Exploring underrated gems is a skill not many travellers can master, but for digital nomads Prakriti Varshney and Niharika Arora, it is second nature. Lovers of solo travelling, both of them have a shared ideology of bringing sustainability to the fore, glimpses of which they reveal in our conversation with them. Read on to know how these travel bloggers are spending their days in the lockdown, what their post-pandemic plans are, and why travelling has their heart. By Bayar Jain
1. Where were you when the lockdown was announced and how did you spend your time during this period?
Prakriti: I was in Manali when rumours of the lockdown started doing the rounds. Concerned for my parents and my dogs, I travelled back to Delhi immediately. Since then, I haven’t left! I’ve spent the past four months learning how to play the ukelele, edit videos, write stories, and work on my mental health as a priority. Plus, it’s been three years since I stayed at home for more than a couple of days, so it’s a good feeling overall.
Niharika: Fortunately, I was able to come back home in Delhi and prepare for the upcoming days with my parents.
2. What was your last vacation before the lockdown was announced and what did you do there?
Prakriti: I went to Bhutan in January, followed by Vietnam till mid-February. My last trip before the lockdown, however, was in Kashmir where I went in the last week of February till the first week of March. I went there specifically to learn snowboarding. It was a great experience, and I’m still surviving on those memories.
3. If you could choose a place to be quarantined at other than your home, where would you go and why?
Prakriti: If I didn’t have any responsibilities, I would have gone to the Philippines. I had planned to go there in April to learn scuba diving. Living in the wild and just being on the gorgeous islands would be my goal.
4. In terms of travel, what changes do you predict in the post-Corona world?
Prakriti: Slow travels will be the new trend, assuming every country or state would require two weeks of minimum booking. But, I feel this will be great as it will change people’s perspectives towards travelling.
5. What do you miss most about travelling?
Prakriti: Freedom, people, languages, cuisines, and unplanned adventures.
Niharika: I miss the thrill and unpredictability of every day. I miss making plans with strangers, meeting locals, getting invited to homes and the simple pleasure of not knowing what to expect next.
6. Your go-to destination once travel restrictions ease and why?
Prakriti: I have travelled extensively across India, but haven’t gotten a chance to explore Kerala yet. That’s where I’d like to go for a long bag-packing trip for at least two months. If I get to go abroad, then it would be the Philippines!
7. Road trips are expected to be the next travel trend. Where would you go for one and why?
Prakriti: Road trips have always been one of the most interesting vacations for me. I would love to go back to Spiti Valley with both my dogs. The last time I went with them, it was very memorable. I would like to relive that. Once restrictions open, I would also like to restart my incomplete journey of India-Nepal-Bhutan-Myanmar in a Gypsy with my dog.
8. Your take on conscious travel and how do you incorporate it when you’re on-the-move?
Prakriti: I believe if you don’t leave a place better than you found it, then you’re not a good traveller. I try to avoid plastic at all costs and look for alternatives. I refuse to take straws, PET bottles, toiletries, plastic glasses, or even disposables. It’s part of my lifestyle now, and I try to educate about the same to others while travelling as well. To help promote sustainable travels, I prefer visiting less explored destinations rather than overcrowded spots. I travel slow and avoid flights wherever possible. I try to fly only once a month, and compensate my carbon footprint by planting at least 100 trees every year – whether myself or by donating funds to a trusted NGO.
9. In a sentence, why do you love to travel?
Prakriti: Travelling allows me to be whoever I want. It helps me fall in love with people, and their people. With the kind of travelling I do, I love the uncertainty of it the most. Unplanned travelling has helped me find calm in the chaos.
Niharika: With every trip, I let loose my fears and insecurities.