We’ve heard the popular saying, “to travel is to live”. For most of us who live in our querencia, the travel part can happen once every two years. To make matters worse, when the trip at that time feels like a jaunt to the nearby grocery store or a vicarious “trip” surfing YouTube or Instagram.
To further wet our travel appetites, here’s a chat we had with hodophile couple, Sangeetha Ranganath and Prasanna Vee, who ‘live to travel.
Sangeetha and Prasanna have traveled to 170 countries together while Prasanna, by himself, has galvanized in all recognized countries of the world. Both achieved this noble feat while working corporate jobs as knowledge workers.
From their very first international trip together to their ongoing expeditions, the couple have opened up about the realities of travel – keeping your day job, dealing with prohibitive travel costs, coping with dietary restrictions and some travel tips to pack .
Contrary to the popular stereotype of quitting your job to travel, Sangeetha and Prasanna are employed full time. Sangeetha helps traditional businesses digitally transform while Prasanna works for technology at a travel agency (although travel isn’t in any of their job descriptions). Although they both stubbornly admit that they are lucky that their careers allow them to work remotely from their travel destinations, they have had to deal with realities such as time differences, work deadlines and meetings.
Our society has glamorized and made travel opulent, while framing it as something to do after retirement. In other cases, he describes the trip as ‘exotic’, which often has the subtle nuance of saying “best wishes for your safe return”.
But most travel is just a way for us to experience other cultures and ways of life. Prasanna says, “We wanted to be very careful when describing travel as glamorous because the majority of people are like us: they get an education, they go to college, have a job and continue to travel. It’s not not just about glamour. Traveling and having a job can co-exist.” In other words, we don’t have to wait until we’re 60 to take that dream trip to Egypt!
When asked why they continue to work and not just pursue their passion, they actually answered their choices – they love being in the workforce and we need to make money to spend money .
“For the past ten years, we’ve moved every two years to a different country, which has kept the work interesting for us.”
Home and the spark to travel:
In a time when almost everyone is anchored at home and trapped with each other, it was more appropriate to ask Sangeetha and Prasanna where they had lived the longest. The place? Seattle, Washington. This impossibly rainy, mountainous, and evergreen city was home to the couple for eleven years, which, given how often they travel, seems like an eternity! Rain collectors fondly remembered being in Seattle for work and because Seattle kept them “zen and feeling grounded (and in)”.
The impetus to migrate from Seattle was prompted by a job offer in China; once they had savored the flavors of life outside the United States, it was nearly impossible to return to a socialite life in Seattle. This has made them reside in 5 countries over the last 10 years and they have not hesitated to change jobs to change countries! Although travel has made them global, the couple still call India home. Born and raised in South India, they find the most solace and comfort there.
Prasanna and Sangeetha also mentioned that the reason they continue to travel, despite being multi-faceted, is that they want to experience first-hand what different countries have to offer. So often with media and digitized objects shaping our view of the world, they both explained that in order to eliminate prior prejudices and prejudices, it is of the utmost importance to seek to eliminate your preconceived prejudices and create your own perception. of a country after having lived through it.
Sangeetha and Prasanna met during their undergraduate studies in India and later got married. It was during their first international trip that they realized that travel would be an essential ingredient to their harmonious life. Sangeetha said, “Travel has definitely helped strengthen our relationship.” Both share parts of their travel planning (i.e. visas, stay, flights, etc.) and complement each other in their tasks. For many people, the idea of ’change’, even in its most insignificant form, can be quite daunting. For this couple, the only constant thing is change – change of place, people, culture and life itself.
When asked about their frequent changes, Sangeetha said, “While some people resist change, I think we really thrive on it. It keeps us going.” They also added that their personalities are unconventional in that they both get bored quite easily with mundane activities.
“The excitement of discovering something new each time we travel to a country drives us to keep going and travel more, even if it means traveling to the same country several times; each time we go there, we learn something something different from last time.”
COVID-19 & Travel:
At a time when we often find people working from home and “come home” from work, the boundaries of work-life balance can become particularly blurred. Diaper that with curfews and world travel essentially halted, those who have dedicated much of their lives to travel must find a way to cope and keep their spirits up. When asked how they manage to do just that, Sangeetha smiled and joked, “We try our best not to talk about it. If we just can’t talk about it, then we won’t think about it. !” Sangeetha and Prasanna are currently staying at a hotel in Singapore due to travel restrictions outside the island. These are minimalists at their best – they travel everywhere with just two suitcases each and work their way from there.
Towards the end of our conversation, we asked Prasanna if there was one “aha” he would like to leave for readers. He thought for a moment and said, “Make your world bigger.” Meaning? Look for more experiences, even if it means taking a long hike nearby. You have the power to expand your worldview and shape your perception of the world.