thedoubletdiary
Backpacking,  Travel

10 months, 9 trips, 8 states with full time job: Travel Report Card

It all started with us getting hitched on 5 March 2018! We were finally married to each other after dating for good four years. Our mutual love for traveling played cupid in our love story. We were looking forward to our next trip and out of nowhere I popped the question ” Should we start our own travel blog?” We were traveling since the very start of our dating period, in between these trips we realized that together we form a great team and hence it seemed like the next step.

The question made Paresh think and what followed after is weeks of research and brainstorming sessions. There were lots of apprehensions and still there are many questions like what if we will not be able to manage our work and travel together? Frequent posts are important which we clearly could not manage, what we will be gaining from this extra burden? The only positive point we could foresee was atleast we will plan our future travel more systematically and could share in travel community, and with this thought we plunged into this sea of travel blogging and started our blog in April 2018.

Can’t believe its already one year (actually more than that!) and when we look back I wonder how did we pull this off ? From March 2018 to December 2018 we have managed to travel 10 places ( 8 states) in 10 months ! This blog was long due but better late than never!

Long post ahead! We will be covering about all the places we covered in this span and will be dropping some travel tips here and there! Read on 🙂

1. Har Ki Doon Trek

In March end, we went on our first Himalayan trek to Har ki Dun as our honeymoon. Weird right? I mean who goes on a week trek as honeymoon trip but we did and it was totally worth it!

We trekked daily for 14 k.m.s on hilly terrain for five days and camped amidst snow capped mountains, pine trees, with river flowing few meters away. It was heaven, pure bliss!

Har Ki Dun Campsite
Exhausted but Happy as Hell, Har Ki Dun Campsite

This trip was planned months before and as we had already taken enough leaves during our wedding, we strategically clubbed weekends, holidays and three leaves to go on this nine day trip 🙂

Catch all the details of this trek in our first blog: Har ki Dun can be your first Himalayan trek 🙂

2. Fireflies festival and Sandhan valley trek

In May, we ditched the commercial packages , and decided to witness magical firefly festival in Bhandardara by our own. In India, May and June are best months to spot them as they hatch during spring, and flicker in pre-monsoon season for mating, lay eggs and eventually die.  In Maharashtra, many villages are suitable site to witness kajwa aka fireflies festival.

firefly festival, bhandardara
Nature at its best <3 Magical fireflies

We along with our two friends drove from Mumbai to Bhandardara and camped in a remote village named Udawane. It was an unforgettable experience watching millions of fireflies flickering in resonance. Read about our experience here: Witness magical fireflies festival in Bhandardara: A weekend getaway near Mumbai

On very next morning we did an impromptu trek to Sandhan valley, A water carved valley with 300ft rock walls on both sides.

Sandhan Valley, Maharashtra
Valley of Shadows

Sandhan valley falls under medium difficulty level trek, and demands great endurance. The trek offers approx 2 K.M. descend amidst huge rocks which takes around 6-7 hours. One has to cross two waterpools to reach end of the gorge. The water level changes according to season. There are few rock patches where one has to rappel down, the longest being 50ft. For the first time we tried our hands on rappelling and it was an amazing experience altogether. Catch all the details of this amazing trek in our blog: One day in Valley of Shadows: Sandhan valley full trek

3. Weekend getaway to Aurangabad

In June my family was around, and for customary family trip we settled for  a weekend family trip to Aurangabad. Buddhist caves and Mughal monuments make Aurangabad apt for a weekend outing from Mumbai.

Ellora caves, aurangabad
Peeking through history

The town serves as a base for exploring the World Heritage Sites of Ellora and Ajanta caves. In this short trip we covered Daulatabad fort, Ellora caves, Bibi ka Maqbara and Ajanta caves. For a detailed guide, head to the blog: Revisiting the History lessons: Weekend trip to Aurangabad

July was hectic on work and family front and thus we couldn’t manage any trip. 🙁 The positive side is we got ample time to work on travel plan for next six months (yass! we plan way before the trip dates).

4. A short trip to Benaras

Those who know me know that I take immense pride in being Benarasi, born and brought up in Benaras I just can’t stop talking about my city. There were some post wedding rituals due and it gave me excuse to introduce Paresh to my roots up-close. A short 3 day trip to Varanasi with a Benarasi is all it takes to understand the vibe of this holy city.

Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
Being Benarasi

We roamed in narrow lanes of old city, witnessed Ganga Arti at Dashashwamedh ghat, visited fair at Durgkund, slurped famous lassi of Ramnagar and what not. If you plan to visit Benaras anytime soon give a read to my favourite blog: Varanasi, through eyes of a Benarasi : A complete Guide

This trip was again managed without taking any leave from office 🙂

5. Monsoon Biketrip to Malshej-ghat and Nane-ghat

Monsoon brings out best of Maharashtra! With the onset of rains, the days become pleasant and the barren landscapes turns green and picturesque making monsoon season  the best time to hit the road. We went on a bike trip on a weekend to Malshej ghat and later on the same day trekked to Naneghat.

Malshej ghat
The roads are calling

Malshej-ghat is a mountain pass in western ghats range and is almost equidistant from both Pune and Mumbai. Naneghat is a mountain pass in the western ghat range between the Konkan coast and the ancient town of  Junnar in the Deccan plateau. Read about the route and trek details –Weekend getaway to Naneghat and Malshej-ghat : Monsoon biketrip near Mumbai

6. Majuli, Assam

One of the most memorable trip of the year was our trip to North East in September. We started off with a three day trip to Majuli and fell in love with everything about it. The lifestyle, the culture, the aura and most importantly the locals! Majuli holds world record of being largest river island in the Guinness book of World’s record. Being a beautiful amalgamation of nature and culture it is a strong contender for UNESCO’s World Heritage sites.

Majuli, Assam, India
Majuli, Beautiful beyond words

During our stay We visited Vaishnav Satras, watched local musical play called Bhaona, learned about making of world famous masks, drove beside lush green paddy fields and binged on delicious local food. But out of all it is is people of Majuli who took our heart with their heartwarming gestures.

Still not convinced?? Read 10 reasons why Majuli should be your next travel destination!

7. Ziro Music Festival, Arunachal Pradesh

After spending quiet days in Majuli we headed to attend one of a kind music festival in Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh. The otherwise quiet Ziro valley lights up and echoes with sounds of laughter and music in month of September. It hosts a four day outdoor music festival known as Ziro Festival of Music.

Ziro Music Festival, Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh
Oh Ziro!

Ziro Music Festival showcase independent music scene in India. It is a beautiful amalgamation of culture, music and nature hosted by Apatani people of Ziro. Know more about it here: Ziro festival of Music: Our experience at ZFM 2018

This trip to Majuli and Ziro was a comparatively long trip, we took five days leave and by combining weekends we got nine days which were optimum. On this trip we decided to vlog our travel experiences , you can check them here

8. Gandikota, Andhra Pradesh

On a long weekend in October month, we picked our backpack and took a train to distant town in Andhra Pradesh named Tadipatri to visit Gandikota, the Grand canyon of India. Gandikota is a small village in Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh, known for its spectacular gorge formations right beside the Penna river.

Gandikota fort
The ‘GORGE’ous view

In a small trip of two days we visited Gandikota fort and various temples inside its premises, the famous gorge, Belum caves and few temples in Tadipatri. For a complete guide to Gandikota read A Complete Guide to Gandikota : The Hidden Grand Canyon of India

9. Rann of Kutch, Gujarat

In November we finally made it to Rann Utsav that too on budget! Great Rann of Kutch is the largest salt marsh in the world, spread over 7500 sq k.m. in Kutch region of Gujarat, India. Every year the Government of Gujarat hosts a three month festival during winter , known as Rann Utsav.

Rann Utsav, Rann of Kutch, Gujarat, India
Surreal Surrounding, White Rann

We were eying on this place since long but extravagant packages kept us away for a while! With the help of online travel communities we were able to visit the place in peak season and it costed us less than 7K for two nights in Rann of Kutch ( Bhuj to Bhuj) for two person, including stay, food, travel and permit charges. Kutch Rann Utsav : Ultimate Budget Travel Guide to The Great Rann of Kutch

10. Gokarna, Karnataka

The year ended on a high note as we did a backpacking trip to Gokarna on Christmas holidays. Gokarna has it all! From calm beaches to mesmerizing temples and from mysterious caves to busy streets it has right mix of spirituality, scenic beauty and cool vibes.

Gokarna beach trek
Go Gokarna!

For the first time we stayed in a hostel dormitory and it was a good experience. In this four day trip we managed to explore four famous beaches of Gokarna on foot ( Gokarna Beach Trek). We also did a bike trip to Yana caves, Vibhuthi falls and Murudeshwar. The whole trip costed us less than 5k for three nights including everything except train fares. Know everything about our Gokarna trip here: Go Gokarna: An ultimate budget travel guide for backpackers

How did we manage it all?

And finally let’s address the elephant in room! How did we manage to take so many trips with our full time jobs?

The one word answer is ‘planning’, we plan way ahead to actual trip dates sometimes as early as six months before. As soon as the year end approaches , we catch hold of new calender and make a rough plan about our upcoming travel. We circle out long weekends and holidays in which we can work out a trip by taking minimum leaves. For example in the said span we took only one long leave(5 days) for North East trip and the rest were managed by clubbing long weekend and holidays with one or two leaves.

Rann Utsav, Rann of Kutch, Gujarat, India
Backpacking together

The other most important thing that let us pursue our dream to travel frequently is ‘budget’. Let’s face it ! all that Instagram worthy stays and luxury travel pictures sure looks attractive but an average middle class person can afford it only once or twice in a year. We belong to humble background and this habit of saving few bucks here and there is in our genes, so we opt for budget travel almost all the time. The major expense during any travel is stay and commute. We mostly backpack and use public transports when in new city, sometime renting a bike also is a better option. For stays we mostly prefer staying in home stays, that way we get to experience the local life and culture of the place upclose plus it is light on pocket which is a win win situation.

Majuli, Assam, India
Our Abode

To put it in a nutshell here I would like to share Paresh’s one of the favourite quote:

“What gets measured gets managed!”

We thank all of you for being a part of our journey, for motivating us and for helping us live the life we always dreamt to live!

If you have any query regarding travel, drop a comment 🙂 Don’t forget to subscribe our blog so that you do not miss our travel updates!

Keep travelling 🙂

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