On the go: From Amsterdam and Berlin to Ho Chi Minh City, this travel startup will take you on work holidays
There has been a shift in the concept of how the new generation works and travels. For many, travelling is a respite from the everyday grind, an excuse to disconnect from the continuous buzz, and a means to recharge and replenish.
But not everyone can afford the luxury of disconnecting completely. Work slips into personal space and work hours get extended beyond the regular nine to five job. And working while travelling might just be a dream come true for many travel buffs.
Recently, tech billionaire Elon Musk said he works 90 hours a week. At a time when the world is arguing in favour of reduced work hours and a five-day work week, the Tesla CEO, in his archetypal style, shocked many with his comment.
“Don’t recommend though - bad for health and happiness. But no choice or Tesla would die,” Musk tweeted in response to a post on social media.
And it’s not just Musk. A host of founders, business owners, and people within the startup ecosystem are facing the same reality as they strive to work towards their goals and sustain themselves in the process. And 32-year-old Vandita Purohit is no different.
An engineering graduate and a first-gen entrepreneur based out of Pune, Vandita realised that travelling need not necessarily mean switching off from work.
“For me, travel is a part of life, just like work is, and so I am always working while travelling. I am never without my laptop. It just makes the entire experience even better because I am not worried about work while travelling, nor am I thinking about travelling while I work,” she says.
Vandita spotted an opportunity here - to blend both work and travel, an idea that she describes as ‘work on the go’. In May 2018, she launched TraWork, a travel startup, which facilitates travel and work for professionals who struggle to juggle between travel and hectic working schedules.
Since inception, TraWork has conducted two international trips for its customers, and there are many more – both international and within the country – in the pipeline this year.
At the heart of the idea is travel. From arranging trips to local events and giving access to co-working spaces, to bringing in opportunities to network and indulge in the local cultural experience, Vandita and her team ensure these trips are well-worth the time.
From Amsterdam and Berlin to Ho Chi Minh City
“Everyone eventually becomes a part of the community,” she says.
TraWork’s first international stop was to the cultural and commercial capital of Netherlands, Amsterdam, and was followed by a visit to Berlin in Germany.
For TraWork, travelling to prominent European destinations, characterised by their architectural wonders and bustling trade and economy, and more so by the way people in these places interact with one other, fostered the idea of a community.
“Communities are a lot more active there,” says Vandita. “It’s not a transaction, but they are all a part of a bigger purpose. Cafes are an integral part of every workspace. One of the biggest takeaways was being welcomed by people of different cultures and dynamics. Both Amsterdam and Berlin workspaces were like that.”
One of the biggest advantages of being able to marry travel and work is the seamless exchange of experience. For instance, when team TraWork visited the Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam during its second international trip, Vandita explains the bunch was “stunned by how welcoming and hardworking people in Ho Chi Minh were.” Despite the language barrier, she says, “people there would do anything to understand what you need and help you.”
“It’s a creative hub. You will have to go explore the inside of the city and you will find beautifully-designed cafes, stores, and workplaces. Five to six different small business owners come together and occupy a bigger space with a common entrance like a shopping mall. Just that it’s not a shopping mall but an old bungalow or a set of old buildings in a common compound and they maintain it together,” says Vandita.
And while you are at it, Vandita advises, “Try Mr Viet coffee. It’s one of the best Vietnamese coffee I have had.” Keep their economic troubles aside, and you will still be surprised to find all the big brands in Vietnam, she says.
Creative breaks, new ideas, new connections
If you love your work, you shouldn’t ever need a break from it. At least that’s the idea Vandita allowed to brew until it simmered into something concrete and feasible.
Hence, the concept of TraWork is not just restricted to people who work online. Whether you are a blogger or a nomad, an industrialist or an entrepreneur, everyone, even those whose work is location dependent, “need creative breaks, new ideas, new connections.” For them, travelling could be the key to newer ideas and perspective.
In fact, during these trips, Vandita explains, “There are a ton of events and trade fairs these travel bugs can attend, which can help their work tremendously, and help get connected to right people.” “Typically, anyone whose work is location independent will find it ideal along with people who are on a sabbatical or on creative breaks,” she adds.
But don’t be fooled by the exotic names on the itinerary. Neither is TraWork a travel agent, nor are these trips a luxurious getaway.
“We focus a lot on the budget,” says Vandita. “It is a super budget and experience-driven trip.” The people who sign up are also carefully selected, keeping in mind if a particular location or a trip would work for the group, especially in terms of their work. “To ensure we have the right set of people, we scrutinise the applications, get on a call with the applicants to know more about them. We also have special industry-focused itineraries.”
While team TraWork has already touched base in Europe and Asian countries, they haven’t done any such trip closer home.
“We are soon starting a four-day work getaway and 10-15 day long trips within India,” says Vandita. “These trips would be to different cities across India such as Puducherry, Dehradun and McLeodganj up north, and North Eastern parts of India.”
How can anyone say no to the breathtakingly beautiful North East, or the culturally-rich, India’s French Colony, Puducherry? For that matter, the next exotic stop on TraWork’s itinerary is to be able to travel to all these places without actually having to take off from work. And one that Vandita is living!
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