Sandeepa and Chetan are redefining relationship and travel goals and with their amazing story. The husband and wife duo who quit their cushy jobs and sold their house are now traveling and exploring the world and pursuing their passion for traveling as a full-time gig now.
But this duo is unlike most conventional ‘let’s travel the world together. honey!!’ couple. They are different, grounded and they want to explore the world with no fixed plan, making use of as much Public transport as possible, meeting people and staying in Homestays.
The SandeepaChetan Mantra-We practice “life on the road”
We sat down with this couple for a heart to heart chat and discovered what passion for traveling truly means!
1: Everyone loves traveling but not everyone has it in them to give everything up and pursue that goal so religiously. What inspired both of you to take that leap of faith ?
Both of us love to travel and being close to nature. This was probably one of the things that got us together! We would travel on long weekends and holidays; every opportunity we got to step out of the city. These short trips never felt complete. We would read travel blogs by other long-term travelers and always say “we should do this sometime” – push it into the future.
Then, there came a time, when over the period of one month, we hadn’t shared a single meal together. That’s when we decided we had to change things. We couldn’t think of a good enough reason to postpone the long-term travel dream and decided to do-it-now.
2:You guys are social influencers and many people yearn to be like you, tell us about the struggles and also the joy that you find in traveling full time.
We have been told, “Wow, such a long vacation” or “second honeymoon”. Travel like this is not a holiday, definitely not a honeymoon. It’s a lifestyle. Walking into a new location, in spine chilling cold in the middle of the night with 12 kg on your back, and then looking for a place to stay is something you will go through regularly. There will be days when you get sick of “seeing something new”. You could be out of communication with everyone back home for days. Walking down an aisle in a supermarket might be nerve racking; having to translate every single word on a packet to know it’s some biscuits that you don’t want.
It is important to approach this kind of travel with the correct mind frame – being open to whatever experiences the road throws and being okay with being out of the comfort zone.
The biggest reward for us is, we get to call any city in any corner of the world home. We spent 2 weeks in Sucre, the capital of Bolivia. Thinking back, we now think of our hostel in Sucre as “our home”. We would go out in the evenings to the market to buy vegetables. The lady there had started recognizing us. When we would go alone, she would ask, “Donde amiga?” (Where’s your friend!). This kind of connection isn’t possible when you go on a short holiday and just visit the sights.
We have shared meals with travelers with whom we had nothing common in “lives back home”. But cooking together, sharing stories, trekking together, being in a new place together has made us friends! These connections are an integral part of long-term travel.
3:Of all the places you have been to, which is the one place that is closest to your heart and why?
The Himalayas will always have a special place for us. That is where we did our “trial run”. The three months we spent in the Himalayas, made us fall in love with being on the road, also made us confident that this is what we wanted to do and could do. So the Himalayas are very special.
Ilha Grande is an island off Rio de Janeiro, the time we spent there was very special as well. The island is one of the most beautiful places we have been to. Blue green waters and white sand beaches, treks all around in dense tropical forests. We cooked chicken curry for 11 of us trekkers, from various countries – Australia, Canada, Germany, France – in the tiny hostel, with the whole island being without electricity! That was a very special moment.
Traveling through Bolivia was also memorable. It was not an easy country to travel through. We didn’t speak too much Spanish, people there rarely spoke English. It was the peak of winter and most of Bolivia is a high altitude region. But the landscape there is something we have never seen before – the massive salt flats of Uyuni, the desert and volcanoes straight out of Salvador Dali’s paintings, the white washed UNESCO heritage cities, living on high altitude islands in the middle of the lake, Bolivia offered it all.
Actually, we can go on and on about it. From the spine chilling cold of deep Patagonia to the severe humidity in the heart of the Amazon, it has all been a memorable journey so far.
4: How much planning does it actually take to make a trip like the one to South America happen. Give us a bit of walk through on how you decided on the places and tips for planning such an extensive trip.
We left India with visas for Brazil and Argentina and made arrangements for stay with a family in Sao Paulo (through Couchsurfing), where we were landing. Other than that, we made absolutely no other plans. Serendipity is a big part of our travels, and that is what we rely on.
Even while changing cities, we generally mark a few places to stay in the maps. This lets us make a choice based on what we see and not just what the website tells us.
The people that we meet – the locals and the fellow travelers are our best guides. We live in hostels or we couch surf – in either case, we are connected with people around us. Through conversations with them, we decide where to head next, how to cross borders and the means of transport available.
Not having any previously made plans, gives us the flexibility to make the most of our experience. We could stay for 2 weeks in Sucre and take Spanish lessons because we didn’t have any previous plans.
We traveled through South America for 5 months, traversing almost 23000 km (and just one internal flight) and didn’t face the need to preplan even once.
5:I am sure you have met many interesting people along the way, can you recall any one such meeting that inspired you the most and why?
We met a 60-year-old Belgian man in our homestay in Padum, the headquarters of Zanskar valley. He was cycling through Ladakh and Zanskar, including the Khardung la and the Batalik region! He also mentioned that after the Himalayas, he was going back home. Only to return back to South east Asia, with his wife, to cycle through that region, together. We were blown away with the kind of life this couple had built for themselves!
Recently, we met an 80 year old woman solo- traveling through New Zealand (where she had backpacked 60 years earlier!). We met her while jumping fences trying to catch a bus! WOW!
6: What would be your advice for people who long to travel but they are not able to see it through because of time constraints and other commitments?
Firstly, assess whether these constraints are for real, or just assumptions. Maybe taking a month or two breaks in between jobs might be possible. Maybe you really can survive without a month’s paycheck. Maybe the kids will be able to manage by themselves for a few weeks. Maybe getting the fitness required for a trek is achievable by following a workout plan. Maybe with some small lifestyle changes, big savings would be possible to add to the travel fund.
Also, traveling the way that really fulfills you is important. It doesn’t have to be an all inclusive resort or an exotic location. Focus more on the experiences. For us, connecting with the locals is the best part of any travel. Staying in homestays, using public transport, hiring a local guide – this is what creates lifelong memories. We do not believe in having a bucket list and having the entries ticked off. Every place has a rich offering of experiences.
Pro Tip:We had underestimated how much we could save by eliminating fancy places and eating at home on weekends.
We met these Gujjar kids on our way to the Thajiwas Glacier in Sonmarg. Gujjars are a nomadic tribe of shepherds who move up to the greener pastures in the hills in the summer. Come winter, they move down to the plains with their entire households and flocks.
Due to this lifestyle, the kids usually miss out on conventional schooling. These kids had attended a nomadic school and as proof, they recited to us the alphabet, numbers and also some song and dance. They were happy to receive chocolates as their reward. Read full story on Kids of the hills
7:Your favorite travel quote and what it means to you!
There are beautiful places at the end of really bad roads.
Both literally and metaphorically, we have found this to be true.
Visit their website at www.sandeepachetan.com and follow their journey as they take you through the most stunning unknown corners of India and the world!
For more information on travel destinations and homestays, visit our website and you might just end up finding your next travel inspiration!
By : Richa Devi