​How I Edit My Travel Photos With VSCO 

To have a spectacular feed on Instagram, you definitely need spectacular photos. And, for that, you don’t have to necessarily have high-end equipment or software. A good photo is only a great edit away from becoming Instagram worthy.
This is how I edit my travel photos on my phone using VSCO. Used is a picture I had clicked from a moving bus while I was travelling in Switzerland. It was clicked using a Samsung Galaxy A7.

1. Exposure

First up, let’s be careful about the exposure. I usually play in the range of 0.5 to 1.5. But, it totally depends on the picture and the kind of mood you want to create.

2. Colors / Saturation 

Most pictures that I click using my phone have a decent color tone. However, I often experiment with saturation to see if it can get any better. Here, as you can see, the color is still dull. So, I’m going to increase it a bit.

You can definitely see the difference. The picture looks much more alive than before.

3. Sharpening

Since this picture was taken while I was in a moving bus, it is not completely sharp. So, I’m going to make it sharper using the sharpening tool. Do not sharpen it too much since that will make your picture look too artificial. Here, I’m making it somewhere around 2.5.

4. Filters

I absolutely love most of the filters on VSCO and they do a great job in creating the right mood. I usually use HB1, HB2, KK1 or M3.

Here, for this picture, I am going to use HB2.

You can also decide how strong you want the filter to be. I almost always reduce it a bit to make sure it still looks natural.

5. Fade

Fade is one of my most used tools because it gives the picture a very tumblr-ish look. But, you can skip this if you want the colors to look rich.

I’m going for a 7.6 for this picture. As you can see the colors are still looking rich and it has changed the mood of the picture to a great extent.

That’s pretty much it. I don’t use a lot of tools because it makes the picture look artificial. Another tool that I didn’t use here but I often do is the Crop tool. I use it when the picture is not symmetrical enough. But, again, it is totally subjective.

Here’s a before and after picture for you to see the changes.

All you need is a decent picture, a phone and VSCO!

Comment below if you like these tips and definitely share your methods.

Travel Tips For Your First International Trip! 

ieg_0095_lr

International travel is exciting, and we are bound to make some mistakes here and there. While some mistakes could turn out to be quite memorable, some of them can ruin your entire trip. Hence, planning beforehand and being equipped for your journey is crucial. 

In case, you were planning on making a check-list, here’s one.

  • Get Travel Insurance

For everything that goes off, you know you’re covered. A travel insurance will cover cancellation fees, delayed/lost bags and medical expenses. So, you clearly don’t have an option of skipping this AT ALL!

  • Embrace The Culture

Travelling outside of your country is a massive change in culture; keep reminding yourself about it. A lot of people don’t accept the culture and miss out of the real essence of foreign travel.

  • Keep Yourself Hydrated

Since it’s an international tour, most of your day will keep you going from one place to another. You might be eating at intervals but don’t forget to take sips of water. Being dehydrated on a trip could cause headaches, and I am sure nobody likes that.

  • Don’t Pack Too Much

You’re likely to feel over-ambitious about your trip but be careful about what you carry with you. Ask yourself, ‘Are you REALLY going to need this?’ Especially when you are going to a country that is likely to be cold, don’t overwhelm your luggage with unnecessary thing like a fancy shirt or a dress. Your coat is going to hide it anyway. 

  • Download a Translator App

You enter a local store and realise nobody speaks in English. It’s likely to happen. Make sure you download a translator app beforehand, so you don’t miss on important communication.

  • Keep Your Valuables with You. ALWAYS.

“It’ll just take two minutes for me to take this picture. I’ll just keep my bag here.” The next moment, you turn around, and your bag has GONE. It’s a typical scenario in tourist places. So, never, ever, keep your bag away from you; especially when you’re carrying valuables like your passport.

  • Spend Less Time On Your Phone

It is indeed tempting to Snapchat everything you do to your friends but avoid it. Click pictures but don’t keep your eyes on your phone all the time. You might miss out on imbibing your surrounding or might become a pocket picker’s next target.

  • Carry a Small Backpack

I made this mistake on my trip to Europe. I carried two bags throughout my whole trip, and it always left me with back aches. If you’re a camera person, make sure you carry a bag that can accommodate everything you need while you’re on your feet – camera, passport, water bottle, and currency.

  • Carry A Universal Phone Charger

We were lucky enough to be provided a universal phone charger by our tour advisors but what if we were not? Different countries have different sockets. A universal charger is your saviour!

  • No Jewellery

Bling is no good when you’re on the go. If you STILL like it, carry fake jewellery. 

  • Shop But Only Little

A local market may lure you to take a bag of souvenir home, but it’s only going to make it difficult for you later. A good idea is to buy more stuff towards the end of your trip, so you don’t have to carry it around everywhere.

  • Carry ID-proofs and their copies

Apart from your passport copies, keep a copy of your national ID handy.

  • Keep Cash in Different Places

Stuff some in your suitcase, some in your backpack, and some (very little) in your pocket.

  • Google If You Are Not Sure

Asking a local for directions is a pretty cool idea but don’t rely on it. You can never be sure of how sure they are.

  • Be Alert in Museums and Art Galleries

The most visited places are the ideal places for you to lose your valuables. Avoid keeping your phone in your back pocket and more careful about your passport. Passports are more likely to get stolen than cash.

  • Don’t Come Across As A First-timer

Avoid looking clueless and instead, come across as an experienced traveller. Looking like a first-time traveller will make you prone to being fooled.

  • Check Hotel Reviews

Hotel websites and photos are pretty darn cool, but hey, that’s the hotel authority talking on it. Instead, check for customer reviews (not on their website) to get an idea of how good or bad the place is. 

  • Keep Someone You Trust in Loop

If you’re travelling alone, it is ideal to keep someone from your friends or family updated about your whereabouts. Messaging them in the morning and night is not a big thing on the to-do-list and you can definitely do that.

  • Carry Extra Medicines and First-Aid

Even if you don’t have any health issues, it’s safe to carry some meds for headaches or stomach aches. If your doctor has prescribed a particular medicine to you, do not fail to carry extra meds along. It often becomes challenging to find a particular medicine in foreign stores. And, you don’t want to take that risk.

  • Add Extra Batteries and Memory Cards

My batteries got damaged on one of my trips, and it was the worst thing ever! You don’t want to go through that pain. Trust me. 

  • Dress According to The Day

See what your day looks like a night before and dress as per the occasion. There are certain rules in museums, temples, etc. that may hamper your travel plans. When you’re not sure, wear something that’s decent and doesn’t come across as showy. Also, check for the weather a night before.

  • Be Ready to Adjust

A glitch here and there is bound to happen despite the precautions, so be ready to adjust. Don’t expect too much and go with the flow. A foreign trip always turns out to be a memorable one. 

Do you have something to share too? Comment below and let me know. Happy holidays!

Liked this? Read about my experience in Europe here.

Stories from Rajasthan

I have always been fond of Indian culture. There is this satisfying warmth, a homely feeling that lies in the soil of this country. I could be saying this since I am from India. But, I am sure there is some reality in what I am saying, and you’ll understand that when you’ll visit my homeland.

Rajasthan India

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

When you live in a city like Mumbai, you’re not completely exposed to the real culture. Though we have a lot of festivals happening all around the year, the essence is still not fully found.

Culture of RajasthanIf you want to taste the flavour of India and absorb more of its culture, Rajasthan is the place. Situated in the north-west of the country, it is a state that stays truly Indian.

Talk about culture, spices, colours or anything desi; this place has all of it.

I travelled to Rajasthan two years back with my mother during the time of Diwali. We spent about two weeks in Rajasthan, travelling from one city to another and the vibrant pictures are forever etched in my memory.

Udaipur

Out of the many cities, we went to, Udaipur and Jaisalmer caught my heart. Udaipur is also called as Venice of the east or the city of lakes. But, let me be honest, it is far better than Venice. It’s a popular destination in not only Rajasthan but also India because of its heritage and culture. Being the historic capital of the Kingdom of Mewar, Udaipur is a graceful city with a huge history attached.

Udaipur in India

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

It was also voted as the best city in the world in 2009 by the Travel + Leisure magazine.

Our time in Udaipur began with the Light and Sound Show that takes you through the entire history of Mewar that stretches back to 1500 years. It brings alive the rich heritage through a beautiful play of lights and realistic sound. While watching this show, you can see the city glitter right behind you.

Udaipur City

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Our trip to city palace was also beautiful. You can see the sun setting on the lake, creating hues of orange and purple. It looks magical and definitely makes your evening enchanting. As it gets darker, the city unfolds into a new place altogether. It’s mesmerizing to see the city of lakes turn into the city of lights.

The hotels in Udaipur are beautiful too. Hence, if you’re planning to make a trip to Udaipur, you have too many options.

Jaisalmer

Sand dunes, camels and golden sunrays. Welcome to Jaisalmer!
It’s fascinating to see how the state changes from one city to another and has its own avatars.

Jaisalmer also known as The Golden City is situated in the west of Rajasthan.

Mainly formed by yellow sand stones, it is crowned by a fort. The sandstones magnify the beauty of this town. Sun rays that fall on it creates a golden aura that truly makes the place full of gold.

As you enter Jaisalmer, it gets warmer, and you can already hear the tunes of traditional Rajasthani music echo. Music and art form a major part of this town since their major occupation is tourism.

Jaisalmer Rajasthan Camel

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Our Camel ride in Jaisalmer was one of its kind! The sand dunes look golden in the evening and if I can say, never-ending. Camel in RajasthanWe also spent an evening in the Ghadisar Lake that is surrounded by temples. When the sun kisses the lake, it creates a mix of orange and blue and it looks beautiful. A lot of pigeons are seen in this region, and they only add to the beauty of this place. In the evening when they fly over the temples, it is a truly Indian sight.

Ghadisar Lake Rajasthan

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

We went to a lot of other cities of the state too, and it was a grand experience to sum it up! If you’re planning to vacay in India, don’t forget to add Rajasthan to the list. It’s absolutely beautiful.

Jaisalmer India JewelleryA Man in Rajasthan Rajasthan India Sky Udaipur

Let me know if you want me to write about the other cities we travelled too (includes Jaipur, Jodhpur, Bikaner, etc.)  Have a travel story to share? Drop a comment. 

10 Things I Loved About My Trip to Europe!

If you think I am still not over my Europe trip, you’re probably right. It’s kind of hard to forget some of those visuals, those roads, the snow-clad mountains in Switzerland, and the European architecture. There are too many reasons that crown Europe as one of the best travel destinations in the world.

From my recent trip to Europe, here are my 10 favourite things. Some of them are truly unforgettable.

  1. Arriving in London

Not counting the arrival as a memorable travel experience would be a bad idea. This being my first abroad trip, landing in a foreign country felt so different. I was excited like a kid when I watched London from top. And when we got out of the airport, realising that I was not in India anymore, was a feeling hard to explain. This is what makes travelling so addictive, isn’t it?

 London

  1. The Beatles in London

I was not too excited about going to the Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. However, it was in our itenary. While I planned to make a quick exit, my mum spotted something that made this visit memorable.

The Beatles

  1. Eurostar

London to Paris in straight two hours. This train made it possible. It was raining on our way to Paris. Nonetheless, the view was beautiful. It’s the fastest train in Europe and travelling in it was crazy. Must mention that the railway station was so cool. More like a mall. A huge mall.

  1. Paradis Latin Show

A typical French night in Paris. This show is something that came as a total surprise. The music, the vibes, the performances. Spectacular! The best part about the show was how people from different countries were sitting together, united by music. If you’re in Paris, make sure this show is on your list.

  1. Disneyland

Agreed that it’s not as huge as the one in the US. But, hey, first visit to Disneyland is always special. It awakens the kid inside you. Disneyland feels like a fairy tale set up and it feels unreal. I absolutely loved the train ride that took us through the entire park. I was just too fascinated, to be honest.

Disney 

  1. Eiffel Tower at 12

Right after the Paradis latin show, we decided to roam around in Paris. Paris looks pretty different once the city is dark. You realise why it is also called as the ‘City of lights’. The highlight of this memory was clearly watching the Eiffel tower, sparkling at sharp 12 am. It looks mesmerizing, and you’ve no option but to stand there and gaze at this beauty.

Paris_Eiffel tower

  1. Lucerne Lake Dinner

The entire idea of having dinner in a lake excited the hell out of me. Besides, it was the Lucerne Lake! It’s blue, beautiful and looks straight out of a story book. You possibly cannot get enough of it. I was taken back by how serene it was. The cruise experience was wonderful as we enjoyed Swiss folk music live along with our dinner. Clearly, one of the best dinners of my life!

Lucerne Lake Dinner

  1. Top of Europe – Jungfraujoch

This was not even on my bucket list. To be honest, I had no idea this was even possible. But, we did it! We made it to the top of Europe. It got damn freezing up there, and my hands went numb. It doesn’t matter, I count it as an achievement and feel so happy about it. Not to forget, the train ride (a train inside of a mountain) which was another beautiful experience in itself!

Also, snow!

Jungfrau Top of Europe

  1. Chai near Rhine Falls

If you guys don’t know, I am more of a chai person. Hence, sitting near the Rhine falls and having Indian chai was a lovely feeling (quite desi like that). Sipping hot chai in a cold weather, watching the widest falls in Europe is a feeling hard to define. Don’t you think?

Chai Rhine Falls

  1. Amsterdam Canal Cruise

It’s a mad city. I loved the vibe it had! Travelling through the city in a typical Amsterdam cruise was another wonderful experience. It was overwhelming to see how the city has been built. People are sitting on both the sides of the canals, enjoying meals in cafés. Looks pretty cool.Amsterdam Canal Cruise

Honestly, there are many more things I loved in Europe. It was difficult to choose 10 out of them. Want to read more about my trip? Read my travel journal here. More pictures from the trip are here. Follow me on Instagram.

Hope you guys enjoyed this! Comment about your travel experiences in Europe if you have any.

Things You Can Do In Europe in 15 Days! – Part 2

Hoping you have read the Part 1 of the blog. In case you missed it, you can read it here.
Day 08:
We proceeded to Engelberg for Mt. Titlis! This was also my first experience with snow, so I was too damn excited.

The view while going to Mt. Titlis.

To reach Mt. Titlis, you have to take the Titlis Rotair – World’s 1st Revolving cable car ride! It was getting freezing cold and it was foggy.
20160605_144236

Spot my mom!

On reaching Mt. Titlis, we first had ice cream from Movenpick!
At Mt. Titlis, walking was so difficult. Everyone was slipping and falling. It was funny. Snowy regions make you feel like you’re walking in ice cream. But, surprisingly, it didn’t feel that cold.
My brother took mom and I to the Ice Flyer ride which was damn good. I also remember mom asking me, “What if we fall down?” We die, mom. We die.
20160605_142348
Post our time at Mt. Titlis, I grabbed a cup of hot noodles and then did the Ice caves. It was colder here than at Mt. Titlis.
20160605_172312_LR
When we got down, we had some hot tea. Then, went to see the Lion Monume, did some chocolate shopping and walked through the city. Lion Monume was apparently built for the loyal Swiss soldiers who lost their lives.
20160605_183625_LR
We did our dinner in the Lake Lucerne cruise and enjoyed Swiss folklore music. We also got the chance to play some instruments with the local people. They were really sweet.
This time was superb! We ate our dinner and then spent some time enjoying music. And, the view…
20160605_233953_LR
20160605_234505_LR
Day 09: We started our day by visiting Trummelbach Glacial Waterfalls. There was too much walking involved and it was TOO cold. I was walking alone. After a point of time, it got so cold that I actually wanted to get out of there.
IMG_0875_LR
Travel tip: It gets really cold near the waterfalls, so don’t forget to carry a jacket along.
After this, we had our train to Jungfrau – top of Europe! It was a cogwheel train from Lauterbrunnen to Europe’s highest railway station Jungfraujoch via Kleine Scheidegg station. It is located 3,454 metres above sea level.
The entire train experience was fun. It went through the mountains and then stopped for five minutes at few stations. So, we used to quickly get down to get some pictures and then rush back into the train.
IMG_0957_LR
After reaching Jungfraujoch, we were given a brief about the entire place. We had our time to explore it. My brother and I quickly went to the Sphin x Terrace through a lift. Mom decided to wait for us in the main hall. We also bought some Lindt chocolates.
IMG_0962_LR
It was colder than it was at Mt. Titlis. After that, we walked through the Ice Palace and had some tea.
They also gave us this little passport as a souvenir which is awesome! While we were heading back, they gave each one of us a small Lindt chocolate. Such things really make these experiences memorable. Even the man who came to check our tickets was friendly and thanked us.
We then spent some time in Interlaken. There is a statue of late Mr. Yash Chopra here!
Yash Chopra
Day 10: Before getting out of Switzerland, we went to Zurich lake too. Spent some time there, it was pleasant. I wish we could spend more time here. Nevermind.
Our next destination was Liechtenstein.
We had a drive through the city of Vaduz in a tram. Vaduz is the capital of the principality of Liechtenstein. The city is too small, the people are damn friendly. The audio in the tram was played in Hindi. After our tour got over, we thanked the crew with an applause. After exploring the city, we went to Swarovski Crystal World and Museum of Wattens, Austria.
Austria
Quickly went through the museum (as I mentioned earlier, I am not a fan of museums) and spent some euros on jewellery too. They have a brilliant collection and you will want to buy something or the other.
In the evening, we went to Innsbruck, walked through Inns River, checked some cafes and saw the popular ‘Golden Roof’ and Maria Theresien Strasse. I didn’t like the Inns River so much. However, Innsbruck is pretty!
IMG_1244_LR
The day was pretty chilled and then we were back in the hotel. This hotel had old architecture so my mom had a tough time sleeping. But, in the morning it felt lovely.
Stars_Austria

The view from our hotel at night. No, we couldn’t see stars with our naked eyes. This was clicked by my Canon 7D.

Day 11: Today, we were going to Venice. We did the Vaporetto water bus ride to reach the Island. It took us about 20 minutes.

IMG_1324_LRIMG_1370_LR

Bridge of Sigh.

Bridge of Sigh.

We also did the Gondola ride through the canals of Venice. Boy, I swear I was scared. It was also raining. The boat moved too much and was not even wide.
We even saw a demonstration in the Glass blowing factory, which was superb. Did a walk through the Bridge of Sighs, Doge’s Palace, Bell Tower, St. Mark’s Square, Basilica.
In the evening, we had some ice cream and went to Padova, Italy.
Venice Island was super crowded, and I honestly didn’t like it so much. Venice means a lot of pigeons too.
Day 12: The day started with us visiting the Ferrari Museum in Modena. We hardly spent an hour there.
Then, we proceeded to Florence. Florence is beautiful!
Florence
This is the Italy I imagined.
Here’s where we saw the Piazzale Michelangelo Point and Statue of David too.
We had our lunch in Florence. Here’s where we had the local pizza and pasta. Yum yum! In the evening, we proceeded to Pisa where of course we saw the Leaning Tower. It is called the Square of Miracles – Baptistery, Cathedral and Leaning tower of Pisa.
PisaLeaning tower of pisa
It was damn crowded here too, and people were busy doing the clichéd touristy things. After spending some time at the square, we walked through the market and had some coffee. There is a lot of shopping that you can do in Pisa. You get really good leather bags, hats, sunglasses and other souvenirs.  Looking at the pictures, you can make a guess about the weather. By the time, we left Pisa – it was raining heavily. End of the day, we moved to Arezzo for our night stay.
Day 13: We were going to Vatican!
This was kind of the last day of our tour so we were all pretty much tired. Some of us were happy that we were going back home, while some of us (including me) didn’t want the trip to end.
In the morning, we did the Colosseum, where we met our local guide. The guide was so good! He explained everything so well.
ColloseumIMG_1818_PS
It was raining this time too. It was almost like the rain was following us!
In the evening, we visited Vatican city and saw the Vatican Museum, Michelangelo’s Frescoes, the Last Judgement, Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica and Michelangelo’s famous Pieta. We were stunned by his work.
20160610_15143020160610_185721
Later, we went to see the Tiber river, Roman Forum and Trevi Fountain, Circus Maximus, Piazza Venezia.
Bought some ice cream near the Trevi Fountain and did some local shopping too.
Then, back to hotel…
Rome is built so beautifully. The architecture is so artistic! Your eyes refuse to blink. Unfortunately, we were in Rome just for a day. But, I am sure I want to go here once again.
Here’s a small quote I really like – Rome has not seen a modern building in more than half a century. It is a city frozen in time.” – Richard Meier
Day 14: En route India! 😦
So, that was it! Europe was a lot of things and this trip is definitely going to be a special one forever. I already miss it in spite of being there for just half a month. Until next time!
The thing about travel is the fact that you’re never completely same after it’s over. The more cities you see, the more places you go to, they become a part of you. You’re a summation of the places you see.
“But that’s the glory of foreign travel, as far as I am concerned. I don’t want to know what people are talking about. I can’t think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything. Suddenly you are five years old again. You can’t read anything, you have only the most rudimentary sense of how things work, you can’t even reliably cross a street without endangering your life. Your whole existence becomes a series of interesting guesses.” – Bill Bryson, Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe
Hope you all enjoyed the blog. If you think, there is something I could add, please comment. Been to Europe? Feel free to share your experience or travel tips!