If you’ve ever planned to travel the world with no money, take a hint from what Anuj Khurana and Ishant Kumar have done. They hitchhiked across India, slept under bridges, gatecrashed weddings for food, and had a whole lot of fun all the while.
Anuj Khurana and Ishant Kumar Singh Jadaun travelled across India with less than a hundred rupees in their pockets. They hitchhike, sleep on dividers or under bridges, eat at dhabas, and keep moving. And so far, they’ve covered Mumbai, Delhi, Jaipur, Ahmadabad, Pune, Goa, Bengaluru, Lucknow and Nainital.
Anuj and Ishant had done no planning and no budgeting. They just decided one day that they wanted to try and travel the country without the limitations of money. “I was cluelessly trying to fit myself into my family business, and Ishant was pursuing his graduation,” he says.
For some people, what Anuj and Ishant does are stuff of dreams.
His Facebook page, MOVE, says, “Simply put, my plan was to travel across the length and breadth of this nation without money or, the constraints that it brings. I hitchhiked, borrowed, or did whatever it took to get me through another day. In the process, I aspired to spread smiles and share laughter.”
The journey started in July 2015 from Delhi to Jaipur and back, and then Mumbai. The experience Anuj and Ishant had, has led them to believe that the world is, indeed, a place filled with good people. “People are too kind towards us,” says Anuj.
“I just can’t express how much fun it is to chat with truck drivers.”
“We would have never had such beautiful conversations and experiences if we had our wallets to distract us.” He adds with a laugh, “Although, tolerating Kumar Sanu is humiliating, since that is what every truck driver plays.”
With a ‘bas ghoomna hai’ (just need to keep moving) attitude, the duo’s official money-free travel started on their way to Mumbai. “To reach Mumbai from Delhi, we had to borrow some money from my cousin in Gurgaon,” he says, and adds with a smirk, “And to recover that money, we danced in the train and collected a sum of around Rs 1300!”
In Mumbai, they met a lot of people, most of whom helped them out with food and accommodation. “The most exciting moment was being at the police station for 18 hours, enjoying free vadapav and chai with the policemen,” he recollects.
They then hitchhiked their way to Pune, where they rode along to Lavasa on bikes arranged by a friend.
Their next stop was Goa. Bunking up in tents and interacting with a multinational crowd, the party capital of the country had proved to be a great refresher.
It was in Goa that they started putting up their travel stories on social media. They gained not just popularity, but also a bunch of invites. “A lot of random Facebook people started hosting us, and in exchange all they wanted was to hear our crazy travel stories,” he says, amused.
Which is why, by the time they hit Bengaluru, they had a lot of people who wanted to meet them. So much so, they stayed there for about 25 days, enjoying the 300 invitation to meet, dine and stay.
They were invited to a school in Bengaluru to inspire students about their journey.
Anuj says, “The most joyful experience was to be at Bangalore International School, where we were invited to conduct an interactive session with the students and teachers about the emotion and philosophy behind our journey.”
Their journey up to Ahmadabad was tough – it took them five nights and a 1400 kilometre hitchhike to get there in time for the Garba festival. Then, they headed up to Nainital and Lucknow, where they spent their days gorging on food. Currently, they’re on a halt, as Anuj got a chance to work on a dream project in the adventure travel space.
Anuj is a weathered traveller. “I did a dream ride from Manali to Ladakh in the summer of 2014 on my lovable Hero Impulse,” he says. “Till now, my favourite destinations include the Barog Railway Station located between Kasauli and Solan, which is a real hidden gem, and McLeod Ganj in Dharamshala.”
Looking back, he says,“We slept on the road dividers, bus-stand, dhaba, and sometimes at friend’s places, as I’ve many friends in major cities.”
“Sometimes, we pitched our tent around the outskirts.”
One of the main concerns most travellers have is about food. But, not these two. Anuj and Ishant discovered that there are many ways you can keep yourself satiated while on the move. “We have delicious langar at the gurdwaras and prasad at the temples. Sometimes we eat the leftovers random food courts, and sometimes we enjoy gatecrashing weddings and dancing on the roads for food,” he says. “Sometimes, we stay hungry for a day or two if we don’t get any food.”
“But really, it’s okay to starve at times!”
The duo recommends travellers to skip the travel portals and tour guides, and get out into the wild on their own. “Just get on the road, wander randomly with no smartphone to navigate,” he advises.