We wanted a country that would be diverse and interesting, just like India is, but with plenty of facilities for campers like us, and America was our first choice,” Mishana shares. “Besides, when you say ‘road trip’, you think America.” 

The couple spent three months camping from coast to coast in the United States of America, after which they headed to the land down under and spent almost a month in Australia, driving down the coast from Sydney to Melbourne, and sleeping in a camper van every night. Their final stop was two months on a tiny island in Thailand, their self-proclaimed ‘rest stop’, so that they could stay put in one place after four months of being in a different place every night.

On choosing travel over their jobs:

“It wasn’t so much a changing point as a destination for us,” Mishana explains. “We had talked about this endlessly, and it made us feel as if we were finally doing what we always wanted. There was a lot of insecurity in letting go of stability, and I don’t know if that came more from inside us or from what other people worried about. We quit our jobs, sold our car, gave up our rental apartment, and packed all our belongings into boxes that we stowed at the homes of friends and family.”

On what they gained:

“I think both of us gained a tremendous understanding of what mattered to us most. Long-term travel really teaches you to separate the wheat from the chaff. When you learn what is important to you, you also learn about yourself. Plus you pick up a few skills along the way.”

On what they lost:

“Mostly a lot of preconceived notions,” Mishana reflects. “Travel is safer than you think. Strangers are much kinder than we give them credit for. America is a wonderfully diverse place with lots to see and do - it’s not just malls and chain stores.

Bears are not always going to attack you, even when they look mean. Fire isn’t as easy to light on a cold day as it is back home when you light a bonfire. It’s not that hard to live out of a backpack for six months. Money stretches a lot farther than you think.”

If you could buy a one-way ticket to anywhere, where would you go?

“That’s not a fair question to ask a travel-mad couple! We’d probably buy RTW (round the world) tickets, so we could do and see everything.”

One inanimate travel companion you’d never leave home without?

“I’d like to say my Kindle, but our cellphones doubled as GPS devices, cameras, information manuals, travel guides and let us stay in touch with our loved ones, and we could read on them too. So I’ll vote for our cellphones.”

Check out their website here & Facebook here.

II. Ajay Makhija (Explorer. Cancerian. Abundant)

Who: 29-year-old Ajay Makhija is a DJ as a part of Orbs & Zen and also has an online company of his own. He has previously worked in the production part of advertising, in finance and in artist programming at Blue Frog, before he started exploring transformational breath-work, alternate healing methods and energy work. He is currently in the middle of setting up a mental detox/meditation and yoga centre in Koh Phangan, Thailand and runs simultaneously.

“Travel can cure... anything. Via Via Via of course.”

The big trip: Ajay quit his job at Blue Frog, Mumbai, to switch back to trading stocks, but the stress and losing money ended up taking a toll on him after a while, compounded by the constant feeling of not fitting in which led to depression and anxiety - and this was the impetus that led him to travel.

“I started travelling to get away from everything,” he confesses. McLeod Ganj was the first stop, where he learnt the art of yoga and vipassana and he went on to visit Goa before heading to the Andamans, where he managed a luxury hotel for a while before trotting right on to Kodaikanal.

Being forced to return to Mumbai when he started falling short of money, his quest to overcome his depression continued and he started exploring alternate healing methods and energy work. “I got much better after that,” he shares.

“I fell in love, became a DJ as a part of Orbs & Zen and started a small online company.” Realising he ‘wanted to do something more meaningful’ with his life, he left for Koh Phangan in Thailand, where he came up with his website while studying transformational breath-work and other alternate healing modalities.

On choosing travel over his job:

“Travel opened my eyes to the wider world around us, to different ways of living, to nature, to cleaner energetic environments, to healing,  to the pleasure of doing nothing, to self-exploration, to learning,” Ajay explains.

“I’m a sensitive person and cities are a cesspool of stimulus, we just keep doing and doing and doing -- we don’t take stock of what’s happening, choosing to distract ourselves from the issues we face instead of addressing them.”

Ajay elaborates that travel slowed everything down and let things come up to be dealt with. “Also, because I travelled due to dis-ease, I was always drawn towards yoga, meditation or healing kinds of locations, which is what I’m doing with my life now. I want to help people explore the potential of being human and alive.” 

On what he gained:

“Experience, strength, friendships, courage, healing, knowledge, wisdom, clarity, silence, love, joy and peace,” Ajay reels off.

On what he lost:

“Security maybe, and a steady pay cheque, and more money,” he muses, before quickly adding, “But I wouldn’t trade it back.”

If you could buy a one-way ticket to anywhere, where would you go?

“Hawaii, Costa Rica or maybe Thailand.”

One inanimate travel companion you’d never leave home without?

“Headphones, for sure.”

Follow Ajay and iamcreator on Facebook and check out his website.

 III. Merwyn Coutinho (Modern Day Nomad)

Who: 38-year-old Merwyn has spent 7 years in marketing, and then 12 years working for a reputed MNC, but ultimately, ‘the monotony, stagnancy and the comfort of the city life’, along with the pressures of the corporate world made him yearn for another way to live.

“Travel can cure... stagnation and everything that arises from it. It can also cure ignorance and teach tolerance.”

The big trip: Merwyn realised he wanted a life where he could make his own decisions, and to fulfil his ‘want to experience everything and have nothing,’ he fired up his 1980 Royal Enfield and set out on the road in 2010 with the sole aim of creating experiences that would take him ‘further and beyond’.

“It was just about going with the flow-- stopping when you got tired, eating when you’re hungry,” he explains. “Pick up any jobs when you need money to put fuel in the bike, or food, and just roll with it.” From Mumbai, he has ridden across the country at least twice till date, and at the moment, he is exploring the frontiers and diversity of the North-East while living with the tribes residing there.

On choosing travel over his job:

“Quitting was an easy choice, because I knew that to start a new life, you need to end the old one,” Merwyn says. “The only choice I had to make was to be in a state of constant movement and embrace uncertainties. This gives me freedom and new experiences every day - I go with the flow.”

On what he gained:

“Myself,” he reflects. “Each day is a new day. By embracing the uncertainty of not knowing where my next meal’s going to be coming from or where I will sleep, I have embraced life, space, freedom and acceptance.”

He adds that even though these everyday experiences have ceased to shock him, it continues to make him see life on the road as it is and take in experiences with a balance that only the road can teach.

On what he lost:

“My inhibitions, my ignorance and the sense of lethargy that arises from commonplace things/experiences or boxed structures of apparent comfort.”

If you could buy a one-way ticket to anywhere, where would you go?

“I already bought my one-way ticket in 2010 when I took off on the road never to go back anywhere!”

One inanimate travel companion you’d never leave home without?

“Leatherman, my sleeping bag and a Matchbox.”

Follow Merwyn and his travel diaries on Further and Beyond’s website and Facebook page. You can also check the Batti project and its Facebook page.

IV. Robin Joseph (The Wandering Indian)

Who: This 29-year-old ‘urban traveller’ started working with a global tech. firm in Bangalore, after receiving his MBA from Ahmedabad. He was transferred to Tokyo in a Asia-Pacific level role, one that required him to travel extensively, but he eventually got “tired of planning my travels in between work trips”, and finally decided to travel the right way.

“Travel can cure...the relentless reliance on routine.”

The big trip: There were three things Robin wanted to achieve through his travels: learn new life skills, learn a new language and see the world. He learned how to snowboard in Chile, free-dive in Fiji and kitesurf in Sri Lanka.

He then set off for Thailand where he trained to be a divemaster before going off to Mexico to learn the art of being a tec diver. He has even travelled through New Zealand, South America - where he tried to pick up Spanish, crossed over to Africa and drove across South Africa and Tanzania, with Turkey as his last stop.

On what he gained:

“Perspective, patience and perseverance; and apparently an affinity for alliteration.” 

On what he lost:

“Weight!,” he exclaims. “On the road for so long - you either lose a lot of weight or accumulate a lot; I was lucky!” he says before adding, “Also, hats. I lost a lot of hats.”

If you could buy a one-way ticket to anywhere, where would you go?

“Chilean Patagonia: though technically, with South America’s porous borders - it would be easy to keep moving.”

One inanimate travel companion you’d never leave home without?

“Swimming trunks: life is better in swimming trunks. You can do impromptu swims, wear them in the rains and they dry in a snap.”

 Follow Robin on his FacebookInstagram & Linkedin.

V. Rohan Mathew (Hyperactive. Spiritual. Explorer)

Who: 32-year-old Rohan Mathew has an MBA in CSR from the Netherlands government and always confesses that the best school in life... “is life itself, so get out of your comfort zone and travel to learn.” Post gaining some good experience in corporate management at his last job as a Business Analyst in Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Amsterdam, he decided it was time to not only switch careers but also travel while he was at it. He went on to learn sustainable design, is now an interior designer by profession, and also loves to DJ.

“Travel can cure... ignorance and actuate bliss.”

The big trip:  In search of the right tools and design information, he decided learn permaculture, that was being taught in colleges in New South Wales (NSW), Australia. He explains,“I decided to follow my intuition and take the big break from work.

To learn and travel in a completely Utopian community-driven paradise called Byron Bay, in hopes of finding solutions to the problems I felt needed immediate addressing.”

While waiting for his course to start, he began looking for various organic farms where he could work and learn as much as he could. He eventually travelled up the whole east coast of Australia with a fully loaded camping van, from the Sunshine Coast right up to Cairns for the Total Solar Eclipse festival.

The best learning experience, he states, was working with new cultures and in new countries, whether it was the green school Starseed Gardens or the Byron Bay Sunday farmers market, they have all added to and moulded his life experience.

On choosing travel over his job:

“It has improved and expanded my horizons when it comes to my lifestyle choices, my career, my relationships and my perspective on life.”

On what he gained:

“Self awareness and self-confidence as a citizen of the Earth.”

On what he lost:

“My savings!” he exclaims.

If you could buy a one-way ticket to anywhere, where would you go?

“Galápagos Islands.”

One inanimate travel companion you’d never leave home without?

“An iPhone (music, GPS, compass, travel apps, reading, info).”

You can check out Rohan’s Facebook page to know more about his travel experiences. 

VI. Sunny Patneedi & Priyanka Patneedi (Adventurous. Family-loving. Foodies.)

Who: This is a duo that has had to make a lot of tough decisions to pursue their passion for travelling. Based in the US, Sunny Patneedi was a Software Engineer with Microsoft, and his wife, Priyanka Patneedi, a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm D) who works with the geriatric population.

Both the 30-year-olds, hail from middle-class families, and both had the responsibility of paying off their student loans and hence were unable to study abroad. Once they started earning and paid off their student loans, they began saving up and travelling within the US.

 “Travel can cure....ethnocentricity.” 

The big trip: “Once we met each other, we expanded our travel adventures to outside the US,” they recollect fondly. Due to commitments at work, they could only travel 2-3 weeks in a year, which they couldn’t utilize completely to travel as they had to visit their families in India.

Yet, they managed to travel to various destinations like the Cook Islands, Paris, Prague, Amsterdam, Dubai, Tokyo, the Dominican Republic and Mexico. “Being in India is always fun but we dreamt of travelling more and soaking in other parts of the world,” he confesses.

When they realized they were done putting their dreams on hold, he quit his job as he could not get a sabbatical and Priyanka acquired a leave of absence from work. In 115 days, they went all out and covered 38 destinations all over the world in the journey of their lifetime. The takeaways? “Well, if we had to do it again, we would have stayed longer in each place and covered less.”

On choosing travel over their jobs:

“Since we didn’t know anyone personally who had done something like this, we totally got into some uncharted territories, which was exciting and fun, but also challenging,” says Sunny.

“However, because of these challenges, we are stronger and a bit wiser now. We learnt to simplify and prioritize things in life. Travelling for an extended period of time, as well as on a budget, restricted us from unnecessary expenditure.”

He adds their experiences have taught them to appreciate the opportunities they have had, “One thing we have learnt from meeting people during our travels was to truly follow our passion in life and get rid of excess (in every sense). Also, going from highly dense cities like Hong Kong, Delhi and Beijing to beautiful green places like Patagonia and Galapagos has made us aware of the environment and how we should each give back to help preserve this incredible planet.” 

On what they gained:

“We have learnt to thrive outside our comfort zone. We were frequently faced with unfamiliar situations and learned to remain calm and composed during uncertainty and challenges, to understand differences in culture and people from all backgrounds. We have also come to realise how much stress we put on ourselves during our day-to-day lives and how happy we were individually and together without these stresses while travelling.”

On what they lost:

“Fear of the unknown,” reflects Sunny. He continues to explain that it took a lot of courage for them to quit their jobs that they loved and paid well, knowing all the struggles they had to go through to get there in the first place.

They even built a ‘nest egg of savings’ in case they were unable to find another job but they had more to worry about. “Our parents were initially not comfortable with the idea, they tried in all their parenting ways to see if we would change our minds but after a few weeks, they gave in. During our travels, they were very happy to see our journey and when we returned, they were proud of us and were also slightly bragging to their social groups.”

If you could buy a one-way ticket to anywhere, where would you go?

“Galápagos, Ecuador.”

One inanimate travel companion you’d never leave home without?

“The iPhone 6.”

 Follow the duo and their travel tales on their website, Facebook page and Instagram

VII. Francesca Mascarenhas (Determined. Sincere. Passionate)

 Who: 30-year-old Francesca had her fair share of trysts with various professions as a result of her efforts to find her niche. She worked with one of India’s best fashion designers before moving on to a boutique design company. Despite having great work experience, she felt that she had a greater potential that was left untapped.

She went on to work as an Assistant Producer with a film production company and an editor of an entertainment portal before a short stint with an interior design company. “I had a picture perfect life,” she confesses. Despite having  great job and good pay, she wasn’t satisfied because she wasn’t passionate about any of it as she was about travelling.

“Travel can cure... the curiosity that only a true traveller will have and enrich them in ways only they will understand. Travel is the perfect ‘to each his own’ anecdote!”

The big trip: She had travelled to countries like Australia, New Zealand, Dubai, Canada, USA, Thailand, Malaysia, to name a few but it was Europe that she wished to explore. It was a matter of ‘now or never’ for her and she decided to follow her heart.

She saved enough money that would allow her an unperturbed break in Europe for two months. While she was there she travelled through Spain, France, Italy and Greece making sure she didn’t just experience the tourist attractions but also the authentic side of each of these cities.

 On choosing travel over her Job:

“I often think people look at me through ‘Facebook eyes’,” she muses. “Little do they know that I’ve pulled out most of my life’s savings, quit a perfectly good job and risked everything at 30 – that’s a little old to be acting irresponsibly, or so I’ve heard.

So being bold enough not to compromise or settle for the life you have and brave enough to change your life’s path is what has defined my journey so far.”

On what she gained:

“Will let you know… I’m still finding that out.”

On what she lost: 

“I lost interest in the bank but gained interest back in my life!”

 If you could buy a one-way ticket to anywhere, where would you go? 

“There are so many places it could be, but there would definitely be a beach nearby.”

One inanimate object you would never leave home without?

“My phone (and portable charger),” she states before quickly adding on, “Not because of calls or whatsapp but because I’ve got some accessories that allow me to take great pictures and videos and this allows me to document my travels and memories and share them with family and friends.”

VIII. Jay Mavani (Curious. Random. Spontaneous)

Who: This 32-year-old “discoverer of sorts” worked in digital advertising for almost 10 years before he decided to call it quits so he could do what he really wanted - embark on a journey where he could try out new things.

“Travel can cure... misunderstandings.”

The big trip: It was his fascination towards the beach and the concept of living on an island that led him to the beautiful island of Mafia, just off the coast of Tanzania.

What started out as a two weeks getaway turned into a three-month-long stay because there just was so much about the island he wanted to absorb. As a result of not being tied down by an itinerary, he was able to do things that helped him experience the culture of the island, without any filters.

He spent time with the locals; learnt a bit of Swahili; learnt to appreciate and cook their local cuisine; went snorkelling, scuba diving and even swam with whale sharks.

After having explored every aspect of Mafia, he still wasn’t ready to return home and so, he went on an impromptu wildlife safari to Ruaha. the largest national park in Tanzania. It was not long after this that he found himself partying in the city of Dar Es Salaam. 

“The essence of my journey was the people I met,” he reflects. For him it was the human interactions--talking to locals, meeting and spending time with explorers from across the world-- that made his journey worthwhile.

On choosing travel over his job: “Among many things, it debunked the idea of having to travel with a definite schedule or an agenda. It gave me a glimpse into something I had only imagined myself doing, that is to work irrespective of physical location” he muses.

He elaborates further by adding that that he was able to help the locals with his design & marketing skill-sets in exchange of meals, cheaper stay, and other island experiences.These exchanges, he believes, gave him the confidence to continue travelling.

“I understood a bit of life under water, I got close to life on land and I started to understand my life a little better. To want to exist with meaning is to exist by simply being present. Because when you are present, a whole lot of good comes out of it,” he adds.

On what he gained: “Just as Jiddu Krishnamurti said, it is important to understand life as a whole and not just a part of it. We spend most of our lives without realizing just how conditioned we are to think, live and do things a certain way.

This experience helped me understand how the mind decays when it is secure. So, as difficult and unnecessary as it may seem, my journey is about un-becoming everything that isn’t really me,” he states.

“I also think I got a bit too comfortable with going commando, but that’s another story for another time,” he adds as an afterthought.

On what he lost: “A consistent income, or shall I say the comfort of having one. I also lost the need to be connected to devices all the time. Notifications of any kind are annoying if you ask me.

At times, I thought electricity was overrated. Time stopped dictating and became a concept. With that said, it is difficult getting back to “reality” – even if it is temporary.”

If you could buy a one-way ticket to anywhere, where would you go?

“I’d have to say Africa. A one-way ticket to a vast and highly diverse continent with fascinating cultures, dramatic scenery and extraordinary animals? Sure, why not.”

 One inanimate object you would never leave home without?

“Laptop. There’s something about having my laptop with me, wherever I go.”

IX. Lavanya Ullas (Curious. Casual. Confused?)

Who: Hailing from the city of Bangalore, this 30-year-old’s decision to travel was, for a long time, a dream she used to see with Pawel, her then boyfriend and now, her husband.

“Travel can cure... almost anything!”

The big trip: The duo had set themselves a timeline within which they had to pay off all their loans and save up enough money to travel together. Their earlier short trips to Jordan and Syria heightened their curiosity about the Middle East and they decided to travel this region before heading to South-East Asia.

It took a few years longer than they had anticipated but in 2011, she resigned from her job in Dubai and decided to make this dream of theirs come true. “We decided we wanted to do fewer countries and spend more time there,” she shares.

Their first destination was Egypt, where they spent 3 weeks, followed by a month each in Turkey and Iran. From there, they flew to Kuala Lumpur, followed by trips to Singapore and Indonesia. After this, they headed to Vietnam where they bought and refurbished a motorbike on which they rode across Vietnam, Cambodia & Laos. Before moving to India, they also spent 3 weeks in the Philippines followed by a month in Poland.

On choosing travel over their jobs: For a career driven person, quitting her first job post MBA would prove to be extremely detrimental, but she knew she wasn’t one. Apart from being extremely frustrated with her job, being separated from Pawel was also taking a toll on her, emotionally. “It wasn’t the easiest decision,” she accepts. She had to alter her lifestyle choices in a way that would help her save money.

“Even the smallest things like choosing to pack my own lunch instead or eating out or taking a bus instead of a cab brought me that much closer to the trip,” she reveals and adds on, “The trip changed how I view certain priorities in life like work, what’s important, and I even learnt that you never need a lot of money to travel.”

 On what she gained: “It’s hard to quantify what I gained!” she exclaims. “It’s easily the single biggest achievement I’m proud of so far,” she adds, happily.

 On what she lost: “Momentum of career progress, I’d have to say. A year off, after working for only 2 years will most definitely set you back but I would do it all over again.”

If you could buy a one-way ticket to anywhere, where would you go?

“Right now? Japan. That’s a country that’s been on our minds a lot lately.”

One inanimate object you would never leave home without? 

“Probably my camera.”

X. Jasjit Sngh (Straight Talker. Travel Junkie. Curious Learner about New Cultures.)

Who: This 32-year-old from Allahabad worked with Wipro, Bangalore for almost three and a half years after graduating from M.I.T, Manipal. In 2013, he completed his graduation from James Cook University in Singapore.

 “Travel can cure... a tired and broken soul. It works as a charger. You travel and see that world is more than the materialistic things that are absolutely free“

The big trip: His obsession for travelling began with his affinity towards going on short drives around where he lived - even if meant to just ride to the Cafe Coffee Day on Tumkur Road when he was in Bangalore.

Since 2006, when his friend proposed the idea of going to Leh, all he wanted was to simply set out on a road trip. Finally, in 2009, he left his job, purchased a Royal Enfield and biked all the way from Delhi to Nepal.

He rode for 13 days, into another country and then, there was no going back for him. Now, it is impossible for him to go more than 3 months without making at least one road trip.

10 days road trip throughout Himachal, 13 days on the road to Bhutan, numerous visits to Leh and short rides to Munnar, Kodaikanal, Ooty (to name a few), later, his love for travelling has only grown.

Till date, he has backpacked through 9 countries-- Singapore, Nepal, Bhutan, Indonesia, Philippines, China, Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar.

On choosing travel over his job: “Travelling helps you to see the world through a different perspective. You suddenly realize that all the stereotypes you believe in, are not true,” he shares, “I have shared food with Germans, supported ‘China got Talent’ with the Chinese and had drinks with tribals in Philippines. Travelling has helped me to share views and learn from people from all walks of life.”

On what he gained: “Travelling has helped me to discover my independence,” he reflects. “Backpacking alone to China or weeks long road trips helped in inducing confidence, independence and decision making ability in me.

It helps not only mentally but also gives you a strong hold on communication (even with those who don’t understand your language). It is unpredictable and trains you to face any crises and handle it with ease. And the most important of all - I made a ton of friends from Europe to Southeast Asia.”

On what he lost: “Maybe monetarily, I lost something. Had I been stuck with my usual IT life I would have definitely ended up onsite or as a team manager, by now.

But if you really love travelling, you will understand that no monetary value can replace the priceless experience and peace of mind that you get through travel. The only thing that I regret is not starting earlier!”

If you could buy a one-way ticket to anywhere, where would you go: 

“Definitely Palawan ( Philippines). I don’t mind spending my whole life on the magical beaches of Palawan.”

One inanimate object you would never leave home without?

“My camera for sure. Travel photography allows me to document all my travels.”

XI. Johnny B (Patient. Peaceful. Realist.)

Who:  This 33-year-old chemical engineer dropped the idea of being an engineer even before could complete his course. He moved to Mumbai city and started working his way up in the digital business, focusing mainly on music and editorials, followed by a stint in the telecom industry.

This opened up a new beginning for him in the movie industry. Simultaneously, he began moonlighting in the live music scene, as a vocalist, artist manager and then even as a DJ. Even though his job required some amount of travelling, he always found himself returning to Mumbai.

 “Travel can cure ...restless minds.”

The big trip: He took two months off his work last year so that he could go to Brazil for the World Cup. He backpacked from the Pacific Coast to the Atlantic, via Peru, Bolivia and ultimately landed in Rio de Janeiro so he could be a part of the greatest football party there ever was.

At the end of two months he realized he had not even begun to explore the area half as much as he wanted to. Determined, he returned to India, quit his job and completely left his life here behind so he could explore the continent. With no expiry date to this tour, he went on and explored Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Brazil and even Columbia.

“My life in Mumbai had left me jaded and unexcited, the monotony and debauchery of city life had begun to take a toll on me and I really enjoyed the cultural experience that South America had to offer,” he shares.

The possibility of being able to absorb the ‘littler’ pleasures in life there--be it tasting their finest cocoa, or the Mystic Shamans of the Amazon, trekking through the Andes, living in isolated valleys, snorkeling in the Atlantic, or just chilling with the sea lions, penguins, anacondas and leopards!

 On choosing travel over his job: “I got free from all the shackles. Now I know what’s important and what’s of no value. I’m at peace. Saying ‘no’ to what i have no interest in, or time for, comes easily to me now--social obligations are out the window. I’ve tamed my recklessness. Decisions come to me, easy and clear.”

 On what he gained: “A lot of peace, calm and a lot of self control.”

On what he lost: “Girlfriend, 20 kilos and my tolerance for bullshit.”

If you could buy a one-way ticket to anywhere, where would you go: 

“Island Dominica.”

One inanimate object you would never leave home without?

“My camera and the diary I keep notes in. I can’t pick one from these.”

 Follow Johnny and his journey until now, on his Instagram, and twitter

XIII. Pushkaraj S. Shirke (Writer. Adventurer. Thinker. Artist. Jungle child.)

Who: 30-year-old Pushkaraj faced a lot of hardships that forced him to start working at a very young age of 15 years. Ever since he has tried his hand at various fields such a copywriter-creative director, a fitness consultant, film director-producer, photographer.

“Travel can cure nothing. But it can sure show you that life is way bigger than the petty things that might be worrying you into thinking that they need a cure. How far will you run, if what you run from, runs deep within your heart?”

The big trip: About five years ago, when he was working at ‘Ogilvy One’ as a creative supervisor, he began to rethink what he wanted to do with his life. It was at this point that he decided to break out of his comfort zone and went on to work on Bollywood movie just to explore his love for movies, which he did not find gratifying to the least.

Eventually he broke away from everything that was holding him back, including his girlfriend, packed up a rucksack with just 2 pairs of clothes, a camera, a tent and set out to explore the world, with no specific destination on his mind. He eventually ended up in Kashmir and from here he went on to Mumbai and ultimately all the way to Kanyakumari.

In 6 months, he covered the North-South axis of India on his bike and during this period he made sure he enjoyed life to its fullest-- he made new friends, wrote a journal, experimented with as many types of alcohol and narcotics that was available enroute the journey. 

When he returned, he decided that he didn’t want to simply pick up from where he left off and so he went on to take admission to a film school which ultimately helped him take off his journey as professional film maker. “To think of it, that trip saved my life,” he admits.

On choosing travel over his career: “It didn’t define my life or anything. It just gave me many awesome memories and made me happy that I have one less thing to cross off from my bucket list.”

On What He Gained: “Experience. Experience. Experience,” he reiterates. “All kinds of them. And sunburns and helmet heads. And a major lesson to never use a cheap hard drive to store  your travel photos,” he trails off, sadly.

 On What He Lost: “6 months of pay and 80,000 in cash is all it cost me. If I look at it, I didn’t really lose a thing.”

If you could buy a one-way ticket to anywhere, where would you go? 

“I’m not sure I can commit to one place, but whichever that place is, it needs a forest. That’s for sure. I’m a jungle child.”

One inanimate travel companion you’d never leave home without? 

“A swiss knife and a camera.”

XIV. Hersh Kumbhani (Silly. Gluttonous. Curious.)

Who: 32-year-old Hersh Khumbai has always been on the move. Born in the suburbs of Cleveland, it was only a matter of time before he started exploring the world around him. Before he even turned 18, he moved to Dubai and went on to study in two different boarding schools in India. Later on, he moved to the US to pursue a degree in Economics and Finance from Cornell, and he stayed there to work, until 2008.

It was when he was working for Jefferies in New York that he decided to return to India. He decided to work on a startup, Trabblr, a social platform for travellers and locals to explore cities around the world together, with Mumbai as his base. Unfortunately, Trabblr did not gain the momentum it should have and so he shifted to Gurgaon to join Zomato, where he has been working until now.

Travel can cure... complacency.

The big trip: He left his job at a time of great financial crisis and when people were trying hard to keep theirs, he decided to call quits. He had no clear ideas but he knew he no longer wanted to live a life where he spends all his life trying to attain the next in set of “linear, sequential goals.”

In the spring of 2009, he and his friend, Josh, set out on a journey that would take them from Bangkok to Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, before heading to Lisbon so they could explore Europe.

A while after the first trip, he went on a shorter journey to Malaysia, where he learnt to dive, and Sumatra where he learnt to observe rare orangutans. He spent about three months exploring Bulgaria and the Balkans so he could learn more about the region that monopolized headlines back when he was in high school.

On choosing travel over his job: “I think I’ve stopped taking myself too seriously.  I still have this drive to achieve great things but I do that now with a broader perspective,” he shares, “Travel also made me step back and reflect on how lucky I am to even have had the opportunity to put things on pause for a year.  

My heart goes out to people who don’t see the value in travel but my heart goes out even more to those who see it but simply aren’t able to.”

On what he gained: “A ton of experiences that I will remember forever, meaningful friendships and the inspiration to create a travel startup that would inevitably be one of the most educational experiences of my life,” he recollects fondly.

On what he lost: “A lot of money!” he exclaims. “ There were days when I thought that I was losing time as well. I would keep up with what my friends were doing and many of them were growing personally and professionally in the traditional sense – you know, getting married, getting promoted, reaching that next step – while I seemed to be stagnant.  For someone who only understood structure and plans, it was challenging to find comfort in ambiguity,” he admits.

If you could buy a one-way ticket to anywhere, where would you go: 

“Nowhere that I’ve visited so far. I like to think that that perfect place is still out there - this is the motivation for me to keep exploring.”

One inanimate travel companion you’d never leave home without? 

“My iPod. I find myself paying greater attention to music when I’m not at home or work.”

You can stay updates with Hersh’s travel stories by following him on his Instagram, Twitter, and his website.

XV. Neha Vora and Akshay Kulkarni (Send us tickets to South America)

Who: Neha and Akshay Vora, are a 33-year-old married couple from Bombay. They are now settled in London where they have their own company for health services.

“Travel can cure... nothing, really. What it can do is make you appreciate the small joys of life that we take for granted. Like a warm shower, comfortable bed, nice coffee and that if you get both of these or all 3 together then its absolute luxury. It makes you feel privileged at times within the world that could be full of sorrows but also makes you understand importance social responsibility.”

The big trip: They began their tryst with travelling started with a few short adventures within India, where they visited places like Varanasi, Kanha Forest, Jabalpur, Nagpur, Rann Utsav and Bhuj, the interiors of Maharashtra, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, and Kerala.

Later on they decided to step out of their comfort zones and backpacked through Southeast Asia for 4 months visiting Hong Kong, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and South Korea.

On choosing travel over their jobs:  “We decided to travel to understand different social entrepreneurship and health care models within each country. Travel makes you understand that the horizon is not limited through your eyesight but through your mind. It is important to have a balance in life and travelling helped us achieve that.”

On what they gained:  “There are some experiences in life that neither money nor intelligence can get you,” states Neha before adding on, “Only travelling can teach you to lose inhibitions about people and trust the unknown. There are more good people on the Earth than the bad ones. We managed to read and create our own blog that we would not have done otherwise.”

On what they lost: “Nothing. We only gained things. There is never anything to lose while travelling. You will lose something when you travel with a closed mind.”

If you could buy a one-way ticket to anywhere, where would you go?  

“South America especially Chile, Peru and Argentina.”

One inanimate travel companion you’d never leave home without? 

“Each other. On technological front it’s a travel book and phone.”

Related Stories

No stories found.