I sure wish I had met Jyoti when I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, she is one cool travel blogger who is a talented storyteller. Her hubby does the photography and she does the writing, just like Mr. Misadventures and I do! Also, I think it would be interesting to visit Africa with her since she spent some of her childhood there and seems to have such a big-friendly heart. Since I didn’t get to meet her in person, I will have to continue to read her instead!
Let’s meet Jyoti!
 When and how did you become a traveler?
It’s all a little blurry to me. My first international flight was at about 4 years of age when my mom, me and my baby sister flew from India to Nairobi, Kenya. As an expat family, our new home was in a small town in Western Kenya, for much my father’s career. Ever since that first flight, we travelled within Kenya and to India every year or so. But, we really didn’t think of travel as a thing until many years later.
During my childhood, I moved schools and sometimes cities and countries for better education opportunities, every 1-2 years. So I learned about many cultures, languages, and food. I made friends easily and effortlessly fit into any setting.
Nirmal and I got married and moved to Canada in our early 20s. Nirmal is truly a travel enthusiast. With his wanderlust, we travelled all around Canada and Kenya where my parents lived. When we move to the US a few years later we traveled all around the US, South America, and East Africa. As our kids grew up we’ve expanded our horizons and taken every opportunity to explore new places around the globe.
(2) What kind of traveler do you define yourself as?
I’m still trying to figure out if I can fit ourselves in the confines of a niche or travel style. But it’s a struggle to put a box around anything because I feel all constraints exist, only to be shattered. I’ll try to answer the question anyway and I hope you can put a word to the style – We have busy full-time careers in San Francisco Bay Area. So, we carefully align school vacations and our work to make the most of the time we have. We like to travel at every opportunity. So we’re off to a new country every school break.
Our vacations are short 1-2 weeks. We travel in comfort so we’re well rested and energized to enjoy the places we visit. We love to explore places, meet people, learn about cultures. Nature is our calling, we walk, hike and enjoy nature at its best. We also enjoy history because of the stories they tell. I’m quite a history buff now. We’re a family of vegan and vegetarian foodies, so we take the time find delicious, local specialties that are vegan or are made to be vegan. I love to talk to people and learn about the place through stories of people and the places we visit.
(3) Which country do you come from/call home?
I call the US, specifically San Francisco Bay Area our home as this is where we’ve spent most of our lives. We’re originally from India and I’ve lived in several parts of India. Growing up, I called Kenya home because that’s where my parents lived until a few years ago. Our first home as adults was in Toronto, Canada. Then we moved to San Francisco and have been here ever since.
(4) What do you crave from home when you are traveling?
Our travels are quite short, a maximum of two weeks, so we don’t get to a point where I’m craving for something at home. I do love to return home every time, to all the comforts of home, to friends & family, to my work and grounding that only home can offers.
(5) Tell us about your blog
For years, I wrote about our trips in notebooks, iBooks Author, Tumblr, Facebook posts, etc. I was writing it for my curious father and family in India. Once we starting posting on Facebook, we got a ton of love and encouragement from our friends. When friends started asking for trip itineraries and tips, I realized how challenging it was to find and collate the information. In an attempt to solve the problem and quickly find details, I figured that we needed our own website.
Nirmal has been curating photo galleries for a couple of decades. So we had great content to start a blog with. After much exploration, we finally started our blog about 2 years ago.
On the blog we have
- Itineraries of places we visited.
- Stories of places, cultures, wildlife or really anything unusual that we come across.
- Stories of locals we met on the trip. Their stories inspire us and tell us so much more about the place, economy, traditions, cultures norms, hardships and so much more.
- Stories of local vegan/vegetarian food.
- Tips for travelers include just about any tips we wish we knew or we found helpful on our trip.
(6) What do you love most about traveling?
I love exploring and learning new things. Travel is full of wonderful surprises and delightful experiences. It brings so much joy. I find myself more relaxed and also inquisitive when we’re in a new place. The change of pace and scenery is energizing and rejuvenating.
This is a picture from my girlfriends trip to stunning Sedona where we hiked, ate, danced, got pampered in the spa and made memories.
(7) What do you dislike about traveling?
I find the long flights the most painful part of traveling. Getting from California to anywhere in the world involves long and arduous flights, usually with at least one layover. We spend a lot of time in transit which could have been used doing other things. But, I make the most of long flights by talking with people on the flight and learning their stories. I also get to work on the blog and watch movies.
We spent 12+ hours in transit, via Istanbul. I made friends with everyone, created a movie about them, published on YouTube and wrote a blog.
I do like flying Swiss Air. I wish they would fly on other routes and I could use air miles instead of paying full fare.
(8) How do you prepare for a trip?
Nirmal does much of the research. He books the flights and accommodations. Depending on the itinerary we also book a rental car and/or some tours ahead of time. We sometimes make lists of places we would like to visit and a list of foods to try. We pack very light and usually do the laundry and packing the night before or a few hours before the flight. We travel so often that it doesn’t take more than a couple of hours to pack.
(9) You have won the lottery, now tell us where you want to live.
If I won the lottery, I would stay right here in the San Francisco Bay Area. It would enable us to travel a lot more. But, I can’t think of one specific place I would visit. I’d love to travel the world, spending a few months in each place, as opposed to a few short days. The top of my list would be – India, Europe, Namibia, Italy, Botswana, Japan. But really I could name a couple of hundred countries.
There’s so much more to see and to do in Europe, I could spend months.
(10) Travel essentials – 3 things you always travel with.
In addition to clothes, toiletries, travel documents, and some snack, I definitely have my iPhone, laptop, and chargers.
(11) What is your favorite article of clothing?
If I have to pick one favorite article of clothing, it would have to be my travel jacket with pockets for my iPhone and anything else I would need. Also, I have some favorite dresses that look good and feel comfortable on long flights.
(12) Your single most treasured personal possession.
I love experiences over possessions, so I really can’t think of a specific article that would make me extremely happy or miserably sad. The experience of climbing Big Daddy in Namibia and looking down to Dead Vlei (behind us), is forever etched as a special experience in my heart.
(13) Do you have a piece of advice for bloggers starting out?
My advice would be to just start and start taking one step at a time. I initially wanted to use anything but WordPress because I was concerned about having to manage every little technical detail all by myself. I wanted to get a fully functional ecosystem with little distraction. I researched and tried different things for a couple of years. Finally, I created my site using a Hogan Chua’s step by step video on YouTube. I was able to create a fully functional site in one weekend.
Another recommendation I would give is to join support groups and make connections with other travel bloggers. You’ll learn something new every day with the peer group.
(14) What are three other blogs that inspire you?
I read posts from my fellow bloggers –
- Jaipur Thru My Lens has an amazing collection of blogs about the beautiful pink city of Jaipur. Arv’s writing is captivating and draws me in. He is also very generous with time in coaching me and pushing me to create better content.
- I love reading Stories by Soumya. She finds stories in places that others would never think of looking into. She is inquisitive, curious and a good storyteller.
- The Nomadic Vegan has a very comprehensive collection of vegan food blogs from around the world. On her Facebook page, Wendy regularly publishes stories in the news that show how more and more people are turning to a healthy plant-based diet by showing care and compassion towards animals. I met Wendy in Portugal and I hope to travel on one of her tours someday
- I’m following Noraly on Itchy Boots and her YouTube channel as she’s traveling the globe on her motorcycle – as a solo female traveller. She is beautiful and represents the image of strong, intelligent and confident women. In a world where girls work so hard to get the prettiest pictures in bikinis and flowing dresses for acceptance on social media. I find Noraly to be an inspiration and a role model for girls around the world to break social norms and to make a path for themselves.
(15) Your favorite travel resource on the web?
We’ve always used TripAdvisor as our travel resource. Lately, I’m using Facebook groups where bloggers share their experiences. I can get awesome ideas and entire blog posts for any place we’re planning to visit.
Jyoti’s Lightning Round of Favorites
Airport: Skukuza airport in Kruger National park and San Francisco
Mode of Transportation: Train, if we have time
Window or aisle: Asile
City: San Francisco
Travel snack: dehydrated fruit
Book: When Breath Becomes Air