Having covered 41 countries in a span of six years, full-time traveller Aakash Malhotra is now forced to put his wandering soul to temporary rest. However, his dreams continue to soar the skies. We got in touch with him to know all about his post-pandemic travel plans, his reasons for travelling, etc. By Bayar Jain

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1. How did you decide to get into full-time travelling? Take us through your journey.

I got an opportunity to travel to Switzerland as a part of a reality show called Swiss Made Challenge. This was the first time I travelled internationally and experienced solo travelling. At the end of the show, I won a trip to Switzerland for four-five days, and everything changed after that. The following year, I set out on a month-long solo backpacking trip to Greece, Italy, Croatia, Germany, and Switzerland – where my family joined me to enjoy the prize. That’s when I got hooked onto travelling! Till 2017, I worked at a digital agency, saved money, and travelled. In June 2017, I decided to quit my job and took a one-way ticket to Thailand where I decided to start my own venture as a freelancer and content creator.

2. When travelling, what are the various factors you keep in mind while choosing your next destination and how do you fund it?

 

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Being an adventure junkie, I always look for adventurous activities I could do at a destination. I also like to understand the cultural aspects of the place and think of how I could include it in the content I create. I run a digital consulting and advertising firm which helps me fund my travels. Sometimes, I even collaborate with tourism boards.

3. Your favourite travel memory and why?

 

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In December 2018, I decided to strike off something that was on top of my bucket list for long: experiencing the northern lights in Iceland. Seven days into the trip, I started to lose hope. On the eighth day, when I was about to head out of Iceland to continue my journey to Amsterdam, I felt deflated. However, my friend and I decided to stay put in the country until we experienced the lights. This time, we drove 200 kilometres out of the capital city to a remote place. Right when I started to lose hope and convinced myself that I would not be able to see the lights that night either, the dance of nature started. I could see green lights above my head, and the Aurora Borealis dance right in front of me. It was nothing like I had seen before.

4. When travelling, language or dietary preferences could be an issue. Has it ever been a hurdle for you, and how did you cope with it?

 

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My hack for this is using Google translator. It has helped me cope with the language barrier on multiple occasions. As for dietary hurdles, I haven’t faced any issues yet. I usually prefer cooking for myself when I’m travelling.

5. Your tips on travelling consciously?

 

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Sustainable travel is one of my key objectives, and giving back to nature has always been a focus while I travel. I try to travel by road as much as possible. I even carry a cloth bag with me to store all the waste I accumulate along the way and dispose it off later.

6. Where were you when the lockdown was announced and how have you been coping with it?

 

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Personally, the lockdown has been a blessing in disguise for me. Four days before the lockdown, I came to my home in Palampur, a quaint valley in Himachal Pradesh. I’ve been working from here for the past four months. I’ve been working independently in different locations for almost four years now. My team and I are used to this. However, I’ve been relying a lot upon old content or creating something new from the valley itself.

7. What do you miss most about travelling?

 

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One thing I miss the most about travelling is living out of a suitcase and experiencing a new view every day.

8. In your opinion, how do you think the world of travelling will change after Coronavirus?

 

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In the post-COVID world, I think the new normal of travel is going to be about maintaining social distance, taking precautions, and experiencing the beauty of nature. Personally, I have chosen to stay put for 2020 and explore India when the situation improves.

9. Once travel restrictions ease, which is the first destination you’ll visit?

 

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I plan to journey across India in a caravan. The first destination I’ll explore once the lockdown ends would be somewhere in the Himalayas itself. Being a Himachali, I realise I haven’t explored my state the way I have explored the world.

10. As per trends, domestic travel is expected to see a rise. So, if you have to travel in India, where would you want to go?

 

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I want to visit northeast India once things improve. I want to show the cultural side of the seven sisters to my audience.

11. In a sentence, tell us why you love travelling.

Travelling is happiness.

Related: Wanderbugs Anunay Sood & Brinda Sharma Tell Us Why They Love Travelling