FlyFree As You Take A Winter Vacation, Thanks To PayTM’s Flight Sale

It is that time of the year again when the nip in the air makes everything rosier than before. There are no monsoon showers to ruin your outdoor plans, nor is there the sweltering summer heat that would burn your skin. Winters are the best time for lovely vacations, whether you wish to head to the mountains, hide away in a forest, or escape to a private island.

Jet Off To A Maldivian Private Island

Our ocean-facing table at the Maldivian restaurant close to our water villa at Paradise Island Resort.

Winter was just settling in when my husband and I took off for The Maldives to celebrate our honeymoon. We knew we had made a great decision to stay on the private Paradise Island. Gentle ocean waves lapping on the white sand shores, lazy walks on our water villa boardwalk, breezy evenings with soft music… there was romance in the air already! You too can book your flights to this tranquil haven on PayTM Travel.

Stay In A Tree House In A Jungle

Our jungle-stay in one of the Wood Cabins of The Machan in Atvan, close to Lonavala.

When I went on my first trip with my hubby after our marriage, I wondered if I would miss solo travel. But the joy of travelling as a couple far outweighed the highs of being on my own. We went to a small village called Atvan, almost 4 hours’ drive away from Mumbai. Our wooden room in the woods was kitted out with all sorts of modern and rustic amenities, from mood lighting to an hourglass.

Fly Free With PayTM Travel

So many of you ask me how to travel now that vacations are so expensive. While you can look for affordable homestays and boutique hotels for your stay, you sure can take advantage of PayTM’s Fly-Free flight sale to book your upcoming trip this winter. The offer is on for Axis Bank credit and debit card holders, and you will receive a surprise discount each time you make a flight booking between 5th and 7th December, 2019. The best part is, every hour, one lucky customer gets her flight entirely free! You can register ahead so you don’t forget about this travel-savings opportunity.

Holiday In The Scottish Highlands

The Stirling Castle in Scotland, just after a steady drizzle.

When your flights are sorted, you can pick a destination you’ve always wanted to visit. Even the Scottish Highlands won’t seem so distant when your airfare is taken care of. Scotland is not just about whisky, there are scores of enchanting castles (such as the Stirling Castle at the border of the Highlands and the Lowlands), cobbled roads, and sprawling meadows that beckon a stroll.

Book A Romantic Escape, Far From The Madding Crowd

I share a quiet moment with my husband in this cocoon swing chair during our honeymoon.

It is no news that winter is the unofficial wedding season. If you happen to be recently married or will soon take the nuptial vows, don’t tarry before booking your honeymoon. Those dreamlike beaches may remain just a dream if you don’t plan your sojourn in time.

Where are you vacationing this winter?

Have you registered for the Fly-Free sale yet?

Let me know through your comments below. 🙂

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Discover Saudi Arabia Beyond Mecca & Medina: Red Sea Reefs, Spice Markets & More

Saudi Arabia is fast becoming a popular destination among leisure travellers (apart from the usual religious tourists who go there to visit Mecca and Medina). Now that this Gulf nation has opened its doors to leisure tourism, there is an excitement among travellers looking to explore newer places with distinct cultures and people. Apart from two of the grandest destinations of Islamic worship (Mecca and Medina), which attract millions of pilgrims every year, Saudi Arabia has a myriad of surprises for other types of visitors: from magnificent shopping destinations to dive sites, Saudi Arabia has something for everybody.

A Glimpse Of Saudi Arabia

Aerial view of Saudi Arabia
Aerial view of Saudi Arabia

Even though Saudi Arabia is a desert country, there are 9,900-foot high mountains of the Asir, enchanting reefs of the Red Sea, interesting streets and spice markets of Jeddah, extensive date palms of Al-Hofuf and lots more. Remember to read the dos and don’ts before travelling to this Middle Eastern country. Dressing ultra-conservatively is mandatory here. Below are a few places that you must visit while in Saudi Arabia.

Jeddah

Scuba diving in the Red Sea of Jeddah

Jeddah is a must-visit if you are planning a vacation in Saudi Arabia. This former capital is also a Red Sea trading port and a melting pot of various cultures. The gateway for Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, Jeddah surprisingly has many beach resorts, scuba diving activities, mesmerizing street markets, open-air cafes, and lots more.

Al Ula

Intriguing rock formations in Al Ula

Scattered with golden rock formations in the northwest part of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Al Ula is a stunning city. It boasts of lush citrus farms and the ruins of many ancient kingdoms, the most famous of which is Medah’in Saleh, containing 2000 years old Nabatean tomb clusters. The site remains partially open from December to March for travellers who wish to attend the winter festival of Tantora that features various musical, entertainment, and cultural events.

Riyadh

Riyadh at night (PC: lawepw)

The capital of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh is a beautiful urban sprawl with many attractions to lure sightseers. From the recently renovated historical site of Diriyah to the bustling traditional market of Souq Al Zal and Taiba, the city offers multiple enchantments. A towering plateau, known as the “Edge of the World”, is a two-hour drive from the city, and a famous hiking destination for visitors and residents. The view from this place is exquisite and the silence is imposing. Rising a whopping 992 feet above the ground, the Kingdom Centre of Riyadh is an iconic symbol of Riyadh that houses everything, from a shopping mall to a residential complex, and even an observatory. The third tallest building in Saudi Arabia offers its visitors both a figurative and literal perspective of Riyadh which is home to 5.2 million people.

Madain Saleh

Mada’in Saleh (PC: Omar A.)

Madain Saleh is a striking combination of outstanding history and gorgeous architecture. The former grandeur and importance of the city are clearly evident in its marvellous ruins of towers, dwellings and walls. An ancient Ottoman railway and the old tombs give visitors a truly ethereal feel. The city dates back to the Nabatean Kingdom, which is similar, both in design and origin, to the recently discovered lost city of Petra.

Asir National Park

Jabal Sawda mountains in Asir National Park (PC: marviikad)

With a relatively cooler climate than the rest of the kingdom, Asir National Park, spread across 4500 sqkm, woos travellers with various picnic spots, campsites and a thriving environment, apart from Hamadryas baboons and splendid birds. The Asir Mountains are also a treat and a must-visit. Jabal Sawdah, the highest mountain in Saudi Arabia, comes under the Asir National Park. Here, you can enjoy many trekking, camping, biking, cablecar rides, and much more.

Saudi Arabia’s Coastline

Tiran Island offers ample snorkelling opportunities in Saudi Arabia (PC: fabian.kron)

Contrary to the popular misconception that Saudi Arabia is a country only with deserts, the Kingdom has a sprawling coastline, both on the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. This makes the country a scuba diving and snorkelling paradise. Not only is the shoreline beautiful, but the famous sites like the Boiler wreck also provide you with much-needed solace from the crowd (since scuba diving is not so popular among the Saudis).

Najran

View of the Najran oasis from Al Aan Palace (PC: Charles Roffey)

Situated close to the border with Yemen, Najran is a vibrant city that shares its Saudi Arabian cuisine with that of neighbouring Yemen, resulting in a warm and tantalizing taste of Arabia. The city offers a bouquet of history, architecture and culture, along with a heartfelt welcome to all its visitors.

Al Habala

Habala Valley near Abha, Saudi Arabia (PC: Wajahatmr)

Built by the Khatani tribe to stay safe from the Ottomans some 370 years ago, the unique and mysterious “hanging village” of Al Habala is a place you must visit if you are in Saudi Arabia. Made from local rocks, Al Habala derives its name from a type of rope ladder known as the Habal which used to be the only way to access this series of sandstone houses that stay perched on a ledge of a steep cliff 400 meters above.

Flying to Saudi Arabia with Nesma Airlines

Nesma Airlines (PC: Björn Strey)

One of the popular airlines flying to Saudi Arabian cities, Nesma Airlines came to the fore in June 2010. This Saudi Arabian airline has grown manifold ever since, and currently operates scheduled flights on domestic and international routes. It is headquartered in Jeddah and has three operational hubs, one in Cairo, Egypt (Cairo International Airport) and the other two in Saudi Arabia (King Abdulaziz International Airport and Hail Airport). With a fleet of 10 aircraft, this airline flies to 16 destinations, including Saudi Arabia. Nesma is growing at a steady rate as passengers prefer it for its affordability, hospitality, best in-flight services, and more. Book your flights on Nesma Airlines via Cleartrip (website or app) to save a significant amount.

Have you been to Saudi Arabia?

Got any interesting stories from the Gulf?

Let me know through your comments below. 🙂

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How I Preserved My Honeymoon Moments in The Maldives with MyPostcard

Marriage changes the way you travel, and mostly for the better. <3 The solo-travelling Oindrila that you all are familiar with, is no longer the same. I have evolved to travelling as a couple with my loving husband, Martin. I did not know how wonderful this would be for both of us until we started to explore different places. Soon after our wedding, we did a short trip to the hidden village of Atvan in Maharashtra to enjoy our “mini-moon” in a luxe tree-house. For our grand honeymoon, though, we had our eyes on the stupendously gorgeous Maldives.

What It Means To Honeymoon In The Maldives

At the Paradise Island Resort in Maldives, we waited under a thatched roofed table for our turn to kayak in the cyan waters.
At the Paradise Island Resort in The Maldives, we waited under a thatched-roofed table for our turn to kayak in the cyan waters.

This cluster of idyllic islands in the Indian Ocean is beautiful beyond words. Scattered in the middle of nowhere, the white-sand-laden atolls look inviting, whether you arrive on a seaplane or a private speed boat. If there was anything we wanted to do besides romance, it was to delight in the pristine views of the infinite waters, gorge on the delicious buffet spreads and snorkel outside our water villa to catch the delicate colourful fishes swimming under our luxury lovenest on stilts.

Creating Memories On The Go

The XXL postcard which I sent my husband via the MyPostcard App.
The XXL postcard which I sent my husband via the MyPostcard App.

You all know my love for photography. The stunning landscapes of this country gave me the perfect occasion to put my DSLR, GoPro and phone cameras to use. We did spend a lot of amazing moments whispering sweet nothings to each other. But we also ensured we captured the precious memories of our luxurious stay on the private atoll of Paradise Island Resort, the sumptuous meals, the vibrant world underwater, our first kayaking experience, the glittering nights, and the joy of soaking in a bathtub on an open deck that looked out to the ocean.

Making The Most Of Exclusivity: Private Jacuzzi & What Not!

My husband and I enjoy our private jacuzzi in a secluded Japanese garden at the Paradise Island Resort, Maldives.
My husband and I enjoy our private jacuzzi in a secluded Japanese garden at the Paradise Island Resort, Maldives.

I’ll be honest, sometimes I had to remind myself that I was not on an assignment. I did not really have to shoot those many pictures or record hundreds of videos. But the excitement of travelling with the love of my life (and the best partner I could ever have hoped for) made me want to store every second of our time in The Maldives. My boyfriend-turned-husband and I swam in the open ocean outside our water villa, gazed at the creeper-shaded roof of our private jacuzzi in a Japanese garden and even played a game of billiards indoors when the sun was too strong outside.

Surprising My Man With A Personalized Postcard

My message on the postcard with the custom colour & font, shipped on priority by MyPostcard.
My message on the postcard with the custom colour & font, shipped on priority by MyPostcard.

I was over the moon with the lovely trip which Martin gifted me. And I found an excellent way to show him how delighted I was. I downloaded the MyPostcard app on my phone, created a collage of some of our timeless moments together, and ordered their XXL-sized postcard to be sent to our address. Their team printed and sent out our custom-made postcard in 24 hours, and we got it within 3 weeks through priority mail. It was nice how I could personalize the postcard further with a caption, a coloured border, font-style and colours and even emojis. I’m sure using this app to send out some more pretty postcards to my family. The fact that I can store the addresses and recipient profiles makes it even better.

The Romance of Old-School Postcards

Walking by the Velana Beach in the public island of Maafushi in The Maldives
Walking by the Velana Beach in the public island of Maafushi in The Maldives

Sending somebody a postcard may feel a bit dated, but that only makes it so much more charming and special to receive. If you are planning on surprising your friends or family with a personalized postcard full of priceless memories, use my promo code ODL2019 to save 30% on your order on the MyPostcard app. There are plenty of templates to help you design something lovely, and you can choose from a regular postcard, an XXL-sized one or even place bulk orders. Let me know how it goes! 🙂

When was the last time you received a postcard?

If you’re married, where did you honeymoon?

Let me know through your comments below. 🙂

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Work And Travel: How To Do Both

Let’s face it: life is short. Each year is even shorter. We get only 52 weekends in a year, and if you get paid monthly, then you only have twelve pay-days. You’re probably entitled to about twenty-something days of holiday at your day job too. With that and your weekends, you have to fit in seeing family and friends, going to weddings, doing nothing, pursuing interesting activities and also travelling.

It can sometimes feel impossible to fit it all in. However, if travel is important to you, there are ways that you can adopt to do more of it (travel, that is) and still work at the same time. But how, you ask? Check out these tips:

Speak to Your Boss

There’s a good chance that you won’t have to quit your job to work and travel simultaneously. As an increasing number of people are working remotely, the idea of flexible working is gathering steam. You may be surprised by how responsive your boss might be when it comes to allowing you to try working from home, wherever in the world that may be. There are innumerable places you can work from too, as digital nomads are on the rise and multitudes are opting for this way of life. Check out this Bali Bustle coliving space as an example of where you could be living.

Teach English Online

If keeping your current job is not an option, or if you want something new anyway, then you could have a go at teaching English online. All you need to be is a native or near-native English speaker, and you need a reliable internet connection, a microphone, a webcam and a quiet space for the lessons. You should also have a university degree and an internationally recognized 40+ Hour TEFL Certificate. Teaching English online is a great way to earn a good amount of money while choosing your own work schedule. And, as with most companies, you can work from anywhere in the world.

Start a Blog

Today, blogs of various types are some of the most profitable websites online. While building a personal brand is a new concept to many people, it’s proven to work faster and more efficiently than working with many large brands with huge budgets. There are a lot of different ways that a blog can earn money. But generally, as your audience and traffic grow, you’ll start making money from advertising, affiliate marketing, product sales, freelance writing and much more. You just need something you’re passionate about to start writing.

Work on a Cruise Ship

Working on a cruise ship is a great work-and-travel job because you have little to no overhead costs while you’re on the cruise liner. Your housing, accommodation and travel are all paid for, so most people who travel and work on luxury liners can save 90-100% of their paychecks (to be spent spend later, exclusively on travel)!

Become a Yoga Teacher

If you’re passionate about yoga, then you’re in luck because a lot of other people all over the world are too. To become a yoga instructor, you’ll need a yoga teacher training certification and a good level of health and fitness, but this job allows you to work both online, or in person.

As for me, I am a full-time freelance travel writer. This helps me immensely in choosing the clients I wish to work with, and at the same time, lends me the flexibility to travel (or pursue other interests) whenever I want.

Have you been able to strike a balance between work and travel yet?

Let me know through your comments below. 🙂

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Eat Your Way Through August With The Great Indian Restaurant Festival

It has been raining non-stop in most of India, certainly in Mumbai which seems to be flooded every other day. But that is no reason to sulk and eat leftovers every alternate meal. Also, if your typical food scene looks like cereal-for-breakfast, rajma-chawal-for-lunch and soup-for-dinner, you definitely need to eat out! Perhaps, cash-crunch is your excuse for not dining out? However, that shouldn’t stop you from hogging at the top restaurants in your city any more. Here’s why:

GIRF Is Back This August

Eat your breakfast like a king (Photo Courtesy:  Engin Akyurt)
Eat your breakfast like a king (Photo Courtesy: Engin Akyurt)

Thanks to the initiative by Dineout, India’s largest platform for dining out, August is going to be a month of binge eating. After the Great Indian Restaurant Festival (GIRF) in February, earlier this year, they’ve come up with an encore this month. From 1st August to 1st September, you will be able to dine at over 8000 restaurants across India for half the regular price! Read on to know more…

What Is The GIRF?

Instagram your restaurant moments (Photo courtesy: Victor Freitas)

GIRF is the annual Great Indian Restaurant Festival happening in 17 cities across India right now. All of August is now the #MonthOfMore because you get to eat more (twice as much, to be precise) for the same price. Dineout is offering flat 50% off your entire bill on select restaurants in these cities, and Mumbai obviously is one of them. What’s more? There is no restriction on the minimum or maximum amount to be spent, and you can avail the offer on a-la-carte dining, drinks and also buffets. This means you can go out to eat more often and collect more Instagram-worthy pictures while you’re at it!

How Can You Participate?

Reserve your tables before it’s too late (Photo courtesy: rawpixel.com)

To make the most of the 4th edition of the Great Indian Restaurant Festival, book your tables on Dineout. You can do this by downloading the Dineout app, searching for the restaurants by filtering your city, preferred cuisine and ambience, and finally, reserving your table. Don’t make the mistake of putting this off for later because the seats are limited and the demand is high. Keep an eye on their Flash Sales to buy deals at only INR 11! So, what are you waiting for? Plan all your brunch meetings and date nights for August and prepare yourself to eat your way through August.

Do you have a list of your favourite restaurants ready yet?

Are you working out extra to eat more this month?

Let me know through your comments below. 🙂

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