Ansoo Gupta- Entrepreneur, Traveler of 70 Countries and Propeller of One Shoe Trust’s ‘Responsible Tourism’
Having travelled more than 70 countries, a successful media professional, Ansoo Gupta, now runs One Shoe Trust and guides people about how to plans their trips and indulge in responsible tourism. Alongside, she also spreads the awareness among fellow travelers about eco-friendly traveling. She has worked with big companies including National Geographic and Star. She is currently the COO of Pinstorm. With so much professional responsibilities and two kids and a household, how does she manages travel? We got talking with her.
Recalling her childhood, Ansoo says,”I was the school captain. I was pretty ambitious from my childhood. I never had to think twice after setting my eyes on any ambition. I also had a lot of support from my parents. We used to travel from time to time. My father would always think of these offbeat places to take us to. I would call my family adventurous and so fear was never ingrained in either girls or boys in our family. Incidentally, geography was my favourite subject. My career goals were never to have big house or a big car. Collecting stuff and making a style statement was never something that drove me. Instead it was to excel at whatever I was doing and to see the world. So, this craze for travel didn’t strike me at once. Instead, it caught on to me gradually”. She further adds, “I think it was just my thing like people have a thing for designer bags, jewelry, and designer clothing. I think now with all the knowledge that I have gained, I can and I am helping my friends convert their travel dreams into reality. So I can say that I must have started traveling as a thrilling thing to do but now it has gradually transformed into appreciation for the world and the universe. I think this planet is really awesome”.
Looking back at the start of her traveling days, Ansoo Gupta says, “Initially I used to travel solo. This was twenty years ago. There was no one who wanted to travel the way I did because they found this vocation to be a bit weird. So for the longest time I couldn't find anyone to go with me. Thankfully, I now have a husband who is as crazy about these trips as me. And my kids! Well, all kids love travelling. Twenty years back, I took a trip from Delhi to Mcleodgunj. People didn't know where Mcleodgunj was at that time. If you don't even know about the place, how would you even agree to come? I thought it was an adventure as well as a risk to do it alone so I went along and did that trip on my own”.
As we talk to her about issues concerning her personal safety, she says, “When you don't know what all wrong could happen, you are not that worried. All these security concerns have propped up now with so much media exposure. All this might have existed that time too but I was pretty much oblivious to them. I took an overnight bus from a place called Majnu Ka Tila near ISBT. I reached Dharamshala in the morning and it was completely a different world. For me it was what Alice must have felt like when she dropped down the rabbit hole”.
Balancing Travel with Work
Ansoo is very clear about balancing professional life with travel goals. “You will be surprised how many leaves we actually do have in a whole year. If you plan your long weekends and other holidays properly, everyone can travel along with their regular jobs. These days with all work being done electronically, you could be anywhere in the world and still be in touch with your office and home. I work very hard to balance everything. When you are clear about your goals, and know that there would be two extra days in a month that would be solely yours, I am sure you could figure it out.”
Japan, Moscow, Jordan, Egypt are some of the most memorable trips for her. She distinctly remembers the spectacle of seeing thousands of lamps floating into the night sky with Buddhist chants in the background. Europe is one of her favourite destinations where she once went for a four-month long bootstrapped trip.
Northern Lights of Abisko, Sweden
“So it was on my bucket list all the time. It was the long weekend because of 26th Jan. I researched and found out the best place to experience the northern lights from, which was in Sweden. It was not very tough to reach. But -35 degrees is not an easy temperature to bear. But because you can only see the northern lights in winters and that too in night sky, one has no other choice”.
On Her Influences
On asking about what kind of movies and books might have triggered her passion, she tells us, “I was very influenced by Buddhism and Dalai Lama. Seven Years in Tibet, the book and the movie and The Last Emperor left a lasting impression on me. At that time, I was also involved with the Free Tibet Movement in Delhi. That's how McLeodgunj became my first choice of travel destination. Also, I had grown up looking at pictures of places in Nat Geo magazines and those pictures always spoke to me. Later, I also got influenced by The Beach starring Leonardo diCaprio. I wanted to visit that beach. And I did too”.
One Shoe Trust and Responsible Tourism
Ansoo conducts workshops for travelers where she talks to them about responsible tourism and the various facets to making travel easier and less costly for everyone. She says, “People would always ask me, ‘how I am able to travel this much and isn’t it hard’? All these queries got me thinking why did people find travel so hard? Gradually I got the idea to start workshops to impart knowledge in people. I was very sure I didn’t want to write blogs; workshops felt more organic. I started telling people how I manage my time, how I manage to find good deals, how I think travel must be done. This is how One Shoe Trust was started. Gradually people started attending them. They started writing back to me telling how the workshops helped them get the most out of their trips. I also wanted to stress on the importance of responsible tourism through my workshops. It is because India and China have the largest touring population. Tourism can be very harmful for the environment if not done right. And because I strongly believe that travelling shouldn’t lead to ecological crisis, responsible tourism became an integral part of my workshops. For anyone interested in one of these workshops, I give out dates on my Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages. People can just check that space for updates. I share links for online registration whenever a workshop is scheduled”.
Ansoo doesn’t believe that one needs to have a lot of money and time to go discover the world. She sticks by her idea of ‘less is more’, thanks to modern-day apps like ixigo, Skyscanner, etc where one can find the cheapest deals anywhere in the world. Follow latest updates from One Shoe Trust to get the most out of your next travel plan.