If India has evolved, then so have its summer vacations. From a time when travel was restricted to visiting ancestral homes and temple towns, it now includes a leisure trek up the nearest unspoilt mountain range or a road trip to live amidst indigenous communities.
Today, vacations are places that you go to which are not even on the map, says Gaurav Punj, founder, Connect with Himalaya.
“People today want to go on a different kind of holiday. They want to stay cut-off from the rest of the world. Urban settings have made it impossible to connect with nature.”
Reflecting the changing times, Mr. Punj says women make up about 70 per cent of any trekking team he leads. “These days, husbands gift such holiday packages to their wives. I guess it suits them both,” he says.
Aparna Shekar is one such woman who is redefining the limits of a wandering spirit.
She backpacked her way through South America for close to seven months in 2008. She is an example of new-age vacations - reaching unspoilt places and cultures and staying with local communities.
“I lead a stereotypical life throughout the year. Travel is a way of seeking new experiences that shake you from the routine you are used to,” she says. “I stay with people, not in hotels. It is not difficult to reach any place if you are backpacking. All the world is a backpack.”
According to her, a vacation is more than just passing through a set of monuments. Vacations have transformed from taking time off their work to earn life experiences.
“It also adds value to my work,” she says. “I work for an MNC which has a presence in 150 countries. Having visited a place makes it easy to cut through cultures and have conversation.”
Arul Sekar, founder, Ecologin, says adventure experiences like hiking, trekking and camping are about maximum fun and experience with minimal comfort at low cost.
There is a lot of learning through head fakes during such vacations, says Arul, as people realise that they can push the limits and understand the value of teamwork.
“In a way, it is about going back to the basics. Lack of mobile connectivity, electricity or proper roads makes people feel closer to nature.”