Written By:
Athulya Aby

Travel Inspires for Better

Published on
April 16, 2022

As our fellow traveler reminded us, a journey does not start when we leave a place, but in our minds, as soon as we start 'thinking' about it. And so we began our #Odyssey2022 with inspiring stories and conversations from people who found their own pace of travelling, in different ways, and for various reasons. Come with us as we start our journey by 'thinking' about what they had to share...

With apps and websites like OYO, Airbnb, and so many others, we rarely worry about finding a place to stay while travelling to an unknown destination. But have you ever wondered where people stayed before these, and how others got to know about them? Ishita Dey, a teacher, a food anthropologist and a traveler, reminisced about the "mess-baris" and her stay in one of them in Dhaka, Bangladesh. She joked about flying 45mins from Kolkata to Dhaka, but spent 3hrs driving from the airport to her place of stay. I can imagine many 'tourists' would complain about this hot, sweaty, smelly, noisy, slow ride, but not her. This is when she took in the city in all its glory, feeling it through her eyes and tasting it through her nose. Once she finally arrived, the owner asked she not share pictures of the beautiful garden, and pleasant café, explaining that their livelihood depends on local patrons from the community. How would Ishita's experience been different if she chose to stay in a easily accessible hotel? I wonder, do we as travelers accept and acknowledge the everyday struggles of the places that we visit? And are we willing to put in the effort required to connect authentically?

When authentic travel requires such effort, we tend to associate it with the young. We assume the older a person is, the less energy they have, right? When David Hunter spoke with us about how he started travelling extensively at the age of 65, you could almost hear the shackles of presumptions breaking within each person in the room. He allowed himself to consider a comfortable retirement, each day exactly the same as the last, each conversation mundane and repetitive; he chose to reject this narrative, in favour of a journey with no end in sight. Jumping onto local busses in Guatemala 5yrs ago, this intrepid adventurer hasn't stopped moving since, and his enthusiasm is as strong as ever.

The willingness of a traveler to connect with the places they visit is an act solidarity, encouraging sensitive communities to value what they have, and not compromise for the sake of visitors. Himanshu, the founder of Shoshin Tribe, joked about how the Jim Corbett Park is now more sought after for 'destination weddings' rather than being a tiger reserve.  When 'places' become 'destinations' what are the implications?

With national parks and wildlife sanctuaries becoming mass tourist destinations, many lodges and tourist homes have mushroomed in their vicinity. Many times these lodges are managed by people who are not sensitized to the vulnerability of the region and eventually become a threat to ecosystem. Vaibhav Srivastava who works with RARE India stressed on the need to involve the local community and the local produce to create sustainable wildlife tourism. Awareness can even convert entire communities to contribute, such as in the case of Periyar community where poachers were trained to become guides. Considering the impact of travel, we can prioritize the ways in which we visit places, and where our money can support local efforts.

Powered by conversations with conscientious individuals, the 6 tribers geared up for the journey of their lifetime!

Odyssey 2022, India's first travel scholarship initiative by Shoshin Tribe, powered by goStops.

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