Journey, with meaning

A trip to Ladakh. Seen in the background is the Ice Stupa Artificial Glaciers that Sonam Wangchuk built to store winter water

They say travelling opens the mind. And if it is with meaning, it will open the heart as well. That’s what Journeys With Meaning does. How? Vinod Sreedhar, the founder of Journeys With Meaning, tells us how

Tell us about Journeys With Meaning

Journeys With Meaning is an earth-friendly travel organization. We conduct trips to ensure responsible travelling. For example, we stay with the local families, eat local food, we try minimizing driving and choose to walk instead. The trip exposes the travellers to the local culture. Besides this, we learn about their innovative solutions to remain close to nature, etc. Say in Ladakh, the houses are built with rammed earth which is the appropriate technology for that region, while in Meghalaya, the houses are built with bamboo. Furthermore, we design our trips to create awareness about the environment and how to contribute back to the environment. For example, in Ladakh, people use dry toilets. Instead of water, sand gets used which helps to save thousands of litres of water. Also, in years it turns into manure. The eventual idea is to reduce our adverse impact on nature.

Do your trips need one to be in a certain healthy condition? You just mentioned, the travellers have to walk, use a certain way to defecate which may not be appropriate for all…

The trips are designed for almost everybody. No practice is intense or in any way against the human body. However, if one is suffering from asthma or heart condition, we recommend one to take the doctor’s permission as in some places the altitude could be high which may cause problems in some activities.

But what happens if I undertake a “journey with meaning”? I see a new culture, I learn how important it is to contribute to the environment, I eat the local food…I am back to some big city…and then what?

When you are back home, you may not be able to imitate the life you lived during the trip, but you sure can execute some of the practices you learned during the trip. While the landscape and climate may be different, there are certain natural principles that hold true irrespective of the location, whether you are in the deepest ocean or in the Tundra region. You have to find out what can be applied in your region. Say for example, building technologies have to be a certain way according to your landscape. You can start questioning your builder and architect if the materials used are appropriate for the climate you live in.

After you have taken the trip, maybe you could start asking yourself where your stuff comes from? Eventually, everything has to go back to the earth.

You have mostly mentioned Ladakh and Meghalaya. Does that mean your trips are location-centric? And cannot be undertaken in the metro city?

Yes, the cities are not ready for such trips. However, we do conduct workshops and sessions on several practices related to the environment, but the trips are conducted in regions where we can see wonders of nature. Say, in Meghalaya, there is a bridge that is built from the roots of the living tree which is probably the only bridge that starts getting stronger from the day after it is built. We wouldn’t get to see such sites in a congested city region.

You are so passionate about saving the environment and the job that you do. But is conducting eco-conscious tourism a commercially viable profession? Would you recommend youngsters to take it up as a profession?

Yes. Totally. A business can be conscious and also profitable. This pandemic has given us clear signs of what the world needs. Eco-conscious tourism is the need of the hour. It’s a great time for the youth to explore a career in anything that talks about conscious living.

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