Aastha Atray, 32, Editor & Author
Anisha Sharma, 26, Co-Founder of Owl By The Window
Priyansha Jain, 22, Spatial and Graphic Designer
Sreesha Shetty, 27, Jewellery Designer
New York, USA
"On my last day in the city, I saw a man dressed as the Queen of England on the subway and nobody batted an eyelid. That's why I love New York. It lets you be yourself."
"Blame it on my Sex and the City obsession, but I wanted to spend my 32nd birthday exploring NYC by myself. Since it was going to be a month-long vacation, I stayed at a friend's apartment in Manhattan. During my first few days there, I attended an open mic night in Brooklyn, where people sang, played instruments and recited poetry. And that's exactly what I needed: inspiration. From the guy who played the piano right in the middle of George Washington Park, to the one who sketched in Union Square, the city is home to artists of all kinds—and I felt completely at home. I had the opportunity to interact with a tonne of people as well. On a typical day, I'd walk around, shop, eat, repeat. I'd spend plenty of time just sitting in parks and squares, watching people. Never did I feel lonely or unsafe. Thank you, New York. It was truly one of the best birthdays."
"Everybody should travel by themselves at least once in their lives."
"I opened the map of EU on a whim, and decided I'd go wherever my finger landed.
A few weeks later I found myself in Amsterdam for the first solo trip of my life! With full liberty to plan the itinerary, I chose to do less tourist-y things like visiting Begijnhof and the Albert Cuyp, and exploring the city on foot. I ended up making friends with a Brazilian couple and an Argentinian singer at the dorm I was staying at—we spent a night out karaoke-ing, visiting the Van Gogh and film museums, and walking around Vondelpark. Though I sprained my ankle on landing, I just walked it off—and I'm glad I did! I met a bunch of amazing people I'm still in touch with, and came away with some of the best memories."
"On boarding my flight I realised I didn't even have my host's address—but you've just got to take a chance sometimes."
"I visited Spain as a part of a Workaway programme, where you assist your host in some way in exchange for hospitality. My host Petra's place turned out to be deep in the valley, away from civilisation. I'd start my day with fresh fruits from the gardens, work for about four hours (chores mostly), and then set out to explore the forests or take a dip in the river. Living there gave me a chance to interact with fellow volunteers, thus encouraging cultural exchange. We'd cook up a feast every afternoon, bringing to the table dishes from our own country. The evenings were spent playing games, making music, and having soulful conversations."
"Travelling alone means you must be patient with yourself and the pace at which things move."
"I was fascinated by the idea of bouldering in Hampi. The landscape of the place reminded me of an Indiana Jones movie—it's beautiful! I usually avoid relying on tour guides so I set out armed with a scooter and a book. I was a little skeptical in the beginning, but I discovered that there were quite a few travellers like me. So, I made friends with them. The important thing is to keep an open mind, but it's also wise to be on your guard at all times. Tick off most of your plans before sunset. Lastly, don't glorify the trip in your mind. Enjoy the small things while they last. Take some notes. Observe."