Senior manager operations field,
He travels the country, planning all those trips you’ll pay good money for.
For 13 years, Rahul Rao’s been rafting down uncharted rivers, hitching rides on back-road buses, scouting out fruit stands, biking through villages, hunting out the perfect picnic spot. Rao’s not your average tour guide. He works as a “reconnaissance” expert for Eco Adventures, a travel company that merges tourism with local experience and sports adventure. And Rao gets to plan the itineraries.
“We need to have product knowledge, we can’t sell ourselves without knowing our trips thoroughly, and the only way to do that is by putting the itinerary down myself,” Rao says.
Rao, 34, knows no other profession, starting at a travel company right after school. He switched to the Delhi-based Eco Adventures six years ago and has not looked back once. His job requires him to search out the unusual on tried and true tourist spots. So, on a trip to Leh, for example, he watched as the tourists flocked to monastery tours, moving between the buildings by car. “I thought to myself, everybody’s going by road. So, I took a raft and put it in the river. And it’s a whole different angle.”
When he decided he wanted the tour to stop for a picnic, he searched out the perfect spot with the help of a local tour guide. He says if you want to know a place outside the tourist experience, you have to turn to local families. When he’s on a reconnaissance mission, he’ll travel by local buses, visit roadside stands, and ingratiate himself with as many locals as possible. The actual travel tours can last from a week to 18 days, and takes Rao about a month to plan. He gets to design everything down to the smallest detail. So, if he finds a roadside juice stand in Kerala he particularly likes, he’ll send the tour there after a bike ride through the back villages. Rao plans to keep exploring as long as there are places to explore, especially places he has no knowledge about—all the more exciting to discover that way.