A travel filmmaker based out of Bombay, Jinal Inamdar loves travelling and storytelling. She looks for stories in the most unworn and unheard-of places. She finds beauty in the most unexpected places, captures it and weaves beautiful narratives around it. Read on for her fresh and captivating perspective on travelling, while also learning some super important tricks for all the people who have just started their journey of travel blogging and content creation!
How long have you been travelling and what inspired you to do that?
I have not really counted it like that but it's been a while now. In terms of work, it's been two full years now, but other than that I have been travelling ever since I was a little kid. And by travelling I don’t mean different countries and so on. It could be anywhere. For me, travelling is just getting out of my house, getting to see a new place, and getting to meet new people.
And, what inspired me to take this up as a career choice is that I love storytelling. I like narrating stories about experiences that I have had first-hand, about people I meet, about the local food I eat and stuff like that. Also, I love discovering off-beat places, very non-touristy ones that people don’t know about. A lot of people who create content in the travel space show places which are very touristy, which are the staples of the city, the staples of a country which people just google and find out. So, I felt like there’s a dearth of content in a niche where people are creating content for places which are a little unworn and lesser-known; places which wouldn’t be people’s first preference to go to. I felt like something like that should be done, and that’s where I took the inspiration from. I am somebody who can film well, I love cinematography, I love videography, and I love filming things; so I thought I could marry all of these things together and start a youtube channel where I could put up long-form content.
What, according to you, is the outlook of the Indian Travel Industry?
The Indian Travel Industry is really booming right now because after being homebound for two whole years, everyone is frustrated and has been wanting to go out. FnB and travel are two industries which took the biggest hit during Covid but are also two industries which will always flourish, no matter what. People will always want to go out and eat, to travel somewhere; whether it's families, couples, solo travellers or anybody that you speak of. So, I think these two industries have seen the worst scenario in these last two years but now the way that they have both picked up is amazing. Some countries are promoting tourism, there are hotel chains that are rebranding and refurbishing themselves, and opening new chains and new franchises across countries and cities. That is an indication that they are doing well and that it is a positive space right now. So, I think it's booming and it will continue to boom if we don’t see any other calamity like we just did.
Have you ever done any travel planning or consultation for your followers?
Umm...I wouldn’t say “travel planning” or “consultation” as such, but I keep getting DMs every single day. Even comments that come on the videos or my Instagram posts are basically where people are asking questions like, “Hey Jinal, where should I go for my first anniversary?” or somebody was saying, “I have a child, can I travel to XYZ country with a child?” So, these kinds of questions keep coming in on a daily basis so, if that's what you consider creating an itinerary or helping them out then yeah, I do. If I can, I reply to them asap with a quick itinerary or some suggestions that I would have if I have visited a certain place; if I have not then I would look up things and try to help them.
How many countries have you visited or if we talk about India, how many states/places have you visited?
Honestly, I don’t keep a count of all the places I have travelled because that is not the goal. A lot of people that I know have a number in their head that says, “This is how many countries I want to visit” or “I wanna see the world.” Of course, I wanna see the world as well but I don’t keep a count that way. For me what really matters are the experiences that I bring back. So, there could be one state that I visited but I brought back 20 memories from there, 20 different stories to tell. So, the story is what matters to me.
But if you’re asking me about India, I think, apart from the majority of North-East, I have travelled to every other part of India. I haven’t done North-East. I have to extensively travel there because I feel like the North-east has so many things to cover that I really wanna do justice to it so I am just waiting for the right time.
What are your top 3 favourite places/experiences that you cherish the most?
The first will have to be when I visited Sikkim. Sikkim was one of the most beautiful trips simply because the landscapes were so gorgeous and I never expected so much out of Sikkim. Maybe it was my lack of expectations that kind of blew my mind. The landscapes are beautiful, they are very raw, very untouched - exactly something that I look forward to when I am travelling. The people are extremely warm, extremely helpful, and very welcoming. Everybody has some interesting story to tell. So, I think that was very, very interesting.
The second definitely has to be Varanasi for me. Varanasi because it was not a city that I travelled to, it was a feeling. It’s something that I cannot explain to you in words, it’s something you will experience when you go there. It is a place where you enlighten yourself, you learn the paradox of life and death. This place makes you accept so many things in life that you would otherwise not be accepting of. You’ll know this better if you go there in person.
For the third one, I can’t really point to something specific right now but these two.
Any experience that stuck with you?
So, Varanasi has a lot of Sadhus and Babas over there. They also have this Aghori culture over there. Aghori Babas are a cult that is present over there. There’s a ghat there called Manikarnika ghat which is a burning ground of Varanasi. So, you’ll find Aghoris very close to death. They are always surrounded by death and are apparently known to be around this ghat. I had done a lot of research, I had done a lot of reading about them but I felt that there were very contrasting views about them that I felt that if I’m here, I should personally have a word with one of them, I should talk to them, just kinda know what their life’s like, nothing big.
One night I wasn’t able to get any sleep so I got up and decided to go to that ghat. The ghat has bodies burning there 24x7 and if I go at this time I might find somebody there and maybe somebody would agree to talk to me. I remember walking to the ghat and I just sat there in silence for a while - I was watching everything happening over there and I saw a lot of Aghori babas. I went up to one and I asked him, “aap mere saath baat karoge kya?” First, he didn’t say anything and I asked him twice or thrice and then he pointed out some place to me indicating that let’s go sit there. So, we went there and I remember it was around 3-3:30 and we sat till 5 am, just talking. And it felt like this man had so much to say but nobody to listen to. So, this was a very heart touching moment for me where this guy opened up because all he needed was somebody to come and talk to him. I asked him about everything that I had read about them, how they worship dead bodies, cannibalism and more. I kept asking him about these beliefs and I wanted to know if that was true and if it was true, then what was his idea behind it, why does he do it and so on. So, that was a very eye-opening and a very heart touching experience for me.
What are the three tools that you can not do without while travel blogging?
One definitely has to be my camera, the second has to be my tripod or my Bluetooth remote because when I’m travelling solo and I have to take pictures of myself, these things have to be there. The third one has to be good clothes, I would say. I have to look good in the videos!
What are the three places on your bucket list that you are yet to visit?
Oh, it has to be Iceland for sure! Iceland and Norway have been on my bucket list for the longest time and now that the international waters are open for travel, hopefully, someday I’ll be able to travel and document.
The second has to be Nagaland from North-East India because I feel like from all the seven sisters, Nagaland is a place that’s very less visited, has a lot of raw beauty, it has headhunters, indigenous tribes and so on that are still existing there. So, that is something that I would love to visit and explore.
The third has to be Paris, but Paris I have visited twice before. The reason why Paris is still on my bucket list is that I have never visited the place in terms of content creation. So, I feel like there’s so much to create content from over there, especially as an Indian, when somebody goes there - the kind of language challenges you can face and so on, so yeah, those kinds of things. When you think of Paris, you think of the Eiffel Tower, the baguettes, the basic things but there’s a lot more to Paris than that. There’s a lot you can do, there’s a lot you can explore. So, from the perspective of an Indian I’d like to do a guide on, you know, what you should do, where you should go, what you should probably miss.
What are your monetization methods?
So monetization depends on various factors. There are different streams of revenue through which money comes in. One of them is Youtube - YouTube, as you know, pays you to create content. Other than that, brand collaborations - brands who reach out to me to integrate themselves in my videos or as a standout video or as a post or whatever social media deliverable they are looking for. So, through these brands, money comes in. And then, I am basically paid to travel. What this means is that when I tie up with tourism boards of different destinations or different properties, they pay me to travel, come to their place/destination and promote them.
What is the one achievement that you’re extremely proud of, and what did it take for you to achieve that?
There's not one single thing that I can point out and say that this has been my achievement because I truly believe that there are so many days yet to go and I've just started out and I have a very long way to go, so to be able to point out and say that this is the biggest achievement would be very wrong. I have a long journey to go so, something might be bigger than what I'm doing today, and what I'm doing tomorrow may be bigger than what I am doing today and what I am going to be doing later is going to be bigger than what I am doing tomorrow. There is always going to be scope for more and more and more. But having said that every day, what I feel, you know is an achievement for me is the fact that there are so many people who come down to me to appreciate the work and you know just something as simple as, you know, leaving a comment on the video saying, "We love your work", "we love the kind of videos you create." It really helps us. The fact that people come back and tell me that, you know, my work has helped them in some way; that itself is an achievement to me because that ultimately is the goal.
What is one thing that you are asked most often as a travel blogger?
There’s not really one, but three things that I'm asked very often as a travel blogger. One is how many countries have I travelled to so far. The number of countries basically, and the second would be, how safe is it for you to travel as a lady, do you feel unsafe, especially when people ask me about travelling in India. Also, another very commonly asked question is the one that you just asked me, what are your revenue streams, how do you travel so much and where do you get the money to travel so much from.
What are the challenges that you face a lot as a travel blogger?
One would be physical challenges which are basically getting accustomed to the weather of places that you travel to. Because when you travel from your home country/city you’re in a different zone and when you land somewhere else you’re in a different zone altogether. Getting used to that and telling yourself that you have to stick to your timeline is challenging. Things like the weather or things like losing out on light and stuff like that cannot hamper my work, I have to be on the go all the time. So, time management is very important. For example, sometimes I’m travelling for only two days but I have a lot of content to curate from there so setting those boundaries and timelines for yourself is very important. Having said that, I view these challenges as very interesting. I like putting myself through the grind because it motivates me a lot. It motivates me to do more. So, challenges I wouldn’t say in a negative sense, but in a very positive way.
And lastly, what is one piece of advice that you would give to all the amateur travel bloggers out there?
I wouldn’t say amateur travel bloggers, but to the people who are just starting out, I would say that there is a very different perspective that a lot of people have that the reason why I do what I do is so I get to travel, so that is not the goal. The goal is to create content and meanwhile, you get to travel a lot. So, always have your goal set in your mind because if you keep thinking that you wanna travel to x number of countries or wanna see this or I wanna see that, then you won’t be able to stay true to your goal. If you are a content creator, if you are somebody who wants to create good content, think of which place would give you good content, from where can you get good stories and stuff like that. Keep that as your goal. Don’t go for the big and the fancy things. Look at little things. Look at budget trips and always make sure your content is in some way helping out people because the reason why you’re creating content is so that people can watch it and benefit from it. So, don’t make yourself the centre of attention all the time. Sometimes it's okay but not at all times. The reason you're creating content is so that it can help people. Also, never get demotivated. I understand that travel content creation, especially for women, is not seen in a very positive light. You get to hear things like, “Kitna ghumogi?” “Kaise jaogi? Akeli jaa paogi?” There are gonna be hundreds of people that are going to doubt you. Even as a guy travelling solo, you might get made fun of, but please never let anybody put you down, whether it's family, friends, or anybody. The only way to get back to them is by keeping doing the amazing work that you’re doing. Keep going in the forward direction, don’t look back. If you've decided to do it, do it. Don't let anything stop you or scare you.
Jinal is an adventurous travel blogger who tries her best to create the most useful content for her viewers to make their travels more efficient. She doesn’t fear exploring what intrigues her and brings back the best riveting stories for her viewers. She doesn’t hold back from sharing her downfalls along her journey to help out the novice globe-trotters out there!
Check out Jinal’s work here: