#TnlRoadTrips: YouTuber Mohammed Salim Khan Remembers His Near-Death Experience

From stumbling upon vlogging to now embarking on road trips all across the country, Mumbai-based YouTuber Mohammed Salim Khan lives to hit the highway. With over a million subscribers constantly tuning into his videos, we caught up with him to know more about what inspires him to keep going and where he’ll be going for his next road trip. By Bayar Jain

1. When did you first start taking road trips and what motivated you to do so?

I have always loved the roads and riding my motorbike. When pictures weren’t enough, I would take videos of the place. However, I never thought of uploading it anywhere for people to see. Before I started vlogging, I had been to Goa, many places in Maharashtra, and Leh-Ladakh. As a vlogger, my first ride was from Manali to Leh-Ladakh in 2017.

Travel, for me, is a break from my otherwise repetitive life. It’s like a refreshment that energises me. All the trips give me something new like meeting new people, learning new languages and cultures.

2. Which has been your most memorable road journey so far and why?

My trip to Northeast India was the most memorable journey. This particular ride was death-defying. It tested my patience, taught me perseverance, and showed the power of nature. It gave me a taste of what adventure feels like. At one point, I felt I wouldn’t make it out alive. After I returned and thought about it, I felt like I achieved something. That experience changed my life.

3. Where were you when the lockdown was announced and how did you cope with it?

The lockdown was a very confusing phase. I decided to take it slow and take a break. But, I challenged myself to vlog every day. It was a little uncomfortable at first but eventually I started enjoying it.

4. How did you keep your travel bug satiated during the lockdown?

Nothing can quench your thirst for travel other than travel itself. Having said that, I kept myself engaged by watching travel series and movies. I started watching international news to stay up-to-date on a global level. I even shortlisted places to visit when everything gets back to normal.

5. When choosing your next destination, what are the various factors you keep in mind?

When I first began travelling, my plans were mostly impromptu. Never researched or created an itinerary, or even knew the importance of it. For my first trip to Leh-Ladakh, I didn’t even pack enough warm clothes! Earlier, I used to like travelling like a nomad with a daredevil attitude, but now I’m a little more sensible. I do my research, learn about the place, even learn a few words of the native language. I consider the weather conditions, road conditions, political issues, natural calamities… literally everything. The best bet, however, is asking the locals and making a fool-proof plan after reaching the destination.

6. Once travel restrictions ease, where is the first place you’ll go to for your next Indian road trip?

I’m confused between Manali and Goa. Manali is my second home; it has my heart. But frankly, I’ll just go wherever the road takes me, depending on the situation and restrictions, of course.

7. When on-the-road, how do you cope with unforeseen hurdles such as flat tyres on the highway or losing your way?

Unexpected circumstances are a part and parcel of a travel plan. The first time I was faced with a situation, I was extremely frustrated that the trip was not going as planned. It took two to three experiences to understand that this is how it is always going to be. There’s a 90 per cent chance that you will face either a slight or major hurdle on the way. I have learned from my past experiences and keep a tyre inflator, tools, and first-aid kit handy.

8. How do you think the world of travel will change post-COVID-19?

On my first ride to Malshej Ghat after lockdown, I was surprised to see that people understood the basics of social distancing and sanitisation. They were very understanding. Additionally, I think the cost of travel will increase exponentially. The travel industry was the first, and worst, hit by COVID-19. I feel it will be the last industry to come back to normalcy.

9. What are the top five must-haves for a road trip?

For an international trip, the first thing is to ensure you have travel insurance. You cannot escape unexpected expenses on international land. Other than that, top five must-haves for a road trip for me is an itinerary, first-aid kit, tool kit, fool-proof playlist and identity proofs and documents. But I’d also like to add a power-bank to this list. Can’t really leave the house without extra batteries.

10. What kind of music can we find on your travel playlist?

I enjoy rap music when on the road. After reaching the destination while I’m chilling, I enjoy reggae and Sufi songs. It also depends on my mood, the place and the company.

11. As a travel-enthusiast, how do you plan to advocate the tenets of conscious travelling in the post-Corona world?

Coronavirus taught us how to live a clean and healthy life. We also saw how a small change creates a huge impact on nature. In most of my travel videos, I have explained the importance of not littering. Take care of yourself and the environment, wherever you are. I will do everything possible to promote conscious travelling in the post-Corona world.

12. Any tips for road trip enthusiasts for their rebound travel post the pandemic?

Firstly, take it easy. Avoid international trips for a few weeks, as we will never be certain of the travel. Plan reasonably and decide where and why you’re going. Many locals might not accept tourists as they did before because of the fear of the virus. Empathise and plan logically.

Related: Meet Jasminder Singh — The First Person To Take A Hayabusa Across The Entire Leh-Ladakh Circuit

Bayar Jain

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