"Solo travel is the best way to find out who you are, who you can be, and what you’re made of. In our non-travel lives, we can get complacent and too comfortable with who we are, but travel challenges you to go beyond that version of yourself- so, embrace it". - The Boho Chica
Natasha is a third culture kid, an Indian born and raised in Dubai, who found that travel was a natural fit for someone like her who is perpetually between cultures. She found travel in her early 20s unexpectedly- never having traveled before that and changing course towards it after initially being on a different life path, and blog about it on TheBohoChica.com. You can also find her on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and connect with her on GAFFL.
Why I Travel
I probably didn’t realize it at the time but looking back now, I guess I was looking for something bigger than myself and the world that I knew and lived in, when I started traveling in my early 20s. I was getting my Masters degree in Finance and I kept asking myself, “What else is out there? Is this all there is to life?” and I had this feeling that this could not be it. So I decided to literally take myself out of the comfortable and familiar and find out for myself.
That curiosity continues today and it’s what makes me travel- I am eager to learn how people live in different parts of the world, why they live the lives they do, what motivates them, what makes them happy, what is important to them in the societies and cultures they’ve built. The more I travel the more I realize that most of us are wrong about other people and cultures- the truth is much simpler, and we’re more alike than we believe. And the differences? They make our world far more interesting- there is so much we can learn from the diversity in our cultures.
I also seek out nature when I travel- for me, it’s the perfect escape from city life in Dubai. I’m happiest on a hiking trail somewhere in the mountains, whether it’s the town of Mestia in Georgia, along the coast in Montenegro, or a trail in Arctic Sweden.
Making It In Travel Media Was An Uphill Battle
I admit I didn’t have a solid plan of action when I quit my job. I did have savings from a couple of years of working full-time in Finance, so I gave myself a year to test out whether I could actually make it in a career in travel media.
One of the biggest challenges I faced was feeling and being unseen. If you’ve noticed, the travel industry and travel media is largely white. It seemed at the time, that as a Brown, desi travel writer, I had to adhere to some kind of style guide that promotes this whitewashed idea of what travel is and what it looks like- that comes from a place of privilege and entitlement that I didn’t have. So my overall growth has been slow (but steady) because I refuse to give up my voice, just to stay visible all the time.
But I am grateful that I had the good fortune to meet some amazing people in the industry who lifted me up and hired me for my first few big campaigns. That made me realize that my work was speaking for itself, and that my (quiet) voice was being heard by the right people.
My family didn’t have real concerns about the career change. To be honest, I think they understand that I’ve always been someone who wasn’t afraid to take risks. I make decisions impulsively, but it’s because that allows me to overcome my fears. I’d rather live with regrets of having made the wrong decisions than with the regrets of inaction and wondering, “What if?”
My family was concerned about my safety when I first started traveling alone. I often travel to remote places to hike, or small towns that might not have great internet (or at least didn’t when I went a few years ago), and so they would panic when I told them I’d be out of touch for a few days or weeks. But eventually, they understood that it was something I needed to do, and that I was being smart about it and taking steps towards being safe at all times.
I'm An Introvert But I Still Love To Meet New People
As an introvert, on the road, I realized that I actually love meeting new people- it’s only that I prefer small groups over big ones, and deeper, meaningful conversations over small talk. This might be surprising to people who think that introverts do not like to meet new people- it’s a common misconception- so I wrote about what introverts are really like.
In fact, making friends while traveling is actually easier for me than at home, because there’s already something that we have in common- our love of travel, adventure, nature or hiking. I often stay in hostels when I travel alone because it’s a great way to meet people.
I’m still in touch with the friends I made on my very first trip- a volunteer program in Bangladesh. They’ve visited me here in Dubai and I’ve visited one of them on my trip to Copenhagen. That was my first international trip ever- so I’ve shared some fond memories with them, from navigating the crowded streets of Dhaka and staying in a little riverside village, to sipping on seven-layered tea in a small town in the countryside and my very first hike in a forest.
Over the years, I’ve kept in touch with many fellow travelers that I’ve met, always offering to show them around if they’re in Dubai. I believe there’s something called the “bond of the road”- it’s easy to pick up right where you left off!