Yes, you heard it right; I love Chennai, not because I was born there, but for the reason that it gives tremendous opportunities to travel around South India. I have been to several places in and around Chennai, and I can still say that I still have dozens of places left on my list of must-visit places. Most of them are not the popular tourist destinations, but the hidden gems of India that most people have not even heard about.
I have often traveled in the southern part of the country just with a backpack, and I must say that I have had some of the best experiences of my life. Here, I am not going to list the destinations you must visit around Chennai, but the kind of experiences and feelings you may get as I did during the last few years while visiting various places.
One thing that is certain that the weather never remains stable in any part of the country these days, so I had learned to pack the essentials after my first trip. When I left for my first excursion alone, I had a terrible experience dealing with the cold when I decided to travel light and skipped packing the thermals! When the weather tests your immunity, and you fall sick, you remember everything your mother asked you to pack, but you didn't.
Respecting your friend’s decisions
I have traveled with the elder as well as younger travel companions, which taught me how to understand them and respect their decisions. For instance, I had never thought of taking Self-Drive Cars in Chennai as I thought it was an expensive way of traveling. However, after a colleague in office insisted on taking Car Rentals in Chennai, I realized that the cost was even lesser than traveling around in Volvo or Roadways buses if we were a group of 4-5 people.
Taking care of each other
I am a single child at home, so I never actually learned how to take care of others, be it your parents, siblings, or friends. Once I was walking in the woods, and a younger friend was there as my companion. Once he lost track of the path we were following, I was scared like anything, and then I realized that as fellow travelers, we must take care of each other.
Do not depend on Smartphones
In this day and age, we have started depending on our Smartphone quite a lot. And the worst part is, our Smartphone is our nastiest companion. It’s battery will die at a time when you need it the most. Therefore, it is better to travel the good old way and carry a hard copy of map, your hotel’s visiting card, and emergency phone numbers on a piece of paper. You never know when you reach a place where you may not get electricity 24X7, and your phone remains dead for the entire week!
Exploring the unexplored
The best way to travel around a place is to go where no one is going, with a safe company and proper guidance of course. The offbeat places give the best feeling of being in the lap of nature or being there at the rawest forms of manmade structures. I am lucky to have a couple of friends who didn’t mind accompanying me at the most random places, and the excursion becomes even more fun when you have such people with you.
Traveling also taught me how to bargain for the best price, which I never had the courage for before I started traveling. Now, I can negotiate for a reasonable cost of hotels, travel by local transport, and even food!
Traveling is a lifetime learning experience, which I am lucky, I gained before I got old.