THEN: Two months in your native place, you nap every day, the kids climb trees, grandpa is happy, everyone gets a tan.
THEN: Stealing those mini soaps and shampoos from posh hotels. NOW: Eyeing the cushioned, satin clothes hangers too.NOW: Six-night-sevenday group tour of the foreign destination of the moment. English-speaking guide. Adventure activities. Indian food.
THEN: Quick multiplication tables in your head when you saw the prices of anything abroad.
NOW: There’s an app for that, plus you can use your international credit card.
THEN: Manali/Alibaug was lovely, let’s go back.
NOW: Pick one international destination. Visit. Tick off list. Start with another place.
THEN: Budget travel meant picking a place where an NRI relative had a house and spare bed.
NOW: Backpacking, youth hostels, Air BnB, Couchsurfing and yes, the NRI relative’s house too.
THEN: Nashik = Sai Baba.
NOW: Nashik = Sulafest.
THEN: Guidebooks, huge maps you could never fold back the same way.
NOW: Internet listicles, and GPS. THEN: Let’s not go where we will not like the food.
NOW: Veg options practically everywhere, Indian restaurants abound.
THEN: Same kindly neighbourhood cabbie took you to the airport.
NOW: Ola cabs booked and ready. Driver Samir is on his way.
THEN: Modest State Tourism resorts, with “bed tea”. What? Hot water in the morning only?
NOW: Four-star plush resorts with buffet breakfast. What? No bathtub in every room?
THEN: Mr Sharma went to Bali, so we must go too.
NOW: Let’s go to Croatia. No one I know has been.
THEN: Tour operator lists six sights in this place. We see all six and come back.
NOW: Customised food tours, nature trails, heritage walks, music festivals and shopping holidays.
THEN: Airline tickets look like chequebooks.
NOW: Web check-in.
THEN: Does the hotel room have a TV?
NOW: Does it also have free WiFi, and enough plug points for phone charger?
THEN: Collecting postcards.
NOW: Collecting air miles.
THEN: Being able to disconnect on holiday.
NOW: If you have a smartphone, no chance!
THEN: Requesting the kindly local or fellow tourist to take one family photo of all of you.
NOW: Selfie stick, panorama mode, multiple shots and smile-finder on your cellphone.
THEN: Wish I could be on holiday forever.
NOW: I want to be a travel writer.