Because of The World Wanderer, I’ve been lucky enough to connect with people I would have otherwise probably never have met, Prachi Jain of Leave UR Mark is one of them. Prachi and I first connected back in September of 2014 to discuss volunteering in Bangalore, and met up a few times to get ready for the trip, which eventually fell through.
I was determined to get myself to India and volunteer in Bangalore, and luckily, when I decided to book my trip, Prachi was there during my two weeks. We were able to bond and become close friends during that time. The more I get to know Prachi, the more inspired I am by what she is doing. I hope you enjoy learning a bit more about her.
What advice would you give to people who want to travel solo but are too afraid?
There are a lot of nice people all over the world and you will inevitably find them across your travels. Be cautious and street smart but don’t be paranoid to experience the world. The world is much kinder than the media would have you believe.
What was your worst travel experience?
I used to work for a company that sent me on an all expenses paid 4 day tour of Beijing before I started working in the South of China. Although I am 100% grateful to them to take on all these expenses for me, I realized then that I don’t like staying in fancy hotels and having tour guides with me all the time. My tour guides were great and Beijing is fascinating but the fully planned, hour by hour itinerary and fancy meals made me feel a bit suffocated. I was also alone so it was just me, the tour guide and the driver. I would eat all my meals by myself because they weren’t allowed to sit next to me (for social reasons in China). So the whole trip ended up feeling very inauthentic and lonely. If I do Beijing again, it has to be with friends or by myself. It did teach me that I’m one for adding on a bit more adventure and not staying in resorts.
Tell us about your most memorable trip.
It was recently at a coffee plantation in India. It was special because the villagers that we stayed with welcomed us into their community with open arms. They were so concerned about our well being and making sure we were having a good time. The coffee shop called and booked every taxi imaginable for us. The homestay owner took us on a hike of his village. Even after only 3 days of being there, we felt like they were our family and we were being separated from our distant aunts and uncles. Every place I’ve visited has so many kind and caring people that make your travels all the much better.
What is your favorite airline? Why?
I loved my experience with Japan Airlines. When they were serving food, I had fallen asleep. I woke up to a cute drawing by the staff of a little kitten telling me that I could call for my food whenever I was ready. Their food was amazing, the staff is gorgeous and these little personal touches make the passengers feel so special.
Who is your favorite person to travel with? Why?
I love traveling with my volunteers and interns. They experience India in so many new ways and perspectives and truly live in the moment. Everything is exciting for them! Even if I have seen something in India 10 times before, their energy and enthusiasm makes me see it with new eyes all over again.
If you could take one epic journey in the next year, what would it be and why?
As I’m in the volunteer/intern abroad industry myself, I don’t get to do many of the programs that my clients do. So I would personally like to take some time off and work on a women’s development project in Morocco. I’ve always wanted to explore Morocco and it’s a really interesting country for its location, history and culture. I’d love to learn more about the women there and contribute anything if I can to them.
What do you think is the best way to budget your money while traveling?
Make your own breakfast. Eat rice and lentils for lunch. Have a nice dinner out. Buy alcohol at the liquor shop and have a glass outdoors somewhere with a nice view instead of at an expensive bar.
In your home country, what’s a destination that you think people should visit?
In India, one of my favorite places is a dance village called Nrityagram. It’s a holistic and sustainable outdoor village where traditional dancers live and practice outdoors. It’s one of the most beautiful, unique and serene places that I’ve ever been to and you will learn a lot about Indian classical dance.
What’s your favorite travel quote?
A Ship is Safe in Harbor. But that is Not What Ships Were Built For.
How do you make friends while traveling?
I think airports are great places to make friends. When you’re waiting for a flight or when your flight is delayed, just go over to the food court or the lounge area and start chatting up somebody about how annoying the flight delay is. It may unfold from there and you will have found yourself a travel buddy, a local who can show you the city of your destination or a friend that lives in another city that you can get in touch with on another leg of your journey. I’ve been invited to live in Nepal, dated a guy I met on my flight for 2 months, encouraged to visit a resort that’s turning into a school in the mountains, and been given an invitation to tap into India’s startup scene by an entrepreneur. These are all people I stay in touch with and hope to visit one day or another!
Want to explore more of what Prachi is doing or volunteer in India with Leave UR Mark, keep track of her by following along below: