Fortunately for Mumbai based-couple, Vineeta Vishwanath, 36, and Kartik Mahadev, 38, they have always been in sync with travel choices.
The biggest virtue of travelling as a couple to spend time together can also be an Achilles heel. What if one wants to trawl museums and the other wants to kick back with a beer? What if one is an outdoor junkie and the other wouldn’t even dream of buying hiking shoes? Fortunately for Mumbai based-couple, Vineeta Vishwanath, 36, co-founder of an HR consultancy, and Kartik Mahadev, 38, vice president (marketing) for a sports and entertainment company, they have always been in sync with travel choices. From early days of backpacking in India while still in college, to making travel a prominent part of their hectic lives as senior leaders at work, they have little to complain. In fact, they find each other perfect company to hit the road at least twice in a year. Since both Vishwanath and Mahadev love the wilderness and are naturally drawn to untouched places, they narrowed down on Iceland .
“We both wanted to do something off the grid so choosing Iceland was no battle," says Mahadev. “After an earlier trip to Norway, where every town looks straight out of a fairytale, we wanted to visit the Nordics again. Vineeta came across a picture of Seljalandsfoss—a walk-through waterfall in Iceland—and fell in love with it. It was the raw unmanicured beauty that got us hooked. We realized then that there was a lot more to Iceland beyond Rejkyavik and dived headfirst into planning," says Mahadev. They reserved half a month in July, which is also the best month to travel to this top-of-the-globe destination.
Grip on work
Luckily for Mahadev, he has an unlimited leave policy. “It’s smart for a company to trust their employees in managing their work and time. I try and make the most of this relaxed leave policy and plan trips by picking either a lean period or close big decisions so work does not interfere with my holiday," says Mahadev. Vishwanath, on the other hand, has a flexible calendar as an entrepreneur. Both Vishwanath and her partner cover for each other when either takes a break. With effective planning and ticking of things on the lists long before they have to go, the couple stays free from work calls or mails while on the trip. Besides, with their choice of destinations, internet is mostly a luxury.
Making a budget
“The Nordics without an exception are extremely expensive; Iceland more so because it is an island nation on top of the world," says Vishwanath. The couple chose a motor home instead of camping sites. “July being a period for summer solstice meant 24 hours of sunlight. We could travel at our own pace," adds Mahadev. Since Iceland allows free camping, they saved on hotels and the hassle of checking in and out. Food was another aspect that allowed pulling the strings on spending. Packaged food in Iceland is very expensive and departmental stores rarely sell small packs of essentials like sugar, salt, rice, etc. The couple carried provisions from India and cooked most meals in the motor home. “Most of the parks and sites have free entry and are well mapped. We did not book any guided tours. This saved a lot of money," says Mahadev.
Exploring the cities
Nature’s rewards in Iceland are such that even the prosaic looks otherworldly. Vishwanath and Mahadev completed the entire perimeter (about 3,300km) of the country, starting from Reykjavik and moving onto Jökulsárlón, Höfn, Egilsstaðir, Húsavík, Akureyri, Látrabjarg, Stykkishólmur, Kirkjufell, Akranes, Seljalandsfoss, Seljavallalaug, Vík í Mýrdal and back to Reykjavik. It took them through dramatic landscapes consisting of glacial lakes, majestic waterfalls, volcanic formations, and wildlife in the form of puffins and the Icelandic horses.
“Our most memorable time in the trip was with a group of hitchhikers who took a short ride with us. The young boys had found a bottle with a message in the south of Iceland on a beach and had hitchhiked all the way to the west to hand over the message to the person who it was intended for. The fact that they were successful in finding the right man, still gives me goose bumps," says Vishwanath.
Travel is so crucial to some people that they won’t be the same in its absence. Both Vishwanath and Mahadev believe that it helps them thrive. “The effects of a good break show at work too. One is definitely more inspired," believes Vishwanath.
On travelling as a couple, both are clear that Vishwanath triggers the ideas by sharing anecdotes, blogs and articles, while Mahadev set the plan in motion. “We make a great team," they sign off.
Trip Planner is a series that looks at how working professionals choose a travel destination keeping in mind what they want from the break without breaking the bank