Quitting a full-time profession to take up travelling is each wanderbug’s dream. For content material creator Soni Saloni, this was a dream come true. In a dialog with Journey+Leisure India & South Asia, the solo traveller will get candid on how she stop her job to pursue her ardour as a journey vlogger, her favorite locations and her love for gradual journey.
Excerpts from the interview with Soni Saloni:
T+L India: How did you determine to make the leap and get into solo travelling full-time? What motivated this shift?
Soni Saloni: It wasn’t a plunge per se. Relatively, it was a spontaneous resolution. In 2021, amidst the COVID pandemic, I felt a powerful urge to journey. Whereas I went on just a few journeys with pals, there was one explicit journey that I used to be actually captivated with, however none of my pals was excited about becoming a member of me. So, I made a decision to take the leap and go solo. Little did I do know that this could spark a ardour for solo journey inside me, main me to make a life-changing resolution.
T+L India: What was the transition interval like from being a full-time worker to a full-time traveller? Have been there any challenges you confronted alongside the best way?
Soni Saloni: Though it could have appeared abrupt from the surface, I had been planning to transition from a full-time job to full-time journey for a couple of year-and-a-half earlier than I stop my job in June final 12 months. I began by taking quick leaves to journey and finally started combining work and journey. Challenges arose alongside the best way, corresponding to guaranteeing my leaves have been accredited and managing the stress of balancing work and journey. Regardless of these challenges, I remained dedicated to my purpose and made a comparatively clean transition to full-time solo journey. Now, I can dedicate all my inventive vitality to this pursuit and stay motivated by my ardour for solo journey.
T+L India: What or who was your inspiration for this shift?
Soni Saloni: My inspiration for making the shift got here from a mixture of sources reasonably than only one particular person. One ecosystem that influenced me was non-fiction books, authored by folks like Robert Kiyosaki and Peter Thiel, who gave me a way of confidence to pursue my very own objectives. The opposite ecosystem was the content material creation business, significantly profitable journey vloggers, who impressed me to consider that I, too, might obtain success on this subject.
T+L India: Are you able to stroll us via your journey out of your first solo journey to the place you at the moment are as a content material creator?
Soni Saloni: Earlier than I started creating content material, I had already travelled extensively throughout India, masking round 10 states in all 4 instructions. Throughout my first solo journey to Parvati Valley in Himachal Pradesh, I didn’t create any content material, however the expertise was so unbelievable that I saved going again. One among these journeys was the Kheerganga trek, which impressed me to discover extra tracks and trekking experiences. Just lately, I accomplished a full Southeast Asia journey, visiting international locations corresponding to Vietnam, Indonesia, and Thailand. Over time, my journey model has advanced to immersive cultural experiences, the place I take time to grasp the native folks and their lifestyle. Now, I journey slower and extra deliberately. My journey as a traveller has been ongoing for over two years now.
T+L India: What have been among the highs and lows alongside the best way?
Soni Saloni: By way of solo journey, the highs have been beautiful views, assembly new folks, and studying new expertise. The lows have been after I can’t join with the locals or the place doesn’t really feel welcoming. For instance, Spiti Valley and Indonesia labored out very well for me, however Manali– not a lot. In content material creation, the preliminary highs have been about views and followers, however now it’s extra about executing new concepts and receiving constructive suggestions. The lows are after I wrestle with creativity and self-doubt.
T+L India: Your content material usually focuses on off-the-beaten paths and distinctive experiences. What attracts you to those sorts of experiences, and the way do you go about discovering them?
Soni Saloni: As a passionate traveller, I’m drawn to offbeat locations and distinctive experiences that transcend well-liked vacationer spots providing extra than simply cinematic content material. I consider in doing my very own analysis on the bottom, speaking to locals, and immersing myself within the tradition. I journey for not less than 30 days to permit flexibility and spontaneous exploration. Throughout my latest journey to Manipur, I had zero prior information of the place. A hostel proprietor requested the place I wished to go, and I merely replied, “I don’t know, let’s see.” This open-minded strategy permits me to kind my perceptions and I take out time to find these locations independently. I don’t depend on generic journey guides. I’m able to provide a contemporary perspective and supply real and genuine journey content material.
T+L India: Does language play as a barrier while you keep at a spot for 30 days amidst locals? How do you handle in India and overseas?
Soni Saloni: When travelling to distant areas, language limitations could be a problem. I found this throughout my journey to Manipur and Vietnam. However exploring new cultures may also be an thrilling and distinctive expertise. Whereas Google Translate may be useful, it doesn’t all the time work, particularly for much less widespread languages. That’s why discovering somebody who can help with communication — whether or not it’s a neighborhood who is aware of some English or Hindi, or knowledgeable translator — could make all of the distinction. In distant areas, communication usually entails nonverbal cues like smiles and gestures, not like in North India the place folks join simply via jokes and laughter. However typically, all you want is somewhat little bit of physique language to get the message throughout.
T+L India: Social media is a continually evolving house. As a content material creator, do you’re feeling strain to remain related?
Soni Saloni: I usually hear folks speaking about being related on social media, however I don’t actually see it that method. For me, it’s all about specializing in core expertise like taking good photographs and movies, enhancing them properly, and telling attention-grabbing tales in regards to the locations I go to. These expertise are elementary and never tied to any explicit platform or development. Whether or not it’s Instagram or YouTube, it’s all about understanding your viewers and what they wish to see. I don’t actually fear about metrics like relevancy or vainness metrics as a result of I consider in creating content material that’s enjoyable and inventive. If there’s a development that I wish to check out, I’ll do it, however I don’t really feel any strain to observe them on a regular basis.
I additionally educate content material creation, and I stress on the significance of getting the fitting mindset and seeing it as a inventive outlet reasonably than a job.
T+L India: How have you ever seen the journey business change over time, significantly in gentle of the COVID-19 pandemic?
Soni Saloni: Through the years, I’ve seen a big change within the journey business. Just lately, I went on a visit to Rajasthan and met an orange juice vendor who shared his ideas on solo journey, particularly for ladies. He talked about that he had been close to the Jaisalmer Fort for years and had by no means seen so many Indian vacationers earlier than.
I consider that Indians have began to grasp the significance of journey and have began to discover extra, each domestically and internationally. Worldwide journey has additionally elevated considerably after COVID-19. I’m glad to see this development and hope that it continues to develop.
T+L India: What does gradual travelling imply to you?
Soni Saloni: Sluggish travelling means spending extra time in fewer locations, whereas quick travelling is extra like taking a trip. For me, gradual travelling has turn into a desire as a result of I now have extra time on my arms. It wasn’t a sudden change however reasonably a gradual course of. This has allowed me to grasp a spot higher whereas additionally caring for my psychological well being. Backpackers usually begin travelling shortly, however in some unspecified time in the future, they understand the significance of taking it gradual and discovering a stability. Travelling too shortly can result in burnout and journey fatigue. I’m nonetheless looking for my candy spot in gradual solo travelling.
T+L India: Sluggish journey and sustainable journey are intertwined with one another. How do you try to include these values into your travels?
Soni Saloni: Sustainable journey is crucial as a result of journey can create numerous waste. It’s not sustainable for the setting if we hold consuming at such a excessive fee. Sluggish journey helps by decreasing the variety of flights taken and supporting native companies. Whenever you journey gradual, you are likely to eat native meals, producing much less waste.
I refuse further packaging and attempt to minimise waste. It’s not respectful to waste and litter the place, particularly after we’re visiting such stunning locations. I plan on carrying a rubbish bag on my subsequent trek to gather any litter and correctly dispose it off.
T+L India: As a solo traveller, how do you retain up with the times while you really feel lonely?
Soni Saloni: Initially, I by no means felt lonely after I began travelling solo. Nonetheless, throughout my long-term travels, I began experiencing loneliness. Whereas self-love and solitude are important, I realised that connecting with the neighborhood is equally essential, particularly whereas travelling. So, I began connecting with folks round me, gaining empathy, and forming new friendships. I additionally communicate with my previous pals after I want particular conversations. Apart from, I spend time on work or leisure actions like watching Netflix or YouTube to keep away from feeling melancholic. I consider that loneliness is a gorgeous emotion, and it’s essential to expertise it typically amidst all of the distractions and fixed interactions.
T+L India: What have been a few of your most memorable or adventurous journey experiences thus far?
Soni Saloni: One among my most memorable journey experiences was after I went snorkelling for the primary time in Indonesia. The waters have been so clear and the aquatic life was various. it was an unforgettable expertise! Equally, scuba diving in Puducherry additionally gave me a peaceable and adventurous expertise that I’ll always remember.
T+L India: How do you guarantee your security when exploring new locations alone?
Soni Saloni: It’s solely pure to really feel somewhat apprehensive in regards to the new environment and other people round you whereas travelling solo. Though, I’ve discovered that most individuals are very accommodating and provides one another house whereas travelling, right here are some things which have helped me really feel protected when exploring new locations alone.
Firstly, it’s essential to be assured and mix in with the locals. I take a few days to get comfy with the place and keep away from getting afraid of moving into new territory. Secondly, I attempt to restrict my travels to the daytime and keep away from venturing out at night time, particularly in locations the place it could be unsafe. Lastly, I carry pepper spray and an SOS system to make sure my peace of thoughts.
T+L India: What’s subsequent in your journey bucket listing?
Soni Saloni: One of many prime issues on my journey bucket listing is experiencing the Northern Lights, which I consider is a must-do for each traveller. I additionally hope to discover different locations inside India, though I’ve already coated fairly a little bit of floor there. These are the principle gadgets on my listing for now!
T+L India: In the event you needed to choose simply three locations to advocate to different travellers, which of them would you select and why?
Soni Saloni: Spiti Valley is my prime choose for a journey vacation spot. It’s a tremendous place to go to, particularly should you’re into biking. The monasteries there are additionally value trying out and stargazing is an unbelievable expertise.
Second, Indonesia. There are such a lot of issues to do and see there past Bali. In the event you discover the opposite islands, you’ll uncover some unbelievable native gems.
Lastly, despite the fact that I haven’t been there but, I might advocate the Center East. It’s filled with historical past and pure magnificence that I consider is value exploring.
T+L India: What recommendation would you give to budding journey content material creators?
Soni Saloni: My prime recommendation can be to not overthink it and simply bounce proper in. There isn’t any one-size-fits-all strategy to creating content material, so it’s important to experiment and discover what works greatest for you. Secondly, don’t simply copy what others are doing. Take inspiration from them however be inventive and discover your individual distinctive model. Thirdly, it’s very important to check out journey content material creation earlier than going full-time. Take a while to see the way it works out for you and when you have a gradual earnings from it, then you possibly can think about making it your profession.
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