I have often overheard travelphiles strung to a desk job complain about the lack of available paid time offs(PTO), which constrains their wanderlust. Some have gone on to quit their jobs to travel around the world. However, if you love your job, I think, with careful planning it is possible to globetrot even on limited PTO.
Welcome to the first edition of the Travel Heroes interviews where I will be sharing my interactions with some of the little known globetrotters, who take multiples trips in a year despite having a demanding job with limited vacations/PTO(paid time off).
For this edition, I interviewed Anindita, an enthusiastic traveler I have known for a while. To counter her paltry PTO, she plans two weekend trips a month jet-setting around the country.
Tell us a little about yourself
AB: Hi, I am Anindita Biswas. I grew up in Kolkata, West Bengal, India; but am temporarily living in USA. I am an Automation Engineer by profession; but a vocalist, a traveler and a writer by passion. I am an extrovert, jovial, approachable and an outgoing person. I am full of life, energy, stamina and enthusiasm. I can speak Hindi, Bengali, Marathi and English.
Any upcoming travel plans that you are excited about?
AB: My next trip is to visit the Niagara Falls and New York City
What other trips did you take in the last year?
AB: In 2014, I traveled to Sines and Lisboa (Lisbon), Portugal during March-April and I came to the United States in September, So I visited in and around Atlanta and visited Raleigh in Christmas.
Since January 2015, I visited Boston, San Francisco, Houston, Las Vegas, San Diego, Los Angeles, Washington DC, Chicago, Portland, Mt Rainier (State of Washington), Charleston and Myrtle Beach, Sedona and Grand Canyon.
That’s crazy. What do your family and friends think of your busy travel schedule?
AB: My family is not so surprised. It’s in my genes. My grandfather and my parents have been voracious travelers. They encourage me to travel; but they always show concern for my health.
What is your favorite destination?
AB: My favorites destination… um, extremely difficult to answer this one. I haven’t seen much of the world to have an absolute favorite destination. If I had to choose one, I would choose Mt. Rainier National Park, USA. Also, I would love to settle down in San Francisco.
You have traveled quite a bit. I bet you have many funny travel stories?
AB: A lot of funny things happened have to me. Last year, some random person asked me to dance with him on the streets of Lisboa (Lisbon), Portugal. I was surprised; but ended up dancing with him and had a blast.
What has been your craziest trip?
AB: My weekend trip to Portland was insane. I worked late and got little sleep on Thursday night. Almost feeling dizzy, I boarded my one-stop flight to Portland only to be told that it was cancelled. I panicked; since missing a day on a weekend trip almost kills the trip. Fortunately, Delta accommodated me on a direct flight to Portland. After boarding the flight, I came to know that the roads to Mt. Rainier were opening that day. So, we changed our plans to include a trip to Mt Rainier. I landed in Portland, my friends came to pick me up from the airport and we drove 3 hours to Mt Rainier National Park with the intention of camping. However, as soon as we entered the park, we were blown away by the beauty of Mt. Rainier on a full moon night. We roamed around, hiked the whole night, watched the reflection of sunrise at Reflection Lake, Mt Rainier and then slept at 6:30 am in the morning. That was the first time I slept in 2 nights. It was crazy but totally worth it.
What is the most memorable meal you have had?
AB: I had Octopus for the first time in Portugal with my Portuguese friend and I didn’t know he was taking me to a restaurant that is famous for Octopus. I was a bit hesitant to eat it, but I was delicious. I had Georgian (“the country, not the state”) Food in Portland. It was the best vegetarian food I have ever had.
You have a desk job; how do you manage the time and energy for so many vacations?
AB: I get around 3-4 weeks of paid off time. I have extremely strenuous work schedules. Nevertheless, I try and make at least 2 trips when I am in India. However, when I am abroad, I try to travel every alternate weekends. I leave Friday evening and come back Monday morning.
How much do you budget for a trip?
AB : My Budget varies for every trip, but on an average it is around 350-400 USD for the entire trip.
How do you fund your trips?
AB: I save money from my salary to travel. Further, I try to stay with friends/family. So, I rarely have to spend money on hotels.
How do you typically plan your trips? Do you enjoy the trip planning process?
AB: Yes absolutely. I have a checklist that lists out the place to be covered and which has been covered, I even have a checklist of which all countries I want to visit. I would say it takes about 1 to 2 days to plan a trip; but planning is fun.
What resources do you use to plan trips?
AB: I use Google, Wikitravel, flight apps and travel blogs to read about that destination, prepare my travel itinerary and make a list of what to do which day. I am extremely organized; I keep notes on my phone which all places I need to cover, but sometimes if I am a bit lazy I leave it on my friends to do it.
How far in advance do you plan your trips?
AB: I typically plan my trips a month or two earlier; but sometimes I cave in to last moment plans.
What camera gear do you use?
AB: It sounds strange; but yeah, I don’t have a DSLR. I use simple Point and Shoot Camera and my iPhone6.
How much luggage to do carry on your trips?
AB: I carry a small handbag and a medium size backpack.
What 5 items would you not go travelling without?
AB: My Gadgets (Phone, power bank, camera), bare minimum clothes, Maps / Travel Itinerary print outs, Water and Travel Card.
Philosophy and Advice
Do you have a travel philosophy?
AB: My travel Philosophy: ”The World is a book and those who do not travel read only one page”.
Any common travel wisdom that you disagree with?
AB: I disagree with the statement – ‘’Don’t be a Tourist, be a Traveler’’.
What do you know now about traveling efficiently that you wish you’d known earlier?
AB: I think the moment a person starts travelling, he/she starts learning the art of life, the way of living, the beauty within oneself, the value of time and storing beautiful memories of each and every moment. I feel I am learning every moment and will still be learning till my last breath.
Do you dream of quitting your job and traveling long time?
AB: I lust for travel, so yeah, given the choice sure would do. But having said that, I don’t regret about working and traveling at the same time either.
What has traveling taught you?
AB: Travel has taught me life lessons. I became a better person with travel. I have become more confident and self observant. I value time. I value people more. I started understanding the more meaningful side of life due to travel. Each and every moment of my travel makes me thoughtful and nostalgic. These are my precious memories that will stay with me forever.
Any parting advice for our readers?
AB: Traveling is not only about trekking, hiking, creating memories or visiting places. Traveling allows you discover yourself, brings out the best in you and makes you a better person each day.
How can our readers your adventures?
A: I am available at https://www.travelblog.org/Bloggers/ANINDITA/; but I hardly get time to update my blogs since I am always travelling in my leisure time. You can follow me on Facebook and Instagram as well.
Thanks a lot Anindita for sharing your thoughts on how to travel extensively on limited PTO.
Legal: Do not use any photograph in this post without the explicit permission of Anindita Biswas.