Traveler Spotlight: Sona Sethi and the Vacation Begins Blog

Beautiful Tea Gardens With our Rented Car

Hello everyone! Grab some snacks and sit with us for another traveler spotlight. If you don’t have a pet… be happy you don’t have to share said snacks with anyone 😀 We have Sona Sethi here with us today and she will talk to us about her travels. Let’s see what adventures she can share with us!

Tell us a little bit about your and where you blog.

Me and my husband (Akshat), call ourselves ‘The Jolly Jains!’ While we have been married for about 2 years now, we have been exploring the world together for the last 10 years, since our undergrad days.

We are travel enthusiasts, photographers, cyclists in making and bloggers by choice. We reckon that turning dreams into reality is possible. The blog ‘Vacation Begins,’ is our digital diary and an expression to re-live our ‘dream come true’ travel experiences.

The Jolly Jains
The Jolly Jains

Which was your first trip and how did you get hooked to travel?

My travel inspiration is my Dad. When I was young, every year he would plan 2 weeks of time-out to different parts of the country (I come from India). So I grew up travelling with my parents.

My first trip with Akshat was about 9 years ago when we went to Kerala. I didn’t know that it was just the beginning of the many adventures and meaningful life experiences.

I got consumed by the beauty of this place. I learnt so much about myself in that one trip: my travel preferences, what I love, what I dislike and what I admire. Most importantly, I learnt that I had many unconscious biases & perceptions about people, their food, lifestyle which got demystified when I visited Kerala. What we see in the news channels or what we hear from people is often not what we see in reality. This got me hooked to travel. I want to see the world through my own eyes, free my mind with all pre-conceived notions, appreciate life and the sheer existence of human kind.

Our Houseboat in Alleppey
Our Houseboat in Alleppey
Beautiful Tea Gardens With our Rented Car
Beautiful Tea Gardens With our Rented Car

Which are your favorite destinations that you would always go back to?

Bali, Indonesia tops my list. I liked many destinations but this is THE one that I want to go back to. I met expats in Bali who came to there as a tourist and never returned to their home country. The island is surreal with great food and immensely adorable people. Even today with so much modernization, Balinese are very close to their culture. Fascinating art forms can be experienced in Bali ranging from painting to silver ornament making and lontar palm manuscript designing.

Colorful Barong Dance
Colorful Barong Dance
Tenganan A Truly Balinese Countryside
Tenganan A Truly Balinese Countryside

Which are the places you want to visit but haven’t gotten a chance to?

I find nature to be very fascinating. Mountains, lakes, clouds, forests, desert- everything feels like a fairy tale to me. Imagine if none of these existed. How would the world look like? Their very existence makes this world such a beautiful place to live in.

Off late, I have also been very curious about the Northern Lights and would love to see it in Iceland or Alaska.

I have been reading a lot about Africa and am longing to go to this continent. Some African countries such as Tanzania, Egypt, Morocco, Seychelles are on my list.

The endless view of the Indian Ocean at the Wadua Beach in Sri lanka
The endless view of the Indian Ocean at the Wadua Beach in Sri lanka

What type of travel do you prefer (length, who accompanies you, which type of accommodation you prefer)?

Akshat and I are travel companions for life. We space our travel throughout the year during extended weekends and public holidays. In a year, we travel to 10-12 cities across 4-5 countries. To make this possible and to ensure our passion doesn’t hit our pockets hard, we optimize cost of accommodation. When we are in for an action packed trip, we prefer low cost hotels or Airbnb as we just need a place to crash and keep our belongings. This helps us to save our travel cost. While, on leisure, specially beach destinations, we splurge and treat ourselves with exotic resorts.

The Railway Tracks in Maharastra, India
The Railway Tracks in Maharastra, India

Any tips or lessons you’ve learned that you’d like to share?

Through many years of travel, I have learnt a few things which I would like to share:

  1. Take a break on a regular basis: It is the best time that you can spend with your loved ones and with yourself.
  2. Do not hesitate to spend money where needed: Remember, you may not travel to the same destination again in your life. So do not miss out attractions just for the sake of money.
  3. Pack as light as you can: It helps to be more flexible and agile.
  4. Avoid staying at a destination just for the day: Plan such that you can stay at a particular destination/ accommodation at least for 2 days. Your body and mind needs some time to unwind and enjoy the new place/experience.
  5. Do Something Different in Every Trip: Overtime, we have evolved as travelers. We spice up our travel by engaging in different things such as trekking volcanic mountain, scuba diving, cultural participation etc. We  always look forward to something we have not done before.
  6. Learn about culture: What I love most about traveling, is to observe and learn about new cultures. Interacting with the locals is one of the best ways to do so. Don’t be shy!
  7. Just Enjoy: Having an open mind and enjoying experiences as they come, is the fundamental of a memorable trip.

All photos featured in this post are taken by and copyrighted to Sona Sethi.

Thank you, Sona, for being here with us today. If you have any questions for her, or tips or any kind of comments, our comment secion is open to you. To keep u with Sona’s and Akshat’s adventures, check out their blog or connect with them on Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram.

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Traveler Spotlight: Sona Sethi and the Vacation Begins Blog

13 thoughts on “Traveler Spotlight: Sona Sethi and the Vacation Begins Blog

  1. Amazing post. I really like your tips. I have a real bad habit of packing as much as can’t be managed. Packing light is so important.

  2. Reading your interview reminds me of fond memories of floating in a houseboat in Kerala’s backwaters a few years ago. It’s an amazing part of India that’s a world away from the chaos!

  3. I really like your tip about doing something different on every trip. That was one of my new years resolutions so i have been trying to do the same. Your houseboat in Alleppey is killer! What fun! This is a gorgeous place and I hope to visit soon. I know they are very blogger friendly. 😉

  4. Fun interview! I always love learning about other travelers. I can see where Bali would be a favorite–I would love to visit sometime! I’ve been wanting to see the northern lights as well–they look amazing! Thanks for sharing!

  5. So nice to meet you Sona! We’ve just settled in Australia, so on your advice I’ll have to get myself to Bali soon – so close, and I see cheap flights popping up all the time, so I should make it happen! I hope you have the chance to make it to Africa soon – it’s an amazing continent, I’m sure you’ll both love it! 🙂

  6. I think the “Jolly Jains” is the sweetest nickname ever – they DO seem so jolly and happy! I love the advice to sometimes spend more money. I love a great bargain but sometimes spending just a little bit more can do a lot to save your sanity. Budget travel isn’t a competition! You have to be safe and healthy and happy.

  7. Great post and great interview. Its always great to see how like minded travel bloggers think. I love Sona’s tips too. 1 day is definately not enough but better than no day and I think 2 to 3 days gives you some time to really explore and understand the culture.

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