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Building Bridges Through Travel

Building Bridges Through Travel

If we wish to see a world without borders 50 years from now, we must start building bridges between people living across them today.

Not said by any great person, but I just believe in it. Seems very philosophical, but not entirely stupid.

Ever since I started my own travel business Insane Travelers in 2015, I have always been yearning to do something more than just plain money-making business. But there is always pressure of growing the business, sales, marketing, operations, hiring, taxes etc etc etc, so I never really got a chance to sit back and think of actually doing something about it.

Current corona-virus crisis came as a bolt of lightning on many businesses, and even more deadly on travel industry, but it has also given us all an opportunity to take a step back and rethink everything in our lives.

Why do we travel?

I’ve personally traveled to more than 25 countries in last 14 years. I really enjoy going to new places, but lately it has started to feel like a routine. I believe many of you share this feeling with me, wondering why do we actually travel. Well, I’ve asked this question to many people, but there’s no single answer. Some people travel for a short break from routine life, some travel to enjoy the luxury of 5 star resorts, some go to do extreme adventure sports, some go to find solitude in the mountains, some go to visit famous monuments for Instagram profiles, and the list can go on forever. Someday I’ll write a different blog post on that. But there is a growing tribe of people who want to travel for a purpose which goes beyond instant gratification. They want to mingle with people from different cultures, learn about them, share stories with strangers, and make meaningful friendships with like minded people they meet on the road. I myself belong to this tribe.

Unity in Diversity – a good idea

Back in 2009, I had heard of Jagriti Yatra from a friend, was highly inspired by it. It’s a high impact mission, driven by a passionate team. It brings youth from different walks of life together, and takes them on a 15 days journey across diverse places in India, to fire up their imaginations. I never got a chance to be in it, but I want to travel with them one day.

Today’s net-savvy generation with access to unlimited information, engages in a lot of social media debates about the social, economic and gender inequality, political differences, racial discrimination, religion, language, military flare-ups, business boycotts etc. I always feel that how nice would it be if we could take some baby steps to do something about them. Though it may seem like a utopian idea, I believe lot of these problems could at least be reduced by sensitizing people about different cultures and mindsets. While living in Germany for 3 years, I was surprised to see that there is more cooperation among countries in Europe than states in India. This is not just because of laws, but also because of trust and understanding between people. Travel is the perfect way to facilitate engaging people-to-people interactions across diverse cultures and countries, and unite them 2 at-a-time.

Bringing Diverse People Together

During the lockdown months, I had lengthy discussions on this topic with my long time personal friend Dr Parvathy Venugopal, who also runs an eco-travel company GreenEscape and lives in a small village in Finland. We decide that it was time to give shape to this idea in real life.

After the corona-crisis is completely over, we plan to embark on a 10-15 days long journey in a magical part of the world. We plan to bring together a diverse group of people w.r.t. nationalities, cultures, professions, genders etc. The common thread that binds them is their curiosity towards different cultures. Other than the destination activities, we plan to have fun activities which will make travelers mingle with locals, as well as with each other. At the very least, we want the kind of bonding between travelers, that they continue to keep in touch for years to come, even being in different countries. On the other hand, some might even form startup ventures together, some might go to pursue education/exchange programs in others’ countries/universities, some might go for more journeys together in future, and some might even get married some day. These are all wild possibilities right now, but the basic idea remains to bring people from diverse backgrounds together.

Fellow travelers- Being travel industry professionals, we have our own biases. If the above idea really connects with your beliefs, we would sincerely love to hear your views on the questions below.

Q. Do you think sensitizing people about different cultures is good for society in general?

Q. Do you think travel could be a good way to do that?

Q. I’m a big fan of action over theory. So what are the logical next steps we should take to bring this idea to life?

We request you to leave your answers in comments. Also, you can email us your views on gaurav.jain@insane.travel

If you wish to join the project in future, or would like us to keep you posted on the progress of the project, please let us know your email address below.

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8 thoughts on “Building Bridges Through Travel”

  1. Hi guarav
    Lovely blog,could nt agree more.
    I belong to the the tribe too of exploring places for the diversities in culture,PPL,mindsets….travel is a fun way of evolving as a person in every aspect and in turn designing a new society with many more ppl like that. Many travel packages and programs do provide with experiences which involves mingling around.
    1 eg..YHAI had come up with a month s prog to stay with the local PPL in the mountain areas and kbow thier lifestyle and PPL around …there are some more egs which works on the same lines.
    It’s a fantastic idea of 10 days …the idea Sandeep gave is worth considering, which will help change the misconceptions.
    1.ya
    2.ya
    3.ppl from different domain should participate,PPL staying at the border villages can be included( they can give a better view of the situation).
    This could be the first projec,2 nd project would include some other topic( related ppl can be included)
    So at end of each journey ,there is a fascinating outcome, which should be made sure to reach maximum ppl by capturing it well.

    Reply
    • Thanks Rutuja for the insightful comment. Glad to know that you belong to his tribe. šŸ™‚
      We’re trying hard to reach out to people with varying interests and opinions. We would also like to bring as much diversity in the group as possible, which is our main purpose.
      And yes, we plan to capture the outcomes too.

      Reply
  2. Q. Do you think sensitizing people about different cultures is good for society in general?
    Absolutely! I think traveling and exploring newer lands and cultures is what people have been doing for ages. Internet and technology has made the world shrink and has facilitated the rapid spread of ideas. Ideas could span from the ALS ice bucket challenge to #Metoo to the earth hour which became viral transcending nations and cultures. People have connected with each other on social causes. Doing that in person would make a great experience for sure.

    Q. Do you think travel could be a good way to do that?someone
    Yep – it can be an unforgettable immersive experience unless someone replicates this through VR šŸ™‚ in the post-covid world.

    Q. Iā€™m a big fan of action over theory. So what are the logical next steps we should take to bring this idea to life?
    Tinder for travel šŸ™‚

    Reply
    • Thanks Sunmay for sharing detailed views. Yes, people in earlier times traveled out of curiosity. But over time, that purpose got lost somehow. Now it’s probably time to bring that back.

      Reply
  3. Great post, and absolutely true about sensitizing people to other cultures. I find that the most tolerant people are those that have been exposed to cultures, mindsets and thinking that are different from their own. When we realize that in the end, the layperson we might cross on the street has very similar thoughts, feelings and aspirations to our own, we would then hopefully look beyond less important things like nationality, caste, colour, language etc. The best way to get rid of our preconceptions and prejudices is more exposure to the diversity around us (near and far!). So to answer your questions:

    1. Yes
    2. Yes
    3. A trip would make most sense if there was a theme to it – that would make sure people would commit to the trip with a clear picture of how they would be spending their time. So the logical next step in my opinion is defining a theme for a potential trip.

    Reply
    • Awesome. I like crisp answers. šŸ™‚
      Good point that we could find people with diametrically different opinions near to us as well.
      Btw, can you elaborate a bit more on ‘theme’. I had thought of diversity itself as a theme.

      Reply
  4. Hi Gaurav, cannot agree more on social media debates on topics like national security. I recently came across some vloggers from Pakistan. Some interviewed Pakistani city youths on their ideas about India, some showed the daily lives of cultural minorities like Marathis on how they celebrate Ganesh festival. First of all, I did not even know that some Marathi speaking population lives in Pakistan! The views of normal Pakistani youth were so similar to ours. I felt they were just Indians. I am sure that same be true about ordinary Chinese citizens. The political leaderships may take calls for national security and I am with them, but I found that the ordinary people of any nation are generally peace loving. Definitely such gaps can be bridged by more platforms for interactions, one of them being the kind of trips that you design. Such trips are definitely the need of the hour. I would suggest that try to rope in some Pakistani & Chinese citizens along with Indians in your trips and make a vlog of their experiences. I would be very keen to watch that!

    Reply
    • Thanks Sandeep for bringing this unique example. I believe increasing hyper-nationalism is nothing but man-made misunderstandings between people for the purpose of narrow politics. These are inflated due to lack of direct credible communication channels. We’ll keep you updated on the progress of this project.

      Reply

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