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Life Of A Trip Leader

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But what is it about trip leading that is so fascinating.

What most people think is that it allows them to travel for free. It does, but soon enough any trip leader would realize that in that role, you are traveling more for the people, and their needs rather than to explore a place with your heart and mind. Even when you reach a beautiful place, you are thinking five steps ahead, not just how pretty the place is.

I think there are two things a trip leader can fall in love with, in the process of leading. One is the feeling people have when they do something they never thought they could. A good trip leader would always push people to do something they didn’t think they could do. It makes people emotional when they cross a barrier, when they conquer a fear. And that’s why I always prefer leading trips that have an element of adventure, over a plain sightseeing or chilling trip. The latter, personally, don’t bring out my value nor do I feel a buzz. But there is so much emotion I have seen on treks, during caving, during scuba diving – teary eyed people, group hugs, people helping out each other.

There is fear in some people’s eyes when they had to cross rickety rope bridges over speeding rivers. Some people panic when they have to enter dark caves that make them feel claustrophobic. I have heard people tell me “Nero, why did you bring me on this trek, its too difficult for me”. Every single one of those people crossed the shaky bridge, came out of the cave into sunlight, and finished the trek. Happy tears at the end of it all, beaming smiles, a sense of self realization in their beings, and there is nothing that gives me a better feeling on a trip than that raw emotion in their eyes when they have done it! We play a game on the last day asking people their favorite trip moments, and its not surprising that whoever had a fear they conquered mostly always have it in their favorite memories list.

The other thing that can leave a trip leader happier is to see someone who was sad about something in their life, feel a little better about themselves, on the trip. A lot of people go into their shells, in life, because of different things – a failed relationship, stress at work, low self esteem. On a trip, we have many conversations and play different games that sometimes make people open up. Sometimes, someone gets the confidence to open up seeing someone else open up. A lot of times, it’s a deliberate strategy to push someone who is quiet or shy, into the limelight. Recognition, appreciation, or just having normal fun conversations can also help a person’s confidence. And whenever someone tells me emotionally at the end of a trip, that it helped them be happier as a person, it makes this whole work that much more blissful.

To everyone who traveled with me, who helped anyone else out on a trek or in a conversation, to all the smiles and hugs, a big thank you!

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Neeraj Narayanan

Neeraj Narayanan, a.k.a Captain Nero, is the founder of OHOT. In the summer of 2013, he quit his corporate job and went backpacking around the world. In a year full of (mis)adventures, he ended up being chased by a bear in a Croatian forest, being held at gunpoint by a mafia gang lord in Turkey, running with the bulls in Spain, and dancing in the clubs of Spain and Italy. A year later, he started leading group trips for people.

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