The booming travel industry in India is witnessing a new generation of backpackers who are not just globetrotting but also ditching their 9-5 jobs to be full time travelers.
Ekla Chalo spoke with one such backpacker who started her own travel company ‘Wanderknots’. Divya Pai, a young entrepreneur, had previously also co-founded ‘The Land Out There’. Here is an excerpt of the chat Ekla Chalo had with Divya…
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a B.Sc IT graduate, currently pursing Masters in Tourism Management. Before becoming a full time traveler, I was a professional model and represented India nationally and internationally through my modelling and sports career.
My love for travel and the desire to learn about different cultures around the world, urged me take up travelling as a career. My dream is to make travel easier for people by penning down as many places as possible at Wanderknots.
I also love reading, learning new languages and having conversations with people and dogs alike, who happen to be my favorite kind. I am involved with a couple of animal welfare organisations, have a keen interest in Child education and conserving the environment. I also hold a black belt in Judo which makes it easier for me to travel as a solo backpacker.
What motivated you to start your own travel company?
The fact that there is a lack of genuine information online, urged me to write about different places myself. I want to make travel easy for people by giving out detailed information about lesser known places around the country. Meeting new people, having new experiences and learning from them is something that has always intrigued me. I want to make travel affordable and flexible for people. This motivated me to start my own travel company.
What does your travel start up- Wanderknots specialize in?
Our main forte is conducting Backpacking trips across the country. We travel on a budget to every place, use public transport and prefer staying in home-stays so our travelers can experience the local culture first hand. We customize trips for bigger groups too.
Wanderknots rents out travel equipment, which otherwise can be expensive and are not easily available. We have an online store where we sell travel gear as well. We have recently started renting accommodation and transportation mainly around Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh.
Apart from travel consultancy, we also conduct adventure sports activities such as Himalayan treks, surfing, scuba diving etc., conduct weekend camps around Mumbai and Pune and are soon looking forward to starting such camps in other metropolitan cities.
How is wanderknots different from its competitors?
We are not like the usual travel company where the travelers are taken to a certain place and asked to explore in a stipulated time frame. Our trips are very flexible and we pay attention to the overall experience of every traveler on an individual basis. Our services include everything related to travel which is not the case with most of the other companies.
WanderKnots is also a fun organization to work at where we value each of our employee’s inputs. What drives us to learn and get better with each passing day is the love we receive from our travelers and employees.
One thing you love the most about being an entrepreneur.
The freedom to choose what you want to do and the fact that you can make your own decisions is one of the biggest pleasures of being an entrepreneur. There is so much learning and growth on a personal level and this keeps me motivated.
It is rightly said- work doesn’t seem like work, when it’s your passion that you’re following!
What are the difficulties that you face as a female entrepreneur?
People don’t always take women entrepreneurs seriously. There is always a certain amount of presumption that people tend to have. Especially in my line of work, since I move around a lot, I get to hear of how a girl isn’t supposed to travel alone.
Having said that, there are also a huge number of people who have appreciated the very same fact. So overall the journey hasn’t been all that difficult.
To what do you attribute your success.
I wouldn’t really call myself successful yet. Yes, I have got better than what I started, which according to me matters the most. I aspire to make WanderKnots a global brand where we are known to provide the best service and experience at the cheapest possible cost.
So far for the work that Wanderknots has already done, it is all thanks to the support of innumerable people- family, friends, travellers, employees and the locals we stay with.
Any sacrifices you have made for your business venture.
I don’t really feel like I have missed out on anything because of my business venture. There are times when I’m not available for important occasions as my schedule is very tight and erratic, but so far I have managed to make up for the lost times, so no sacrifices that I regret making. There is nothing else I would rather do!
Where do you see Wanderknots in the next five years?
I would like to see WanderKnots as one of the most trusted brands in India for any and all sorts of travel requirements. We aspire to start trips to other parts of Asia and Europe in the next five years as well.
Any piece of advice you would like to give to aspiring entrepreneurs
The most important lesson I have learnt is to never give up. What doesn’t break you, makes you stronger! I firmly believe that hard work pays off in due time as long as you’re persistent to pursue what you’re passionate about.
If you wish to ask any other question to Divya then you can ask in the comment section below.