There are a lot of us who love to travel but very few who dare to put it at the center of their very being. Here is a couple who travel not just to explore but with the intention to give back to the places they travel. Their inner calling to travel for self discovery led them to each other. Their cultural differences has enriched their lives as they keep enriching the world around them. Let’s talk to the Soul Traveling couple – Ellie and Ravi!
Soul Cafe: Tell us how Ellie from London met Ravi from Mumbai : “The Ellie met Ravi story.”
Ellie: I have been traveling for several years now to different places; I always flew over India but never happened to really come visiting the country – until 2015.
Every time I flew to some country in south east Asia I ended waking up while flying above India! As mystical and funny it might sound I knew that India was a calling and the day finally came when I started travelling to India.
My first stop was Varanasi, and then India never left me; I kept coming back and wanting to see more. One trip I was in Mumbai for a blogging event where I was introduced to Ravi as at that time he was food blogging as a hobby. Even though I had to fly home to London the next day, we kept in touch and we had that soul connection right from the start we felt. Friendship is something we shared fondly which later grew into a special relationship and a couple of years later, here we are working together as well as being together. We now stay in Toronto, Canada, but dream of coming back to India most days!
Soul Cafe: How has it been being a multi-cultural couple?
Ellie & Ravi: In many ways, being in a multi-cultural couple is no different than “normal” (whatever that means!) There are things one has to sacrifice and adjust to, but that is the case in any partnership.
We find that we have a lot to learn from each others’ cultures and we’re lucky enough to be able to incorporate the best of both – so being a multi-cultural couple has been a blessing for us!
There are so many beautiful things to emulate in both the cultures for example a common feeling of respecting your elders, having closely knit families, sharing and kindness. In the beginning especially though, there are lots of things to talk about and iron out. Where we do have misunderstandings and different expectations, we find it is usually over food!! 😉
Soul Cafe: Your travel blog “Soul Travel” is dedicated to “responsible, sustainable and mindful travel”. From love of travel to mindful travelling – was it a natural progression for the two of you?
Ellie & Ravi: The blog Soul Travel was always built on the philosophy of mindful travelling, but of course it was travel prior to the blog that brought us to this point. One of the reasons we promote travel is because we believe in its ability to make us conscious and open our eyes: to our environment and people around us.
When we travel outside of our comfort zone and usual sphere of reference, we can journey deeper within ourselves too.
Over the last year we have also become actively involved in supporting start-ups in the eco-tourism industry with digital marketing so that sustainable and mindful travel businesses can be truly successful, and profitable! Tourism is responsible for 10% of global GDP so we feel we have a responsibility to help make the impact of travel more positive. So mindful travelling is something which we both practice as much as possible as well as encouraging others to do so.
Soul Cafe: What has been the most rewarding aspect for both of you in your “Soul Travel” journey?
We continue to be humbled and inspired by the people that we meet on our journey, particularly those who run their own sustainable and ethical tourism projects and are focused on making an impact in a big or small way. Working and travelling together has been hugely rewarding too, we have learned so much about each other through the process and we wouldn’t change that for anything.
Soul Cafe: How has your relationship with each other and with the world evolved with your soulful travels?
Ellie & Ravi: It has helped us to be more communicative and empathetic towards each others needs, differences and leverage on the strengths we bring to “Soul Travel”. Its the solid support system that you build together that also helps in situations where we have to be pragmatic.
Soul Cafe: How is travelling to blog about it, a completely different experience than just travelling for leisure?
Travelling for blog is hard work, we always hear people say to us that we have a “dream job” but more often than not we’ll be behind our laptops rather than lounging on a beach!
We certainly realize that we are very lucky to be able to travel and see the world in the first place, but there is a lot more work to blogging / working remotely than there looks to be! For each destination we visit we are constantly thinking about the content we will create, what photos and videos we will need, as well as creating social media content in real time – it adds up to quite a lot! We also realized that living as digital nomads” or always on the road is not something for us – we prefer the comfort of having somewhere to call home at the end of a trip.
Soul Cafe: Do you mostly travel together or is it a combination of solo trips and traveling as a couple? How would you compare the experience of solo trip vs traveling together?
Ravi : Soul Travel Blog was founded by Ellie before we met, and she traveled solo to start with. Traveling as a solo female traveler has its own benefits and challenges, you are on your own schedule, but it comes with plenty of its own challenges too, depending on which part of the world you are in. One of the biggest challenges for solo female travelers in south Asia for instance (including India) is how they are viewed by men.
We strongly believe that solo female travel should be encouraged and supported in all parts of the world, by men as well as women.
Solo travel has been an important part of her experience and personal journey, as well as helping me to understand some of the challenges for female travelers too. Nowadays we travel together most of the time which we love, and also feel it has been responsible for helping us grow closer and help understand some of our cultural differences too: it’s also been key for helping us grow together in our view of life, love for each other and grow as our own personalities too. Of course there are moments when we don’t like each other 😉 but fortunately our travel styles are quite similar- and that helps a lot.
We have found that traveling together has made us more selfless and kind to each other
(You can read more on Ellie and Ravi’s travel on their Blog )
Soul Cafe: What would you say about these advises that we see on social media – leave your job, pack your bags and travel/ being a digital nomad?
Ellie & Ravi: Well… there’s a bit more to it than that! Having said that we believe that whatever you do with faith and commitment can be done. Being a digital nomad has become very hyped up and trendy at the moment, and more worryingly there are a lot of “digital nomads” who make most of their money from selling courses to people who want to be digital nomads rather than from doing anything else. Being nomadic is not for everyone – some people like to have a home base, and that’s ok! Working from different places around the world is possible in many different ways, and “digital nomadism” is just one of them. Setting up your own business – be it a travel blog or a fully fledged startup – takes time, and even years before you start to see financial stability from it, so if you’re planning a big change, make sure you have the savings to support yourself for a reasonable amount of time.
Being nomadic is not for everyone – some people like to have a home base, and that’s okay!
(Here is Ellie’s Blog article on Digital Nomadic Life)
Soul Cafe: There are instances when we are confronted by something that doesn’t just feel right as we travel. This could be a cultural thing or an outcome of the rise of commercial tourism? As a mindful traveler, how does one handle it?
Ellie & Ravi : Yes, there are unfortunately many examples of where tourism has sadly not had a good impact. The obvious ones are wildlife-related, but tourism can also have a negative impact on people too.
In Venice, Italy for example the locals have all but left the city because there are simply too many tourists who have forced property prices up and no-one can afford to live there anymore.
With regards to wildlife tourism, it is sad that many animals have suffered because of tourism – from dolphins and whales that get constantly chased by boats on dolphin or whale spotting trips, to elephants that are kept in poor conditions / chained up and used for entertainment, to zoos and aquariums that do not have animal welfare in mind.These issues are complex, and there is rarely a black and white answer.
For us, the most important principle is respect – whether it’s for people or animals – or the environment.
When you visit somewhere think about the people that live there, ask permission before clicking photos, and show them consideration. When it comes to animals our view is that wildlife is best viewed from a distance, in the wild – we try to avoid any activities that “interfere” with wild animals such as petting, riding, or even selfies. Some so-called “sanctuaries” are not what they seem, so we generally stay away from those, too.
Soul Cafe: You talk about making positive changes as one travels – tell us how can one change the world as one travels?
Ellie & Ravi: It all starts with one-step at a time. Perhaps the most important thing is re-focusing travel to be as much about the places we visit as it is about ourselves.
Secondly, make sure not to leave any waste behind that might spoil the beautiful scenery. Avoid plastic wherever possible; carry a re-usable water bottle with you, avoid using straws, take-away cups and meal-containers, and choose to dine-in instead to avoid the use of single-use plastic that often cannot be disposed of properly and ends up in our rivers and oceans.
One does not need to stop enjoying their vacations or having fun, but just be caring about one’s own actions while they are traveling. One can always be aware of how they plan to travel locally and select mostly to travel in local transportation (which has less environmental impact), getting involved with community based projects (that support local people and provide the opportunity to connect and learn through travel), and
Visit places that are a little out of the way versus sticking to “top 10” lists.
If you are travelling with travel agents or companies, look into their policies for the destinations offered – like are the activities which involve abuse of animals for entertainment purpose for eg recently Thomas Cook axed their trips to Sea World at Florida citing animal welfare concerns and this positive step was taken from massive customer feedback. One has to realize that we alone can make the difference to the way you travel and leading by example, after all as we always say we have only one earth to share.
Soul Cafe: What is your life goal as a couple?
Ellie & Ravi: To live harmoniously together with love, respect and trust. To genuinely help would-be “Soul Travellers” around the world to travel and create a positive impact while facilitating personal growth, and to support the sustainable tourism industry in growing and becoming more and more the “norm” in travel. One day, we’d love to run a sustainable tourism lodge / accommodation of our own that is self-sufficient – so let’s see what the universe brings!
To genuinely help would-be “Soul Travelers” around the world to travel and create a positive impact while facilitating personal growth.
Thank you for being such a soulful and inspiring couple. May the tribe of “Soulful Travellers” increase!