Here’s Why I choose to travel with a ‘travel group’, than with ‘friends’

The headline might be misleading to some, because ‘technically’ I never chose this route. It just happened to me by default. But today 2.5 years later, 6 trips down and truckloads of memories and experiences, I feel it was the best decision I have ever made.

Moments captured from the New Year’s trip to Binsar

new year trip with roots
Moments captured from the New Year’s trip to Binsar

AUGUST 2013…
It was a rainy Monday morning and I was as usual busy working relentlessly in my 3×3 cubicle, when Shally (my then colleague and now a good friend) stopped by me and asked if I have any plans in the coming weekend. For me weekends meant only catching up on long hours of sleep, until Shally introduced me to the concept of travelling with strangers in a group and asked me to join her for a weekend trip to Kumbalgarh (a UNESCO World Heritage site near Udaipur, Rajasthan).

At first I was taken aback and skeptical about travelling with a bunch of strangers. What if I didn’t like them? What if I’ll get bored? All sorts of bizarre questions crossed my mind in a jiffy. But reality hit me hard soon and I realized that all my travel plans with friends were just limited to a WhatsApp group, planning and cancelling at the same speed. And here I am, finally getting a chance to move my butt outside Delhi. Hence, I took a leap of faith, packed my bags and left with Shally and other bunch of travelers to a place which I didn’t even know existed before this trip. Little did I know, I was in for a lifetime experience.

Looking back, Here are few things, which travelling with a ‘travel group’ gave me:

Opened a window to new experiences
Had I not boarded the train to Udaipur that night with the group, I would have not known what sharing food with strangers mean, what bonding over a game of dumb charades mean, what non stop laughter with strangers mean and most importantly what caring for other people selflessly mean. It was all new to me and I embraced it with open arms and a big smile.

kumbhalgarh with roots
My first trip with the travel group. Standing at the second largest wall of Asia, Kumbalgarh Fort

Witnessed some breathtaking (road less traveled) places
Had I been travelling with my friends, I would have never known that India is home to World’s second largest wall (Kumbalgarh Fort, Rajasthan), after the Great Wall of China. Hills of Chakrata and Binsar would have only remained in the Top 5 off beat places in India to travel. But thanks to the travel group, I ticked off these beautiful places and also learnt a lot about our history outside our school text books. From rafting in Ganges, to clicking pictures with camels in Pushkar, to beautiful moonlit beach walks in Goa; it has been a journey worthwhile 🙂

goa wth roots
Moments like these 🙂 Laughing my heart out in Goa with my fellow travel buddies!

Overcame my fears
Be it climbing up steep mountains, rappelling down hill, rafting in high tide river, exploring a thorny cave or sweeping away in high waves on the beach, it has been an adventurous sojourn with them. All thanks to the wonderful bunch of people I met during the trips who were ever so cheerful and encouraged each other to try new things. Specially Anurag, who has always stood rock solid by me and pushed me to come outside my comfort zone and experience life like never before.

Met crazy like-minded people
Between all those chai breaks, late night conversations, laughter riots, high energy dances, game of dumb charades and exploring beautiful places together, we all became friends like family. It feels empty to bid them adieu after every trip, but I know I have built some meaningful friendships which will last a lifetime. (Rahul and Anurag are two special guys, who awakens the guy in me and believe to have found a brother in me 😛 Cheers to our Bro Code Biraadars!)

girls gang chakrata with roots
Moments like these 🙂 Laughing my heart out in Goa with my fellow travel buddies!

Most importantly, rediscovered myself!
Travelling is not only about discovering alluring destinations, but it also might expose you to vulnerable situations which can test your limits. Having experienced some hiccups, I learnt more about myself. It turned out that I have been more adaptive and calm than I ever thought. The journey within, has been more exhilarating above everything 🙂

roots binsar new year
Clicked while biding adieu to the wonderful 2016!

As they say, ‘I left with them as a tourist and came back as a ‘traveler’.

If you are wondering who is this amazing group I’ve been talking about, it’s called as ROOTS: Travelling Unplugged. You can find them here on Facebook. You can also check their website here. Or feel free to call them, they are super cool peeps to talk: +91 9999143088 (Shally Makin)

Originally Published on Medium by one of our favourite travellers Ridhima Kapoor
Digital Marketer by profession. Travel enthusiast and foodie at heart. Loves networking with like minded people!