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?
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