Travelling blogger duo Rishabh and Nirali of the Gypsy Couple were brought together by destiny and are now bound by their shared love for travelling. Many years since their marriage, the gipsies now traverse various landscapes, chronicle their journeys, and give intense #IntimateTravel vacationing goals to their 41k-strong (and counting!) fanbase. By Bayar Jain
1. Tell us about Gypsy Couple, and how the two of you started travelling together.
Ours was an arranged marriage, but it never felt like one. We hit it off from our first arranged ‘date’, despite finding that we have no common interests and likes, except our mutual love for travel. After our first trip together, our honeymoon, we realised we have so many moments and stories to share that it deserves a platform of its own. That’s how Gypsy Couple was conceptualised—’couple’ representing us, and ‘gypsy’ representative of our lifestyle and nomadic roots from north-western India.
2. How do you narrow down on a destination and the various experiences there?
When planning, we research extensively but are also open to new ideas upon reaching. We spend hours selecting destinations, accommodations, and activities that avoid tourist traps. We also search for local recommendations on blogs, personal stories and forums. However, the final decision on what we want to do is taken on-ground. In the process, we end up skipping things on our ‘list’ and living in the moment, rather than chasing after gardens and viewpoints. Although this process might not work for everyone, and we do end up missing out on experiences we would have liked to be a part of… Of course, our personal tastes affect these choices but we’ve found that its the best way to truly enjoy our trips.
That said, all our decisions are taken mutually. Both of us first draw up our individual list of places and then try to convince the other to include it in the itinerary. Once the rough itinerary is drawn up, we repeat the process for hotels, activities, and even packing our bags.
3. When travelling together, how do you deal with differences and misunderstandings among each other?
Difference of opinions and misunderstandings are part of any relationship. With a couple like us who has distinctly different mindsets, it’s even more pronounced. We tackle this with an open stream of communication. This is especially important on trips because a new, unfamiliar environment always creates additional stress. Open communication helps create a steady vent, which doesn’t allow any stress to build up to a point of no return. Although this doesn’t prevent all our fights, we’ve also learnt to quickly resolve and compromise.
On our first trip, for instance, we packed in everything—beaches, mountains, cities, wildlife, quaint boutique hotels, city centre hotels, luxury resorts, etc. This was because we had no idea what the other would like, and decided to figure it out on the way. But, we ended up having a ball! We developed a better understanding of each other.
4. Which is your fondest pre-COVID-19 throwback trip?
We do not play favourites because not only is that unbecoming of a passionate traveller, but also because it’s a very tough choice. More so because each trip has a special memory associated with it. However, if we were to choose one from our recent trips, we would definitely love to go back to Ladakh. Right from the places we stayed at, the people we met, and the stunning vistas make that vacation a no-brainer choice. Although we had an absolutely harrowing experience towards the end of the trip (we were stuck at the airport for almost an entire day because of a snowstorm that grounded all flights), it added to the experience. If anything, it made the trip more memorable.
5. What are your top three tips for planning an #IntimateTravel vacation?
The most important tip for planning an #IntimateTravel vacation is taking into consideration the comfort of both partners. Ask yourselves if both of you are comfortable with the destination, accommodation, activities and food options available. Do you wish to spend your holiday relaxing on a beach at a resort, trying out a life-changing adventure together, or drinking and partying?
Most people select the most popular destination or the most romantic place based on online recommendations or rely on suggestions from friends and family. But most forget that different people have different personal choices. There’s never a one-size-fits-all. Depending upon which stage of the relationship you are in, your priorities and expectations from the trip will also change.
Understanding your expectations as a couple is primary while planning an intimate vacation. It is also important to plan in moderation and leave a little to chance.
6. Must-haves when packing for an #IntimateTravel vacation?
We try to pack minimally, but have realised it is a futile exercise for people like us. We pack to the limits of what the airline allows us! Our must-haves are our photography equipment, a decent pair of headphones, and a travel-friendly board game. Photography caters to both our interests: one of us likes to pose, and the other likes to shoot. We always recommend a decent pair of headphones, ideally noise cancellation ones to shut off from the world on long flights and commutes. Board games, especially travel-pack sized ones, are a must! You can play them anywhere, and they’re ridiculously fun! We started the tradition right from our honeymoon, so you can guess how serious we are about it.
7. The most romantic destination in India according to you, and why?
It’s tough to choose a clear winner. That said, we found Udaipur incredibly romantic. We loved its winding lanes, beautiful lakes, lovely weather, and the gorgeous architecture all around us. We would sit by the lake and talk for hours, or go for a boat ride to the Jag Mandir or around the Taj Lake Palace. The best part was staring at the moon’s mirror-like reflection on Lake Pichola.
8. A hidden gem in India you wish people knew more of?
We feel West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh deserve a bit more attention. The former is our birthplace, and the latter is a place we’ve found really intriguing on a few trips we’ve taken over the years. For example, did you know that Narmada, one of the holiest river among Hindus, is believed to have originated in a small town called Amarkantak in Madhya Pradesh? Or that Sundarbans in West Bengal are the world’s largest mangrove ecosystem and an UNESCO World Heritage site? You can also check out Andretta in Himachal Pradesh or Binsar in Uttarakhand. The former is an artist’s colony, and the latter is a wildlife reserve. Both are incredibly beautiful and missing from tourists’ lists.
9. Domestic travel and road trips are expected to see a rise this year. Where would you like to go and why?
We welcome the trend wholeheartedly! We have been promoting domestic travel and road trips for a long time now. We’ve covered thousands of kilometres during our several road trips in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. We’d like to explore more of the Himalayas next, specifically Ladakh. We felt a deep connection the last time we visited, and would like to revisit and explore the feeling a little more. We have also earmarked a few lovely spots in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, and would like to spend a few days reconnecting with nature and ourselves.
10. Your tips on becoming a more conscious traveller?
We believe it shouldn’t be a choice to be a conscious traveller; it should be a basic rule. It’s our basic civic responsibility to avoid littering, saving water and electricity, and respecting the locals and their culture. For our own trips, we make it a point to carry a small bottle with us to avoid having to buy packaged water. We also carry a daypack with us to avoid using plastic bags. To avoid mishap, we treat hotel rooms like our homes. Not all hotels have a keycard central access system in place, which means ACs, heaters, lights or fans are left on until you switch it off manually. All of these things are ridiculously easy, and very practical once you start doing them.