At 24, climate activist and conscious traveller Aakash Ranison is charged by an intense desire to explore the world as sustainably as possible. Having walked 8,000 kilometres, cycled 20,000 kilometres, and hitch-hiked 50,000 kilometres (and counting!), this travel blogger reveals how we can paint our post-COVID vacations and road trips in a green tinge as well. By Bayar Jain

1. When did you first start taking road trips and what motivated you to do so?

 

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My first road trip was from Indore to Mumbai and back on a cycle. I covered 1,400 kilometres. I’ve always loved cycling since childhood but due to some or the other reason, I couldn’t get hold of one. It was only in 2014 when I organised the Indore Cyclothon and got myself a cycle.

2. Which has been your most memorable road journey so far and why?

 

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Walking from Leh to Spiti Valley. After seeing off my friends at the Leh Airport, I started walking and ended up at Taste of Spiti, a restaurant in Spiti’s New Kaza Market. That trip holds a lot of memories and emotions. During the walk, I cried, explored my inner self, and reconnected with myself. I wasn’t dependant on anyone. I slept under the open sky and saw shooting stars as well.

3. Where were you when the lockdown was announced and how did you cope with it?

 

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I was in Calicut, Kerala. I had finished my project on the World’s First Marine Cemetery there and was enjoying my time. Aware of the repercussions of the pandemic, I immediately packed my bags and moved to my grandmother’s place in Central India before the lockdown was imposed.

On a personal level, the lockdown has been a blessing for me. I’ve learnt, grown, worked, and achieved a lot during this period. Under normal circumstance, it would take me about a year to do the same amount of work which I did in the last three-four months.

4. How did you keep your travel bug satiated during the lockdown?

 

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I cried a lot! I cried while watching my old travel videos, speaking to my friends in the mountains, and seeing my favourite travel movies. When I finished crying, I wiped my tears, got back to work with full energy, and a big smile.

5. When choosing your next destination, what are the various factors you will keep in mind?

 

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I don’t think I’ll be travelling for at least the next eight months for sure. People have been inviting me to explore their properties and see how safe they are, but I’ve declined. More than my safety, I’m worried about others. Being young, I know my immunity level is higher and I might be able to survive the Coronavirus. But, I could become the carrier and infect others such as kids, elderly, or people with low immunity systems. Besides, I think this ‘time-off’ is required for nature to heal.

6. Once travel restrictions ease, where is the first place you’ll go to for your next Indian road trip?

 

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It’s been almost a year since I visited the mountains. I want to go back there, run, trek, and feel the chill!

7. When on-the-road, how do you cope with unforeseen hurdles such as flat tyres on the highway, or losing your way?

 

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It has happened to me a lot many times, and it’s not a part of my daily life. I feel it’s an integral part of the adventures I’ve chosen for myself. It’s these unforeseen circumstances that make you stronger and help you get confidence for a bigger adventure next time.

8. How do you think the world of travel will change post-COVID-19?

 

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I suppose it’ll change for the better. However, as much as I’ve seen, humans aren’t known to change for the betterment of nature. Instead, they’ll adapt for their own safety. They’ll probably choose safer options, which could result in a negative environmental impact. However, I hope responsible companies, organisations, and institutions come forward with policies to protect the environment.

9. What are the top five must-haves for a road trip?

 

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Respect for nature, natural resources and fellow living beings; a sense of belonging towards the place you’re visiting; understanding of the do’s and don’ts of the destination; awareness of your carbon and methane footprints; and genuine gratitude towards the place.

10. What kind of music can we find on your travel playlist?

 

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My playlist is filled with melodies of the places I’ve travelled to or experienced. I listen to various genres such as hip hop, rock, pop, folk, country, EDM, progressive, dubstep, house, instrumental, trance, and death metal. Language, too, is no bar. I listen to Hindi, English, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Konkani, Gujarati, Marathi, Spanish, Italian, and Arabic songs as well!

11. As a travel-enthusiast, how do you plan to advocate the tenets of conscious travelling in the post-Corona world?

 

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I’ve been very vocal about the need to respect nature. Worldwide tourism accounted for eight per cent of the global greenhouse emissions from 2009 to 2013, and new research suggests that this sector could be a bigger polluter than the construction industry. It’s important for us to take responsibility for our impact on the global climate now more than ever before.

12. Any tips for road trip enthusiasts for their rebound travel post the pandemic?

Offset your carbon footprints, and you’ll feel super happy about your travels. 

Related: #TnlRoadTrips: Blogger Ajmira Shaikh Reveals Her Post-Pandemic Road Trip Plans