Travelling can be a lot of fun when you’re going to your dream destinations with the people you love while doing the things you’ve always wanted to do. But each person is a different, unique kind of traveler – some like a quiet weekend getaway, some like an upbeat family vacation while others need their thirst for adventure quenched with a hit of adrenaline!
Wouldn’t it be great if you could have your holiday plans customized down to the tiniest details to suit your interests while travelling? Well, that’s exactly what Offbeat Tracks is all about…making the world your oyster and you its pearl.
Started by former Facebook specialist Vandana Vijay, Offbeat Tracks specially customizes travel itineraries with an offbeat twist for the traveller, be it the adrenaline junkie, the party animal or the beach lounger. This experiential travel company aims at promoting sustainable and experience-based travel across the Himalayas as well as India and South East Asia.
Our vision is to use travel and tourism as a means of generating employment and build infrastructure in hard-to-access regions of the Himalayas.”
Vandana believes that this would also work as an additional source of income for the rural communications service provider and help in preventing the rural-urban migration issue. Showcasing their local way of life to the world also inculcated a sense of pride amongst the locals. While volunteering with an NGO in Ladakh way back in May 2014, Vandana spent two weeks trekking to different villages in the high altitude regions. It was during this time when she realised that she wanted to work with people at the grass root level.
Communication is not always up and running in these regions and a lot of them are politically unstable. So it is imperative for us to ensure safe passage for all our guests during unexpected and unforeseen situations.”
Her business operates in extreme regions across the Himalayas ranging from far-flung villages in Ladakh, Sikkim, Bhutan, and Nagaland to the tea gardens in Assam and Meghalaya. Hence, it was vital for Vandana to set up networks with tried and reliable vendors. She has personally travelled to all these destinations to assess the geography and booked herself in homestays in order to ensure that the experiences she was providing are authentic and true to their name. Certainly meant only for the true adventurers and adrenaline junkies!
The Inspiration and Support System Behind This Travel Advocate
Vandana’s parents and brother have also been a big source of support and motivation for her. Being an army officer’s daughter, Vandana had the privilege of travelling all over the country and her father would always encourage her to explore the unchartered. “I guess I get my wanderlust from him!”, she says honestly.
I take a lot of inspiration from the common man dwelling in the mountains. The harsh conditions that they face despite which they have a constant smile on their faces and have the largest hearts gives me the zest to do something that can improve their quality of life in a small way.”
Being an avid traveller and culture seeker herself, Vandana realised that there are a lot of people out there who are looking to experience something immersive but don’t know how to accomplish it. Her company aspires to be that bridge that connects the culture seeking vacationer to the service provider, creating unforgettable holiday memories along the way.
Integrating Travel and Tourism with Social Development
Recently, Offbeat Tracks has generated a network of rural service providers in the Kigwema village of Nagaland. In 2016, Kigwema was identified as a destination for ecotourism. Ever since then Vandana has set up a homestay network in the region providing experiences such as culinary tours, handicraft tours, ‘A day in the life of a local farmer’ etc. This has greatly helped the local economy and has increased the number of people wanting to sign up as tour guides and service providers in the region. Offbeat Track’s offbeat ways of promoting travel helping the traveller pursue his passion for adventure and help the local communities better their standards of living. Vandana has also undertaken a rural solar electrification project in the Takmachik village in the Sham region of Ladakh, in 2017. Over the span of her five-day visit to the village, Vandana was able to raise significant earnings amounting to INR 1,00,000/- which gave a great boost to the locals and their village economy.
Do not be afraid to find your passion and work relentlessly towards achieving it. Fail hard, fail often but keep moving! The key is to keep correcting course and chipping away!”
“Solar” Powering On…
She further plans to introduce the concept of experiential travel across India and also extensively work on solar electrification in the Himalayas. For 2018, she has two target villages in Kashmir and Ladakh respectively that she wishes to power with solar energy. She is also looking to encourage locals to increase the network of homestays to create unique travel experiences across remote regions of India.
Vandana’s advice to other young and bold entrepreneurs just like herself – “Do not be afraid to find your passion and work relentlessly towards achieving it. Fail hard, fail often but keep moving! The key is to keep correcting course and chipping away!”