AAOHostels is built upon a simple idea – on the love for backpacking. And what better place to start than our very own India? No matter if it is culture, architecture, cuisine, terrain or people, this country in its vastness and diversity never fails to disappoint. A complete package in itself, the cherry on the cake would be that a lot of it is undocumented and less explored.
The last few years have seen a rapid increase in backpacking culture in the country with more and more people willing to step out of their comfort zone to embrace the road. While love for traveling is common, that larger part of the population still hesitates to travel because of very legitimate concerns but navigable like finance and safety.
We are working very closely with the government of Karnataka and the department of tourism and advocating the rollout of hostels and backpackers policy to ensure the safety of backpackers as well as bringing in some governance structure for the hostels in this country.
The government of Karnataka has been very proactive in supporting this change.
It is true that traveling comes at a price. Our mission is to educate people to travel responsibly, sustainably and definitely more often; expand the scope for more hostels in the country, and create a platform for the community of backpackers to connect with each other.
Hostels ensure that travelers are able to find themselves at home no matter where they go and belong to a diverse community of like-minded people. Whether it be holing up in a corner to read a book with a cup of steaming hot coffee, spending a night playing board games with newfound friends who were strangers until then, be it help cleaning , cooking for the community, or come together and listen to or play the most spontaneous music with a bunch of strangers you might never meet again, the experiences of living in a hostel is just as priceless as is the experience of being on the road.
We want to be a part of your joyous hostelling experience and be the flag-bearers of hostelling and backpacking culture in India. If you are planning a trip and looking for hostels in India, you can rest assured that you will find an ideal one on our website. Furthermore, we not only connect travelers to the different hostels in the country but also support and mentor those who are interested in opening hostel businesses and jump on the entrepreneurial bandwagon to create more hostels.
Whether you’re the curious backpacker waiting for a sign to hit the road or the industrious entrepreneur looking for a sign to kick-start your own backpacking hostel, this is your sign. Come join us in our endeavour to develop a fulfilling backpacking ecosystem in India.
Why did we do it?
One question that we asked ourselves while connecting dots of backpacking destinations in India- Where to start and where to end! We didn’t have a concrete answer anywhere on the internet. Travelers often keep reading about the destinations which were unexplored through angles of fellow travelers. But a sudden set of questions start hovering and they shout for travel mode, expenses, accommodation, food, etc. A genuine try to answer all the questions gave wings to AAO Fellowship and we set an objective to come up with blogs, which connects the backpacking destinations of India in various combinations.
How did we do it?
From over 250 plus applications, we selected 7 fellows, on the basis of their writing skills, social media presence and most importantly urge to explore.
Surprisingly out of 7, five were women and 2 were men. This indicated that Indian women are definitely on wanderlust and making it happen.
• 7 Fellows from 6 Indian States
• 15 days travel fellowship
• 22 states and union territories
• 105 destinations
• Covered 20,000+ Kms,
AAOHostels team had a command centre in Bangalore office which was awake 24x7 to monitor safety and security of the fellows. Every fellow had a basic plan to cover certain destination but they improvised and made the best out of these 15 days as they hopped from one destination to the other. Fellows in their articles painted about the destinations, places to visit, inner journey, cultures, people, and everything else they experienced.
“This is exactly what traveling does to you,” writes Sajina Ali who backpacked across Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and North-Eastern states. She goes on mentioning – “It opens up your space to welcome best from diversity in India’’. Another fellow traveler Rahul who backpacked across Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, and Chhattisgarh said “For me, it is the rawness of the people I met. There is a sense of authenticity in them, and no underlying motives behind their actions."
"When you travel and meet people, you get what you see. And the more you see it, the better you feel about the community”, says Chaitali.
Challenges and solution
We had penned down the most minute plan and anticipated every possible risk in executing this one if its kind travel fellowship in India. There were hardly any challenges faced during fellowship as every fellow had their plans already in place. We remember dealing with trains getting late on the 5th day of AAO fellowship. This could have disturbed the entire planning. Thankfully, the fellow kept enough margin between 2 trains and calculated the average time to be given at the spots. This smartness proved to be best while backpacking. Another fellow always took tickets to next destination the moment she landed at a destination. Only then she started her day to explore.
You will read many such interesting experiences in the articles to follow who traveled the remotest and most unlikely destinations to the most touristy locations of India. Happy reading and happy traveling in this Aaosome world of Backpacking.
Ekta is a self-employed freelance HR professional and exploring food constitutes a large part of her passion. She loves traveling to new and different places, reading extensively and writing. Travel for Ekta is more than just the scratching the surface of the place. When she travels, she likes to get under the skin of the place, thoroughly understanding it’s historical and cultural context, and unraveling the pieces that make the place what it is. Having built up over the years, her love for travel stems from a sense of serendipity, novelty and experience and of course the beauty of getting to know diverse people.
Places Traveled: Kerala and Coastal Karnataka
Our youngest fellow from Bengaluru, 21-year-old Megha just completed her undergraduate education in English, Journalism and Psychology this April, she has been a freelance writer for about 3 years now. She is attempting to make a career in travel writing so she can turn her passion into her profession. Megha also teaches speech and drama and has worked as a dialogue writer and assistant director in a few Kannada short movies. To her, traveling has multiple meanings. She hopes of writing more about her travel experiences and directing travel based shows someday.
Places Traveled: Tamil Nadu, Coastal AP and Hyderabad
Chaitali loves to travel, write and play the Tabla; and is a creative writer and digital storyteller by profession. She has worked as a creative writer for Yesh Raj films in the past. Relying quite a lot on her gut feelings, she is never the one to shy away from taking the leap of faith. Chaitali has an eye for adventure. She chooses to travel because it teaches her things about the world and herself that she wouldn't learn otherwise and it keeps her faith in humanity intact and makes her strong and independent. She likes how she realized with every journey that there is so much good in the world and people are so kind.
Places Traveled: Maharastra, Daman, Diu and Gujarat
Ricardo belongs to Nagpur and describes himself as a mechanical engineer by profession and a wanderer by passion. Ricardo loves writing and photography and usually prefers traveling to cold places or hills. He loves clicking photographs in nature, of landscapes and has a particular interest in astrophotography that he has developed over time. Since childhood, he has always loved to connect with the society and work for its progress and has led to him contributing work to a number of non-profits. His aim in life is to travel the world, meet new people, live different cultures and share stories to inspire others to travel.
Places Traveled: Punjab, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh
Rahul is a non-fiction filmmaker who is into travel filmmaking and his profession involves making commissioned films with various channels. He describes himself as a person who is up for whatever involves people, places and conversations and believes that he can live on the road for months or years. He doesn’t like to be at comfortable places and in order to push himself out of that comfort zone, he keeps moving. Experiencing the rawness and authenticity of people he crosses paths with, is what keeps him traveling. He has been traveling the north for a lot many years and is now gearing up to explore other parts of the country.
Places Traveled: Odisha, Chattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh
Sajna has been traveling solo for last three years along with her IT job and volunteering in two NGOs. A native of Zamorin's land, Kozhikode, Kerala, she got wanderlust in blood from her father Ali who was a lorry driver and used to take her on one day - short trips. She is an avid reader and blogger. Her debut novel, "When the sun sets" was published in 2015. She is a part of Admin Panel team of India's largest online traveler's community –‘Sanchari’ which is a platform for publishing travelogues and a dedicated team for social activities.
Places traveled: Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Assam and Meghalaya
A travel blogger from Costa Rica, Marchessi is our international fellow who will be joining in this quest to explore India. A student of Communication and Public Relations and currently employed with the department of education in Government of Costa Rica, she describes herself as a woman in love with life, challenges and details. She believes traveling allows one to have an open mind, a heart full of emotions and experiences of authentic moments. Her trips are a treasure no one can ever steal from her. One of her greatest satisfaction is to be able to share these experiences through her travels, with destinations laden with inexhaustible doses of knowledge.
Places traveled: Karnataka, Goa and Hyderabad