Fragments of our childhood have a way of trickling into our adulthood. Similar was the case for Venky—the founder of Nomadic Road. Venky spent a chunk of his early years riding pillion in the Indian countryside. In the driver’s seat would be his father, dishing out stories of adventure and words of wisdom as they explored distant lands, sometimes even where there were no real roads to follow.
Vanita Salisbury, a senior travel writer at Thrillist, took some time to chat up with Venky about the spiritual value his younger self derived from these escapades, the way it cemented his love for the road, and more.
For Sugavanam, those off-the-beaten-path rides begat several truths. First, that India was a gorgeous country, especially from the vantage point of a motorcycle. And secondly, that the open road can take you anywhere, both mentally and physically, if you let it. “What’s appealed since childhood [are] the emotions that run through my mind when I'm on the road,” says Sugavanam. “The freedom of the open road, and going places where not many people have gone—your gut instinct takes you.”
Venky didn't bring any prior baggage from the travel industry; instead, he came with a clean slate and no preconceived notions, taking the leap to start his own travel company. He had, however, undertaken trips with other travel companies, only to be irked by how regimental and monotonous they were. “One reason is that they treat you like a herd. Many travel companies are primarily focused on accommodation, flights, and activities, which isn’t wrong. But in doing that, they end up neglecting the human element in the experience,” Venky remarks.
When journeying through Mongolia, for instance, it's essential to immerse yourself in the lives of roaming herders to truly grasp the local experience. Similarly, Madagascar calls for indulging in local seafood delicacies, and Peru warrants tracing some of the treacherous routes used during the Dakar Rally.
Nomadic Road was founded with this exact vision—to depart from conventional, checklist-style tourism and craft adventures that prioritize the heart and soul of a destination. Overland expeditions seemed like the perfect means to accomplish this feat, for these rugged 4x4s enable explorers to take charge, making it possible for them to tread lands they never knew existed.
In this regard, Venky’s prior experience with a company specialising in off-road vehicles came in handy, something Vanita touches upon in her story as well.
One of his duties included planning expedition trips intended to showcase the vehicles for journalists, overland adventures from places like India to Tibet, journeys across Africa and Latin America, and one particularly intense 22-day, 15,000-kilometer course through seven different ASEAN countries.
The core emotion for a traveller, especially in the modern era, is the thrill of freedom and exploration. Explorers of the day crave more than just tourist destinations. They want experiences, revelations, discoveries, and serious bragging rights.
Within the realm of Nomadic Road's motoring expeditions, every journey is a symphony of these desires. The conventional comforts of hotels and the allure of restaurants gracefully fade into the background. Instead, the spotlight gleams upon raw and unfiltered experiences that test your mettle and unravel the depths of your spirit.
See, when someone embarks on such a journey, they're not seeking to recount yet another tale of Paris or Rome. They yearn for a narrative that stands apart, one that diverges dramatically from the usual social circle anecdotes. “We create opportunities for the usual traveller to take a leap to become an explorer… a great storyteller. So we are basically trying to bridge the dream and the reality,” says Venky.
At Nomadic Road, we hold a steadfast belief that adventure knows no age limit, and it certainly shouldn't be confined to the young and the daring. We have carved a space where travellers can get lost, stuck, and bruised without having their lives threatened. With our team quietly watching from the sidelines, nomads can be rest assured that while it may not often seem like it in that moment, everything’s going to be okay.
Check out Vanita’s story to learn more about how Venky “aims to determine the perfect balance between desired risk and real-world constraints.”