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21 Mar

Ami Bhat - Thrilling Travel


Ami Bhat is a female traveler from Gujarat & now a resident of Bangalore. Recently, she took a break from 15 years of corporate career in marketing & branding. Currently working as an independent marketing consultant and a full time travel writer. Read about Ami’s travel experiences on Thrilling Travel.

We caught up with Ami to get know her a little better, about her travel experiences & her choices in traveling responsibly.

    Can you tell us when and how did the travel bug bite you?

I am told that I was born with a travel bug. 😉 I was just a few weeks old when I moved to Abu Dhabi with my parents. We used to travel to India almost every year to meet the rest of the family and while we were at it, we would take a few short holidays to places nearby. Even when we were in the Gulf, my parents would take short road trips on weekends. I suppose, that is where I got my hunger for travel.

As a child, I remember being really excited about traveling. I would pack a small little knapsack with my goodies, at least a day before. On the day we had to travel, I would be the most cooperative kid. I would jump out of the bed as soon as my mom shook me, would bathe and dress up fast and for once, not fuss to eat. All I wanted to do is reach the airport or get into the car fast so that we could begin the journey. Even today, I get as excited on the day I have to travel and behave like an alarm clock, waking up all my fellow travelers and urging them to get ready on time so that we can leave fast!

    And how do you fund your travel ?(savings/work whilst traveling/other)

So far most of my travel is self-funded.

    How long have you been documenting your travel stories ?

I started travel writing a couple of years ago for other websites. However, owing to my work pressure, could not really pursue it. It is only last year that I set up my travel blog Thrilling Travel to share my stories and hand out travel tips to fellow travelers.

The trigger to set up my blog came in from my friends and family, who used to call me for various travel suggestions and ideas. While I shared my travel tips & ideas with them, I used to also, recount my experiences to them. I realized more than the travel tips, it was my own experience that helped them make a decision on travel destination. That is when I set up my own blog to chronicle my experiences and share my travel tips to help people travel better.

    Can you share with us, that one travel memory that you cherish till date ?

There are just so many over the years – my first camping trip as a teenager, my graduation trip to Goa, my first trip with my hubby to Sri Lanka… the list is endless. However, one of the earliest travel memory is my first trip to the Far East. I was only 7 years old and for some reason, I remember most of the trip. I remember the Coral Islands of Pattaya, the Tiger Balm gardens and the Sentosa Island of Singapore, the water falls in Philippines and Ocean Park in Hong Kong. That entire trip was a group tour and I was the only kid around. I got thoroughly pampered by the adults.

I remember taking over the mike and making everyone sing rhymes with me. And they did too, just to humor me. Towards the end, I know they were tired of me, but were too polite to say so. I also, remember that I had taken to stalking the tour guide – a sweet lady from India. I used to be in awe of her for she seemed to know almost everything about the places we visited.

Since this was my first trip to different country, other than India and UAE, I will always remember the same fondly.

    Have you been to any place, which turned out to be totally different to how you had imagined? If so, how?

It would be on a trip to Gokarna. I had read about the tranquil beaches and seen a couple of pictures. I always pictured it to be like Goa – with palm trees swaying and a few shacks. I supposed that a flea market that would line the entrance to a flat, sandy beach. It’s only when we reached Gokarna, we realised how different it was.

Firstly, the beaches did not have a direct access, they were all enclosed by cliffs and you had to trek down a hill to reach the beach.
There were a few shacks alright, but none like Goa.
The beaches were rocky and quite different from Goa. This was one beach where you did not really want to swim but just perch on one rock and enjoy the waves splashing around.
The Sunset here was just amazing. I can never forget the Golden glow of the sun on the water, sand and rocks
There was no party atmosphere but a sense of spiritual calm in the air. It was no wonder that you found a lot of people doing yoga here.

On the whole, the experience was amazing – different and nice. It taught me a different way to enjoy a beach. Yes, we did do the regular beach activities – the water sports, shacks, etc but the entire atmosphere was very different – calm, peaceful, relaxing and yet energetic.

    Your preferred travel companions?

Family, Friends and Myself.

I love traveling with my hubby and daughter. My hubby and I are quite diverse when it comes to enjoying travel. He likes absorbing things without a camera and I like to click my way through. I totally dig history, while he admires the art that lives and is not so keen on the history. Despite that, the one thing that remains common is that we both love travel. I love having him around to share my excitement about places, food and travel activities.

With my daughter, it is different. She is a mini-me and I see a lot of myself in her. I love fueling her excitement and curiosity – it helps me bond with her better.

With Friends – there are always some unique incidents and memories that we build along the way. Traveling with them definitely doubles the fun quotient of a trip.

And of course, if I don’t find anyone, am happy traveling solo too. My camera and music keep me company.

    Do you have a bucket list? If so what is the first item?

I have an ever-growing and ever-changing bucket list. At the moment, Petra is high on my list, as is Cambodia, North East India and Bhutan. My list keeps growing by the day and sometimes, by the minute.

    Your views & experiences (if any) on safety while travelling on your own.

Respect the culture of the place that you are going. Avoid arguments and confrontations.
Dress comfortably not provocatively.
Do not venture out alone in the night.
Research the place well before you travel. Know the Do’s and Don’ts of the place, where to book, where to stay and the localities that you are staying in.
Keep your phone handy – for GPS & emergency calls.

    We all know that travel teaches us a great deal of things about life. Can you share with us what has travel taught you ?

Travel has taught me to view things from different perspectives. Encounters with different cultures and different people definitely broadens your horizons. You start viewing the same thing from their point of view and that definitely, gets you to be more tolerant. It has taught me to keep an open mind about life in general.

Travel is also, about adjustments and flexibility. I have learnt the art of improvising things on the go as there is always something that will never work out as per your plans. Travel has taught me how to let go of that disappointment and enjoy every moment as it happens.

    Is there anything you do on your travels or in your every day life to try to minimize your impact on the environment?

The one thing I am extremely particular about disposing trash in the right manner. Whether I am out in the city or traveling, we always keep a spare paper/plastic bag with us. We add all our trash – fruit peels, empty food wrappers, empty bottles etc to this bag and dispose it in a trash can, whenever we find it. It saddens me to see this basic civic sense missing among our travelers and there are times, I have told people to not throw things on the road.

In addition to this, I love carrying back the seeds and cuttings from plants for my balcony at home. That is why way of adding back some greenery. 🙂

    Please share with us, your message to aspiring women travelers?

If you really want to travel, you will find a way to make it happen.

Home, family, commitments, kids are all a part of our lives. Add to that the stress of a working woman. Accept them and take them along in your stride.

Start small – use your weekends, take a day trip, discover your city and the places around it. Eventually, you will start taking on more. 🙂

We asked Ami to give a one word substitute on few travel related questions.

  1. If some one asked you to give up travel and choose exactly one thing to do in life, what would you choose?
  2. Badminton. I wish I had started my training earlier in life 😉

  1. A fictional character would you most like to meet or travel with ?
  2. Harry Potter. I would love to use his broomstick to travel!

  1. One Dream Destination?
  2. Machu Pichu

  1. Your most preferred way of travelling (Backpacking/Economy/Luxury)?
  2. 80% Economy and 20% luxury.

  1. What describes you as a travel style as a woman, the best? Nomad / Diva / Aam Aurat
  2. Aam Aurat

  1. A traveler who inspires you
  2. Can’t think of anyone in particular. I guess, anyone who travels inspires me to get going and visit another place.

You can follow Ami’s thrilling travel stories on the below platforms

‘F5 Escapes’ is a Bangalore-based, experiential travel company, with a focus on crafting and executing all-women travel experiences in India. The premise of F5 is an ambitious dream –  to put India on the global travel map as a preferred destination for women.  Come, join us, as we work towards redefining the way women travel India.

We all need regular breaks, be it a day’s off from our daily chores, life’s chaos, the work stress, the urban traffic or a relationship crisis. Be it anything, what matters is the break that you need. How often is that idea put into action? Well, we don’t blame you for the inaction. We have been there, done that and hence the idea of F5 Escapes. Let us help you travel. Sustainably, responsibly, safely.