To those for whom travelling is a lifestyle.
I love travelling and have travelled to many distant lands. These travels were the usual ones- with family, folks and a few ‘solo’ here and there. But, last December I travelled to Kashmir and I became a ‘Tripper ’. But this is not a travelogue on Kashmir. It is about how I discovered tripping while travelling to the hailed heaven on earth.
If you search the dictionary definition of the word ‘tripper’ you will find two meanings – one a passionate traveller and another a person who intakes psychedelic drugs and undergoes hallucination. I am a tripper because I have chosen a lifestyle where I would receive the same oxytocin flow from travelling as I would get with the intake of drugs.
I am a ‘tripper’ now.
So the concept is simple. Trippers have chosen travelling as a lifestyle. Trippers are carefree, they live in the present, they don’t get to save much and their folks often consider them nomads. And most importantly, trippers travel with strangers. In November 2020, I came across this travel forum, a tripping online travel agency (OTA) called ‘On His Own Trip’ known as OHOT amongst trippers. A new acquaintance referred but with a word of caution that if I choose to take this endeavour my life might change forever. Back then travelling with strangers did not fit into my definition of travel and so I tiptoed with caution. However, the idea kept lurking in my mind and my desire to have new experiences in life finally gave me the push to make that call. A trip leader from the OTA was on the other side of that call who patiently explained to me the format.
- You must be under 40
- You would be accommodated on a sharing basis with a fellow stranger tripper (same gender).
- Trippers travel as friends and family.
- The food bill gets split amongst fellow trippers on every meal basis.
- The trip would be in a luxury format, so decent accommodation with heated rooms are promised.
- New year party inclusive
- Everyday post travel ‘chill’ (interact) with other trippers, play games and make new friends.
It is time I give you a quick introduction to myself. I am in academia and have been working as a college professor for several years now. I am forever thrilled about new experiences in life. So, the professor in me often takes a backseat and the explorer in me becomes indulgent in these new experiences. These include things like solo travels, learning to skate and scuba dive, taking cycling expeditions, road trips and a host of other activities.
I reached Kashmir and the first thing on our itinerary was getting introduced to fellow trippers during our bus ride from Srinagar to Gulmarg. It was an interesting mix of gender, age, profession and lifestyle. We shared our first meal on the way and exchanged formal pleasantries with each other. Rather than going into a detailed itinerary of my trip let me share the outcome. By the latter half of the trip, we learned each other’s (fellow trippers) way of life, thought process and macro details of each other’s life. That happens when you travel with strangers. The process included sharing meals, discovering new places and knowing each other’s lives and becoming family. Post-trip we bade farewell but promised to meet soon on the next trip and until then remain connected on social media platforms. A few became very close friends. We visited their native places, stayed in their homes and became part of their lives forever. Together we formed a new tripping community. Post-Kashmir, my life changed in many ways. I was a more confident self. I found my new love for travel and my fellow trippers’ life journey touched mine in several ways.
Back to Tripping, an average tripper takes about 3-5 trips a year. The age group of the tripper is anywhere between 25-35. Tripping is not cheap, so students or those below 25 do not frequent it. The majority of the trippers are young professionals who are travel enthusiasts. Most of the trips booked are instantaneous as trippers being professional often end up not pre-planning. Most trippers join the fraternity after listening to their friends and folks, however, after their first travel, they remain hooked and at times develop loyalty with the trip leader or the touring agency thereby becoming repeat trippers. This new travel market is not defined by discounts, hotel budgets and itineraries. The focus remains on the experience rather than the places to visit. I would like to refer to this as the new ‘kinship’ model of travel. You travel because you want to meet new people across the segment, you travel because you want to make new friends and you travel because you want to experience new things.
The tripping OTA website features a definitive pre- conditioned itinerary across time frames i.e. for different times of the year. The booking happens as per the quota available for each trip. Therefore, unlike a regular tourist, the tripper chooses to visit the website and book a trip as per their budget, choice of destination, fellow tripper family commuting and availability of time. The marketing happens primarily via WhatsApp and word of mouth. Post-trip the trip leader creates a WhatsApp group for every tripper community and afterwards this group becomes the way to market the upcoming trips by the subscribed OTA.
Tripping is different from budget or mass touring. Trippers opt for handcrafted itineraries, where trip leaders are an essential part of the service provided. The tripping OTA are travel friends with focus on the experience provided.
My first trip as a ‘tripper’ touched my soul in many ways , hope it touches yours too.
Happy to be the torchbearer.
A list of tripping OTA collated by a fellow tripper:
Images are from the author’s personal collection.