Make Your Past Trips Come Alive Until You Can Travel Again

It is hard to ignore what the pandemic has done to the travel industry. On a personal level, the simple joys of jetting off to a new place on a whim has become a distant dream. Even a short walk about the neighbourhood requires masking up and social distancing, while returning from a trip to the grocery store is followed by manic sanitization. In the middle of all this, how do we keep that enthusiastic traveller in us alive? I’ve penned down some suggestions which have personally worked for me. Hope you will benefit from them too.

Flip Through The Old Albums

I stand under a pergola in Warsaw's Łazienki Park
I stand under a pergola in Warsaw’s Łazienki Park

The future may seem a bit bleak for now, but you can go back to your past to relive those times. A classic way to do this is to bring out the dusty photo albums tucked away in a shelf that’s hard to reach. If most of your memories are stored digitally, stack up your external hard disks, pendrives and even old laptops which have hundreds of folders that you haven’t opened in ages. Time will fly quickly as you stop to look at each picture and smile, almost like an octogenarian reminiscing about her youth again.

Read About The Places You’ve Already Visited

The Alpsee Lake is before me in the Bavarian village of Schwangau
The Alpsee Lake is before me in the Bavarian village of Schwangau

This may sound like an odd thing to do. We mostly read up on destinations that we haven’t yet been to, aiming to gather tips on what to do and see if we ever plan a trip there. The other reason for most of our obsessive travel reading is to experience a place that seems totally out of reach to us. (If I can’t ever be there, I can at least dream about it, right?) But I’m suggesting that you pore over books and articles on the sights that you’ve already seen. The joy that familiarity brings is quite different from a vicarious travel experience. You’ll also end up feeling delighted, knowing that you’ve already explored something so beautiful.

Share Your Memories With Family

My husband and I pose for photo with the turquoise Maldivian waters as the backdrop
My husband and I pose for photo with the turquoise Maldivian waters as the backdrop

Happiness multiplies when shared. We have heard this so many times, yet how little use we make of it. Sit down with your partner, children and folks to talk about all the trips you’ve taken together. Project the old videos and photographs on your big-screen TV and walk on the memory lane together. My parents-in-law love it when we show them clips from our holidays. Even my husband loves looking through pics with me.

Immortalize Moments On Canvas

Our click from The Maldives on a canvas print by Canvas Champ
Our click from The Maldives on a canvas print by Canvas Champ

The best times I’ve spent with my hubby abroad has been in The Maldives – the destination we chose for our honeymoon. We have countless pictures from that luxury holiday, and just can’t stop gushing each time we flip through the clicks. I decided to surprise Martin with a canvas print of our photo taken in front of the water villas, and he was overjoyed! You too can delight your loved ones with canvas, acrylic or metal prints of your favourite pictures on CanvasChamp. You’ll even get 5% off when you make a purchase through my referral link and use the code OINDRILADE.

Binge Watch Travel Flicks

My treehouse at Pench Tree Lodge, Madhya Pradesh
My treehouse at Pench Tree Lodge, Madhya Pradesh

If there’s anything more exciting than browsing your own travel videos, it is watching a movie based on a location that you’ve already visited. While the plot or the romance add to the essence of the place, it is ultimately the destination that will excite most of us travellers. Travel documentaries can be just as good, if not better.

What does your post-pandemic travel scene look like?

Do you believe that printing your photos make the memories tangible?

Let me know through your comments below.

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7 Gorgeous Pre-Wedding Photoshoot Destinations to Rock Your D-Day Countdown

Does travel have to stop when wedding bells are in the air? Not at all! While marriage brings with it a bix box of changes, there are plenty of moments you can enjoy as you continue to indulge the travel bug in you. If you are planning to do a countdown to your wedding day, celebrate the entire journey through professionally clicked photos in breathtaking locales. Pre-wedding photoshoots are quite “in” these days, and you shouldn’t miss these last fun memories of your bachelorhood. Here are 7 beautiful places that will add some more oomph to the romance brewing between you and your soulmate-to-be:

#1 Northern Ireland

A soon-to-be-couple hide from the thundering Irish clouds under an umbrella.

Few destinations can match the pristine sights of Northern Ireland. Whether it’s the Irish countryside, the charming Tudor castles or the unpredictable weather, this part of the United Kingdom offers stunning backgrounds to add some character to your pre-wedding photos. If you’re planning on staying even longer, the capital city of Belfast makes for a great destination wedding option as well!

#2 Kerala

The forests of Kerala set the perfect tone for a romantic shoot.

If your wedding countdown pictures are to be shot in India, there are choices galore. The enchanting forests and backwaters of Kerala add rich colours to the photographic palette. You don’t always have to stick to the popular areas of Munnar, Periyar or Fort Kochi. Go beyond and explore the riverside of Iritty or the waterfalls of Peechi.

#3 Vietnam

Rural Vietnam provides a charming backdrop for pre-wedding pictures

While Vietnam is traditionally a favourite with backpackers and solo travellers, the Asian gem has special offerings for couples looking to shoot their pre-wedding pics. Skip the busy streets of Ho Chi Minh City and escape to the rock-strewn island of Ha Long Bay to snap some gorgeous photos against clear waters. The country is quite affordable, so the only big expense you’ll have to take care of is that of the photographer.

#4 Rajasthan

The groom-to-be twirls his bride-to-be in a palace in Jaipur, Rajasthan.

How can we forget the Indian state famous for its palaces and regal gardens! Rajasthan’s diverse landscape affords you the lakes of Udaipur, the desert sands of Jaisalmer, the blue-hued houses of Jodhpur, and more. Find top pre wedding photographers in India and create your own royal-themed pre-wedding album with period costumes to match the grandeur of the forts.

#5 New Zealand

Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown makes for a great place to kiss!

There’s so much more to New Zealand than Hobbiton! Live your fairytale dream in Queenstown as you pose before the mighty Southern Alps. Looking to add a local cultural twist to your pre-wedding pictures? Head over to Rotorua to dance with the Maori tribe as your photography team tags along. To lend a formal feel to your pictures, Auckland provides the urban cityscape you might be looking for.

#6 Ladakh

A man proposes to his lady by the Pangong Lake in Ladakh (PC: Saurabh Chatterjee)

The newly formed Union Territory of Ladakh is blessed with magnificent scenery. From the Himalayas of Nubra Valley to the Buddhist monasteries with their giant prayer wheels, there’s a lot to see. Pastel shades of clothing work best with the barren reddish brown and dark grey mountains of this part of Kashmir. Stage a romantic dinner or proposal by the famous Pangong Tso – the lake which attracts travellers from all over the country.

#7 The Maldives

My husband and I share a cosy moment on a private island in The Maldives

This classic honeymoon destination is also a lovely option for a pre-wedding photoshoot. The Maldives has over a thousand islands that make this country so exotic. Book yourself some water villas on a private island, and get ready for the most romantic settings on white-sand beaches, tropical gardens and even beside underwater corals!

Still wondering whether you should organize a pre-wedding photoshoot before you tie the knot? The short trip will certainly be worth your time and money!

Where did you have your pre-wedding photoshoot done?

Getting married? Which photo-destinations are on your mind?

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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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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