By: Staff Writer, 11 Jul, 2018
Vikrant Chheda wants to push you out of your comfort zone – in the best way possible. He’s the man behind White Collar Hippie, and as you’d expect, his eyes light up when he talks of his travels. He pushes his long hair off his face as he spills the secrets behind his travels and of how White Collar Hippie came to be. It’s no surprise that travel is a big part of his life – it’s shaped his experiences, his ideas, and of course, is what his company revolves around.
White Collar Hippie started out as a fun side project. Vikrant and a friend would brainstorm together, cooking up ideas for something fun that they could do. “We were both really interested in the travel space and we didn’t need it for money at the time, so we decided to do something we’d enjoy,” he says. “Over the years [before it was formed], the kind of trips that we had gone on and the experiences we had had were big factors in what we came back and did in our regular lives.” And that’s something that Vikrant really wants for the folks who travel with White Collar Hippie.
Most times, it’s about embarking on an adventure. Vikrant’s definition of what counts as an adventure is pretty loose here. Overcome a fear you’ve always had? Realise something new? It’s an adventure. “For someone, staying in a five-star hotel may be an adventure because they’re only used to camping,” he says. Getting out of your comfort zone can also let you get under the skin of a new place.
“Connecting with the culture of the place makes you fonder of that place. If you did a trip to the Andamans with us, you’re not seeing it as a diving holiday and coming back – you’re connecting with the people who are passionate about the area and its surroundings. So now if something were to happen to the Andamans, you’d be bothered and maybe do something about it.”
On his own too, Vikrant is constantly on an adventure, which is to say: he never has a plan. One of the trips that shaped his life (and how he travels) took place back in 2008. He’d been travelling across USA on his own, meeting friends in various cities, and embarked on an impromptu solo trip with strangers on a bus ride from San Francisco to New York. “It was amazing—it made me realise so many things about myself,” he recalls. “I gained confidence. There was no one to judge me. I could be whoever I wanted to be – shy, talkative, whatever. There was no pressure of any kind.” He’s a strong advocate for solo travel, even if you’re not entirely by yourself. For him, the kind of trips that companies like White Collar Hippie take people on are perfect for first-time solo travellers.
The other thing about not planning, Vikrant says, is that you have no idea what you’re missing out on. No FOMO, so to speak. Plus, it means there’s enough time to wander, get lost, to soak in a place at your own pace. This non-planned travel time is something White Collar Hippie encourages on their trips too.
It’s a simple concept – be open, make connections, and say yes to adventure. It’s almost off a Hallmark card. But it’s been nearly six years since White Collar Hippie was born, and these ideas still stick. “Our goal is still the same – make people do trips that change them a little bit.”