Love birds turned into travel companions, Rashmee and Anant a.k.a Searats have been exploring famous places as well as hidden gems, overcoming their fears, finding their passions and travelling around the world, making memories together for a long time now. Along the way, they have learnt some valuable lessons which they shared with us during our conversation. Read on to gain some valuable insights on how to become a better travel blogger and make the most of your journey!
So why don’t we start by telling you a little bit about yourself?
Anant: Alright, just a small bit of background about me and Rashmee… we met in 2005 in our junior college (11-12th grade) in Mumbai. We started dating after a year and then I went to Manipal and we had a long distance relationship for four years. After that I started working for an oil company which was basically thirty days on and three days off but all this while, we always had a desire to travel. So finally, when we had the finances to travel, we started travelling quite extensively. But due to the nature of my job we could not go to any country which required a visa. Visa takes time. It takes almost a month. I clearly didn't have time for that. Hence, we used to go to visa free countries or the ones which facilitated visa on arrival. That way we travelled to Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bali, Vietnam and so on. That's a little bit about us.
How long have you guys been travelling for and what inspired you to do that?
Rashmee: We’ve been travelling for the past four years. I think all of us dream about travelling the world when we are young. And you know, as Instagram started blowing up, I felt like this was something I could do as I was so interested in the whole blogging space at that time and we just decided to give it a shot because why not?
What inspired you to take it up as a career?
Rashmee: Making a career out of this was never a conscious decision really. When we started in this field, at least 4-5 years back, I wasn't sure if this could be a career. Then we realised that we could make money out of it. Before that, I could’ve only wished for this to be my career, but we weren't sure if that's possible. We started just because we enjoyed travelling a lot. Eventually it turned into a career when we felt like we were able to sustain ourselves from this.
Right now you guys are just travelling, right? No other jobs?
Rashmee: I do own a company called WEIRD Digital Ads Agency in Bombay which is my primary business venture. Established in 2015, I still contribute 5-6 hours to it daily. It’s similar to what I do here but it's also related to content creation. Same field but different jobs.
Anant: And I used to work as an engineer in the middle east. I quit a couple of years back and now I’m completely into this.
Since Rashmee mentioned the other job, does this hamper your work in other ventures?
Rashmee: Yes, it does. We are never able to travel for two to three days. We have to stay for a longer period of time so that I can also do my other job while having enough time left to explore a place. We don't jump around places anymore because it becomes difficult to work simultaneously.
What is the outlook of the Indian travel industry according to you?
Anant: I believe more people will now start to mix their work with their hobby to travel. Work-cations are going to grow more and more popular. People get on their work calls, put in the good hours and then continue to enjoy their time away from home. This has come out as one of the means to maintain the work and life balance in today’s day and age. Moreover, places that provide high speed internet are going to have more business. We’ve witnessed how most of the hostels and cafes in Goa and Himachal Pradesh are providing high speed internet for people to both work and chill. We are also becoming conscious of how we travel. Travel etiquettes are gradually becoming popular among the masses. Sustainable travel is an aspect which will be given its rightful consideration in the India Tourism industry now.
Have you ever done any travel planning or consultation for your followers?
We do it every day! Multiple times in a day and not just for our followers but our friends, family members and acquaintances. We often get requests for recommendations and so on.
Is there a set procedure behind making an itinerary for your followers, or do you simply suggest and share links to a place?
Anant: Generally, whenever we are suggesting a particular spot, it comes from our personal experience. We have already done our research over it, probably made content about it and we also post a blog. So, suppose somebody needs help with their vacation in Vietnam, we’ll just simply share our blog about the same and it usually turns out very helpful. We’ve received great feedback this way.
What are the top three places in your bucket list that you are yet to visit?
Rashmee: I am currently obsessed with Peru! It’s the topmost bucket list destination but the tickets are so expensive at the moment. But yeah, it's Peru and Iceland for me. And Anant is interested in the Philippines and Zanzibar.
Any particular reasons to mention these places?
Rashmee: We are generally very interested in different and beautiful landscapes. In this regard Iceland and Peru are very unique in terms of their topography. Iceland has black sand beaches and mountains with the highest cliffs in the world. People aren’t much aware about this but Peru is an extremely diverse country with saltpans, desert and rain water. I’ve always been infatuated by these diverse landscapes and the different cultures they bring along. We are very keen on learning about the way of living over there. It seems like living in an oasis in the middle of a desert. I find it very intriguing.
Anant: I’m very fond of water and coastal destinations. Hence, Philippines and Zanzibar. I love to kite surf as well and Zanzibar is very popular for that. Many know about Maldives and Mauritius but not many know about Zanzibar. Also, the Philippines has some of the best beaches in the world.
And what are the three tools that you cannot do without while travel blogging?
Anant: If we go by gadgets then obviously our phones, laptops and camera gear. There is no vlogging without these three.
What are the challenges that you face as travel bloggers?
Rashmee: I think one of the biggest challenges is money because content creation itself is like a small business today. You have to invest money and wait for returns. Some months are good and some don’t turn out the way one had planned. Just manoeuvring money sustainably and keeping a track as we are constantly staying out is a big challenge. As a traveller, the onus is on you to always be on the go because without it there cannot be any content. Staying away from the family for a long period of time is another mental challenge we’d like to mention.
Since you mentioned that, what are your monetisation methods?
Anant: Largest segment for us are brand deals. We basically make content for brands and get paid for that. That is the biggest chunk. We also have a presets page. Instagram posts dominate popular culture today, so we sell these lightroom presets which give your pictures a certain look and feel. It's similar to filters but superior in quality.
Rashmee: It’s a big market in the travel space. We are also developing our video presets to add onto our existing product of photo presets. We’ve also conducted a lot of workshops last year on how to be a content creator and editor. Each person pays a certain amount to be a part of these workshops. Currently these are our three avenues.
Would you be interested in doing a workshop with us about content creation?
Anant: We are actually moving away from that, starting to do more niche workshops about photography techniques and vlogging. These are the areas that interest us right now.
You’ve been travelling for a while now. What is the one achievement you are most proud of?
Rashmee: My biggest achievement will have to be the fact that I overcame my fear of water. I was a very reserved person and wasn’t very outgoing but travelling really set me free and made me confident. Now I’m able to dive, do cliff jumps and scuba dive. I’m almost a different person now being in front of the camera, talking to new people, overcoming the fear of water and height. These things don’t hold me back anymore and I’m very proud of these personal achievements.
Anant: I think, for me, experiencing a place is one thing and showcasing it to an audience is another. Every place we’ve been to, we were able to do justice to it. It was a personal goal to do that and I feel accomplished in that regard.
What is that one question that you are asked the most often as travel bloggers?
Rashmee: “How do you manage your money?”
Anant: It’s almost every second dm! “How can I live my life like y’all?” And we had the same questions back when we started.
Rashmee: Looking at it with a business perspective really simplifies it. There’s a front of the business and a back of the business. Our followers often only get to see the travel aspect of it by the means of the end product which is the content that we create. The work that goes into it is not highlighted. This leads to everyone having a misconception of travel vlogging being a dream job. Of course, for us it is our dream job but we still have to work to make it possible every day.
What are some of the favourite places you have visited?
Rashmee: We went to Seychelles in 2018 for our honeymoon. It’s one of the most picturesque places I’ve ever been to. I find it unbelievable that a country isn’t under a constant filter. It has two of the world’s most beautiful beaches and the sand is white. I still dream about it, it’s too good to be true. I’d love to go there again now with better camera skills. Yes, it’s definitely my favourite.
Anant: I loved this place called Sulphur Pond in Dehradun. It's basically a natural sulphur spring and the locals, very wisely, have made a swimming pool around that which is free to use. It’s located between two mountains and offers an incredible view in the middle of nowhere. Mobile networks are not present and there are barely many houses around. The only catch is that you have to do a 16km off-road trek to reach there. But it's really worth it. It’s not a hot spring, it’s a cold spring but with naturally occurring sulphur present in the water which is really good for your skin. Kudos to the ingenuity of the locals for creating something so special.
Thirdly, we did a 10-day road trip in Sri Lanka. Initially Rashmee thought it would be similar to a mini-India but it was so different. Yes, right now, they are under a crisis but back in 2019, the place was exquisite and we highly recommend doing a road trip there. It's not exhausting and you get to see so many amazing spots from mountains to beaches. You get to learn so much from the locals. At the national reserve, we had our bags checked for plastic commodities. They value their resources so much, they recommended that we bring back our plastic water bottles and not dispose of them along the way. Their attitude towards their natural resources is extremely different and kind. The food too turned out to be different from anything we’ve ever had and it was incredible. The dialect also differs across the country. Apart from the appearance, everything else was different than what we expected.
How many countries have you been to so far?
Rashmee: We’ve travelled individually as well so I’ve covered almost the entire stretch of Eastern Europe. A few years back, I quit my job and went backpacking across Europe for three month all by myself with almost no money. I lived in hostels and found unpaid internships which used to cover my stay. This way I lived in Prague, Czech Republic for two months. Later, I travelled to Germany, Poland, Hungary, Austria, Slovakia and Germany. And collectively we’ve been to 15-25 countries around Asia and Europe mainly. We are yet to travel to North America and South America.
And across India, we last did a road trip starting from Mumbai and then Rajasthan, Himachal, Uttarakhand. Then back to Bombay to travel to Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Pondicherry. So, we were on the road for 4 months and covered at least 11 states. This is during the Covid-19 pandemic so we're basically living in our car. Speaking about the North East, we’ve only been to Meghalaya so far.
What is one piece of advice that you’d give to novice travel bloggers out there?
Rashmee: We’d suggest acquiring soft skills such as camera work, getting a grasp of editing softwares, and articulating better. Yes, having an understanding of how to manage money around this business is important but if you don’t have skills with the camera, albeit the one on your mobile phone, you can’t create anything. This is especially crucial in the initial stages of this business as you have to post every day to establish yourself in the market that is social media. We recommend one to acquire these skills at least six months before you start because once you’re out there, it goes non-stop. The business and the market are just extremely dynamic that way. We’d also suggest not to quit your job right away since it takes time to establish yourself in the game for people to work with you. It takes time, it takes patience. You can’t make it work instantly. Figuring out your audience and your content is a long process.
Anant: Possessing soft skills such as voice modulation and articulation will also help you tell your stories better. Today, as reels and short clips dominate the media platforms, it makes the presentation of the content extremely crucial. We also think you don’t need too much investment for your gear. Investing in a mobile phone with a great camera can often do the trick for most people. We truly believe that ideas are more important than gear.
The Searats are an excellent example of how with the right mindset and strategy, you can make your dreams your career and very well excel in them. Their way of doing things, their thoughts on the industry as well as their mindset on shedding light on topics such as body positivity along the way have truly left us awestruck!
Check out their amazing work here: