It took me lo(oooooooo)ng to accept and writing this blog about not continuing with travel affairs. The fact that I will not be organizing further trips. Yeah, you heard that right.
Travel Affairs was the result of extreme boredom; monotonous life; a solo trip I always wanted to take; bad breakup(s); the challenge I gave to myself that “I don’t want to be at the same place where I am right now” (back in 2017).
Yes Yes I know you must be thinking of multiple things, and I have tried to explain everything (even before you ask).
1st “just by chance” trip by Travel Affairs:
Ok, so I wanted to go on a solo trip. And I was discussing the same with a friend who in-turn was totally anti of a solo trip and used to say that only depressed people go on a solo trip. Yeah, sad thoughts I know. But it’s ok, he was just being caring. He finally convinced me that he will accompany me on the trip.
Then a few other friends got to know about the plan and asked if they could join. Then the friend’s friends wanted to join the trip. Eventually, there was a group of 12 people (7 unknown) ready for the trip. The destination I decided was – Bir Billing. Why? because I wanted to do paragliding with the thought of getting over to my fear of heights.
It was a weekend trip and also it was holi on the day trip was supposed to end.
From Bhaang, dancing on the roads, making LITERALLY every customer in the Dhaba dance on chairs, bike rides, adventure, ghost stories, laughter, 12 people sleeping in a small living room to an ultimate experience for life, that trip was everything.
On that trip, I made a WhatsApp group of all the participants and had to name it something.
TRAVEL AFFAIRS was it!
Never have I ever thought of organizing one more trip but then,
I filled this form for a Solar Electrification Project by Global Himalayan Expedition and I got selected for that. The expedition was about electrifying the remote village in Ladakh and people from all over the world apply for the expeditions organized by GHE.
The cost for this was 70k and honestly, I didn’t save anything for that, neither I wanted to ask my parents for the same.
I thought of crowdfunding the trip. And guess what, organizing one more trip was the idea to collect money. I thought I was good at it and since 1st trip went well so, yeah why not.
That was a little ambitious of me to think like that but I have always loved challenges.
28 Strangers at One unknown destination – Parashar Lake (Himachal), as we planned. (unknown because I never visited the place before).
It was July 2017. Can you believe that I was able to successfully execute the trip and managed to save some decent amount too. Keep guessing the amount 😉
Well, one of the major reasons the trip was a success because Neeraj (my forever enemy) was there. He supported and took care of the trip like one of his own.
I got a tremendous response from Trip No. 2 which motivated me to organize more trips. Neeraj joined me as a co-organizer from trip No. 3
And how did my parents react to all of it?
Man! Don’t even ask. They’re like any other typical melodramatic Indian Parents who grew up watching Ekta Kapoor Serials from Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki to Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi and all that in between.
Not to miss, Crime Petrol!
I had to lie a few times about the trips (of course) but the thought that their daughter is taking a mini Volvo of 25 strangers to a random place in Himachal! pretty much undigestable. They couldn’t understand the concept of it. Honestly, I wasn’t even expecting them to accept this major transition happening in their daughter’s life.
That’s when I introduced Social Media to them.
One thing you should agree to- Crime Petrol + Ekta Kapoor is not a very good combo. Why don’t they make Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani types daily soaps??
Anyway, it was a long and slow process. It was fun and there was a sense of satisfaction to see my parents growing and opening up to new things.
Organizing trips became a regular thing. Once in a month was the trend. New people and new places on every trip. Oh, and there was one rule that we used to choose the place which was new to us. hence, total adventure and fewer expectations!
Real Reason I Continued Travel Affairs:
Well, ok! Back to 2016 when I used to be a (hell) shy person and couldn’t even talk to people, respond in a group, that feeling of complexity every single time. After I started traveling, I entered into the zone of self-exploration, self-realization, and self-development as the end result. Of course, I was enjoying watching myself transforming. It was all positive. I became more open to new things, almost stopped judging people or things, learned that life is not about materialistic assets but about relationships and most importantly, I learned to live in present.
I just couldn’t think of not spreading all that positivity I could feel after continuous travel. My constant thoughts were- if travel can have that impact on me than there must be other lost souls like me who could use such exposure.
Idea was to create a safe space for such people and give them the feel of traveling with complete strangers, because somewhere, we all live in that constant fear of being judged and hence, self-validation is required. When you travel with strangers, there is no pressure otherwise.
Travel Affairs Hostel:
Travel Affairs was a zero investment startup. It was highly dependent on Social Media and referrals. I used all organic ways of promoting it. This whole thing took a big leap when we opened up a Travel Affairs Hostel at Jibhi. It was as random as Travel Affairs itself. If you must know, Neeraj & I went to some hostel in Delhi for some event.
“Yaar ek hostel kholte hai” was our thoughts and exactly a month later, we were able to materialize it.
The hostel was in collaboration with the property owner. We managed it well from Oct. 2018 to Oct. 2019 and decided to back off because of certain constraints.
Did I introduce the 3rd Piller of Travel Affairs?
Vivek! Another random stranger, who joined us on Kangojodi trip and later offered to volunteer with us. It was in May 2018 & since then, there is no looking back. He is a master of Digital Marketing and contributed in a big way in the smooth functioning of Travel Affairs trips.
Travel Affairs has never seen any low, honestly, in good 2 years of its life. But it was clear that if we had to grow it, a significant amount of investment and a full-time team was required. Plus, one thing I clearly learned was, if you have to build a startup, there is no looking back. You don’t get any holidays or free time. Even you dream of work. Plus there is no defined role that you do. From thinking to designing, to marketing, to executing, you have to do everything.
If you must know, I didn’t earn a lot of money from travel Affairs. I was able to manage my expenses and the best part, I was able to maintain that notion of zero investment and zero loss. But what I earned from Travel Affairs is far beyond money. I started documenting my life; met so many new, interesting and amazing people on trips; memories that will eventually fade away but damn! I have videos of those crazy moments to remind me of the best of times. People falling from camel, star gazing in the middle of nowhere in the desert, high on bhaang, dancing on roads, making people DAB, unlimited chai’s & maggies, Prom night in the mountains, making hukkas on literally sitting on Highways because of Jam.. what not!
TEDx happened twice because of Travel Affairs. I still can’t believe that. And I met Anurag (my husband now) on Travel Affairs 1st anniversary trip.
Apart from this, the self-development that happened is incomparable. I believe I have grown so much as a person. I became more rational, and even more sensitive towards things.
There were few things, which later on became Travel Affairs signatures. Like, a personalized badge at every trip; handwritten postcards; starting every trip with golgappe’s; t-shirts; DAB; and the epic one was “Nashe ka something”.
Once, on some trip, approx 7-8 people were enjoying beers and hukkas in a cabin. Some traveler made an Insta story saying “Nashe ka cabin”.
Since then, on every trip, there is a famous, iconic & signature Nashe ka desert, kamra, kitchen, terrace, swimming pool, slab, etc.
Confession sessions & Ghost stories sessions were fixed things during bus journeys. Sunsets, Stargazing, dinners, gossips, finding places to pee in the desert, monsoon treks, 1st snowfall, flying like a bird, it was all vibes and feels!
Travel Affairs has always been like a baby and it certainly has brought out the best in me. I have spent a lot of sleepless days and nights working and making the trips successful.
Wait, did I tell you that initially, just when I started Travel Affairs, I was working full time in some other Company. Then I left the job. That’s altogether a different story but in short, I didn’t want my future self to regret not giving Travel Affairs a full-time try.
Life is too short to not give yourself a chance to experiment.
The trio- Heena, Neeraj & Vivek
After a few beers, biryanis, fights, a good amount of brainstorming and keeping future desires in mind, the conclusion was, let’s not continue with it. The decision was not very easy but I only had this thought that “”better not to do anything than doing something half-heartedly.””
After covering multiple places like Kangojodi, Naggar, Rishikesh, Jibhi, Sojha, Alchuna, Kanatal, Bir-Billing, Jaisalmer, Narkanda, Tirthan, etc. 18 trips, 9 meetups later, I took this decision of not organizing further trips.
There is no way that I am unhappy or doubtful or sad about it. I took my time to realize and brainstorm through all of this. Super happy that I got this story of my life.
Travel Affairs – Turning Hellos’ into See You Soon
March 2017 – March 2019
The most meaningful chapter of my life!
Inshallah! Many more such chapters to come.
Dear Life, Bring it on!
Because when you travel, your horizons expand, thoughts change and you become more mature.
Thanks for reading and see you in the next one!