I never imagined that I will so soon have a lovely community of followers on Instagram who appreciate my passion for travel and motivate me to create more interesting content every day!
I get a lot of messages from a lot of you almost every day on Instagram, and a lot of you are curious about me and my lifestyle.
So, I have finally penned down all the questions that I get asked by a lot of my audience, and have tried my best to answer them.
Hope this helps you to know me a little bit more, and brings us closer.
So, here we go!
Q1. What do I do as a full time job?
A: I am a full time Petroleum Engineer. I work as a Senior Product Analyst in a multi-national Oil and Gas Company, Schlumberger, based out of Abingdon, UK. And I am a huge workaholic and work more than 10 hours everyday to make sure that I dont have any backlogs for my weekends and keep my team and managers happy.
Q2. How did I land up in UK?
A: I completed my Bachelors in Petroleum Engineering in Dehradun, India and got immediately hired by Schlumberger. I worked with them for 4.5 years in Mumbai, India and tried really hard to get a transfer to UK (yes, I aspired to do this role that I am currently doing, that’s why I love my job. :)). My wish was finally granted in mid-2014, and I moved to UK on a new assignment and have been living here since then.
Q3. How do I travel so much?
A: As per my experience, one thing very different in the work culture in western countries, unlike India, is that you can really have a work-life balance, if you organise yourself properly. So, I never bring work back home or leave anything pending for weekends, nor am I expected to.
So, this leaves me with 2*52 = 102 weekend days, 8 public holidays and 25 vacation days to plan my travel; which every person working in UK gets. So, I optimise and plan my weekends, public holidays and vacation days to travel. Most of my trips are around weekends.
Just to give you an idea about my travels just in 2017 till date; I travelled to Austria for a weekend, Swiss and French Alps road trip was on a weekend, a week in Iceland (2 weekends and 5 vacation days = 9 days), 6 days in Jordan (a weekend, 2 public holidays and 2 vacation days), a long weekend in France (weekend plus 1 public holiday) and some weekends in and around UK. And every working class person has these days available to them, its all about just planning the trip!
Q4. How do/did I travel to so many countries?
A: If you are not familiar with Google maps, let me tell you that Europe has the largest number of countries! And a lot of them are less than an hour flight away from each other. So, its very easy to cover small destinations, like Lisbon, Budapest, Paris, Berlin, etc. over a weekend. I have travelled to many countries more than once, coz obviously it is not possible to cover the entire country over a weekend. But, something is better than nothing!
I have travelled back to many countries to explore more places and back to the same cities too during a different time and season of the year. But if I kept waiting for that long holiday/break or friends to join me, I would have never seen half of what I achieved to see with my weekend hauls.
Q5. Are my trips sponsored?
A: Not at all! All my trips are sponsored by me… with my hard earned salary from my full time job as an Engineer.
I make enough to buy my flight tickets and book hostel dorms and sometimes pay for those occasional taxi hires (coz I cant drive) to explore the places where the public transport is not convenient. I don't own any house or car, and don't spend ridiculous amount of money in drinking and dining around, so I invest most of my money in travelling.
Q6. How do I plan my trips and decide where to go?
A: I don’t think there is any magic formula to that. We all get inspired to visit certain places from several different sources, like social media, internet, movies, travel magazines, travel channels, friends, and colleagues; and I am no different.
Instagram has recently been a great source of inspiration for me. I am lucky to have come across some really passionate travellers and photographers who visit such incredible places, and that always helps me add more spots to my bucket list! And apart from that, through my experiences from meeting and talking to different people around the world, through work or otherwise, I do have a list of places that I really want to visit. Just like Jordan, which I recently did.
But one of my motivation to move to UK, apart from my career, was also to see all the lovely countries around Europe. So, my bucket list for Europe includes EVERY COUNTRY! So not so hard to pick places. :)
Once I decide on the place I want to visit, I research! And Google is my best friend for that! There are plenty of blogs and articles available online, and discussions on established platforms like TripAdvisor and Lonely Planet, which help me make that perfect itinerary, based on my interests. I always plan my own itinerary, even when travelling with friends, itinerary planning is always my department!
I usually plan my trips or research about places when I need a break from work (hope my manager is not reading this), and after office hours - like couple of hours before going to bed, but yes, it is very time consuming and requires sincere dedication, because more than anything else, I hate missing out on stuff. So, I have to make sure I pin down every point of interest, restaurants and things to do, so that I don't miss out on anything.
For example, I really wanted to see the snow covered Hallstatt village in Austria, wanted to check out Dresden in Germany, whenever I visited Berlin, wanted to visit Iceland during the recommended best time- March, wanted to see the Plitvice nation park during the fall time, etc. So, that helped me plan my trips.
Having said that, some of the trips have been very spontaneous, when I book a flight on Thursday to fly out on Friday night, without much planning. On such occasions I use the valuable 3-4 hours before catching the flight to the next morning to plan out what to do and see. TripAdvisor and Lonely Planet, and Google in general are always great for that! There must be at least thousands of bloggers who would have visited every city in the world and written about it, and we should make the most of those resources (all we need to do is type in the right keywords)!
Q7. Do I travel solo coz I dont have any friends?
A: Hahaha, that's a very valid question! You must have noticed that I never share stories on Instagram about my personal life (except when I was super excited about travelling with my family in India last year!), and I like to keep it that way. Which restaurant I go to to have dinner with work collegues or which friend I met for a movie over the weekend is not the purpose of my account. Even when I travel with friends, I don't like to share about it, because again, my account is to show you places and inspire you to travel and not to introduce you to my friends. :) My blog and my posts on Instagram is mainly related to travel and to share my itineraries and and as much travel info as possible to encourage more people to go explore! And that's why I am doing this.
So, yes, I have friends and a few of them are also travel compatible with me, but I don't think my personal life is what I want to highlight in my account and blogs.
Another fact is that I plan all my trips mostly solo, but sometimes it coincides with some of my friends's availability and wishlist too, and then I have the luxury of their company and their driver's license to plan crazy road trips! Travelling with friends is obviously cheaper and fun, specially when they love to travel the way I do, and they also assist me in taking my pictures!
But I certainly wont wait for someone else to be ready and available for me to see the world!
Q8. Where am I originally from?
A: I get this question mainly from all my curious Indian followers. I am a native of Odisha, but born and brought up in Assam. I have studied in Hyderabad and Dehradun and worked in Mumbai and Delhi. So, I can speak Oriya, Assamese, Telugu, apart from Hindi and English. :)
Q9. Do I ever plan to pursue travelling as a career?
A: Honestly, I don’t know. I love my current job, and I am very ambitious and workaholic. And I do aspire to have a long and steep career in this organisation. And I feel privileged that I have this job to support and sustain my travel plans, so that I don’t have to worry about making money while holidaying. In a nutshell, I am enjoying my continuous source of income as of now. And I am a techie, so I love my techie job!
Q10. Which camera do I use?
A: I am not a fan of bulky DSLRs. Since the most I do with pictures is upload them on social media, they don’t have to be of really great quality (coz I am not going to sell them). So, for that, my Sony Cybershot DSC HX-90-V camera does an amazing job! I especially like the wi-fi feature which lets me transfer pictures to my phone immediately and share.
Earlier I used to just take pictures of the landscape, but since a year or so, I felt that I should be in my own pictures more… to add that personalised touch to it (coz if you just want to see Petra, you will get plenty of images online, but only I can share pictures of Petra with me in it!). So, I use a 50 inch super light tripod I got from Amazon basics, and the self-timer of my Sony camera to take my pictures.
When it’s not possible to set up a tripod, I use my GoPro Hero 4 with a selfie stick to take my own pictures.
Even when I travel with friends, most of them don't even have an Instagram account, and they are not into photography at all (no Insta bf or bff to take my pictures, lol)! But they always try and help me push the click button on the camera on the tripod, or literally act as human tripods, clicking exactly the frame that I ask them to hold, coz they don't want me to spend 30 mins running back and forth taking pictures! Its super funny. :)
Q11. How do I edit my pictures?
A: I sometimes use Photoshop to get rid of people or noise which I couldn’t avoid while take the picture.
But I usually try to not have to use Photoshop, and patiently wait to take pictures with no people around or get to location really early in the morning to get my pictures.
So, for 90% of my pictures, I edit them on my phone using Snapseed.
Q12. How often do I visit my family?
A: My family is in Assam, India, and I try to visit them once in a year. Even when I was in India, I still used to usually visit them once in a year, when I was in junior college and university and then working, and they are used to seeing me once in a year for the past 15 years now. My parents always taught us to prioritise our education and career, so this long-distance compromise is something we all accepted to live with long time ago (it sucks, but that's life).
Q13. What do I feel about travelling solo?
A: Travelling solo has been the most liberating experience of my life! It is like meditation to me. I have travelled with friends, but I still enjoy my own company more. I am a selective extrovert (ambivert) by nature. So, I have realised that I absorb a place and its vibes much more when I am alone and have no distractions. Also, travelling solo has made me meet so many locals in the places I visit, maybe on a train, in a bar, in a park, the taxi drivers, and I have so many friends in places where I had no one before I visited. Its hard to have that experience when you are not solo.
Also, I have managed to do things when travelling solo, which I never thought I could have done. I have slept in a car park overnight in Switzerland, coz the hostel I booked has no receptionist working after 3 am and the front door was locked when I arrived, and I had no where to go.
Q14. What next after UK?
A: Under my current visa, I will be kicked out of UK after another 2 years anyways. So, hopefully by then, my career will provide me with the opportunity to take on another interesting assignment in another country (a different continent, preferably), and I can continue doing what I love to do.
So, these are all the questions that I could recollect, and I have tried my best to answer them as honestly as I can. But, if you have any more questions for me related to travel, feel free to drop a comment and I will get back to you. :)
My interview with Venus Wong for Refinery 29
Click here to read 'How I Manage To Travel Solo Almost Every Weekend — With A Full-Time Job'
My interview on The Offbeat Life Podcast
Click here to listen to my interview with Debbie in her podcast-The Offbeat Life.
In the interview I discuss how to get the most out of your travels while staying at your 9-5 job.
My YouTube channel
Click here to check out tutorials on how I edit my pictures on my phone using Snapseed app, and also videos diaries of my trips, for more tips and tricks on travel and photography.
Subscribe to stay up-to-date with my posts.