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. Now, 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 area, 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 heard that our senses are hyper-aware when visiting a place for the first time, hearkening back to our primitive selves when survival instincts kicked in to warn us to be more aware in new surroundings. I believe it.
When my eyes see something for the first time, my nose smells an exotic 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 each 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 news of some natural disaster or a political or human rights travesty, I no longer feel disconnected.
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 indeed “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 friends, family, and life.
My experience of travel is not unique. I know from speaking with countless other travelers that this is the widespread impact of authentic travel experiences.
Today we are blessed to be able to travel like never before in the history of humankind. Especially those living in the U.S., whose passports allow us a mostly unencumbered freedom to visit 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 their customs fully. We want to show people that you don’t have to be famous or wealthy to travel. You simply need a passport, an adventurous spirit, and an open mind to have life-changing travel experiences.
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 three biggest passions: Travel, Music, and Video Production. These three 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 TV.”
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, I hope they are entertaining and enlightening for an open-minded 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, but I promise to share with you my raw, 100% “mostly” unfiltered experiences as honestly and transparently as possible.
I want to help others in any small way I can to find their fulfillment and sense of wonder & beauty as we each make our 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 YouTube, our Instagram, our Facebook and our Twitter to keep up with our news and progress. If you see something, we should be doing better, then definitely let me know. Even if I can’t respond to all, I read 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 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 your travels may take you, I wish you many safe (but not TOO safe) fulfilling journeys! Robert G. Rose