India is a vast land with manifold cultures and flavours to explore, and one lifetime may not be enough to do so. Many of us love the idea of travel but we often don’t know where to begin. So we scroll and surf the net for places we have heard rave reviews of or seen pictures of. We spend more time trying to nail down which city we wish to travel to and then hours trying to figure out where we want to stay there. All this happens at the nocturnal hour after a hectic day, leaving us even more drained out the next morning due to the extensive choices the internet floods our pages with. Most of us are still back to square one, just longing for a break! Deja vu?
Have no worries as this handy D.I.Y planner will help meet those endless bucket list goals that you have been longing to tick off. First off, we get down to a few basics that one must decide on, before planning any dream vacay.
Staycation or Vacation
Timing is crucial when you start to plan a holiday. Decide which is it you favour more, a staycation or vacation? A Staycation is a smart getaway for the urban busybody that has a dearth of time. Since it is of a shorter duration it is less expensive, though there is no lack of leisure. Whereas, a Vacation means that you are out for a longer period of time. It allows for one to participate in many activities like sightseeing, shopping, adventure sports etc. Mostly those who work from home choose a staycation as their busy schedules allow a limited window of time. Once you know what kind of ‘cation’ time you’re out on, the rest of the list is simpler to follow.
What kind of trip?
A most note-worthy book ‘Ikigai’ suggests to the reader how to find one’s purpose in life by aligning goals with necessity and worth. As an avid traveller, we must understand how to reestablish this life changing principle and apply it for a successful trip. For instance, decide what it is that you want your trip to be: is it a nomadic exploration of the unseen or unknown; revisiting places you have already enjoyed before; spending time indoors for spa recreation and other activities available where you stay; or just to revive hope, meditate and heal.
Choose your Travel Mates Wisely
This is an imperative factor as it sets the tone and mood for your venture. Some of us cannot imagine a vacation without friends as the party atmosphere, endless laughter, fun and games is what we crave for. When the popular Bollywood movie ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ came out, it was a fairly new concept of travelling with a trio of friends but the fashion it set has been recreated by almost every moviegoer ever since. There are also those who long for quality family time with their better halves, kids and even their pooches. Holidays can be so much more when we travel with those who make it worth our while.
Last but not the least are those who use this time for quiet self-reflection and prefer to travel alone, these lot prefer less crowded homestays or staycation hotels in remote areas, like the picturesque Uttarakhand and Himachal hills.
There are outstanding places to visit all over in India, a variety of landscapes to explore and boundless cultures to learn from. Imagine, there is a community in Meghalaya called the Khasi tribe where the men go to live in their spouse’s house post nuptials and their children have no rights over the self-acquired property of the father. This state is also known as the Scotland of India for its natural beauty. You can even try mountain biking here.
Since the pandemic, the world has been shut more than twice! But ours is a country with limitless possibilities of things to see and places to go to. Art and Travel go hand in hand here as each state is blessed with numerous styles of handmade crafts that are unique and cherishable. Domestic travel helps to sustain and contribute to local markets and communities that have been dwindling since the pandemic, it also helps to revive the Indian travel and tourism industry that has faced many setbacks. Let’s all help flourish the economy by travelling in India, purchasing local goods and staying in places that employ locals as a means to improve domestic livelihood.
Do your homework before you leave. This is a common motherly rant but how golden is this! Step up, once you know where, with whom and for how long then begin the capacious search online about activities and appropriate information of that place. Find restaurants or eateries you would like to eat out at and vital taxi information. Even hunt for discounts on various sites before finalising. Some hotels offer attractive discounts if you book directly via their site. Staycation is more than just a hot trend so dig deep and make the most of it!
Set a budget
Do not beguile yourself about how much a trip costs. Plan ahead as much as you want but there will always be overhead expenses once you’re out and about.Chalk out the maximum limit and minimum limit that you would want to spend on for a trip and yet keep some on the side for any emergencies. Make a separate fund for retail therapy or spa privileges and even one for adventure activities, this way you know where to stop if you tend to overindulge. Leave no space for regrets later!
A small amount charged while booking online train and air tickets can save you if any emergency cancellations occur. Do not overlook this tiny detail and always ensure you have travel and medical insurance for your own safety. Keep a handy medical kit, torches and rain covers for luggage too when you’re out on a trek or a road trip. As you know, precaution is always better than cure.
Travel has evolved and so must we. Once you have all these basics notched out the following parameters will help you plan that successful staycation!
Choose Nature for Well-being
Travel to a place that has wide open green spaces, or even some water body. Nature has the power to soothe our senses and melt away anxiety with its nurturing presence. Choose a destination that has green cover to explore or even a waterfall where it is safe to enjoy the view as well as bathe in its tranquil pool. If your staycation hotel is near forest reserve land then it’s a great opportunity. Not only is the pollution-free air and sun-kissed sky therapeutic for the lungs and body; such places are a stress-buster for better immunity. It leaves one in awe of how majestic and sublime nature can be.
Time to bust a popular myth: Rajasthan is not all sand and desert. There are many scenic locales here like Ranakpur and Mount Abu, these both known for being surrounded by majestic valleys and lush green spaces.
Pick a place with pleasant climes. If you are a light traveller, then the mountains will be too hectic for you as it means carrying clothes and essentials for braving the cold, along with gearing your car for mountainous terrain if you’re on a road trip. Some enjoy the beaches particularly for this reason, so that they can pack-travel-repeat. But choose wisely as even the monsoons bring many surprises to the Ghats and Coasts of India, like cyclones and typhoons. It is best to check all weather input on the place you decide.
What is most enjoyable are valley climes where the weather is not above 34 degrees and is cool in the nights, such places are a delight and can be visited throughout the year.
Tailor-made Road Trips
Some of us love the thrill of driving to new places as there is more ground to explore. Driving distance is important, as it also determines how recharged you will feel once you begin your staycation. If you travel with a mate that can share the onus of driving then it’s a bonus! Decide if you can drive for a long distance or do you prefer renting out a cab for a few days to relax and unwind? Renting a cab does save trouble but it’s not a cheap option either. We advise that it’s judicious to install a CNG kit if you plan to self-drive. Convert to greener fuel while travelling and save the land from harmful emissions, while not burning a hole in your pocket as well.
This one is as crucial as clean drinking water. It’s not just for posting and sharing those memorable moments on your social media handles. Primarily, it keeps you connected, specially in remote locations that have poor networks and it contributes to helpful research while exploring any new place. Any homestay or hotel that does not offer free Wifi does not deserve your time and attention. It’s the 21st century and every traveller is keen on smart choices. Best to book hotels, motels or even bed and breakfasts that sensibly offer this service for free. Your staycation or vacation would be incomplete without this necessary utility.
If it’s a staycation you’re out on then make most of the limited time you have. Book something extraordinary, like a boutique hotel that is an amalgamation of unique architecture with inspiring art. Boutique hotels have lower than 100 rooms to give you better attention, along with gourmet food, a contemporary vibe and modern outlook; some even with the quintessential villa and a pool for your privacy. Nothing rudimentary here, they aim to provide personalised services.
One such hotel is Mana Hotel in Rajasthan’s Ranakpur, it’s a remarkable property that is highly recommended. It’s eco-friendly suave architecture stands apart and aims to give you comfort with it’s sophisticated interiors, gourmet dining along with a healthier AQI thanks to their unrestricted spaces that welcome sunlight and air. With enjoyable weather throughout the year and convenient roadtrip access to highways from major metropolitan cities, it is not surprising vacationers frequently opt this hotel for staycations. Some people come in small groups to follow distancing protocols but prefer to stay for a longer period of time due to the undivided attention of the staff. This resort near Udaipur has intriguing vintage and modern art displayed all over the hotel, fun activities for all age groups, and provides personalised services for Safari camping in Rajasthan’s Sadri district. Very few hotels in Kumbhalgarh and resorts in Ranakpur can aim for such refined hospitality.
Being in India is equivalent to being introduced to robust tastes, the country’s culinary art being a lipsmacker’s delight! A passionate foodie would know that sampling just one type of cuisine can never build a palate. Always read online reviews about how versatile your staycation’s kitchen is. Book a place that aims to give you not just modern dishes but also the local flavours with panache. Indulge in dishes that you haven’t tried yet and buy local fruits for a healthy supplement to your diet. Avoid being tempted to only eat at fast food chains that you have already tried before. Don’t be afraid to test street food prepared safely or any exciting food truck that’s popular by the local word of mouth. Just like the Japanese discovered umami, maybe you too could identify a new taste bud?
Going on a vacation or staycation entails the need to engage in activities. It could be retail therapy for some, adventure sports for those who love the adrenaline rush and even peaceful for those who cannot do without their daily fix of yoga, healing and meditation. Once you book your resort, get down to searching ‘places to visit’ and ‘exciting things to do’ there. Our trips are mostly defined by those memorable activities we indulge in when we are out. Do not spend all your time indoors binging on shows or finetuning your media pages that you can always do at home. Make the most of each holiday to discover and explore, give your senses a renewal with a novelty of experiences that each destination holds. There are many who take their young ones on treks and camping trips in India as well. Inspiring? Much!