“Travelling – It leaves you speechless then turns you into a storyteller.” - Anonymous
That’s true. The trips I took has turned me into a storyteller today. I have discovered the untold stories of many lands.
And, I am happy to have explored and taken these journeys into the world, and the exciting part was that I found that the ultimate destination led on unto me.
The places, the people and all the things that I came across on my journey opened up my mind.
It instilled a lot of happiness in me, and I unfurled the truth that traveling was my call.
For years, I was on the quest for profound inner peace and whatever I was doing, I found that it lacked a kick!
But on my first trip, I realized that all I wanted was to be in a different land far away from my homeland where no one knew me or my story.
In fact, I broke all strings of the comfort zone that had tied me up and made me breathless. I experienced a bliss, a kind of happiness that nothing else in the universe could offer me.
It is never late to kindle your passion for traveling. Just pack your bags and set out to discover the world that is ready to embrace you and suffice your inclination to reach ultimate peace.
Vagabonds, travelers, nomads or whatever you would like to call yourself here is what I have got to tell you. Explore the world and find yourself.
But before you leave, there are things that you need to take into consideration to make yourself comfortable throughout your journey.
Here, I have compiled a perfect guide to help you with your first-time travel. Also, you can find excerpts from the first time travel experiences of travel lovers and travel bloggers.
But before we proceed the first thing is to decide where you are going.
Local or international?
There are two types of people on earth:
The All-know ones:
The first kind is those that have a perfect idea of where they are going and what they are doing. Though, they might have never traveled before they will do a lot of research and are well prepared for the journey.
They know everything about the destination that they are traveling to. They also know what they are carrying. This category of people also have some backup ideas for their journey.
The second type is the ones with never care attitude:
These group of people is the ones who don’t care about what they are doing or where they are going. They just want to explore the world and are not scared of what lies ahead.
I was one among these people when I set out on my first travel. I didn’t even know where I was going.
I had no destination.
Here is how it all started for me:
Memories of my first-time travel:
I reached the Ernakulam Junction railway station and took a ticket for the next train. I didn’t even inquire where the train was going.
I traveled for almost four days before reaching Guwahati one of the most beautiful places in Assam, North India.
This was my first trip outside South India or Kerala for that matter. Four long days in Guwahati express and let me tell you the truth I was exhausted from the journey.
But the exhaustion was left behind, as my mind was trembling with other thoughts. Being a first-time traveler with no destination as such I had some excitement in my mind mingled with those of fear and happiness.
I couldn’t help thinking but how will I communicate with the people as my Hindi was too poor being a South Indian. But, luckily I had been an ardent fan of Bollywood movies so I could understand the language.
On the train, I met with many people and made friends. Some of them were Malayalees who were settled in Assam. I remember one Mr. Satyan Verma, who was a military personnel hailing from Thrissur. He kept me company throughout the journey. There were others too…
Still I am in touch with one Mr. Ajit Jha, a researcher, and scientist at one of the famous botanical research centers in Trivandrum, Kerala.
Fortunately, for me, he was an Assamese working in Trivandrum and settled in Kerala as he was working here.
Also, when he learned that it was my first time trip to an unknown place he became too hospitable and was ready to help. He talked about some of the most interesting places in Assam where I could enjoy and explore life and happiness.
He was the one who told me about Tawang and created an instinct in me to know more about this place and when I reached there it was nothing less of a paradise and the place my heart was thriving to explore.
But before I reveal more about my first-time travel experience, I would like to share a few tips on what homework you need to do before you start out. These are just the things that I missed out when I started my journey:
As a vagabond, that I define myself, I have been to many foreign lands, and the first thing I would suggest is “PASSPORT”:
If your destination is a local one, it is ok not to carry your passport. But in some countries like for instance in India, passport is considered as a vital identification document. Keep it with you at all times.
If you are traveling to a foreign land, you cannot board the flight unless your passport has been verified.
You might have brought some new clothes and maybe a brand new iPhone to capture your selfies while on your journey.
What matters for today’s travelers most is more than the travel experience, they crave to share their photos with the world on Facebook and social media.
He he! That is, of course, something that we all do. But the passport is above all.
Important things to note:
➣ If you do not have a passport, apply for one. It will not take too long for getting one. You just need to produce a few documents like maybe your birth certificate, address proof or so.
➣ If you already have one, check the validity because in almost some countries they do not permit entry if the passport expires in the next six months.
➣ If all set, then carry a few passport size photographs and other relevant documents, in case you happen to lose your passport on your journey, you will have to apply for one.
Here you can find out the laws to apply for passport in these nations:
For the USA:
For the UK:
For New Zealand:
Let me tell you another secret which some of my friends experienced on their first-time travel and tipped me off. “Don’t get too anxious about your journey.” You will be fine. Keep Calm and explore the happiness of being by yourself.
If you dig up and search for too many tips, it will cause your frustration. Trust me! People have experienced it before.
I know you might have already researched quite a lot on the destination that you are ready to explore. You also found out what others are saying.
There are some places like in South America where there are too many pickpockets, and there are even websites that will ask you to sleep with your passport in hand so that it doesn’t get stolen.
In places like Uganda, there are rumors of cruel bandits who kill the tourists and steal their belongings. But, let me tell you there is nothing of that sort.
People are humble and kind and ever ready to welcome guests from a foreign land.
So cheer up and let us do some more homework on what are the other things that you need to carry on your journey.
After Passport, it is time to know all about travel VISAS:
Now that you have decided your destination, the next thing you have to do is enquire about Travel Visas.
Each nation has a different law that applies to travel visas. You might need one even while transiting through another country to reach your destination.
Another thing is that when you reach the airport without a VISA, you’ll realize it was foolishness because you have to go back home (the rule says so).
➤ Multiple Entry
➤ Working Holiday
➤ Visa on Arrival
You can’t go anywhere unless your VISA is verified and approved by the concerned officials in your country.
I would say that it is mandatory to check with the International Migration system in your country for more details on how your government operates and what are the rules and regulations exercised by your visiting country.
You can find some rough information on these over the above-specified websites, but only the concerned authorities can help you: http://www.visamapper.com/
Important things to note:
You need to cover all the following points:
➤Where are your visiting and when?
Gather all information related to their VISA rules.
➤How long are you planning to stay?
➤Are you transiting through another country to reach your destination? Check what are their VISA rules. Can you stop there while you transit?
Why you need a travel insurance?
I don’t want to scare you! But, this is a nightmare that none of us want to think. Imagine if your plane crashes on your journey or you meet with an accident while you are exploring your destination?
Have you thought of that?
Don’t fret now! I don’t want to scare you. Let us not think of any injuries that are related to health because “health is wealth.”
Let it never happen to anyone.
Just think of another possibility – wherein you have lost your belongings. Or your money and other valuables including your Smartphone and MAC book get stolen.
What are you going to do?
The first instinct is to run to the nearest police station and file a complaint. But, what are you going to do in a strange foreign land?
You do not know anyone there. You might be a celebrity in your country, but that does not mean they will celebrate you in another country.
There is no possibility of even little help.
You need to take care of yourself. Prepare yourself.
And all that you need is a “Travel Insurance”.
Purchase a travel insurance that applies to the place you are planning to visit. Also, the insurance should be the one that will cover for the things that you are planning to do there.
Important things to note:
➤ Check whether your insurance provider provides you with insurance that will cover all your needs and your entire travel plans including the places you are visiting and the activities that you will be doing.
You can refer the following for more information on why you need a travel insurance and the things to look for when choosing a travel insurance provider:
How much money should I carry?
Pickpockets are everywhere. It does not mean you should not take money. You need to carry money. Some money and more…
”If you are scared to carry money, travel cards are the best option”
Check for the currency of the country that you are traveling to and get travel cards accordingly.
Hope you are not thinking of traveler cheques. Not in this technology dominating era when we are all addicted to the latest trends in the market.
You can find ATM counters everywhere though a few remote areas might not have. Just do some research before you leave.
Also, inform your bank that you are traveling just in case they block your debit/ credit card.
Do some shopping. It will help you with currency conversion.
Important things to note:
➤ Get travel cards according to the currency of your destination
➤ Inform your bank that you are traveling abroad
➤ Carry some hard cash with you.
➤ Also, take photos of the front and back portion of your debit/ credit cards and Email it to yourself. This will ensure that you have the record in store with you.
We are done with the most essentials of your journey.
Let us move ahead and see what are the other things that you should be doing.
Know the local language.
It does not mean you have to be fluent in their language.
But, you need to know some of the most important words and phrases.
Like for example if you suddenly fall sick, and you don’t know which doctor to consult or where the hospital is.
If this kind of situation arises when you are inside your hotel/ lodge, possibly the hotel staff can provide you with assistance.
But when you are outside, far away from the hotel/ lodge that you have checked in and you don’t even have a guide with you, what are you going to do?
How will you communicate with the local people and let them know it’s a medical emergency, and you need help?
Yes, of course, English is a global language, and every 3 out of 5 people have little or some knowledge of English.
What if they do not know English? How are you going to request their help?
When discussing learning the local language as a first-time traveler, I would like to share a personal experience from my first-time travel which made me realize the worth of learning the local language.
So, here is the next excerpt of my trip to Tawang:
After the four days long journey in the Guwahati Express, I arrived at Guwahati. As I said, I had made some friends on the train, and they had suggested me with some places that were worth visiting in Assam.
Now let me tell you another thing I went to Assam without my mobile phone.
I wanted to explore the real world and experience how it felt to stay cut off from the virtual world.
Ok. So let me take you through.
Once I got down at Guwahati, I was filled with happiness, joy, mingled with fear and anxiety. I didn’t know where I was going and what I was doing.
I was hardly carrying any luggage. I just had a backpack with a few clothes in it and a bottle of mineral water that I had brought on the train.
Here starts my journey:
Let me tell you one more thing, the native people of Guwahati speak Assamese, Garo, Bengali, Nepali and some broken Hindi.
Some people speak English. Unfortunately, I didn’t come across many of them.
Mr. Jha whom I met on the train had told me about a few interesting places to visit in Guwahati before I could move ahead and reach Tawang, which was my destination.
What was the next thing I did?
I was exhausted from my four-day long train journey, and I wanted to stretch out and relax before I set off to explore the world out there.
A cop was standing near the entrance to the Railway Station, and suddenly he appeared as an angel to me.
I rushed off to him and asked him where I could find a good stay at low price nearby.
He was more than an angel. He realized that I was having trouble speaking the local language and for that matter Hindi too.
Fortunately, I could understand Hindi though I communicated back in English.
He told me about two hotels nearby and asked Chotu to help me.
I still remember Chotu’s innocent smile with those broken black tooth in front. He immediately asked me to hand over my luggage and was ready to go.
As I walked across behind Chotu, I felt lost, where was I going? My feet were following Chotu’s footsteps.
I forgot to introduce Chotu. He is around 17 years old, his hobby is to help tourists and sells tea and snacks near the Guwahati railway station.
If at anytime you happen to visit Guwahati, take a look around to find this bubbling, dynamic young man ever ready to help people.
Chotu spoke in broken Hindi and English. He asked me “Madrasi”?
I said “no,” I am from Kerala. North Indians have a habit of confusing all people from South India with Tamilians, and they colloquially refer to all as Madrasis.
He talked with me for some time while he took me across to Hotel Monsoon Bazar, at G.N.B. Road which might be approximately at a distance of 104 meters from the Guwahati Railway Station.
I went to the reception and checked into a Standard Room, which was pretty expensive. It came around 1163 INR. But, breakfast was free.
After a bath, I went and had the breakfast. It was quite good. The tea was the best among all that I had tasted so far.
After the breakfast, I decided to explore ahead. I went to the railway station to meet Chotu. He had become a good friend and had offered to help when he left.
He smiled and prepared a quick tea for me.
As I was sipping the tea he told “Bhaiyaji, I can’t accompany you, but sure I can help you with the directions and places where you could go.”
With that information, I left to visit Guwahati Planetarium, which was around one km from the place where I stayed. After a while of exploring the planetarium, I decided to leave for Assam State Museum, which is worth visiting.
On the way back from the State Museum, I lost my wallet. Fortunately, for me, I was carrying my debit & credit cards in my Shirt’s pocket. I asked a few of the local people standing nearby to help me.
But, the thing is either they couldn’t understand what I was trying to say, and I couldn’t interpret what they were saying.
I was helpless. Finally, I found an ATM counter nearby and withdrew some money.
I took an auto and went back to my Monsoon Palace. I felt a bit sad as I had some important things in my wallet, like my Voters ID and some money.
I just relaxed and thought to let it be. This is why I insist on first-time travelers learning the local language.
At least, you need to know some basic words. It will help you out.
Another thing you can do is smile. It creates a positive atmosphere. It is a kind gesture that will attract people towards you and they will offer you with help.
I don’t have to tell you this:
But you can use Google translator to help you translate the words. You will be going with your Smartphone, so you have an app that will help you understand what people are saying.
I have already heard of people praising the temples in Guwahati, and I decided to visit one.
I planned to visit the Kamakhya Temple in the evening. Chotu suggested that I hire a cab as it was around six km from the railway station, hardly at a drive of 25 mins from the railway station.
Unfortunately, my experience was not good with the cab service. It was depressing. He charged me a lot more.
I hadn’t done enough research though I tried to argue over the regular taxi fare that Chotu had told me.
The cab driver was speaking Assamese or Bengali, but he was too rude. He didn’t understand my broken Hindi and all went out bad.
Finally, I reached the temple. I was happy to have visited this beautiful temple.
I went back to Monsoon Palace after some time, but this time, the cab driver was good to me. He charged the meter fare and kept me company till we arrived my lodgings.
That was a day mingled with some happiness, sorrow, and fear that was fading away into darkness as I relaxed in my hotel room waiting for the sun to rise the next day when I would head off to Tezpur expecting some fun and surprises.
Before we recount the remaining story, let me quickly unveil a few more tips for you:
What are the things to carry?
Fortunately, for me, I did not commit the mistake of carry everything in my backpack as I had very few clothes with me.
Here is what I suggest you:
➤ Carry some clothes
➤ Extra underwears
➤ Be smart with your packing. Don’t carry heavy luggage
I mentioned extra underwear, just in case you are not in a situation to wash it every time, you need a backup. You cannot go around and purchase a new one at all times.
When it comes to shoes, I would recommend just one pair of them. Carry a few extra socks, as you don’t know when you can get the pair of these washed.
With clothes, I would recommend a very few of them because you can wear these more than once.
Also, when you are traveling abroad, the airlines will have a luggage limit (for instance some would specify a maximum of 35-40 kgs while there are those that allow nothing more than 20 kgs.). So, first ensure how much of luggage is allowed on the plane and then, pack accordingly.
Another point is if you are moving to multiple destinations, then you need to check the weight limit that each of your flights will be permitting you to carry across.
Let me slip a sweet note:
If you have a traveler companion, a friend or family of yours, make sure you both carry an outfit of the other in your baggage.
This is helpful in case if one of your bags get stolen. You will have a fresh outfit to take out till you come up with another alternative.
Also, you need a separate zip lock bag or something similar to store your dirty clothes, in case you cannot find an alternative to washing these.
For women travelers:
A small tip:
➤ Keep a small swiss knife and a pepper spray handy. Also, some martial arts can go a long way to help you. Stay prepared. It’s not that someone is going to come and do something, but it is always good to prepare yourself for anything and everything.
This can take you a long way. There are many things that you need to consider when you think of traveling.
Being a first-time traveler, does not mean it is ok to set out without any research. You’ll be taking a potential risk, though.
As I told you earlier about my first-time travel experience to Guwahati, being a local place within my country, I struggled hard.
If you come from one of the most developed European or American countries, then you have been pampered well in your motherland and let us not expect a similar kind of treatment in other countries specifically the countries in the Middle East Asia.
There are a lot of rules that you need to follow, for instance in Gulf countries like Saudi and Riyadh, women are supposed to cover themselves up in a Burka.
This might seem to be a weird notion when you hear it for the first time. But, when you are on an expedition to explore a new place and learn about its hidden history why not do something that the locals are doing. Why not abide by their laws?
Certain countries do not accept foreigners with dual nationality. Research deeply before you set out.
You can experience a different culture and learn something new.
Some places still do not maintain the same level of hygiene as you can find in the Western countries. Like for instance in India, you cannot find toilet papers in many of their restrooms.
It is good to keep a few toilet papers with you if you are too particular about it when it comes to personal hygiene.
It is not necessary that your stomach and digestive system will accept all kinds of street food and new dishes that you try out every time.
Consult your physician and ask for some medicines that you can carry on your journey in case you suddenly fall sick and until you can find a treatment or health care at your destination.
Important things to note:
➤ Weight limit on flights
➤ Research on the food, water, and cuisines
➤ Carrying medicines and first aid
➤ For women: pepper spray and swiss knife
How to exchange goods for goods instead of money (Shopping made easier)
What will you do in case of a medical emergency?
Talking about Medical Emergency, I would like to share an experience I had while in Guwahati.
After checking out of Monsoon Palace the next morning, I decided to travel to Tezpur as I had already heard a lot about the place from Chotu and others.
Tezpur is located at a distance of approximately 161 km from Guwahati.
I would have to wait until late in the evening if I was to travel by train, as there were only two trains from Guwahati to Tezpur. So, Chotu suggested I take the bus route. He also said it would give me a glimpse of the beauty that lies across en route from Guwahati to Tezpur.
It would take around 3 hours or so by bus from Guwahati to Tezpur.
The major attraction in Tezpur is the world famous Brahmaputra river. People come from all over the world just to visit this river.
I took an ASTC or the State Government bus transport service from Guwahati to Tezpur.
On my bus, I happened to meet Joe, a New Yorker, who was a tourist just like me exploring places in India.
I regret not having carried a camera to capture some of those rare moments I enjoyed across my trip.
Joe was all smiles, and I couldn’t help notice the pleasantness it created. It was quite easy to relate to this guy.
He had already traveled several places all over the globe and was set to explore India. In fact, I found another me in Joe.
He was carrying a map with him and was calling out the places as the bus stopped at each destination en route.
I felt a bit ashamed, being an Indian I didn’t know the history of any of these places, for a matter of fact I had never heard of these places before but this New Yorker knew the history byheart.
Another thing I noticed was he could interpret Hindi, and he knew some of the local Assamese and Bengali words which I had no idea.
All of a sudden, I started feeling nauseatic as I didn’t love buses and the thought of sitting on a bus for three long hours made me sick.
Within some time, I started vomiting and had no idea what should be done.
I depend a lot on bikes and trains for my journey so the bus was out of the question and I was not prepared for this.
I started panicking. Thanks for Joe, my friend, who was alert and handled the situation well. He requested the driver to stop the bus so that I could get out and breathe some fresh air.
Also, all the passengers were exhausted from the journey, and we decided to halt at Baihati Chariali, a beautiful town in one of the rural districts of Assam.
Another point of excitement is that this beautiful town is located on the Northern banks of Brahmaputra River.
We stopped by the side of the river where I cleaned up and relaxed for some time. Joe brought me some fruits and sat by my side.
He was talking about the weather that was humid and how he was trying to adapt to the humidity.
After sitting there for some time, I regained some energy and was ready for my journey. I remember I was too happy though the bus journey was exhausting and made me sick.
We started our journey back.
After an hour or so, again I started vomiting and this time, it was a bit critical as I started feeling giddy. We couldn’t find any hospitals en route. Joe, my angel friend, had some tablets with him, and he insisted I consume these to prevent vomiting further.
The tablets were helpful in preventing the nauseatic feel. Thanks to buddy Joe!
I dozed off and after an hour or so Joe woke me up. I opened my eyes to find Tezpur bus station. I was too happy to have reached Tezpur finally after the tiresome bus journey.
Joe had done some serious research on Tezpur area in Google and knew quite a lot of the places along with the hotel and cab fares.
We decided to bond on and continue the rest of the journey to Tawang together as he was also planning for Tawang.
He had gone through Tripadvisor and suggested we take rooms at Hotel Grand City where the fare was too cheap. Almost 313 INR per head and he preferred this place because it was just 1 km away from the city’s local hospital.
He wanted me to get treatment first before we set out for the further journey so that we could enjoy to our heart’s fill.
I consulted a doctor and got some medicines for nausea and giddiness along with an injection.
We decided to hire a cab for the rest of our journey so that I could be comfortable as the doctor had asked me to take rest for the next two days.
But I was not ready to crouch on the bed and sleep off. I wanted to explore and have fun with my newly acquainted traveler friend. He was full of energy at all times, and he was too passionate about traveling.
He was a kind of inspiration for me in my journey to explore the world.
Before I take you on our journey ahead, let me slip off a few valuable tips on medical care:
Thanks to me I had my buddy Joe to take care of me through the journey. But, I don’t know what would have happened if I was traveling alone.
I want my reader-traveler friends to take precautions while on their first-time travel.
Here, is what you need to do:
Some countries have a rule that the foreigners who enter as tourists or for any business or official purposes need to take certain immunizations to avoid health disasters from striking their country.
It doesn’t mean that you are carrying some deadly disease, but it is to ensure your safety and precaution along with others.
Consult your doctor and check about these. They will have the complete information about them.
You can carry some of the emergency tablets like Paracetamol and other Pain Killers.
Also, take a doctor’s prescription in case you lose your medical kit.
Let me slip a quick tip:
Water. Fill up yourself with water. Drink an ample amount of water and keep your body hydrated.
Technology: Being smart and wise:
As I told you dears, I never carried a thing of technology, not even my mobile phone during my first-time travel and I was able to connect with the real world for some time. It gave me the happiness which I had long forgotten about being with the real people when all we would do is to WhatsApp our friends sitting right opposite to us across the same dining table.
So, I would suggest an ordinary mobile phone if you are not particular of capturing selfies on your Phone and sharing it with the world on Instagram.
If it is a regular mobile phone, then you need not worry about the charge. Carry 1 or 2 spare batteries. You can change it every time the power goes down, and the charging can wait till you return to your Hotel room.
Important things to note:
➤ Power Banks
➤ Battery chargers ( carry 2.. it will not hurt)
➤ Travel adapter
Another tip is some of the restaurants and food joints have charger points, so carry your charger and travel adapter wherever you go.
When it comes to communication, I would like to share an experience from my first time travel to Tawang.
I had no mobile phone, and I had not informed any of my friends or family back in Kerala that I was traveling.
After two days, I felt guilty about not having told them where I was going and had no numbers or contact details with me.
I managed to recollect the number of my mommy dearest and gave her a call. She seemed too tensed.
“Where are you, kid? Why are you not picking my calls and all those parent gaggles”.
Kindly, consider my request and keep in touch with your near and dear ones.
It is not new information that the international roaming rates varies across countries.
If you are planning to spend some considerable amount of time in any particular country, get a local sim card. It will help save expenses.
Call via The Internet:
We have all heard of Viber and Skype… This is the time you can use these.
Or you can choose International calling cards to reduce the expenses.
Also, along with informing your bank that you are touring abroad, let your network service provider know that you are leaving.
Telling the right ones:
As I told you before your first-time travel’s news goes viral over the social media sites, make it a point to inform your dear and near ones.
Also, tell them where you are going to stay. I know you have already found out and booked a hotel room.
Inform your government:
This is the truth. They are the only ones who can come to your rescue while you leave your country. Let them know.
Also, they can provide you with the updated tour information while traveling in a foreign country.
Important points to remember:
➤ Instead of keeping all your money in a single wallet. Keep it in different places. You can even hide it under the sole of your shoes.
➤ Or some in your backpack and the rest in your handbags.
➤ Don’t keep all your credit and debit cards in the same wallet. Scatter it and save it in different places.
➤ 112 is the international emergency number.
Here is something to note:
For more information you can refer these sites:
List of Australian Embassies and Consulates
List of Canadian Embassies and Consulates
List of American Embassies and Consulates
List of New Zealand Embassies, High Commissions, and Representatives
List of British Embassies, Consulates and High Commissions
Tezpur to Tawang:
Joe along with me set out to explore Tezpur.
Here are some of the attractions in Tezpur:
Nameri National Park:
One of the exciting features of Nameri National Park is that it lies at the foothills of the Himalayas. It is the home to some of the endangered and rare species of animals that include leopard, tiger, Bengal fox, Sambar, and others.
Also, we had some leisure time swimming and rafting here.
Joe suggested that we visit Agnigarh, one of the most famous tourist attractions in Tezpur and soon we were heading off to Agnigarh.
The name Agnigarh refers to a residence amidst fire. If ancient mythology is to be believed, it was built to keep King Bana’s daughter Usha under house arrest to prevent her from seeing her beloved Anirudh, Lord Krishna’s grandson.
After roaming around the fortress for sometime, we decided to have lunch.
We went to a nearby food joint and had thali meals which were delicious. The puris and sabzis were extraordinary.
Even, today the taste lingers on my tongue.
We just roamed around the streets and then decided to wander around a few more places and then return to our hotel room.
We visited Chitralekha Udyan. Fortunately, I had heard of this place and felt happy. The scenic beauty of the park surrounded by lakes and hillocks is something that will make your heart skip a beat.
In fact, I was thinking why I was too late to discover my passion for traveling.
Later we headed towards the Kalia Bhomora Setu. This bridge that connects Sonitpur and Nagaon gives a beautiful view of the Brahmaputra river below it.
After a little while of roaming and making merry we were too tired for more adventure, so we decided to get back into our room at Hotel Grand City.
Before I take you on my journey from Tezpur to Tawang, let me share some tips with you:
What are the exact number of clothes and other things you are going to carry?
Before folding them flat, roll them up. Rolling helps to save a lot of space. I do it always.
If it is for just two days, two shirts and two pairs of trousers will be sufficient. If it is more than that, calculate exactly the time till which you will hang around in your destination and when will you get back.
Another point is to check the weight limit of baggage on your flight.
Start packing two days before your journey. It gives you ample of time to think of something that you have left out.
Rather than placing your essential documents in your backpack, keep those in your hand bag. This way it will be handy and also helps to minimize the weight of your backpacks.
Keep your chargers, spare batteries and other electronic gadgets including your camera lens in your handbag.
Also, I would request wearing outfits that are comfortable and suit the weather conditions at your destination. If you are wearing jackets or overcoats, it would be great if these have pockets so that you can carry your documents here.
Passport, Money & Tickets:
One of the best ways to store money is to keep these in Money belts. I have seen many people wearing it like superman’s red underwear over his blue pants.
Why do they do this?
So, that the robbers know exactly where it is, and they can run away with that.
Wear it inside your pants.
But, keep some money outside in your wallet. So, that you do not have to search for Money belts every time you are trying to pay for your tea or the cabs.
Also, you can store your debit and credit cards inside your money belts. Why carry it around in your purse every time.
It is a excellent idea to keep your passport somewhere in your handbag rather than inside your pocket or backpack.
Now that we have discussed over the safety of your belongings, let us talk about the most important of all:
Before we discuss more personal safety, let me share a fragment from my buddy Joe’s travel experiences.
As we started on our trip to Tawang from Tezpur, we both got geared up and were too happy.
Tawang is situated at a distance of approximately 319 km from Tezpur. We planned to take the bus route from Tezpur to Tawang.
Tawang is located in Arunachal Pradesh. So, our journey was from Assam to Arunachal Pradesh.
Also, Nepal borders Tawang. So, you can expect some monasteries in Tawang.
As we started out towards Tawang, I started getting the same nauseatic feel again. Joe, a genuine and dear friend noticed this and wanted to drift me from the mood of nausea so that we could rock on our journey.
He was talking about one of his travel experiences in China. He went camping near a National Park after getting permission from the concerned authorities. This time, he was not alone, a gang of friends accompanied him.
They were camping at night. After some chilling fun and music, they decided to get on the bed to beat out the exhaustion of the day.
In the middle of the night, Joe woke up to the wailing sounds of his friends from the neighboring tent. He immediately rushed out to witness a burning tent and his friends being seized and beaten up by a gang of bandits.
They had no other way but to part with all their belongings and valuables.
The next morning they reported to the cops. But all in vain, there was no help, and they couldn’t wait for too long.
Luckily, they didn’t lose their passports and VISA as they had buried it under the ground before setting up their tents.
So, they didn’t find it difficult to return to New York. But there was a massive loss of individual electronic gadgets and money and other valuables and one of their friends who reacted was wounded and had a hand fractured.
He was bedridden for months before he finally recovered.
It was sad. Joe was saying they had done sufficient research but since they were in a group they didn’t mind making new friends with the local people in that area who would have alerted them of danger sulking around.
Though they were a group of seven people, they couldn’t stand up against a team of three robbers who messed with them.
And, Joe was, in fact, alerting me to the risk I had invited upon myself by traveling without any preparation or research.
He was shocked to know that I didn’t even know the destination to which I was traveling, and it was by sheer luck that we met and became friends.
By the time he finished his story, we had arrived Tawang, one of the most beautiful places or in fact, another paradise on earth.
As expected, Joe knew a lot about Tawang from his pre-research before setting out.
Wait! Before I share more about my experiences in Tawang, let us examine the tips on how to ensure your personal safety:
The usual things that you know don’t accept eatables from strangers. Though Joe was a stranger, the same rule does not apply to all.
Some people are not good. The world is not entirely evil, but there are people ready to exploit you.
Be on your guard!
Don’t lose yourself in those dark alleyways.
Research on the local rules and look for traveler tips when you choose a particular destination. No matter whether you are traveling alone or with a group.
Knowing the soul of the land:
The essence of a place does not lie in its beauty or historical monuments. But it is the local people and their lifestyle that will make you attached.
Get to know them.
Not all are bad. They are good and friendly and ready to help their guests.
Be kind and welcome them with a warm smile. Also, keep in handy some of the local words and phrases no matter whether your pronunciation is too weak.
It has a great effect on people. Socializing and humanizing is what traveling is all about.
Foreign travelers can be great friends:
When you meet foreigners on your journey, try to be hospitable to them. They are just like you happy, scared and a bit anxious. It is great to travel with people who are sailing on the same ship like yours.
For travel passionates and travel bloggers like me, it would be great if you can maintain a record of your travelogues.
Real life experiences are all that matters rather than a blog or website someone puts up with vague information.
People want to travel to these places and explore it before reaching out to person. A beautiful travel manuscript will help them learn more about the places that they are going to.
A travel blog with all your experiences of the places you visited along with the photographs is a great idea.
You can upload your photographs on Facebook or Tumblr. Even Instagram provides you with these options. Let the world travel in your shoes and explore the world that has touched your soul.
Something I missed out on my first trip. But, never after that.
My first trip and the experiences were too awesome. Though, I still remember the people and places I don’t have those memories captured.
I still miss Joe, Chotu, and others. But, I don’t have an image of any of these people who helped me on my first journey.
It took us about 6 hours to reach Tawang.
Joe knew where we would be staying and was recommending Government Tourist Lodge near Old Market, Tawang.
Luckily for us, a local Tawang family had befriended us on our bus, and they offered help. Their relatives were at the bus station to receive them.
The people in Tawang speak East Bodish or Monpa language. I was overwhelmed with excitement when Joe started communicating with our friends in Tawang language.
They dropped us at the Government Tourist Lodge on their way home and asked us to visit their homes before we returned.
The Hotel Fare was 250 INR per head and thanks to Joe, who had booked the room in advance, the previous night while we were in Tezpur.
Once we reached our rooms, we were exhausted from our journey and wanted to sleep.
The most exciting fact about Tawang is that it is situated at a height of about 10,000 feet above the sea level, and the air is filled with the soothing chants of the Buddhist monks.
The perfect place for travel passionate.
There is hardly anyone who had not heard of the Tawang Monastery that is around 400 years old.
Tibetan Buddhists frequent the place where the 6th Dalai Lama was born.
Mind you the place is a steep one and covered with mountains. So, the food is expensive as it is usually transported and is one of the thinly populated places in India.
If you love Momos, try out the local street food here. You will crave for more.
The Nuranang Waterfalls:
Heard of the place? It is one of the most beautiful places in India. It is the place that connects Tawang and the famous Bomdila.
Before I tell you about the Tawang Monastery, let me drop a few tips on airport procedures and preparing for your transit:
If this is the first time that you are on the flight, it would be great if you can arrive 5 hours before your flight’s departure. So, that you do not miss it out.
The general rule is to reach the airport 3 hours before your flight take off.
You need the following:
➤ Boarding passes for your flight
➤ Departure forms
➤ Baggage receipts
➤ Flight seats
Also, keep an eye on the departure board, so that you know whether your fight is on time or delayed by any chance.
Getting through customs and immigration: As I had already told you, it is necessary to check for the necessary documents that you need to verify before traveling abroad.
For international travels, your passport, tickets, and VISA will be verified through immigration, customs and security.
Security is nothing but your baggage will be checked and even pockets for any metal or electronic gadgets that you are carrying.
Once everything is verified, and the passport is sealed, you are free to explore the world.
Important things to carry on the flight:
➤ Travel Pillow
➤ Eye mask
➤ Ear plugs
These are some of the important things to be noted.
Speaking about the Travel pillow reminds me of an occasion when I first saw the thing and was wondering why people carry that.
On our way from Nuranang Waterfalls to Tawang Monastery, Joe was feeling tired and told me he wanted to take some rest, and we thought of stopping nearby.
This is when I first saw a travel pillow. Joe had it folded up in his backpack. He took it out and was resting on it while I was sitting upright watching and capturing the minutest moments of nature.
After a while, we headed off to the Tawang Monastery:
Considered to be the second largest Monastery in the world after Lhasa, it would have been a great miss if we had returned without visiting the Monastery.
After roaming around the 65 residential buildings in the Monastery, we were really tired, and our eyes were begging for some sleep.
So, we headed back to our hotel room.
We had a sound sleep that night before we woke up the next morning to explore the world ahead.
This is the place or pass that connects Tawang to Tezpur, Guwahati and the rest of the India. The place is too cold.
P.T. Tso Lake:
The beautiful and picture perfect Lake that lies at an altitude of 12,000 feet in the Eastern Himalayas holds a great Buddhist spiritual significance and is a must visit.
After wandering around these places, we went back to our room and talked a lot.
Joe shared a lot of his traveling experiences with me leaving me amazed. This was when I started to think of traveling and my passion towards traveling.
I had talked a lot about Kerala and the places in Kerala that attracted Joe, and he wanted to visit Kerala soon though he had plans to visit Kolkata first.
The next morning we left for Guwahati by bus. It took a long time around 7 hours from Tawang to Guwahati.
We had booked flight tickets for our journey ahead. I was returning to Kerala, and Joe was set to explore Kolkata. Though I wanted to explore Kolkata, I had to reach home first as my family was waiting for me there.
This was an incredible experience that taught me a lot and drove me into my passion for traveling.
Here, I am sharing the experiences of famous travel experts and their advice for first-time travelers:
By Ayandrali Dutta:
The very thought of packing my bags and heading out, in itself a self-satisfying happy feeling. Like any other thing I too had my first time experience as a traveler, not tourist around 4 years ago, and with each passing trip, I learned a lot and came back with many inhibitions shed. Here are few pointers that I have gathered from my years of experience, they may not be the bible, but handy for sure:
➤ While packing, do a proper recce of the place – the weather, the culture etc this way will not end up packing unnecessary things.
➤ When you are a new place, just soak in the charm of that place rather than rushing to your next destination. eg – 5 countries in 12 days NOT a good option. Spread your trip wisely.
➤ Be interactive with the locals, they are a storehouse of information than any guide then you can rely on.
➤ You cannot always go by the map, just be ready to get lost to find something amazing. Don’t panic. It doesn’t help.
➤ Keep your emergency speed dial number handy.
➤ Have an open mind, not an open wallet
➤ Carry your smile always, it makes travel much easier.
➤ Never act like you’re a first-time traveler. Stay Fit, Look Confident!
➤ Never visit any unknown famous site.
➤ Book your hotel always in a good locality. Never go for cheap or blindly discount deal, go for the best. And, never share your hotel room with other unknown solo travelers.
➤ Keep posted on social media where you are, what you’re doing, and what’s your next plan.
➤ Keep in touch with your friends and family over the calls or chat.
➤ Make a list of places where you wanna visit during your next trip, it helps you understand why you had found this destination as your prime choice.
➤ Find local travel blogger and ask them some hidden gems about the destination.
➤ Try to click more pictures as much as you can, over the years you’ll find it an unforgettable dream.
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