Travel Checklist : 7 Unconventional Items

I was thinking of a few things that help me enjoy my trips better, so I thought I’d list them out. Do you relate to any of these?

1. Decide how you’d like to document the trip.
Well, a lot of us go in thinking we’re going to blog every night, or put up pictures online daily, or maintain scrapbook, but then, reality strikes. Most of us end up procrastinating or just get too tired by the end of the day to follow through. So, think of a realistic way you’d like to document it, so that you don’t miss out on the little things you’d like to remember from your trip.

Check out this really fun way we decided on, here!

2. Stop looking at pictures. NOW.

Yes, I know you’re excited and you want to go through every picture ever taken at your travel destination. But, I request (?) you to stop, stop now!
Stop because you must let some things remain new to your eyes when you get there. You’d want to be able to stand in front of the windmills in Netherlands and say “Woah! That’s such a wonderful sight”, and not “Yeah, I’ve seen this before on Instagram, from a better angle probably. What’s next?”

3. Collect your friends’ postal addresses.

This is for when you had a great time in a city and want to send a postcard to your friend. But, what’s their address? Damn.

4. Use a separate device for music.

Phones are well-equip to carry massive music playlist and click HD photos, and help you keep in touch with loved ones, but, the last thing you want is ending up in a long bus ride or in the middle of a Skype call back home with the low battery sign. Or well, just carry a portable charger.

5. Fine-tune your to-do list

In place of letting your London to do list read just:

London Eye
Westminster Abbey

..and so on, add little things to do like, things unique to that place like

Ride on the Double-Decker Bus
Buy an umbrella!

6. Find a way to backup photos!

 Yes, in this day and age, this might seem a tiny bit obsolete, but this is a must! I had a horrible experience this time, when I took photos from our DSLR and didn’t back it up. Towards the end of our trip, the card showed a “Card Corrupt” error, and thrust us in a state of panic. I’m still trying to recover files from that card.

Find a way to backup photos, or take photos from multiple devices; the pictures we took from our iPad were our saving grace.

7. Carry a few a snacks from home, if you’re visiting a different country

You’re probably going to laugh at this one, after all, when in a new country, you’d probably like to experiment with their cuisine. But, that can get a little taxing. There will be times when you crave a familiar flavour, and this will save the day.


Snowfall at the Top of Europe!

Have you seen snowfall? Do you remember the first time you felt snowflakes on your head and shoulders? Do you remember how the landscape, earlier coloured in shades of green and brown, seems to have worn a white blanket – one that thickens gradually?

Well, my first time was today!

We were on our way to Jungfrau, Switzerland today, and after a ninety minute bus ride from Engelberg, we hopped onto a train to visit the peak. The cogwheel train chugged along moving at a sharp angle, and the ride was perfect – there was just a clear glass window between us and the gorgeous view outside! And that, that’s when I saw it for the first time. I saw snowfall for the first time! I remember how excited I was when I realized that it wasn’t rain, it wasn’t even hail, it was snow falling from the skies! It was like God was grating cheese over a slice of bread, slowly covering the visible patches, till you could see no more, and not stopping, grating some more, just because he can.

Say hello to a picture from Kleine Scheidegg, where we had to change trains to get to Jungfraujoch, my first picture in the snowfall!

On the way up, we went though a few tunnels, and I couldn’t help but wonder how they managed to tunnel though the mountain and how much determination it would have taken, to keep going over 14 years (1898 – 1912)!

Fourteen years.

“On 21 February 1912, the miners use more dynamite than is permitted and blast through to daylight. The shout of ‘Though!’ echoes along the tunnel and the workers fall into each other’s arms. The masterpiece has finally been achieved!”

Moving on, one of our favourite places atop Jungfraujoch was the Sphinx observatory! It was still snowing when we got there, I wore an armour, 2 thermals, a sweater, coat and woolen muffler later, I plucked up the courage to go out on the -12°C temperature (yes, well below frozen!) I’m one of those people who feels really really cold, even in temperatures higher than those, but my armour? It made sure I could bear the cold for a full 74 seconds. I finally, finally understand what they mean when they say windchill effect, now.

Achievement unlocked.

And then, we decided to go out there again, because occasions like these deserve pictures, just to make sure the memory doesn’t get as blurry as this picture of my sister that I took!

At 3,454 metres, not only does Jungfraujoch have the highest railway station in Europe, but it also has the highest post office in the continent! And yes, we sent out postcards from there, they’re to reach home with a stamp that says “Top of Europe”.

Taking letter writing to a whole new level, quite literally!

Oh yes! We treated ourselves to a scrumptious lunch at The Restaurant Bollywood, Jungfraujoch, after which we headed back down, fatigued from the constant heavy breathing to get accustomed to the altitude, but happy that we went up there and experienced all of that awesomeness.

On the ride down, I remember noticing the streams still gushing past, despite the cold and the stillness of the snow. Nature and it’s wonders.


Hello, gorge-ous!

It’s been a crazy brilliant ten days. I don’t remember the last time I felt this care free, relaxed and, honestly heartily happy. We’ve been planning this trip to Europe for a really long time now, and now it’s happening, right here right now.

But this post? This post is about today. It was our first day in Switzerland, and after a boat ride on Lake Thun and a visit to Interlaken, we went onward to Aare Gorge. Aare is the longest river that runs entirely within Switzerland. We approached the gorge from Interlaken, it’s a half an hour drive, and saw glimpses of the river throughout.

Now, the Aare gorge was formed by the Aare river cutting into the hard limestone which changed the geography of the area over the past centuries.

You know, metaphorically, it’s a perfect example of how of you keep going, little by little, carving your way out one step at a time, you can make your own mark and change the landscape altogether.

Yes, I’d seen pictures before. But the experience? Wow. There’s nothing like that I’ve felt before. Imagine walking on a winding, windy path that takes you past gushing water and shooting through openings. Picture the sunlight seeping in though the cavities in the gorge, colouring the river in innumerable shades of blue and green. Couple that with the pitter-patter of droplets falling on your head and shoulders as you walk into a tunnel. Listen closely to the sound water makes as it hurries past you, and the sound it makes as it drops down from a height, and that of the wind playing with your hair, now put those sounds together and play the symphony.

This place made me so cheerful today! One of my favourite experiences, for sure. I came out of the gorge grinning, hoping I could stay longer, wondering if I’ll ever be back. More tidbits from this trip once I’m back!

I’ve never before written on the go, like this, but it’s just one of those memories I couldn’t wait to share with everybody. After all, happiness only real when shared.

So if you’re still reading this and haven’t opened another tab to check out Aare Gorge, here we go.

Of New Experiences, People and Places

The comfort zone. That place that makes us feel just a little sure of ourselves, that makes us feel that all’s well, but also makes us so cozy in there, that we forget that there’s need to break the routine and just do things differently.

Our friends and family are a vital part if this cocoon. And we don’t understand the need to break out of it, until we reach this stage where we’re left with no choice but to break out.

One such experience for me was Jagriti Yatra. Jagriti Yatra is organised annually by the Jagriti Sewa Sansthan in December. It is a 8000 km journey all over India, taken by 450 yatris over 15 days and 12 locations.


This adventure which convened on the 24th of December has been one of those experiences where I’ve had to open up to people I haven’t met before, push all that hesitation at the back of my head and just be my confident self.

It’s really helping me realize that there are people from all backgrounds out there, and even though sometimes we feel like we don’t fit in anywhere, we should know that there are people who think like us, feel like us, and are looking for people like us. It made me feel a lot less..alone.

In my opinion, best thing about meeting new people is listening to their stories, their little anecdotes that they’re sharing with you. Every little story is a little part of them that you’re getting acquainted with. what I realize is, that when I share stories with people I’ve never really met before, it helps me get acquainted with a little corner myself that I knew existed, but it just lay there, undiscovered.

People who you haven’t met before, those who really don’t have any preconceived notions about you are also the ones who really won’t judge you for anything. They listen in and sometimes even tell us how they,or somebody closer to them had been through the exact same thing. Letting you know that you’re not the only one feeling like that, you never are.

Meeting new people also let’s you set new boundaries with them. You learn to adjust to their quirks, and also to express your distress when you think something’s not going quite the way you want it to.

The tough part, I think, is to actually keep the rapport going, to make sure that that magical connect doesn’t fade with time, to keep those promises of remembering each other. And most importantly, to know, that you’re not alone in the way you’re feeling. You’re never alone.