Vacationer’s tales – exclusive interview with Gul Panag
How often do you make travel plans as your New Year’s resolution and end up being buried in the burden of responsibilities? Set yourself free and travel like there is no tomorrow! Wondering how? Simply ask and follow the tips from the avid traveller and actress Gul Panag, as we take the globetrotter in her for a long ride to explore her fascinating travel journeys.
TBS: What does travel mean to Gul Panag?
Gul Panag: Travel is a way of life. My father was in the army and I’ve lived in many different places across the world as a child, which could explain my nomadic leanings!
TBS: You are a wanderer – what’s your favourite route in India and why?
Gul Panag: The Delhi-Leh stretch is really one of my favourite places. I try to drive or ride that stretch as often as I can. I love the dramatic changes in scenery, from the urban sprawl of the plains to the greenery of the Himalayan foothills right into Himachal Pradesh, and then the absolute barrenness post-Rohtang Pass. The desolate Keylong-Upshi valley stretch, right till you enter Nubra valley is, to me, the most beautiful drive in the world.
TBS: Bike, Public Transport or Car, how do you like travelling in an alien city?
Gul Panag: Bike or car usually, and being so passionate about fitness I’ve often explored the more walkable, safer cities with a run …it’s a great way of soaking in the ambience and also keeping your fitness commitments!
TBS: One place that leaves you with no words?
Gul Panag: So many really … I am the quintessential traveller! I love the untouched beauty of a place like Leh Ladakh or the Andaman…. and I also love the quaint feel of European towns like Bruges or enjoy the buzz of London…it’s all very distinct.
TBS: We have seen your amazing explorer videos. Can you tell our readers one essential element for video making?
Gul Panag: It’s like making a film and you have to get it all together from great footage, concept, script to edit and sound. You have to get great footage that can tell the story. I’ve got a camera that sits on top of the Mahindra vehicle we’ve recreated specifically for such journeys, to film all that happens enroute. It was particularly great for the Sach pass trip we did recently capturing the very testing road challenges we faced. Then there’s the script and the editing of the video should always be done well, it all has to come together to create the final product and that matters the most.
TBS: Five things that solo women travellers must keep in mind while travelling in India or abroad?
– Carry a phone / smart phone with relevant connectivity so you can be in touch and reach people or get information quickly
– Read up on your destination or take tips from fellow travellers, sites like trip advisor, or I often just asks people on twitter. So you can get a list of cool suggestions on places to see, things to do, food to try!
– Make sure you have your health insurance in place so in case of an emergency, you are covered.
– Travel safe, look purposeful and confident, dress according to the nature and culture of the place
– Always have an emergency contact number at hand and of course, let your hair down and enjoy!
TBS: Top 5 favourite destinations for a backpacker or a travel enthusiast like you?
Gul Panag: Europe is just made for backpacking!
TBS: One of your best travel experiences and one of your weirdest travel experience till date?
Gul Panag: A trip to Leh-Ladakh, where I had just carried one light sweater along not realizing that there would be three treacherous passes with 20 feet of ice lying ahead. The chilly air cut through us but giving up has never been in our dictionary. So, we continued on our journey and reached Rohtang Pass around 8 pm in the freezing cold. By this time, we were hugging the silencer of the bike to feel alive. It was one hell of a trip to remember!
TBS: One place you wish to visit very soon?
Gul Panag: Africa again I think!
TBS: Your best off-roading experience?
Gul Panag: We did a family trip to the Himachal. Aadventure travel in luxury cars that was quite memorable. It was what inspired me to create Super Milo the perfect vehicle for such journeys.
TBS: Who do you think would suit best to play the role of Gul Panag if a movie on your travel journeys was made?
Gul Panag: Me! Why anyone else?
TBS: Any travel applications that you use or recommend for women travellers?
Gul Panag: Google maps, Google goggles, Trip Advisor and more.
TBS: One thing you would like to tell women who want to travel around the world but restrict themselves?
Gul Panag: Honestly, when you’re 70 and look back at your life I think it would be better to have to think of the things you did and say “Why did I do that?” than “I should’ve done that” . You have one life, live it.
Now that you heard it from the expert, set your travel plans and make sure you execute them.