Shruti Arora, better known by her blog name The Travelling Lipstick, stumbled and fell in love with the nomad life on her solo trip to Ladakh. Since then, there’s been no stopping this travel and lifestyle blogger. We get in touch with her to know more about her love for being on the road and her post-pandemic travel plans. By Bayar Jain

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

 

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I remember as a kid, my parents used to take me on short road trips to the mountains in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand every summer. My dad would rent a car, and we would pack a picnic along. My first road trip was across Ladakh with a travel group. Being an introvert, it was a whole new experience for me to travel with a bunch of strangers. The trip really challenged me to come out of my shell. Initially, I travelled in groups as it is more economical, safer, and even allowed me to meet amazing and inspiring people.

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

 

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It would have to be the Balkan’s road trip I went on last year. I started from Greece and travelled through five other countries to finally reach Macedonia. I was on the road for almost a month! When one chooses to travel to Europe, most of these countries are overlooked, and hence there are a lot of unexplored and serene terrains here. These countries have so much to offer. From Mediterranean coasts to snow-capped mountains, and fairytale countryside villages. They even have a rich culture and history. I had a lot of ‘wow’ moments during this trip.

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

 

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I was travelling to Canada when the lockdown was announced. Of course, there was a bit of a panic and anxiety because of the uncertainty of the entire situation. I was also concerned about my family’s safety back in India. But, in the end, I decided to stay put, limit my exposure, and not create any unnecessary hassle. I am looking forward to going back home once the situation stabilises and flights resume.

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

 

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As much as I miss travelling, this lockdown gave me ample time to work on my website. I have also been working on some exciting projects. Other than that, I am utilising this time to focus on my fitness and wellness. I am also fostering two cats, Cotton and Wooly, to keep me company during this lockdown. In all, it’s not too bad!

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

 

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I am pretty flexible when choosing a destination for my travels. When exploring abroad, I look for things like visa-on-arrival, cheap flight tickets, ease of public transport, etc. I am also a history and architecture buff, so that plays an important role too. I like to explore places of cultural, historical and architectural importance.

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

 

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I have been wanting to explore the Old Silk Route for long, so I will probably go on that for my next road trip. The landscapes on this route are breathtaking with glacial lakes, snow-capped mountains, waterfalls, flower valleys and gorgeous towns. I will love to stay in an eco-friendly homestay in Zuluk along the way. It would be like travelling back to centuries ago when merchants travelled on horses and caravans carrying precious items of trade.

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

 

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I like to keep myself well prepared for any unforeseen mishaps like these. I like to carry my emergency medicine kit, toolkit, refill the tank whenever I get an opportunity, download offline versions of Google maps, pack for unpredictable weather, and avoid last-minute packing. Also, I like to travel slow, so it gives me time to take breaks and keep myself energised along the way.

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

 

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I believe more travellers will opt to explore their own city or country before travelling abroad. We can expect a boom in domestic travel. With flight restrictions and social distancing on planes, flight tickets will definitely be expensive going forward, making travel unaffordable for many. The focus on cleanliness and hygiene will be more now than ever before. I think more people will opt for road trips with their family and friends or go for solo backpacking adventures, rather than choosing organised package tours in groups.

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

 

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I always like to take the scenic route while doing a road trip. Also, it’s important to have a comfortable ride, especially for long road trips. I stack my car with all the necessary essentials before any road trip like an emergency car kit, travel pillow, mattress, blanket, first-aid kit, travel trash can, etc.  It’s also very important to have a road trip travel insurance.

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

 

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I am a big fan of old Hindi classics, so you will find songs of Kishore Kumar and Mukesh on my playlist. Other than that, I like Arijit Singh and Lucky Ali as well. Their songs really set my mood for an amazing road trip.

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

 

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It is high time that we start travelling consciously and responsibly. This pandemic has definitely pushed us forward in this direction with a strong force. If we want to keep enjoying Mother Nature, we need to respect it too. I always like to travel like a local, which means preferring homestays, eating local food and buying local to support the local community. To reduce paper wastage and plastic, I always carry my reusable water bottle and straw. I have been a vegan for the most part of my life. I am trying to do my bit and hopefully inspire others to do the same through my social media platforms.

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

 

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I urge all my fellow travellers to travel consciously and responsibly. Respect the rules and regulations. While empowering and liberating, road trips can also be challenging, so you should be well prepared. And last but not the least, don’t forget to have fun!