As the new year passes by, and the month of January whizzes by, the countdown to my birthday begins. It’s only five short weeks between that point and the 8th March, but those days decrease faster than I will ever be able to count them. I’m a really big fan of my birthday, in fact, I would even go as far as saying it is my favourite period of the year – yes period – as my birthday isn’t a single day affair. It never is. 24 birthdays have passed and i’ve always experienced huge amounts of excitement, but this one feels different. I think turning 25 has a bigger stigma around it than turning 18 per se, I guess you’re on the downward slope towards 30 and that’s when they say your life truly begins.
I’ve been fortunate. More fortunate than I could have ever imagined being. I come from a solid family background of two happily married parents, a loving sibling, a roof over my head, food on the table, and I’ve always been given anything I could have wished for in my 24 years. That’s pretty special.
Growing up, I’ve always wanted more than an “average” life. I still want to be successful in my career, own a business, travel the world (and get paid for it), find my forever person, live in a big house… you get the gist. But, what if I told you I already have got some of those things already, if not half? Some would call it a privilege, but I would say it the result of hard work.
Out of those that I have already achieved, one of them stands out the most, travel. I was always fortunate to travel since my mum was pregnant with me, which is with huge thanks to my parents. They instilled a passion into me, that I didn’t realise would develop into something bigger as I grew up. I feel fortunate that my blog allows me to not only share my travels with the world but work with so many fantastic brands, hotels, airlines and tourism boards. I’m truly blessed.
After returning home from my latest trip to Canada, it really hit me. I’m so lucky to be able to do what I do – to have seen so much of the world before I hit 25. It’s quite remarkable.
To mark the
1. Never forget how fortunate I am
I have seen it all, from the extreme poverty in India and East Africa, right through to the riches of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. You may want more, but you will always be better off than someone else, who would happily trade their life with yours.
2. Travel with an open mind
I can’t stress this enough. As a luxury travel blogger, I have stayed in some of the luxurious 5-star hotels in the world. But, I still remain grounded. I have realised I can’t find those kinds of luxuries all over the world, and it is about people open to what is achievable in every place I visit. I have actually found myself pleasantly satisfied many times by being open minded.
3. Solo travel isn’t bad
Sometimes I feel like I don’t give myself enough credit for things I do, or the places I have seen. I had always wanted to try solo travel, but I was never brave enough to do so, especially as I have always travelled with family or friends. Until I took the plunge and travelled by myself in Paris. I felt so much better after I tried it, or I would have always let the “what-ifs” buzz around my mind.
4. It’s okay to return to a place I love
There are some places I have visited that I have fallen head over heels in love with. Lisbon being one. There is a huge pressure as a travel blogger, and traveller in general to explore the unknown and discover more rather than revisiting a destination. I’m not the kind of traveller that counts countries, and never will. So, why shouldn’t a re-visit a city that once stole my heart?
5. I shouldn’t be ashamed of the way I like to travel
Let’s get one thing straight – some people like the luxuries in life, and others are happy to camp or go backpacking around Europe. I have nothing against those that do enjoy the latter, but I’m a luxury travel fiend, and I’m not ashamed of it either.
6. Getting lost isn’t half bad
The number of times I’ve got lost while travelling, normally because I suck at reading maps and it seems I lack the ability to follow an arrow on Google Maps from time to time too. I used to get frustrated about it, but the number of “hidden gems” I’ve found doing so makes it all better. Like finding the BEST cheesecake shop in Copenhagen because I turned down the wrong street. It’s all about silver linings.
7. Running into friends in different countries is a thing
I’ve been following one of my favourite travel bloggers, Lucy, from the early days of starting Fresh And Fearless. We had tried to meet up several times in London, or anywhere in England but we never managed to cross paths or make it work, but we randomly found each other in Prague, 5 years later. Sometimes you have to trust that travel can bring people together.
8. It’s okay not to love every place I travel
I used to beat myself up over the idea that I wasn’t a huge fan of some of the places I have visited, to the point where I tried to find little things I did like to make myself feel better. I soon learned that it is okay not to love every destination, the same way you can’t like every person you meet.
9. Some people will never understand why I travel, and it’s okay.
The number of times I have been asked about why I need to travel so much or why I can’t stay put for a long period of time will never understand. Personally, I love the feeling of being a citizen of the world, the experiences, the food, cultures and different climates. I have come to terms with the idea that they may never understand, either. As long as it makes me happy, I will continue to travel.
10. Social media has changed the way I travel
As a travel blogger, creating unique content around destinations is a part of what I do. That often means finding the most “instagrammable” coffee shops with colourful latte art, or chasing sunsets. It’s a part of what travel is about. People want to see the best of what this earth has to offer, and I’m here for it.
11. Being Indian doesn’t make a difference
We live in the twenty-first century, where it doesn’t make a difference what age, gender or race you are. Most countries I have visited are open to all cultures and welcome you with open arms, regardless of your appearance. I have visited a number of countries that are known to be
12. I’m a sucker for exotic fruits
I used to spend my six week summer holidays from school in East Africa when I was younger. The sweet, juicy exotic fruits my tastebuds have experienced is incredible. From starfruits, lychees, papaya, mangoes, dragonfruit, custard apples, durians, persimmons, plantain and feijoa, all ripe and ready to pluck directly from the tree. Nothing quite like it.
13. Going with the flow is better than a plan
I remember visiting Prague with no agenda; list of things to see, restaurants to visit or bars I wanted to try. I went with a blank canvas, and it was one of the most freeing and exhilarating trips I have ever been on. Plans can become intense and can add extra pressure when travelling, especially with the need to tick off various sights and restaurants. It has definitely taught me to be less intense about planning everything weeks or days in advance.
14. Sun is a necessity
As a brown-skinned individual, I’ve never really felt the need to constantly be in the sun to tan. Being born in England meant I spent a lot of my time in cooler temperatures without sun, but I never realised how much I need a regular fix of the sun and vitamin D until I started travelling more.
15. I’m braver than I think
Since starting Fresh And Fearless and documenting my travels, I have always done one thing that scares me on every trip. It’s my pledge to start become a more fearless version of myself – something I have always wanted. I remember visiting the Dolomites to try skiing for the first time, but prior to that trip, I was so sure I was never going to ski in my life and wasn’t fussed about it until I tried it. At the end of the day, my instilled fear would have stopped me enjoying a sport I actually found I loved after all.
16. I’ll never be a person that travels lightly
This is one of the lessons that I have well and truly accepted. Hand luggage only travel is definitely not for me. I’ve built up my own reputation amongst the travel PR’s, as the boy who can’t travel without at least three pairs of shoes and ten outfits for a three-day trip.
17. I’m a good haggler
When you go to certain countries like India, having an English accent does you no favours. In fact, you’re likely to get ripped off, as they multiply the price by five because you are a foreigner. I’ve done my fair share of haggling over the years and I definitely know the tactics to get the best deal possible.
18. I’m addicted to watching sunsets in different countries
Chasing sunsets in different countries has become a firm favourite pastime. I’ve not missed one yet, either. Watching the apricot, fiery colours evolve at different times across the globe, giving me those same pleasant feelings deep within and mother nature dishes it out on a plate, wherever in the world I am.
19. You can’t avoid food poisoning
I can run, but I can’t hide. I have stopped myself eating street food, meat, and not drinking tap water, but if I was meant to get food poisoning, I simply did. No exceptions.
20. Talking to locals is best
If I have learned anything about a destination I have visited, it has been from the locals. I’d even say it is the best way to find the undiscovered places that haven’t been found by other travellers. Not only that, they have the best stories to tell. And, you know how much I love a good story!
21. Always travel with a bottle of vicks
It’s something I never understood why my parents did as a child, but I get it now. Vicks solves everything. Got a cold? Vicks it. Sore legs? Vicks. Headache? Vicks. It’s truly the wonder balm!
22. Riding a camel is nothing like riding a horse
As an equestrian, you automatically think that riding a camel will be like riding a horse… until you do it. In fact, they are more wobbly and make the weirdest noises. Oh, and getting kissed by a camel isn’t fun either… yeah, that happened.
23. I will never get the perfect picture in one shot
This has definitely been a big one for me, especially as my photography has improved over the years and my inner perfectionist comes out every time. Somes you will have to get up at ridiculous times or take the same shot 300 times, just to ensure it’s perfect.
24. The world is more beautiful than I ever imagined
When travelling to a new destination, I take for granted that it will be different and it’s down to me to form my own opinion of it. But, every time I reach a new place, I realise HOW beautiful this world is. How fortunate I am to able to see all the different elements mother nature puts on for us and the extent of the unimaginable beauty there is out there. We are so lucky.
25. Travel has completely changed my life
I think this goes without saying, but I have truly caught the travel bug. I can’t be without another trip
What have you learned from travel?
Until next time…