I built a hack to travel around the world during Covid-19. I wrote this to share it with my fellow explorers around the world currently confined to their homes.
Before Covid-19, we were the ones who loved packing light, jumping on a plane. Or out of one. Landing in a new city. Choosing the dish on the menu we’re least familiar with. Delighting in a deep conversation with a stranger at a bar we’ve never been to before.
And there’s more than a billion of us. 1.4, to be exact: 1.4 billion people international travelers in 2018. To put that in perspective, in 1950, just 25 million people traveled internationally. Us explorers have exploded across the globe these last decades.
So what’s an explorer to do when the world’s in lockdown?
I built a hack to travel around the world during Covid-19.
A first-of-its-kind conversation platform, where we explorers can get matched to partners around the world for short, 15min video chats. No small talk – all conversations start with a Big Question you get to choose ahead of time.
It required a shift in how I thought about travel.
I used to think, travel was about going places.
But then I realized, you can just as easily travel through conversation with someone who lives in another part of the world.
You can travel through their stories, their experiences, their joy, their sorrows.
You can experience their world through their words.
In many ways, this travel is as powerful, if not more so, than physically traveling the world. Because it’s accessible to anyone. No vacation budget needed. Just show up authentically, ready to share your story, and dive into a conversation that matters with another human.
What does exploring humanity via 15min video chat convos on Big Questions feels like? (or – try it for yourself)
Here are some stories from my fellow explorers.
“I met a NYC ICU doctor who had started showing symptoms three days prior, and had been pulled out of rotation. She was exhausted, lonely, and fearful of infecting her boyfriend. She was eager to kick the virus, and return to the fight. She was inspiring and impactful and strong in a way that a New York Times article about her could not be. She shared with me a window into the front lines, and I am grateful for it.
I met a highly successful tech worker who was battling demons from childhood about body image, and utterly illogical fears that she should be farther in her career than she is. She inspired me with her courage and vulnerability.
I met a guy who had just been laid off, another indirect victim of Covid. He felt he could stay afloat for 6 months+, but wasn’t sure after that. He told me about how his parents had always been careless with money, and thankfully, that made him super careful. I met him 3 hours after he had gotten the call from HR. It was raw, human, authentic, and a high definition window into a painful moment that millions of people are going through.
I met a Brazilian yoga instructor, living in NYC. She told me about her radical, religious upbringing, and how she wasn’t allowed to wear a dress until she was 21. She told me about a brush with God she had in the Dominican Republic, when she was miraculously saved from a dangerous situation.” – LC
“For 30 minutes my quarantine walls were ripped down, had 3 great convos in the Philippines, LA , and Chicago.” – DM
“I was surprised to chat with someone in Bangladesh! But we had a conversation about American politics – which he actually began talking about first. I got some unique insight and perspective from him and look forward to the next conversation with a new person soon!” – KS
“What I keep on learning and keeps surprising me is, how we are from different cultures and backgrounds and still, we are basically all the same, we have so much in common and we want the same for the world.” – JF
“Meeting such diverse people with various backgrounds and ideas inspired me and expand my perspective on the topics we talked about. At the same time, it was truly exciting to feel the unity – that you are not alone thinking about the particular things which are important to you.” – HB
“I really enjoyed getting to talk to a few individuals who were actually spread out around the country/world. A lot of the discussion circled back to how we’re all coping with the current pandemic, and it was nice to be able to break out of my usual social circles to hear about different perspectives. I think twine has the potential to remind people that we’re truly a global community even though we may be socially isolating for now.” -EL
In the words of e.e. cummings: ““listen: there’s a hell of a good universe next door; let’s go”
?? Explore humanity, now