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Being a traveler at home – why and how

“Adventure is accessible to normal people, in normal places, in short segments of time and without having to spend much money.”
says Alastair Humphrey, the proponent of “microadventures”. This clubs very well with the idea of “being a traveler at home” – when you treat everything with the same open mind, curiosity and fresh perspective that you carry when traveling to new places.

But why be a tourist at home? Haven’t we always lived here and know everything there is to know about the place?

Well, we can tell from firsthand knowledge that being a “traveler at home” has brought great value to the time we are not traveling. We would like to share why and what we’ve learnt from going on these “micro adventures” and adopting the “traveler mindset” at home.

“Going away” is not always an option

Work could be hectic. Finances could be tight. Elders/kids in the family might demand attention. Or you could be just too fatigued to bother with booking tickets, sit on a bus/train/boat/flight and go someplace new.

You want the comfort of home but also want to feel the excitement of travel. Well, why not “travel” in your city?

Haven’t we all marveled at the CST and the other colonial buildings in South Mumbai – when we’ve seen them in movies or photographs? Most cities (especially so in India) are blessed with an old history. Which, in our daily lives we hardly have time to appreciate. Why not take a breather, and go around town appreciating some of these marvels? We like to go on “walking tours” when we travel to new cities. Why not do a walking tour in our own city?

D N Road Heritage Walk in Mumbai, India Victorian buildings in Fort, Mumbai

When we lived in Mumbai, we always complained how the Marine drive would be choc-a-bloc with people and cars on weekend evenings. But what was stopping us from going there on a weekend morning? A beautiful picnic breakfast on the Marine Drive promenade didn’t cost anything more than a couple of hours! Having the sea and the breeze to ourselves on a beautiful relaxing morning – isn’t that the description of a perfect “holiday morning”?

Enjoying a Sunday breakfast with our Couchsurfing friends on Marine Drive. Enjoying a Sunday breakfast with our Couchsurfing friends on Marine Drive.

Doesn’t need much preparation

You can literally just take off. No itinerary planning, ticket booking. No packing or shopping hassles.

You won’t be stuck if you don’t pack enough food or water or the footwear is inappropriate. You are still in your city, a place you know very well. So know where you can find a quick snack, a cap, sunscreen, maybe even a new pair of shoes.

The outing won’t go too wrong even if you aren’t perfectly dressed for it.

Gives you a chance to prepare for a longer adventure

Gulmohar tree on a morning walk on Vetal tekdi in Pune On a walk close to our home! Shot on a Zenfone 3s Max

Say you are planning to go on a long trek? Why not practice by going on smaller ones around your city?

Explore the neighbourhoods of your city to practice walking on the cobbled streets in Europe.

Mahadji Shinde Chatri, Pune Visited this on a heritage walk in our city. It is the Mahadji Shinde chhatri. Shot with a Zenfone 3s Max.

Test your gear on these outings

The shoes you’re trying to break into?

What better way of getting used to your newly purchased camera than using it “on the field”?

We’re using the Asus Zenfone 3s Max for most of our travel photography. We’ve used it for the exhaustive food trip we did across South India as well as our road trip to Hyderabad.

Photography is a huge part of our travel. It’s imperative for us that the camera and the phone (at most times, both of these are our Asus Zenfone 3s Max) hold up through the day.
We’ve used these smaller trips to test the phone and its battery, to come up with the optimal way to use its PowerMaster App that controls how the battery drains.

These smaller trips are when we test the phone’ battery to measure how much it drains and how many photos and videos can we shoot in a day. Or what are the charging modes suitable, how we need to manage the apps to make sure the phone performs as we need it to, throughout the day.

At these times, when plans are made without any preparation time, the power bank might not be charged. The massive 5000mAh battery of this Zenfone then comes handy.

Meet like-minded people closer to home

We often meet amazing people doing cool things with their lives when we travel. How awesome would it be if we could meet such awesome people from our own city?

Serene landsacpe at Bhatghar dam on a day outing from Pune Stumbled upon this serene landscape on a day outing, not far from our home. Shot on a Zenfone 3s Max

Going for local outings with the local groups gives us these opportunities. We once went for a stargazing session, just to spend a weekend doing something new. Well, the stargazing session went great. But what was more exciting was meeting the guy who had organised it. Turns out, besides being an astronomy enthusiast (yes, just this qualified him to be an interesting person!), he was an avid trekker, bird watcher, traveler – everything that forms an instant connection for us!

Needless to say, many weekend treks, heritage walks, and many many travel discussions followed over the years. More importantly, from just that one event, a wonderful friendship ensued.

There are more than enough interesting people here in our own neighbourhoods. Someone right next door might be interested in making wine, designing drones or building a bicycle – how will you know unless you go out seeking those?

Get the “wow, this is ours” feeling

“How are the Elephanta caves?”, many of our Couchsurfing guests would ask us. To which we would sheepishly reply, “we’ve never been there”. Sounds familiar, right?

Until one day, we joined another Couchsurfing guest and made that trip across the bay to the Elephanta caves. A young guy who lived on the Gharapuri Island (atop which the Elephanta caves are perched) was our guide. With great pride, he explained the meanings of the carved idols and symbols in the caves.

Listening to the stories he was narrating, we felt a strong connection to the place. All of the history, all of those events had happened right here, in a place we called home. “This is all part of our personal history”, we couldn’t help feeling.

Pride, belonging, torch bearers – were a myriad of emotions we were feeling as we left back from the Elephanta caves. We felt a powerful sense of responsibility towards protecting the Elephanta caves.

Isn’t that a wonderful feeling? Imagine when all of us develop this belonging and longing towards everything in and around our cities? Its heritage buildings, legacy institutions, iconic landmarks, its trees its gardens? Wouldn’t our “homes” become better places to live in?

Are you a traveler in your own city? Have you discovered anything new when you looked at the “same old” with a traveler’s eyes? We would love to hear your stories.

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