Shalini Das is a 23-year-old solo traveler for whom traveling isn’t just covering a distance but her life and passion. She is a foodie, a blogger, a tourist guide, an assistant director and an inspiration for women who dream to travel solo without any fear in India.
Shalini has completed exploring 13 states and 3 Union Territories.
“My goal is to explore each and every corner of India. I want people to know how beautiful India is” she says cheerfully.
How did traveling become your passion?
I have had a passion to travel right from my childhood. I spent my childhood weekends at NGOs and old age homes. We used to travel frequently as a family. I just loved it. I found myself when I was with nature. All I wanted was to explore new places.
When did you start your solo traveling adventures?
I was just 14 when I told my parents that I had made up my mind to go backpacking. I was surprised when they happily agreed. I hugged and kissed them with happiness. My father told me that I need to prepare myself first. My first adventure was a month-long solo trip to Coonoor located in Nilgiri Mountains.
Weren’t you scared to go all alone?
Not really! For about 3 months, I was trained for the trip. My father used to wake me up early in the morning for running to build stamina. After school, I had to take self-defense classes. I learned to understand people through their actions and differentiate between good and bad. All this helped me build confidence. I think, at that time my parents were more confident about me than myself.
Can you tell us about your parents?
My parents come from different religious backgrounds, customs, and traditions. My father is an Anglo-Indian and mother a Bengali Hindu. They stayed in the same area and almost grew up knowing each other as neighbors. Their friendship involved conversations that turned out to be really deep and interesting. My mom proposed to my dad. They say “it was a leap of faith” They fell in love every day with each other, over the years.
How have your parents influenced your life?
My parents have been amazing in the way they brought me up. My dad threw a party when I was born since they always wanted a girl child.
Until I was big enough to take my own decisions, I was not forced to follow any particular religion. I used to visit both church and temple. I got to know, learn the good values in both the religions. They have always taught me to own up to my mistakes. I believe people ought to be grateful for all good things in life.
Isn’t traveling expensive?
I don’t think traveling is expensive. I believe in budget traveling. I always thoroughly do my research and carefully draft my budget before going on trips. For instance, I and three of my friends paid just 450 rupees and spent our nights in rented tents at Ananthagiri hills near Hyderabad, which was fun, to say the least.
Does someone finance your trips?
My father had advised me to start earning while exploring. I used to take tuition classes, work for different NGOs but that didn’t help much. After my graduation, I decided to work at different places I was exploring for a particular period, and then traverse along to my next destination. I had a sponsor for my Karnataka trip.
What about food on trips?
You have to be able to adapt to the local cuisine. I am a crazy foodie. I love everything that is edible and tasty. I am a fan of Chinese cuisine and love cooking for others. Food is life!
How much time do you spend exploring a state?
It depends on the number of places that I plan on exploring. I have traveled across the state of Karnataka for a month. I spend more time on states like Maharashtra that are huge.
Is India safe for women to travel alone?
I feel India is really safe. You have to really know how to take care of yourself. It’s about the place you are in. You have to be socially aware. You ought to know self-defense and use your presence of mind.
What all professions have you taken up until now?
I worked as a digital marketing executive, an assistant director in a media production house, a licensed tourist guide, a consultant for travel companies, a company’s partner, freelancer, and a social media strategist. I am currently pursuing masters in psychology and am an active blogger on “lostloveadventure”. I started posting pictures of my adventures on Instagram and got a very positive response. I have continued to write and post about the unknown and unheard places in India.
What’s the significance of your blogs name?
I had a major breakup when I was exploring Karnataka this Feb. My partner chose to get married to someone else and decided to leave me behind. I was shattered. I thought I was daydreaming and didn’t know what to do. To make things worse, I discovered that my dad was sick and it was something very serious. I didn’t know which pain was burdening me more.
My dad said: “why do you need to come back home? carry on with your trip! Take a break, cry it out but learn to face the circumstances. The most difficult phase is to face questions from people here when you come back. Figure out how to deal with it.”
I went to a psychiatrist for help and took ownership. You need to take help when you need it. Nobody can be there for you to spoon-feed you. Healing will come from within. To end a chapter, you cannot just let it be. You have to put a full stop. I lost love in the trip, but my first love was always the adventure. So I titled my blog lostloveadventure.
What is your current place of interest?
I am currently in Mumbai and am exploring the state of Maharashtra. I work as a social media strategist in a destination wedding company. My parents have always said, “A rolling stone gathers no moss” meaning a person must stay active to avoid stagnation. I just can’t wait to visit the next beautiful place in India.
To know more about her adventures, visit: http://lostloveadventure.com/
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