By: Shelbin MS
RESTRICTIONS being eased has led to a surge in travel bookings.
While some just want to get away for a break after being locked down during the pandemic for so long, Jaya Sibia has used travel to fulfil a dream of visiting 40 countries before she turns 40.
It has also enabled the Chicago-based physician to use visiting world-famous sites to spend quality time with her India-based mother Nita Sibia.
Eastern Eye got Jaya to reveal what inspired the globe-trotting adventure with her mother and lessons it has taught her. She also gave top travel tips.
Wanderlust, the word means a strong desire to wander or explore the world. I always felt a sense of wanderlust inside of me. Unfortunately, I couldn’t travel as much as I’d like because of med school and work. But the pandemic came with a silver lining for me. I found a new job that allows me to work from home.
To avail of my newfound found freedom, I planned a trip to Mexico to ring in 2021. During my stay in Cancun, I had the opportunity to visit Chichen Itza, one of the seven wonders of the world. This gave rise to my first set of travel goals – to visit all seven wonders of the world! I had already visited the Taj Mahal in India and the Colosseum in Rome. Now, I had four more to go.
Soon after my trip to Mexico, I left for a three-month trip to India, my home away from home. On returning from India, my adventurous side took a backseat for a few weeks. But a friend who was planning a trip to Egypt made sure that my travel bug stayed hungry for more. Come May, I was on a 10-day trip to the most fascinating country in the world, Egypt.
This gave rise to my second set of travel goals – to visit 40 countries before I turn 40! I refer to it as my 40 under 40 plan. To accomplish this, I decided that it will be more than just visiting a country, I wanted to make memories with my family, especially my mom. She not only enjoys travelling, but is also the most fun and easy-going travel partner that I could have wished for.
My mother, who lives in India, played a big part in cheering me on with all my adventures. She was vicariously living through my experiences and would often mention how she would have liked to be with me. While we travelled together a lot when I was younger, we had not been able to get away too much of late. For my mom, life had gotten busy accompanying my dad and his work in India. The pandemic and lockdowns made the situation even more cumbersome. Fortunately, things started to open by mid-2021 and my mom and I became an unstoppable travel duo.
We had already visited Thailand, Russia, Estonia, Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Spain, Italy, Canada, Germany, Dubai, Poland, and Africa on family trips. Now, we began to pick places that we always had on our bucket lists and that were open to tourists during the pandemic.
Our first mother-daughter trip was to Turkey. We spent 12 days basking in the magic of Rumi and the past Ottoman glory. It was perfect. Mom and I would rate it as our best trip so far. We then visited Greece for two weeks over Christmas and New Year with my dad and my brother. Soon after, we took a cruise to the Bahamas to ring in mom’s birthday. And then we jetted off to Brazil. We visited Christ the Redeemer, one of the seven wonders of the world, leaving me with three more to go! But that wasn’t the best part of our trip. My mom and I did paragliding over the most scenic views of Rio de Janeiro. I am so proud of my mom!
Our next trip is still in the planning phase, but we have settled on a destination – Israel and Jordan. Stay tuned! Travelling with my mom has been the best part of all my trips. Being able to spend quality time with her, in this exceptionally busy world, is truly a blessing. My mom and I like to refer to ourselves as ‘the mommy-daughter travelling pants’.
With everything going on in the world today, including the Ukraine war, hate, division, and suffering from Covid, I now realise why travelling is so much more than just visiting a new place and taking a few nice pictures. Travel is learning about mankind, the fact that we are all made of the same flesh and blood.
We are human beings before we belong to a certain race, religion, or country, and above all, we all strive to live in love, happiness, and peace. Travel is more than just an adventure. It is a path to humility and understanding of how tiny we are in the world.
Jaya’s top travel tips
» Book your hotels directly from their websites. You may get better deals.
» Pre-book what you can, like airport pick-up/drop-off, tours, and excursions, to help make the most of your time to sightsee and do other activities.
» Do a big bus tour to familiarise yourself with the city, including neighbourhoods, eating places, shopping areas and tourist spots.
» Travelling as a party of two women means safety is paramount for us. Don’t wander off alone or at night, and stick to group tours.
» Take great photos and pick up souvenirs to remember the experience. My mom and I wear matching outfits to make the photographs more fun and always pick up a fridge magnet from every place we visit.
» Be brave enough to travel to new places and open to embracing a new culture. It will inspire you and the memories of your trip will stay with you forever.