Why I Quit My Job To Go Slow Travelling
Many of us dream to quit the cubicle life to pursue a life that is whole and purposeful.
From hiking glaciers in the Himalayas, shark diving, meditating outside monasteries, crystal healing and living with the tribes of Swaziland - this lady has done it all.
In conversation with Divya Prasad where she reveals her reasons for leaving her successful career in advertising to embrace slow travel and a life of simple living.
Travelling helped me look for peace, gave me clarity of purpose and adventure and changed my life but it had tough moments.
It may not be the smartest, most responsible decision to leave my life behind to soul search but it was worth it!
Can you tell us a little about yourself, what you did before and what inspired you to pursue the life you have now?
I had a successful career in advertising but after a few years of having a monotonous lifestyle I wasn’t creatively satisfied anymore. During the first few years of my career the only place I visited during my holidays was the Himalayas. Each time I returned to Mumbai it increased my longing for the mountains. The more I explored, returning back to the corporate drudgery made me feel discontent. Coming home at 3am post work felt purposeless. I felt I shouldn’t be wasting my life by working on things that didn’t matter and I quit my day job to take a sabbatical and explore the mountains and the tribes of northern India.
A lot of people dream of what you do ‘to be free, uninhibited and to travel all year round’ – how do you manage to sustain such a lifestyle?
I quit my job on a whim and started travelling. Thinking back I should have planned more and saved more. While travelling I had to dip into my savings so I learnt to travel cheap by hitchhiking and commuting by public transport. I stayed in cheap hostels and at times stayed with locals who took me in. Living a very basic, ‘back to nature’ lifestyle kept me going. In hindsight I feel silly for not planning better. After a little exploration I went back to my corporate job for a year. This time I came back to save money so I could travel more. When I started travelling again I started picking freelance projects and learnt new arts and opened my venture Iktomi where I create energised crystal dream catchers, mandala art, practice energy and crystal healing - all of which helps me travel freely.
As a traveller what is your biggest challenge on the road? Have you ever felt unsafe?
I’ve not had any challenges. Throughout my travels I have met warm and hospitable people who’ve made my journey easy.
The Himalayan mountains are extremely safe. Although as a woman traveler I take precautions, but that’s not specific to any place. For instance I wouldn’t dream of wandering around the mountains at 2AM but that’s just a general rule. Use common sense to stay safe.
You’ve spent a lot of time in the Himalayas – can you share some memorable experiences from your stay in the mountains?
I thoroughly enjoyed doing the tribal circuit of Himachal up to Ladakh for four months where I explored the scenic landscapes of river valleys, snowcapped peaks and explored the remote villages in Kinnaur and Spiti. A particularly memorable moment was trekking to Komik, one of the highest villages in Himachal. I was sitting outside a monastery and talking to a 76 year old about life and the simplicity of it. During my journey in Spiti, I also discovered Ammonites, a powerful healing fossil with metaphysical properties. I immediately felt a connection with those stones which I believe led me to my soul path.
In those four months I experienced so much hospitality from the locals - who opened their hearts and home for me. That experience really puts things into perspective. Throughout that journey I felt like my spiritual self had awakened and I knew travelling, healing and exploration was my true calling.
Has exploring places and meeting people from different cultures made an impact on your life? How so?
Talking to strangers and learning their way of life, having conversations with people from different sub cultures and hearing their stories, fills my heart with gratitude. Watching people lead a very happy life despite low income made me realise that I no longer need to acquire a lot of materialistic things to be happy. When my basic needs are met, I am content and it fills my heart with joy and appreciation.
The more I explored, returning back to the corporate drudgery made me feel discontent. Coming home at 3am post work felt purposeless. I felt I shouldn’t be wasting my life by working on things that didn’t matter and I quit my day job .
Tell us about Grab your Dream and how the experience changed your life?
For a long time I was longing to travel to South America and whilst doing research I saw an ad for Grab your Dream, an online contest which scouts for adventurers. A friend suggested that I go for it, so I sent them my story and by sheer chance of luck I won and got an opportunity to explore Africa.
This trip broke a lot of inner stereotypes. The adventure which started from Johannesburg to Durban eventually led me to Swaziland where I learnt about the tribes and their lifestyle. Before travelling to Africa my friends and family warned me. They were concerned about my safety, but the hospitality I experienced from locals and the African tribes was heartwarming. It was great to experience African shamanism and learn about traditional healing.
Even though I was planning to go to South America, South Africa enabled me to soak the authentic shaman lifestyle. My energised crystal dream catchers too, travelled to Africa to manifest dreams of souls I met on the road. From shark diving, bungee jumping, going on a wild African safari and travelling by road, this trip broke my inhibitions - I experienced richness in Africa. By the end of my trip I learnt to have an open mind. Some parts of Africa can be very scary, especially Kenya. Some of the roads are isolated and can be very unsafe but safety isn’t limited to one place, it applies to all parts of the world. I feel that meeting people on the road is about the trust and the connection I felt has enriched me.
Do you have any advice or tips to give to people who aspire to travel full time and adopt a similar lifestyle to yours?
Quitting your job to travel full time sounds like a dream, but nothing comes without a cost. Travelling helped me look for peace, gave me clarity of purpose and adventure and changed my life but it had tough moments. It may not be the smartest, most responsible decision to leave my life behind to soul search but it was worth it. I should have planned better and saved more instead of jumping without thinking, but I learnt my lessons and picked up work to keep this lifestyle going.
So ask yourself how much are you willing to sacrifice and what are you willing to give up? If you are willing to throw yourself completely into this, then don’t be afraid, take that leap of faith, research, save, and give this lifestyle a chance. You will never look back.
Quitting your job to travel full time sounds like a dream, but nothing comes without a cost.
What have you planned for your next adventure?
There isn’t a plan. I take things one day at a time. I believe in slow travelling. I love the element of slowly embracing my surroundings. It helps me blend into the local life and connect to a place and its people.
At the moment I am relishing my stay in small mud house atop the hills of Kangra, where I grow vegetables and live a local tranquil life. This type of travelling puts things into perspective and has made reflect and look at my own city, people and culture very differently.
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