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How to travel with family and create the coziest memories ever!

I know I haven't been blogging as often as I wanted to at the start of this year but so many things are happening in my life, like travel. For a working mom like me, the last time I traveled with my like ages ago. I do travel but mostly on my own and given the kind of school and work schedules that we have to balance out, it usually doesn't happen that we take a break for summer holidays as a family. Let me confess that it's pretty rare, which is why 2018 has been amazing for me. I got to travel with my family....yay!

Okay, so back to earth with a big bang, shall we?  

First, we headed to Gangtok, in Sikkim, via Siliguri in West Bengal. We had a fabulous time. My love for travel got a real boost, just as it used to in my childhood days, when my parents used to take us to different places during our summer vacations. 

For me, the joys of travel have nothing to do with seeing new places, as it does with the fun-filled conversations we have with ourselves and the people we meet. 
Even if it is just walking around a new city as I did at MG Road in Gangtok, a slight drizzle took us by surprise one evening and we huddled together under a shop, while my son surprised us by doing a jig in the rain. We simply loved watching his joyous expression. These are the beautiful moments that the parenting journey is made of.
In this blogpost, Zina Harrington writes, "With each family vacation we take, I feel like we learn somethingsomething to avoid, something to do again, something that we’ve just GOT to share with our friends because it worked so dang well.
She also makes some excellent suggestions as having one-on-one time with every family member and going full throttle on one activity each person in the family wants to do together.
You probably have so many beautiful travel moments in your mind that you love to rewind to, right? Here are some travel tips I want to share with you from my personal journeys, ok?
Go crazy, do something different every time!
Trying out new things makes travel journeys more memorable. In Goa, we were on the beach all day, just soaking up the sun and sand and searching for shells. In Lonavala, we were trudging up picturesque hilly spots that had spectacular views. More recently, in Gangtok, we shared the most unforgettable moments together at over 12,000 feet! There are tons of fun-filled activities you can decide to do as a family. Just enjoy and make sure every moment counts.

Here's one spell-binding view from a spot near to Tsomgo Lake that took my breath away even as I was shivering right down to the tip of my toes! 

 It was so freezing cold that we were all hugging each other till we got back to our hotel.
What you are seeing below is a beautiful glimpse from Lonavala. This is a scenic spot, where we  watched a spectacular sunset and we also spent magical moments last June. It's nothing less than a marvel how the sky seemed to change every few minutes and we just kept admiring the sky from this view. It simply took our breath away!

Ah! The joy of tasting local food 
If you are a family of foodies, there's more fun in store for you! As a country, India is just a foodies paradise. The sambar you taste in Karnataka will be totally different from the one that you taste in New Delhi or in Kochi! It differs from region to region, community to community and that's what makes it so amazing for us to celebrate our food diversity! In Gangtok, I enjoyed the non-vegetarian fare, especially local fish stew with vegetables. For a Malayali, a fish stew is usually made with coconut milk but this one was different, with a soupy texture but delicious when you pour it over piping hot rice. 
Learning amazing stuff from local conversations 
One of the things I love to do when I travel is to observe people, talk with them and know more about their life in general. 

Travel is the best way to understand the world with a new gaze. I have a son who sees the world through new people and new conversations. What better way to bring him closer to real life, real people? 
As a family, when you get together and talk to people for the first time, you learn tons of things that aren't there on the Internet. 

See the serene and still scenic image below - it's a lovely moment captured while in Goa. Just looking at this makes me feel calm!

For instance, in Gavi, a place that you MUST VISIT, if you haven't already, we had the most thrilling experience trekking in the forest and going on an elephant trail, that scared the living daylights out of me, though my kid and husband were totally cool and fearless. 

For a good laugh, you can read about my forest trekking 'adventure in Gavi' right here!

When we visited Jodhpur, we traveled with an auto driver who loves the city like his own family. He talked to us about many things that aren't on the Internet. He talked about how generations of his family elders have worked for the Maharaja. 
He spoke about how the royal family remains more popular with the people than leaders.  You don't get to 'know' tidbits of information like this unless you really sit down and talk with real people who know what is happening on the ground.

On one hand, the media talks about communal issues in a way that makes you worried. On the other hand, I have just returned from a train journey with a bunch of Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims having very normal, peace-loving arguments on everything political - no one has lynched the other or created hell for another on the basis of difference of opinion. Now, how would I know this? I was there, that's why. The media doesn't always get everything right about Indians, which is one more reason for families to travel, talk to people and have conversations with real people. Trust me, real people are not concerned about religion, as much as pseudo-intellectuals are.

And that's one more reason I like to travel by autos to get a real feel of the place and its people. Our super autowallah in Jodhpur showed us around the finest spots in the city and he took us to the best dining restaurant called Winds, that was not mentioned in any travel blogs that I visited to search for a good restaurant recommendation. 

Travel also teaches you that the Internet doesn't know everything that makes your journey truly memorable.
After one long day of showing us around, the auto driver told us, "I want to show you one spot that is my personal favorite. Whenever I feel sad, whenever I feel happy, this is where I like to sit. All my worries dissolve away." He wanted to show it to my son more than anything else and that was so deeply touching for us.
At night, the view from the top was mind blowing and it was even more humbling that he wanted to share it with us. 
It wasn't a part of the 'show-us-Jodhpur' deal. It's about making our life happier.
It was about trust. 

It's about introducing your child to real people and their real lives.
And you know what, we have saved his number to stay connected to him, just like that! Who knows, we might just go to Jodhpur and meet him again? He gave hugs to my husband and son when saying goodbye. Even today, my son remembers the concern and thoughtfulness he displayed. We often think that if only every city in India had people like him to show us around a new city....imagine what the travel experience can be like! 
[MUST READ: My First Jodhpur Trip] 
The world is made up of ordinary people with extraordinary journeys - that autowallah inspired us beyond words.
What are some of your happiest, coziest travel moments that you love to look back when you think about your summer vacations? I'd love to hear from you. 


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