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travel buzzwords

A holiday, by many other names



Previous
FLASHPACKING On October 27 last year, Snigdha Nandan fulfilled an 18-year-old dream. She climbed the Eiffel Tower in Paris. "It was my birthday gift to myself, " says the 31-year-old communications professional who immortalised the moment on her Samsung camera, and then fished out her Toshiba Satellite laptop and posted a note on Facebook about it. That same day, Nandan also updated her blog on her Paris journey which contained an account of her experiences - commuting by metro, bateau-bus, autobus, walking while cross-referencing four maps in French and being asked out for coffee by curious French men on the metro. Nandan, who always travels with all her gadgets, is a typical flashpacker - a flashy backpacker who needs the constant assurance of connectivity while enjoying the trials of a non-structured trip. For these wanderers, the journey is not about switching off from the world but logging into it whenever they get a chance. For many, gadgets become emotional companions. Yogesh Shah of The Backpacker Co attributes the growing number of flashpackers to the need for "instant gratification" through social media.

A holiday, by many other names

March 26, 2011


FLASHPACKING On October 27 last year, Snigdha Nandan fulfilled an 18-year-old dream. She climbed the Eiffel Tower in Paris. "It was my birthday gift to myself, " says the 31-year-old communications professional who immortalised the moment on her Samsung camera, and then fished out her Toshiba Satellite laptop and posted a note on Facebook about it. That same day, Nandan also updated her blog on her Paris journey which contained an account of her experiences - commuting by metro, bateau-bus, autobus, walking while cross-referencing four maps in French and being asked out for coffee by curious French men on the metro. Nandan, who always travels with all her gadgets, is a typical flashpacker - a flashy backpacker who needs the constant assurance of connectivity while enjoying the trials of a non-structured trip. For these wanderers, the journey is not about switching off from the world but logging into it whenever they get a chance. For many, gadgets become emotional companions. Yogesh Shah of The Backpacker Co attributes the growing number of flashpackers to the need for "instant gratification" through social media.

DENTURE VENTURERS At an age when their birthday candles cost more than the cake, men and women are now packing their bags, bidding goodbye to their grandkids at the airport and taking off for various exotic destinations. Instead of the traditional clichês of coach tours around Scotland and package holidays in Spain, these aptly named 'denture venturers' are instead choosing to set off on organised tours of China, hitting the jungle trail through South America or chasing wildlife in Africa. The mature traveller is already a significant demographic for travel agents. While some older travellers want to be certain that doctors and hospitals are available in case of an emergency, some want a tour that takes their limited mobility into account. Many of those who haven't been around opt for travelling with a group which gives them a chance to experience new countries in a safe and comfortable environment, while still enjoying a new culture and activities.

A holiday, by many other names

March 26, 2011


DENTURE VENTURERS At an age when their birthday candles cost more than the cake, men and women are now packing their bags, bidding goodbye to their grandkids at the airport and taking off for various exotic destinations. Instead of the traditional clichês of coach tours around Scotland and package holidays in Spain, these aptly named 'denture venturers' are instead choosing to set off on organised tours of China, hitting the jungle trail through South America or chasing wildlife in Africa. The mature traveller is already a significant demographic for travel agents. While some older travellers want to be certain that doctors and hospitals are available in case of an emergency, some want a tour that takes their limited mobility into account. Many of those who haven't been around opt for travelling with a group which gives them a chance to experience new countries in a safe and comfortable environment, while still enjoying a new culture and activities.

NANOBREAKS While the concept of weekend breaks has always been around, there is now a new term for it that a certain car manufacturer might not be too pleased with. Nanobreakers is a word coined to describe people who head for someplace close to take a one-night holiday instead of the big, heavily planned annual vacation. For 50-year-old Pradeep Sinha, CEO of a textile machinery company, whose work involves a lot of international travel, his one-day trips to Lonavla and Alibaug are treasured. "Along with my friends, I drive down the Mumbai-Nashik highway after working hours on Fridays to visit one of our farmhouses, " says Sinha, who goes away at least thrice in two months. "After five rounds of stress-busting tea at these places, we are ready to resume our hectic work schedules. " Vishwajeet Patil of Raja Rani Travels says the concept of day-tripping is becoming popular as most people are ruled by the tyranny of time.

A holiday, by many other names

March 26, 2011


NANOBREAKS While the concept of weekend breaks has always been around, there is now a new term for it that a certain car manufacturer might not be too pleased with. Nanobreakers is a word coined to describe people who head for someplace close to take a one-night holiday instead of the big, heavily planned annual vacation. For 50-year-old Pradeep Sinha, CEO of a textile machinery company, whose work involves a lot of international travel, his one-day trips to Lonavla and Alibaug are treasured. "Along with my friends, I drive down the Mumbai-Nashik highway after working hours on Fridays to visit one of our farmhouses, " says Sinha, who goes away at least thrice in two months. "After five rounds of stress-busting tea at these places, we are ready to resume our hectic work schedules. " Vishwajeet Patil of Raja Rani Travels says the concept of day-tripping is becoming popular as most people are ruled by the tyranny of time.

DIGITAL DETOX VACATIONS Being turned off can sometimes be quite a turn on. In 2009, Sandhya Gorthi and her family spent their Diwali in electronic rehab. Inside a remote cottage in south-east Nicobar, sans telephone lines, cellphone network, television and other wires of urban connectivity, this tech-savvy BlackBerry owner reconnected with her family. In this typical Nicobari cottage elevated on stilts to keep off surprise visitors like snakes, the lack of real-time electronic communication meant Gorthi could now experience the pleasures of real communication - playing board games in the reception area with her kids or walking barefoot with them on Radhanagar beach and going diving with her husband. For serious gizmo addicts, such 'unplugged vacations' are the new buzzword. Nowadays, many yoga retreats, spas and even some hotels offer the option of switching off completely. Gorthi, in fact, had deliberately chosen a room with no air-conditioning or roof;just a mosquito net to collect the leaves falling from the canopy of mahua trees above.

A holiday, by many other names

March 26, 2011


DIGITAL DETOX VACATIONS Being turned off can sometimes be quite a turn on. In 2009, Sandhya Gorthi and her family spent their Diwali in electronic rehab. Inside a remote cottage in south-east Nicobar, sans telephone lines, cellphone network, television and other wires of urban connectivity, this tech-savvy BlackBerry owner reconnected with her family. In this typical Nicobari cottage elevated on stilts to keep off surprise visitors like snakes, the lack of real-time electronic communication meant Gorthi could now experience the pleasures of real communication - playing board games in the reception area with her kids or walking barefoot with them on Radhanagar beach and going diving with her husband. For serious gizmo addicts, such 'unplugged vacations' are the new buzzword. Nowadays, many yoga retreats, spas and even some hotels offer the option of switching off completely. Gorthi, in fact, had deliberately chosen a room with no air-conditioning or roof;just a mosquito net to collect the leaves falling from the canopy of mahua trees above.

SLOWCATIONS This is for those who are tired of the sight-seeing grind - waking up early, travelling with a bus full of noisy Indians, getting off at a destination only to be hurried back by the horn even before they can take a picture. The idea of a slowcation is to spend time in one place without having to rush or abide by a travel itinerary or guide book. Though technically any break that does not involve the words "package tour" would qualify as a slowcation, this involves extracting a promise from the tour operator to make himself invisible. "This kind of travel allows you to immerse yourself in your surroundings and take in the culture and adapt to the way of life of the place you are in. With slowcations, you experience more of the local culture and live the way locals do, " says Suchna Hegde-Shah of Away and Beyond, which has organised slowcations to Tuscany and Scotland.

A holiday, by many other names

March 26, 2011


SLOWCATIONS This is for those who are tired of the sight-seeing grind - waking up early, travelling with a bus full of noisy Indians, getting off at a destination only to be hurried back by the horn even before they can take a picture. The idea of a slowcation is to spend time in one place without having to rush or abide by a travel itinerary or guide book. Though technically any break that does not involve the words "package tour" would qualify as a slowcation, this involves extracting a promise from the tour operator to make himself invisible. "This kind of travel allows you to immerse yourself in your surroundings and take in the culture and adapt to the way of life of the place you are in. With slowcations, you experience more of the local culture and live the way locals do, " says Suchna Hegde-Shah of Away and Beyond, which has organised slowcations to Tuscany and Scotland.

VOLUNTOURISM Three years ago, Meghna Raj almost shocked residents of a small Japanese village called Azimo when she lazily picked up a loaf of freshly baked read, rolled it up in a bag and stapled it with a pin. "That is a no-no in Japan as they are very particular about details and use origami in their daily lives, " says Raj, adding that she could never have gathered such incredible cultural nuggets had she been just another tourist in Japan. "I was going to Japan to meet a relative, but I thought I'd make the visit more meaningful, " recalls Raj, who signed up for a WWOOF (World Wide Opportunity for Organic Farmers) programme. WWOOF allows volunteers to work for their host families for a week in exchange for food and accommodation. Raj, who has been into organic farming for seven years now, chose to work in an organic bakery in a remote village in Japan, where there was no cellphone network and the people spoke very little English. Raj stayed with a family for a week and helped with the baking and packaging processes for four hours every day. These altruistic holidays are finding quite a few takers with voluntourists doing everything from working with wildlife NGOs in Africa to helping with tsunami rehabilitation in Lanka. It's a lot of give and take, say travellers. Though most of the communication with her host family was non-verbal, Meghna Raj ended up learning quite a bit. "The Japanese are reserved, meticulous and simple, " says Raj, who found herself answering a lot of questions about the Indian family system. "I asked them why they encourage boarders when language is a barrier, and the lady said that she can't afford to travel or help her kids see the world. But at least, this way, she can welcome the world into her home, " recalls Raj, who recommends it to other travelers. "But only if you don't expect comfort and don't mind travelling humbly. "

A holiday, by many other names

March 26, 2011


VOLUNTOURISM Three years ago, Meghna Raj almost shocked residents of a small Japanese village called Azimo when she lazily picked up a loaf of freshly baked read, rolled it up in a bag and stapled it with a pin. "That is a no-no in Japan as they are very particular about details and use origami in their daily lives, " says Raj, adding that she could never have gathered such incredible cultural nuggets had she been just another tourist in Japan. "I was going to Japan to meet a relative, but I thought I'd make the visit more meaningful, " recalls Raj, who signed up for a WWOOF (World Wide Opportunity for Organic Farmers) programme. WWOOF allows volunteers to work for their host families for a week in exchange for food and accommodation. Raj, who has been into organic farming for seven years now, chose to work in an organic bakery in a remote village in Japan, where there was no cellphone network and the people spoke very little English. Raj stayed with a family for a week and helped with the baking and packaging processes for four hours every day. These altruistic holidays are finding quite a few takers with voluntourists doing everything from working with wildlife NGOs in Africa to helping with tsunami rehabilitation in Lanka. It's a lot of give and take, say travellers. Though most of the communication with her host family was non-verbal, Meghna Raj ended up learning quite a bit. "The Japanese are reserved, meticulous and simple, " says Raj, who found herself answering a lot of questions about the Indian family system. "I asked them why they encourage boarders when language is a barrier, and the lady said that she can't afford to travel or help her kids see the world. But at least, this way, she can welcome the world into her home, " recalls Raj, who recommends it to other travelers. "But only if you don't expect comfort and don't mind travelling humbly. "

GIRLFRIEND GETAWAYS These trips can safely be described as one big slumber party in an exotic locale. Today's superwomen, who yearn for a break from their careers and men but don't want to deal with the hassles of travelling alone - there are issues of safety, expense, and loneliness - can go on all-women tours. Read Sex and the City-style great, uncomplicated company and loads of bank-busting shopping. Thirty-eight-year-old Lisa Sadanah, who went to Tuscany on a default girlfriend getaway with seven others last June, speaks of the inevitable camaraderie within the group. Not only did she enjoy swigging wine with seven others after landing, they even pooled a certain amount of money every day in order to eat at "nice restaurants". Also, at a mall dripping designer brands such as Dior and Gucci, Sadanah and gang spent six-and-a-half hours shopping. Besides, the itinerary involved things like swimming, sunbathing, cycling around the city and travelling around in Mercedes minivans with invisible hosts. "While our men looked after our kids at home, we frolicked, " says Sadanah. On these trips, the women, who are anywhere between 25 and 70 years old, become giggly college girls again. Within minutes of being introduced, they mentally classify each other as shopaholic, history buff, flirt, whiner and the woman 'looking for love in all the wrong places'. During conversations, husbands are compared, books and movies are pored over and cute guys adequately acknowledged. There are even times when women forget to call their husbands and receive messages saying, "Thanks for asking. The kids are fine. " And then, of course, there are the reactions. "I was once asked if we were members of the Indian hockey team, " remembers Sumitra Senapaty of Women on Wanderlust, an avid backpacker who has organised all-girl trips to Eastern Europe, South Africa, Greece and Turkey.

A holiday, by many other names

March 26, 2011


GIRLFRIEND GETAWAYS These trips can safely be described as one big slumber party in an exotic locale. Today's superwomen, who yearn for a break from their careers and men but don't want to deal with the hassles of travelling alone - there are issues of safety, expense, and loneliness - can go on all-women tours. Read Sex and the City-style great, uncomplicated company and loads of bank-busting shopping. Thirty-eight-year-old Lisa Sadanah, who went to Tuscany on a default girlfriend getaway with seven others last June, speaks of the inevitable camaraderie within the group. Not only did she enjoy swigging wine with seven others after landing, they even pooled a certain amount of money every day in order to eat at "nice restaurants". Also, at a mall dripping designer brands such as Dior and Gucci, Sadanah and gang spent six-and-a-half hours shopping. Besides, the itinerary involved things like swimming, sunbathing, cycling around the city and travelling around in Mercedes minivans with invisible hosts. "While our men looked after our kids at home, we frolicked, " says Sadanah. On these trips, the women, who are anywhere between 25 and 70 years old, become giggly college girls again. Within minutes of being introduced, they mentally classify each other as shopaholic, history buff, flirt, whiner and the woman 'looking for love in all the wrong places'. During conversations, husbands are compared, books and movies are pored over and cute guys adequately acknowledged. There are even times when women forget to call their husbands and receive messages saying, "Thanks for asking. The kids are fine. " And then, of course, there are the reactions. "I was once asked if we were members of the Indian hockey team, " remembers Sumitra Senapaty of Women on Wanderlust, an avid backpacker who has organised all-girl trips to Eastern Europe, South Africa, Greece and Turkey.

FAKEATIONS Jyoti Shetty's husband has lost count of the number of strangers his wife has nearly bumped into on their vacations while looking down at her BlackBerry. Apart from the rare annual occasions when she puts cautionary status messages on gmail like "20ft downunder don't disturb" or "swimming with turtles so will be back", Shetty practically enjoys no time away from work. Even during her two short customary yearly vacations - one domestic and one international - the public relations executive can be found speaking to her clients, dashing off work emails and sending press releases. In other words, every vacation of Shetty's is a fakeation. The self-explanatory term applies to the holidays of workaholics, who say they are 'out of office' though mentally they are still in it. On these vacations, workaholics like her allow business to interrupt pleasure. "My clients come first, " says Shetty. Once in Mauritius, she sat on the beach and wrote a press release for a Bangalore client. Another time, in London where the sun sets at 11 pm in summer, she worked through the night and partied during the day. On the tube, she is busy sending emails. Shetty agrees that this tends to take the fun out of the vacation at times but it's the price of owning a PR firm. "My work pays my bills and for my holiday. "

A holiday, by many other names

March 26, 2011


FAKEATIONS Jyoti Shetty's husband has lost count of the number of strangers his wife has nearly bumped into on their vacations while looking down at her BlackBerry. Apart from the rare annual occasions when she puts cautionary status messages on gmail like "20ft downunder don't disturb" or "swimming with turtles so will be back", Shetty practically enjoys no time away from work. Even during her two short customary yearly vacations - one domestic and one international - the public relations executive can be found speaking to her clients, dashing off work emails and sending press releases. In other words, every vacation of Shetty's is a fakeation. The self-explanatory term applies to the holidays of workaholics, who say they are 'out of office' though mentally they are still in it. On these vacations, workaholics like her allow business to interrupt pleasure. "My clients come first, " says Shetty. Once in Mauritius, she sat on the beach and wrote a press release for a Bangalore client. Another time, in London where the sun sets at 11 pm in summer, she worked through the night and partied during the day. On the tube, she is busy sending emails. Shetty agrees that this tends to take the fun out of the vacation at times but it's the price of owning a PR firm. "My work pays my bills and for my holiday. "

SPAFARIS It is now humanly possible to sleep with a row of pebbles on your back even as a leopard lurks nearby. That's what the African travel industry is promising safari-goers who wake up before dawn, tolerate the bumps and jolts of the rough jeep ride and negotiate the forests to spot rhinos, giraffes and the big cats. Since recovery from strenuous safaris can sometimes entail a stint in a coastal resort or a spa, the "Spa-fari" was born. This service offered by various spas, resorts and safari organisers allows safari goers to combine bush stalking with facials, body wraps and African body art. So, after a rigorous morning in jeeps, light aircraft or even hot-air balloons, patrons can cool off in the afternoon with Swedish massages, saunas and other re-energising treatments. The walk in the woods just became easier.

A holiday, by many other names

March 26, 2011


SPAFARIS It is now humanly possible to sleep with a row of pebbles on your back even as a leopard lurks nearby. That's what the African travel industry is promising safari-goers who wake up before dawn, tolerate the bumps and jolts of the rough jeep ride and negotiate the forests to spot rhinos, giraffes and the big cats. Since recovery from strenuous safaris can sometimes entail a stint in a coastal resort or a spa, the "Spa-fari" was born. This service offered by various spas, resorts and safari organisers allows safari goers to combine bush stalking with facials, body wraps and African body art. So, after a rigorous morning in jeeps, light aircraft or even hot-air balloons, patrons can cool off in the afternoon with Swedish massages, saunas and other re-energising treatments. The walk in the woods just became easier.

SETJETTING The various scenic backdrops against which filmy characters like Raj or Simran cavorted are now firmly on the tourist map. And the Bollywood buff who thinks nothing of jetting off to another continent just to see the place his or her favourite star sang, danced and pranced around trees is called a setjetter. Given the popularity of film and television locales as holiday destinations, canny travel agencies have long pushed setjetting - a trend first marketed by the US, and soon adopted by Europe, and even Thailand. Britain has even come out with a Bollywood map which includes the obscure Surrey football ground and the Bicester shopping centre in Oxfordshire that featured in Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham. The lure of the Swiss Alps, which has spawned love in numerous flowing-sari-red-sweater outfits, is, of course, evergreen. The penurious buff can setjet to Film City and other studios in Mumbai.

A holiday, by many other names

March 26, 2011


SETJETTING The various scenic backdrops against which filmy characters like Raj or Simran cavorted are now firmly on the tourist map. And the Bollywood buff who thinks nothing of jetting off to another continent just to see the place his or her favourite star sang, danced and pranced around trees is called a setjetter. Given the popularity of film and television locales as holiday destinations, canny travel agencies have long pushed setjetting - a trend first marketed by the US, and soon adopted by Europe, and even Thailand. Britain has even come out with a Bollywood map which includes the obscure Surrey football ground and the Bicester shopping centre in Oxfordshire that featured in Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham. The lure of the Swiss Alps, which has spawned love in numerous flowing-sari-red-sweater outfits, is, of course, evergreen. The penurious buff can setjet to Film City and other studios in Mumbai.

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