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Being a Trip Leader while being in a Relationship: Niyati Saxena

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OHOT Trip Leader

Forewarning – the writer is a cheesy individual and present happiness may lead to further cheesiness in the following post.

In November 2019, I was travelling for almost a month – Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. It was a terrific month but on my last day (my group had flown out) there was some confusion about my flights and paperwork. I was tired and bummed about spending my last day stuck to the phone instead of enjoying the last bit of my time in Siem Reap. I picked up my phone and texted my agony aunt/my best friend/the one stop for my endless drama – my boyfriend.

Me: Can I please just disappear from the world with you?

Him: I would love to see you but you need to see the world. You want to see the world and I want that for you. So, sorry but no.

I smiled. No, beamed. Here’s a man who had moved to a new city, MY city, Delhi and hardly had me around but would still support my dreams first. He moved to Delhi NCR in July end and from August I was leading trips full time. So, from a long-distance relationship we practically went into a “longer distance” relationship. Let me explain. I was in places with no network or well even if I had network I prefer not to use my phone when I’m with people. A habit he and I share and remind each other of. But if someone is travelling all month long and not using their phone then when do you ever talk? What fails to be conveyed by network is made up for by bringing each other postcards from each place one of us visits. You see, technology is great but some things can only be conveyed the old school way.

Our idea of dates for the longest time was airport meet ups. I would land, he would receive me and we would talk as he would drop me home. My place is in Noida and his in Gurgaon so it’s quite far but you see that made the two hours drive precious too. In December I was leading a trip to Auli followed by a back to back trip to Andamans. My Auli trip ended, I flew to Delhi and the same evening I was flying to Portblair. Since there isn’t a direct flight from Portblair I would usually have a layover in Chennai. As I was checking my flight tickets booked by the team I saw that I had a layover in Hyderabad. Guess where my boy is from and guess who was going to be back home on their new year’s leave? He drove for some 20kms and hah even got locked out of his place at 4am?  I didn’t get the sleep that I’d probably need between two back to back trips. But you see we were thrilled with those 3 hours. It was a bonus for us before the year ended and we would happily take it.

Welcome at the airport

When I was starting to lead trips, a friend asked me, why get into a relationship now? I mean you’ll be meeting so many new people and visiting all these places. I laughed. I get her point, the idea of a stranger is exciting but nothing I haven’t experienced, so, nothing I feel like I’m missing out on. 😉 Actually what I’ve started enjoying more is being the confidant of my trippers crushes or being one of the boys and helping them navigate their romances. Haan haan mai traveller Cupid hu! We at Onhisowntrip are very hardworking you see. (Note: Should you book a trip with this expectation, please note that the writer is simply a wingwoman and the rest would have to be carried by your own charm…Ahem ahem!)

Hah jokes aside, the fact is I love returning home to him. Most of the time, I am sleep deprived and doze off but he doesn’t complain. In fact, whenever we meet in the daytime I’m working, stuck to my laptop and my phone. He reads or watches something and we share a comfortable silence. Recently, we took a sheet to the terrace. I worked on my screen. He lay and read his book. The Swiggy boy delivered the food there also, much to his amusement. I wrapped up work, we saw the sunset, saw some birds fly and well, it was a good day. We are very different people, in terms of our personalities but these are things we both love. Our shared love for travel has me sharing pictures of places I visit to him, planning how we’ll visit them together. And of the ones he has already visited he’d be giving me suggestions and tips. We are yet to take a trip together but hopefully soon. It isn’t necessary to be passionate about the same things but rather to have the capacity to understand each other’s passions.

Trip LEader Niyati Saxena

Last year in July I was in Spiti. No network. Something barely available to send a SMS. My group encountered a broken road and we had to build one to get out of there. I dropped him a SMS saying ”Broken road”. Then I lost network. So, it was only 10 hours later that I could reassure him that I was safe and sound. The next week he left for a trek in Spiti, Pin Bhabha Pass. They encountered an avalanche during the trek! Something I was glad to learn of later because I can’t say I would have handled it just as well. :p He has done the Annapurna Base Camp trek and is planning on doing the circuit this year. Thereafter, he’ll probably stay in Nepal for about a month. We both know that he’s way calmer about when he can’t reach me versus how I am when I can’t reach him. So, he’s busy pulling my leg about this. ? But I was looking at Workaway options for him because I’m just so excited for him to finally do this. He has dreamt of it for so long.

How to manage relationships

You see, it may be terribly exciting to meet a stranger in an exotic foreign land. And I’m more than happy to cheer on my friends for what they want to experience. But for me what I have with this guy is way more exciting. The weeks without meeting, the messages that fail to deliver due to problematic network and the plans that fail as work takes over, are somehow all worth it for the time you do get with that one person. Of course we aren’t perfect, we have our bad days too but we navigate them together. We never stop encouraging each other for both of our individual dreams even as we continue to dream together, of treks we’ll go for, of beaches where we’ll take surfing courses and of a life in the mountains with dogs that we’ll adopt. We’ll lay on the terrace, do our own work, watch the sunset and observe birds in flight. And it’ll be a good day.

So, you see when I was asked to write about the 3 people in my life who have made me reach where I am today, I couldn’t put my boy in the list. Because mummy padh lengi! Oops, sorry mom. :p Because how do you thank someone who has been there every step of the way? From when trip leading was just a dream to the phone call where I was screaming that Neeraj seriously brought it up, from congratulating me on my first trip to my one year of trip leading, from lending me trekking poles, gear & advice to motivating me as I prepare for them, from calming me in the event of a mishap to celebrating each and every testimonial? How do you thank someone who doesn’t just support your dreams but dreams them for you on the days you’re too exhausted to? I can go around seeing the world but it wouldn’t mean as much until I got to narrate the stories to my number one cheerleader.

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