Since I was a child growing up on a rural Tennessee farm, I’ve been a voracious reader of books about characters in far off lands from places I always dreamed that someday I’d be able to visit. As an adult living and working in New York City, I continued to feed this habit of escape through books, travel magazines and travel shows.
Thanks to the Internet, I began researching possible exotic locations; the more foreign the culture and exotic the location, the better.
For me, international travel began as a way to escape the stress of running a growing television production and syndication company. Leaving a select few friends and family with a “secret” email address for “urgent issues” only, I’d set off for as many days as I could afford to be away (usually a week or less) on an exciting and often sparsely planned adventure to a new destination and just get lost.
While traveling, I noticed I became not only more relaxed, but regained a sense of wonder and curiosity that I had not felt since I was a child on that farm in Tennessee.
I’ve read that a human’s senses are hyper aware when visiting a place for the first time, hearkening back to our primitive selves when our survival instincts kick into overdrive and warn us to be more aware in new surroundings. I believe it.
When my eyes see something they’ve never seen before, my nose smells a foreign aroma or my palette tastes a new flavor, an intense physical and mental reaction occurs. The dull and routine gives way and my entire thought process changes.
However, most of the time the appeal of a destination comes not from the natural beauty, exotic tastes or smells and sites, it comes from the people. The connection with people, some of whom you don’t even share a common language but are still able to communicate non verbally, is by far the sweetest part of travel and the part that has changed my life forever.
After a trip I’m more aware of the world around me, though ironically my place in it seems more insignificant than ever. That somehow is a comfort since I feel both humbled and empowered to do more to help others than ever before. The further I travel it seems the deeper the connection I gain to my fellow human being.
When I return home and read or hear on the news of some natural disaster or a political or human rights travesty, I no longer feel disconnected like it doesn’t impact me. Even if I’ve never visited a place, hearing about others’ struggles impacts me more now. I can more easily imagine myself in their situation and understand, but for the luck of geography, I could be suffering their same fate. I see much more tangibly how we are truly “all in this together” and this statement no longer sounds cliché. I’m more empathetic to others in the world while at the same time more thankful than ever for my own friends, family and life.
My experience with travel is not unique. I know from talking with countless other travelers that this is the very common impact of authentic travel experiences.
Today we are blessed to be able to travel like never before in the history of mankind. Especially those living in the U.S., whose passports allow us a mostly unencumbered freedom to travel to almost anywhere on the planet, a privilege too many Americans take for granted. But research indicates and my own experiences verify that this is changing rapidly, with passports for U.S. citizens spiking the past 20 years to unprecedented levels.
We hope Raw Travel can help encourage this shift and ease the journey for many of these travelers, novice or experienced, at least a bit.
We want to encourage everyone to get rid of the fear, understand that it’s OK to go somewhere and not speak a word of the language or understand fully their customs. We want to show people that you absolutely don’t have to be famous or wealthy to travel, you just need a passport, an adventurous spirit and an open mind to have a life changing travel experience.
In 2010-2011, I was finally able to do what I’d longed to do for some time, long term travel. I gave up my New York City apartment, put all my belongings into storage, and pursued my 3 biggest passions: Travel, Music and Video Production. These 3 passions fit together in a unique combination that I think works.
I reconnected with a few trusted and talented folks I’d worked with before and we headed off on an unscripted adventure. One of the many happy byproducts of this was a little project that turned into a big project called “Raw Travel”. With limited resources (finances and crew) we’ve produced the episodes you see on TV 100% independently. While the shows are certainly not perfect, and there is much I want to improve moving forward, I think and hope they are entertaining and enlightening for the right audience.
Remember, I’m not a travel expert but instead a travel enthusiast. I encourage you to be skeptical and research these destinations and others on your own. There is a lot of information out there including, unfortunately, much misinformation. Part of the challenge is sifting through the relative experiences of others and crafting a journey to a destination that works for you.
For me, giving back has added another layer of fulfillment to my journeys. I’m still learning how to do it and promise to share with you my raw, 100% “mostly” unfiltered experiences (trust me, you don’t want me to ALWAYS say what I REALLY think).
I want to help you in any small way I can in finding your own fulfillment and sense of wonder & beauty as we all make our own way through this incredible journey called life.
As I said earlier, we are independent and 100% self financed, so there are no big, fancy marketing budgets here. I hope you will help us spread the word to others that you think might enjoy watching “Raw Travel”.
Visit our Blog and join us on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to keep up with our news and progress. And if you see something we should be doing better, then definitely let me know. Even if I can’t respond to all of them, I personally read each and every email and correspondence (well, OK, not the ones from the Nigerian Prince who needs a place to stash his money, but most of them).
Oh yeah, if you see me on the street or in your neck of the woods, please come up and say hello. I love meeting travelers and fans from all over. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a people person, so don’t be shy!
No matter where you live or where your travels may take you, I wish you many safe (but hopefully not TOO safe) and fulfilling journeys!
Robert G. Rose