Travel expert Meenakshi Gupta encourages women to travel solo and target unexplored scenic destinations.




by Aryeman
#AryemanSaysSo
#LondonGoodTimes


Over 22 years of experience, with 15 years in the Tourism Industry as a Marketing Professional promoting Destinations and Travel and Tourism Events, Meenakshi Gupta is now a freelance travel writer, blogger, digital marketer, amateur trekker and of course a foodie.

She recently decided to get with the times and started blogging on her travel, food and experiences. As a beginner, it also inspired her to share her trekking stories with fellow trekkers. Her stories are documented on www.tanhadil.in  

Her articles/stories have been published in Spice Route (Spice Jet Airlines In-flight magazine), The Hindu, Outlook Traveller, Deccan Herald, Women’s Web, Safari Plus, Corporate Outbound and Travel Mail.
Browse on to read what makes this avid and compulsive traveller tick.

The Interview:

How many cities and countries have you travelled so?
I have completed travelling to 44 major cities. They are Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Chanthaburi, Ranong, Pattaya, Krabi, Hua Hin, Ko Chang, Singapore, Colombo, Kathmandu, St John’s, Halifax, Toronto, Niagara, Montreal, Quebec, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Shimla, Jaipur, Amritsar, Chandigarh, Dehradun, Agra, Ajmer, Lucknow, Kolkata, Bhubaneshwar, Puri, Goa, Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, Vishakhapatnam, Bangalore, Munnar, Wayanad, Mysore, Ooty, Kodaikanal, Pondicherry, Hampi, Chennai.
Countries which have been visited by me are 8 - Thailand, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Dubai, Canada, Abu Dhabi and India.


Which has been the most memorable travel vacation? What made it special?
The most memorable travel was not a vacation but was a Snow Himalayan Trek to Kedarkantha. Despite my high blood pressure, asthma and joints pain, I challenged myself to trek 12500 feet of Kedarkantha and I successfully did it. Against all odds, I wanted to gift myself this trek for my 50th Birthday. I want to inspire and motivate others especially women who think trekking is not their cup of tea. I have to tell them if I can do it anyone can do it. Just go for it.  I am also a Bollywood Buff. Wherever possible I try to get my pictures in Bollywood style.

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What are the 5 spots one must visit at your memorable travel destination?
As I mentioned earlier, I am a hard-core  Bollywood Buff. Wherever possible I try to get my pictures in Bollywood style. On my 50th Birthday, I did a photoshoot in Kufri, Himachal Pradesh in the snow. However, my most memorable travel destinations are St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada and Chiang Mai in Thailand.


5 Spots one must visit in St John’s are:
1.    Visit Icebergs
2.    Hike at Signal Hill National Historic site where you can see a panoramic view of the city and The Atlantic Ocean. 
3.    Cape Spear - Remains of World War lies here.
4.     Petty Harbour- a small village with approximately 1000 population. You get the best seafood here.
5.     Nightlife and Food - Being the most easterly city in Canada, St John’s has an Irish flavour of food, music and nightlife. Trust me you will not come back disappointed. Even if you are a vegetarian or a teetotaller, you must spend some time there.


    5 Spots one must visit in Chiang Mai, Thailand
1.     The Elephant Care Centre where you can indulge in playing, bathing and feeding elephants.
2.    Doi Suthep 
3.    Wat Suan Dok
4.    Wat Chedi Luang
5.    Museum of Contemporary Art ( MAIIAM) 
  
Can you offer budding travellers 5 tips to travel smart and save on money?
There are various ways where you can travel smart and save on money.
Choose your destination wisely - Based on your areas of interest check for the countries where your currency is comparatively stronger, easily accessible and has lots of staying options at affordable prices. Plan your trip during the off-season. This way you will get discounted prices on stay and flights both.  Anyways you don’t want to see the crowd right?


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Flights - As far as possible, make sure you travel with one airline and its codeshare airlines all the times to earn mileage points. This will help you to earn some complimentary tickets. Book your tickets well in advance and check for shortest routes even if you have to change 2-3 flights. Do check for layover timings.

Accommodation - Choose Air BnB, youth hostels, dorms, etc. on sharing basis.  In any case, you need accommodation only for sleep and bath, these options help you save loads of Euros.
The commute in the city - Make Metro/Rail/ Bus passes for the period you plan to stay. This works out cheaper. Walk! Walk! Walk! That’s the best way to explore any destination.
Eat Local - Don’t look for your soul food. Eat local. The local food is always cheaper, easily available and you get to taste the local flavours and save some pennies.

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Now with the Coronavirus outbreak, which travels spots do you regret not having visited?

Italy! But I am sure we will learn to start living with safety norms and soon I shall visit Italy.



Your viewpoints (safe, unsafe, safety measures) about the future of travel post this pandemic.

I always believe in the saying, “Once a Traveller always a Traveller”. As we have learnt to travel taking precautionary measures for other viruses like Zika, Yellow Fever etc., this too shall pass soon. Self-safety should be the topmost priority at any given point of time. Avoid going to the places where the chances of infection are at high risk, avoid crowded places. Try to explore local, wildlife, Rural Tourism, Heritage walks etc.

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Being a travel blogger/writer/photographer / YouTuber, how do you plan your trip?

I incline offbeat trekking/hiking and lesser-explored destinations. I want to spread the message to all those women out there who want to trek and go to the destinations without any inhibition that it's not rocket science. Even to the men that these unexplored destinations can be your memorable ones. Most of the time I travel solo and I do my research well in advance, contact local authorities, look for trustworthy accommodations, and ensure the travel time so that I reach the destination before it’s too dark.  

Do you make money as a travel blogger? What are the other ways to make money being a travel writer?
Well, I do not make enough money. Blogging is like my Diary. However, getting my articles published in various newspapers and magazines, affiliates, collaborations and content writing does give me some money.