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The Joys of Wanderlust: Dr. Priyanka Bansal’s Passion for Global Exploration

Dr Priyanka Bansal

Welcome to our exclusive interview featuring Dr Priyanka Bansal, a dentist whose wanderlust knows no bounds. In conversation with Sanjay Jadhav, Dr Bansal unveils the defining moments that ignited her passion for travel and shares the remarkable experiences that have enriched her journey. From serendipitous encounters to daring adventures, join us as we delve into the captivating tales of exploration narrated by a spirited adventurer. Through her anecdotes, Dr. Bansal offers a glimpse into the transformative power of travel and the profound connections forged on the road.

Dr Priyanka BansalDr Priyanka Bansal

 

Can you share the moment or experience that sparked your interest in traveling?

In my heart, I always knew that I was a traveler. I used to have these moments where I felt that I should just take my bag and leave to travel. I happened to be in Mexico for a conference which was supposed to start on a Thursday, and I reached there on Monday. So I put myself in a hostel for three days, which I had never done before. I always liked to push myself beyond my comfort zone. I got an opportunity to meet fellow travelers there, and their backpacking stories amazed me. It then dawned upon me that this is what I really want to do. After the conference, I did not have a ticket booked to anywhere. I just went back to that hostel, and that’s the point where my journey began. I have always combined my travel with my work. Even this time, I was supposed to come back in a month, and I ended up coming after six months.

Dr Priyanka BansalDr Priyanka Bansal

 

Was solo travel always on your mind, and what were your challenges and crunch situations in your early days of traveling?

I did not have any other option, to be honest. I always wanted to travel, and I was determined that nothing would stop me. So what if I am single? I was still going to embark on that journey, which I did. The biggest challenge when I started traveling was safety. I don’t feel safe as a woman in any part of the world. What I have experienced is that sometimes Indian passports don’t hold much value when traveling. Whenever I flew to a new country, I was always stopped at the borders, interrogated, and treated badly. Once I had a ticket booked from Nicaragua to Miami. After the security check was done, just one minute before I was supposed to board the plane, the attendant informed me that I had to pay $1000 because I am Indian and had a layover at El Salvador, where a new law was imposed for Indians passing through the country, requiring them to pay $1000. I lost the $500 that I paid for the ticket, and I had to change my plans in Miami. I have had many experiences like this.

Dr Priyanka BansalDr Priyanka Bansal

 

What have been your most memorable travel moments?

We were on a boat in Mexico at a place called Mazunte, where they took us deep into the ocean. We had our snorkeling gear on and got into the water, where I saw more than 200 dolphins. I could see the dolphins through the water. Later, we saw three whales, which was again a mesmerizing experience.

I was in Nicaragua at a place called Ometepe, where I could see two volcanoes, a beautiful lake, and at night there were fireflies. It felt like paradise and out of this world.

Meanwhile, my favorite place in India is Lakshadweep, where I had gone camping and used to sleep under the sky in our sleeping bags, which was a beautiful experience. The coral life there was amazing. The best experiences, I could say, come with people, like how they make me feel and the friends that I make, which are more memorable for me.

Priyanka BansalPriyanka Bansal

 

Solo travel can sometimes lead to unexpected or scary situations. Have you experienced any such thing, and how did you handle it?

There was one moment for me. Before I even entered Mexico, people had scared me, saying that I need to be careful as a lot of things happen there. I still went there and found that it was really beautiful and is now one of my favorite countries. I started going to this beach alone, and it was the first time in my life that I started wearing a bikini. It was an amazing experience. I used to go there with a sarong and my flip flops because there were chances that things could be stolen. I went into the water and enjoyed myself. When I came back, I realized that my sarong and flip flops were gone. My hostel was 15 minutes away from where I was. I was supposed to walk back to the hostel in a bikini, which I was not used to. It was at this moment that I got scared. I felt lonely and vulnerable. I then went to a stall where people were selling clothes, and there was this lady who offered a piece of cloth to me, which helped me cover myself and make it back to the hostel.

Priyanka BansalPriyanka Bansal

 

How has the experience of staying in hostels been?

There was a time when I always stayed in hotels. I used to think hostels were not safe, and I also had a big barrier to sharing a bathroom with others. As I said, I always like to push myself beyond my comfort zone. So the first time I put myself in a hostel, I realized that it was such an amazing space to be in because I met so many fellow travelers. I made really good connections there, and then slowly I started staying in mixed dorms with a shared bathroom. One of the travelers told me something that really made sense to me; he said, “How much time do we actually spend in a bathroom? Not even 10 minutes, so why do we need a private room?” When I started staying in shared dorms, I started making friends, and since I did not know when I wanted to come back, I started budgeting my travel. I had kept a travel budget for myself. I was not spending more than $15 a night, which saved a decent amount of money. It was here that I met the most beautiful people.

Dr Priyanka BansalPriyanka

 

You wore a bikini for the first time. How was that experience? What reservations did you have in your mind before?

There were so many reservations. Like, I am Indian, and we are expected to be covered all the time. There’s so much judgment regarding how cheap I may look, what color my skin is, and other related issues. Over there, everyone was wearing bikinis. When I started wearing the swimsuit which I had brought from India, I looked overdressed. People were like, “What’s wrong with you? Why are you wearing a complete dress in the ocean?” That was the moment I realized I couldn’t be doing this, and as I said, I always like to push myself beyond my comfort zone. I just went to a store, bought a bikini, wore it, and from then on, there was no looking back. It was such a liberating experience to not be bothered about what others say.

Dr Priyanka BansalFood

 

Your experience with food while traveling?

I just love food. I am a vegan, and it is the fastest-growing community in the world. It was very easy for me to find vegan food. I was eating really healthy food. I am happy for having access to so many options. Sometimes in Costa Rica, food was so expensive that I became like a vegetarian. Being a traveler sometimes, if there is a delicacy which you should have, I was eating that too. It was easy for me to find vegan and vegetarian food everywhere. Also, I am not bothered by what anyone is eating next to me, but I saw weird things— for me, it was weird, but for people who eat them and are used to it, it was not weird. People were selling and eating grasshoppers, ants, and various other insects on the streets.

Priyanka BansalDr Priyanka

 

How do you manage your finances while traveling?

Managing finances is a stressful thing, actually. You need to have a decent amount of money before you travel. I was budgeting myself. Whenever I got the chance, I used to stay in dorms. I had an average limit set which I was managing. Sometimes I used to sleep on an empty stomach just to save money; sometimes I did not want to spend on Uber. Sometimes I used to buy groceries and cook for myself. Once I was volunteering in a hostel, painting stuff for them in exchange for free stay and food. Once I was teaching Yoga in exchange for a free stay and travel. So, there are options for volunteering at hostels where you have to work for 6-8 hours and do whatever they want you to do, like helping at the reception, doing housekeeping, or looking after the hostel. That’s how some people manage their travels.

Dr PriyankaDr Priyanka

 

Your future travel plans?

I want to visit all the countries. What I really want to see are the Northern Lights. I think my soul will not be at peace if I don’t see the Northern Lights. Maybe this year or next year, I should make it happen. Antarctica is another place on my to-go list. I really want to do that.

Priyanka BansalPriyanka Bansal

 

As we wrap up our conversation with Dr. Priyanka Bansal, her tales serve as a beacon of inspiration for fellow wanderers on our travel odyssey. Her narratives illuminate the transformative power of exploration, reminding us of the boundless wonders awaiting beyond our comfort zones. Let Dr. Bansal’s adventurous spirit guide us as we embark on our own journeys, embracing the unknown with curiosity and courage. With each step, may we discover the beauty of connection, the richness of diversity, and the profound joy of exploration.

Safe travels, and keep travelling fellow explorers!

Written by
Sanjay Jadhav

With over ten years of comprehensive experience in print and online media, I create content on various beats which include Sports, Motorsports, Business, Features, Travel, Manufacturing, and Automation, reflecting a broad spectrum of expertise.

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