Hey there! I am Ambuj Saxena from India. I blog a lot for my co-founded company BnBNation where BnB stands for Bed and Breakfast. BnBNation aggregates Bed and Breakfast rooms in India, so, the idea to blog originated with the lack of awareness about the presence of Bed and Breakfast accommodations in Delhi.
I remember meeting up a few friends from abroad, they were staying in a shady guesthouse in Paharganj area of Delhi. It was strange that they didn’t know they could stay in an Indian home with an Indian family! They wanted to know how Indians live, breathe, perform their customs and traditions. But alas! They were staying in a shady location! How would they experience Indian culture and the rich traditions? Indian ethos includes the phrase, ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ which means ‘Guest is God’. This is followed by most Indian families while hosting guests at home.
Warmth and hospitality replete with Indian ethos is understandably the highlight of a traveler’s experience in India. Thus, BnBNation blog helps spread awareness about Indian Bed and Breakfast rooms, Indian customs, traditions, fairs and festivals. Though such traditions are enlisted in other blog sites as well but we try to highlight how Indian families celebrate a festival and how a guest can become a part of the celebrations. Well, isn’t that the reason why most travelers visit India?
What tips of advice could you give our readers that may want to start a travel blog?
Whether good or bad I guess each travel is an experience in itself. If you have traveled, I am sure there’s something you would want to share. Maybe, meeting with a stranger or experiencing a new feeling while traveling or something as insignificant as a person snoring in the seat next to you. I would just say, jot it down and put a few pictures and Boom! Your travel becomes a memory! You’ll remember it for life! Better still, the readers will experience the same feelings!
Have you got any places on your bucket list? If so where?
I keep falling in love with the feeling of traveling to a new place and the new experiences. So, I don’t have a bucket list instead I would say I have a room full of ‘Must-go’ places before I die. I wish to go to experience Aurora Borealis, see the places where World wars were fought, see the tsunami affected areas of south east Asia, witness all the World Heritage sites across the world. So, my list is endless! I’m spoilt for choices and it’s tough to make a start! But I’m sure, if not all the countries, I will definitely visit more than a handful of them!
What are some of the best things about solo travel?
Solo travel is the best way to step out of your comfort zone and test yourself. I keep traveling alone for academic and business interest, so, I know that feeling of leaving the mental and physical comfort of home and loved one’s behind and experiencing a new place, new culture. Solo travel teaches you how to hold your own if you are in a not-so-good situation and how to make the most of a good situation. It teaches you to be humble and thankful towards what you have in life! When you travel solo, you are more aware of the surroundings and are relatively flexible in your approach, which is the ideal way of spending your life too!
Have you experienced any downsides to solo travel?
There are always downsides to a planned or unplanned activity! Solo travel is no exception. But the human mind remembers the unusual experiences more clearly. Sometimes bad experiences make our experience even more colorful! An incident that took place in Shanghai in 2012 is fresh in mind. I had lost my way and asked a security guard for directions. He seemed irritated at first and gave me directions, which I didn’t understand. When I asked him repeatedly, he almost snapped at me! I was really upset at his behavior but you know that is what I remember about Shanghai, the most! Not that I have pledged that I would never travel to Shanghai again but the incident is fresh in my memory!
Is there any advice you can give people who want to solo travel for the first time?
Pack your bags and just do it! Solo travel is a great way to know something new about yourself!
What’s your favourite city or cities and why? What are the top attractions to see inn each?
I don’t have any favorite city because every city has a unique charm. While Ladakh in Jammu Kashmir boasts of one of the most picturesque sites, San Jose in USA has a young crowd and an ambience of entrepreneurs, Khajuraho has a gorgeous set of Western groups of temples, and Dubai has a unique charm for its travelers. It is tough to pick and choose!
Any recommendations for best beaches you have visited? where were they? and what did you like about them?
I loved the Havelock beach in Andaman and Nicobar islands the most! I have fond memories of the beach and saw a Dugong, a sea cow while swimming too! I guess it was voted on of the best beaches in Asia sometime back. I have done scuba diving in Andaman and Nicobar islands too. Now, that I have planned a few trips of travelers to the islands so I have got great reviews too!
What do you love about travelling?
Life is all about experiences, isn’t it? Traveling inevitably, gives you your most memorable experiences! That’s why I love traveling!
What’s your favourite travel apps?
Google Apps – my trusted travel companion!
What are three things your travels has taught you?
Stay humble and keep learning.
Step out of your comfort zone.
Have you got any tips for our readers to save money whilst travelling?
Various tourism reports suggest that accommodation takes up almost 30% of the traveler’s budget. So, if one could book a nice home that has facilities equivalent to 3-star hotel and is more economical, it will be a great money saver! Apart from staying local, one should travel local too. Most metropolitans across the world, boast of a robust local rail network that lets you observe the local lifestyle and get accustomed to the local culture fast.
With the money saved from staying local and traveling local, one can buy additional souvenirs for the loved ones’ back home!
Your top off the beaten track places to visit & why.
It has to be the 2- day road trip to Rishikesh with my friends. It was a spontaneous plan and we drove through the night and we did river rafting the next day, visited a few markets. We saw many places within the time constraint and I did river rafting for the first time in my life!
What equipment do you use to blog?
Blogging can be intimidating and tiring at times. So, I keep the process of blogging as simple and smooth as possible. I use my camera phone to click pictures and keep a notebook with me to jot down whatever I find intriguing while traveling.
What are your travel plans this year? any thing exciting?
I am heading to Leh-Ladakh in Jammu Kashmir, this season. It will be one hell of a exhilarating trip! I am sure my readers will get loads of experience to live by!
How do you plan your trips?
For out of India trips, I use Trip Advisor for reviews. I also try to find any free walking tour or local guide to get insight of local culture and heritage. I also make it a point to visit the Heritage sites in the city.
What five things do you always pack?
Notebook and pen to document intriguing incidents and places
Powerbank for my phone.
Track pants and sports shoes
Share a travel quote you love one of your own….
“People don’t take trips. Trips take people”- John Steinbeck
There is one more quote that needs a mention. I am not sure if it has been said already but one that I truly believe in:
“Travel is the best way to discover your real self”
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