Having traveled 3 continents, 32 countries, and 137 cities, Leena Bansal also known as ‘missWalkingShoes’ is an unstoppable force that refuses to cease its wanderlust. A courageous woman, Leena completed her solo journey in 17 months at her own expenses. She quit her job for pursuing her passion and created an amazing legacy in return.
This solo woman traveler cum blogger who has covered 79,827 kilometers during her travels, (which amounts to circling the earth twice!) she did what is just a dream for most of us.
The best part? It is only the beginning!
Covered 3 continents, 32 countries and 137 cities in 17 months!
Her ‘round the world trip’ that covered Europe (3 months), North America (3 months), and Asia (11 months), cost her INR 14.44 lakhs on a tight budget and included her airfare, accommodation, food, and miscellaneous expenses.
To manage her spendings effectively, Leena traveled in all ways possible including – local buses, waterways, trains, and what not.
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How did she do it?
“I traveled via local buses, trains, and all the transport available that would save me money. The good side of this was that I was able to experience the rawness of travel.”
Using hacks like – trading her work (teaching English) for accommodation in Laos, traveling in the night buses/trains to save on expenditure, and staying in hostels for cost cutting (Europe), Leena was successful in keeping her budget intact.
“Every experience that I took taught me something.”
Discussing the aspect of safety, Leena says “The only expensive thing I had was my phone and camera. This reduced a lot of responsibility towards taking care of my belongings.”
“Apart from this I made sure I was vigilant and careful of my surroundings. I guess traveling alone teaches you that. I trusted my instincts, and thankfully there weren’t any serious consequences.”
Overcoming the hurdles
Her journey towards this achievement although not easy was worthy!
From saving money to convincing her parents to finally making the decision to go, Leena faced them all with courage.
“Working hard to fulfill your passion is not an easy thing, but it is certainly more fulfilling than doing things you don’t love!”
Wanting to travel since a long time, Leena did not rush into hasty decisions. Her tryst with active traveling started when she went to Ahmedabad to do her MBA.
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Traveling at every opportunity
“I used to travel at every opportunity I could get and then inform my parents about it. Slowly and steadily they got used to the fact that I can take care of myself.”
Giving all the right signals to her parents since the beginning, Leena believed that convincing her parents for ‘round the world’ trip wasn’t difficult since they had already seen her grow as a traveler.
From visiting the Rann of Kutch to going on an 11 state tour that covered places like Spiti, Ladakh and Mahakumbh among many, Leena instilled confidence in them with each journey that she took.
The moment that changed her life forever
Her decision to finally go on a trip however, was influenced by that one incident that changed her life perspective forever. .
“It was only after a near-death experience during the Chadar Trek that I realized that life was too short for not doing what you love. “It took a rescue from a pile of snow for me to understand that I really wanted this. After that, there was no looking back! I quit my job and started preparing for doing what I had always loved – traveling!”
My parents, my support!
Her decision, however, did not go well with everyone for they thought it was a bad move since she was doing well in her career (advertising) that she had worked hard for! But Leena did what she had to do for she had found a bigger calling!
“My parents were in my support, which was all that mattered”
Sharing her experience from the journeys, Leena tells us that traveling alone bought her closer to herself. She judged less, listened more, and was now a more humble person than before.
Describing her interactions with the locals to be an enriching experience, she says “Wherever I went, I found goodness. Unexpected help, friendly gestures, and smiles, these were the highlights of my trips.”
Taking action on her dream
Finding the world to be too much focused on the negativity, Leena says that most of the people who warn you against your decisions are the ones who have never experienced them in the first place.
“I wanted to face my fears and experience the truths myself”
Speaking about how the world is always focused on the bad experiences, Leena says that it often leads to ignoring the ‘good’ that is prevalent everywhere.
“We have been taught to always be skeptical about the goodness that is there as if everything has a hidden motive. I was like that too, but traveling changed that. Meeting so many good people on my way allowed me to look at the brighter side of life and ultimately made me more trusting and happy.
“My interactions has taught me that there is no right or wrong, instead everyone is just following their eco-system. To judge them because we are different is not good.”
Sharing her advice to all those wanting to travel especially women, Leena emphasizes the importance of taking action on your dreams and passions.
“Once you take the first step, everything else follows.”
Everyone can do it
Coming to the point where she discusses travel affordability and planning, she believes everyone should travel as per their capability.
“Professionals, entrepreneurs, and everyone else should take trips that they can do. They could be small but should be fulfilling. There should be no competition as you are doing this for yourself”
Further elaborating on this Leena advises that it is always better to collect holidays and take memorable journeys rather than just living for the weekends!
Travel as an art of living
Looking to make travel as an art of living, Leena’s ultimate aim is not tick off places from a list but to grow and be a better person with each journey that she undertakes!
Her recent trips to pilgrimage spots like Bodhgaya, Varanasi etc. are a testament to her spirit of looking the world from a fresh perspective.
Learning to live through travel is something that not many focus on, but Leena is one of the few who does.
And seeing her do well in her endeavors, it is time we all should do too!