Travel Influencer Anunay Sood SHARES Game-Changing Tip For Travelling: ‘Planning A Budget-Friendly…’
With over 1 million followers on his official Instagram handle, travel influencer Anunay Sood is an epitome for people that have a penchant for travelling and exploring uber-cool places.
Anunay Sood’s experience stems from his previous sojourns in 30+countries. And thus, it was only befitting for someone like him to become an ‘Everywhere Agent’ for Skyscanner.
As an ‘Everywhere Agent’, Anunay Sood will be guiding all those who want to discover less-travelled places. From divulging tips about planning a budget-friendly trip to sharing important insights from his own expertise, Anunay will dispel any paranoia or doubts regarding embracing the true spirit of travelling.
In an exclusive chat with News18, Anunay Sood talked about his career as a travel influencer, shared invaluable insights and suggestions on making the most of exploring and travelling, addressed some common doubts and inhibitions and more.
Here are the excerpts:
What made you decide to collaborate with Skyscanner for its ‘Everywhere Agency’ campaign?
I used to be in a full-time corporate job to finance my travel adventures. My fascination with travel photography and exploration ignited my desire to become a dedicated globetrotter. That’s when I turned to Skyscanner, a game-changer in travel planning. In fact, it was also the first app I used for exploring international travel! I would use Skyscanner to track price changes and catch onto great deals, which helped me decide the best time to book my travels. The ‘Everywhere’ search was my ultimate travel hack, allowing me to discover destinations ranked by price from thousands of travel sites—all in one place.
When the opportunity to become an ‘Everywhere Agent’ for India came to me, it felt like a fullcircle moment! The ‘Everywhere Agency’ campaign isn’t just any run-of-the-mill collaboration; it’s about connecting travellers with world record-holding globetrotters who have set foot in every corner of the world. As someone passionate about adventures, through my extensive travels, I’ve tailored tons of handy travel tips—whether it’s picking the right destination, navigating budget complexities, or planning the perfect itinerary. Having been there myself, I also understand the specific needs of younger professionals working corporate jobs and dreaming of exciting getaways. To me, the idea of coming together with Skyscanner to make the travel experience smoother, more enjoyable, and accessible was very interesting – that’s what truly sealed the deal for me.
What does it entail to be a Skyscanner agent? And why is this campaign important?
As a Skyscanner Everywhere Agent for India, my role is to help ease traditional traveller anxiety about unknown destinations and help them discover the less-travelled places, without overspending or compromising on value. Travellers can explore tips offered by me and other Everywhere Agents through the Everywhere Guide, or via 1:1 virtual appointments, where they can ask questions directly. Travellers can also easily access the Everywhere Guide, an online widget on Skyscanner, that shares responses to frequently asked travel questions, based on each Everywhere Agent’s personal experience. Questions include “Where’s the most memorable night out?”, “Where should everyone try a once-in-a-lifetime activity?”, and more. The Everywhere Guide also displays a Trip Snapshot for every suggested destination, showing the lowest flight and hotel prices, and the cheapest day to travel, for any selected month of 2024. These link out to corresponding search parameters on Skyscanner, allowing travellers to conveniently complete trip bookings for their newly discovered destination.
We think this campaign will help Indian travellers as they have shown unprecedented enthusiasm for global exploration, as Skyscanner recently witnessed surge in overseas travel searches up by 39% compared to the same period last year. According to a recent survey by Skyscanner, the key drivers behind Indian travellers’ preferences include an overwhelming desire to explore new destinations, as indicated by a remarkable 98% of travellers keen on trying somewhere different this year, while 42% share that one of their biggest struggles when booking travel is deciding where to go. The survey also revealed that despite social media, TV, and film perpetuating conventional tourist spots, 95% feel fatigued by those repeated choices. Moreover, 79% of Indian travellers admit that the prospect of booking travel in 2024 is overwhelming, with 40% citing cost concerns and an equal percentage grappling with destination decisions. To address these challenges head-on, the Everywhere Agency campaign connects travellers with seasoned globetrotters, like me, to alleviate travel concerns and offer real experiences and insights, guiding them to discover less-explored places without compromising on value.
How did your passion for travel evolve into a career as a travel influencer?
Ever since I can remember, I’ve had this thirst for exploration. The mountains, in particular, have always called out to me, and I find solace and inspiration in their majestic beauty. As I embarked on more journeys, I realised the impact these experiences have on me. It was during this time that my love for travel collided with my desire to capture moments. Photography became my chosen medium to freeze these fleeting moments in time. The digital landscape was rapidly evolving, and I saw an opportunity to share my passion with a broader audience. Social media platforms became my canvas, and I started curating content that not only documented my travels but also aimed to inspire others to do the same.
What’s the most challenging aspect of being a travel influencer? And what determines the destinations for your content?
The most challenging aspect of being a travel influencer lies in maintaining authenticity and
uniqueness amidst a saturated market. With countless influencers showcasing picturesque destinations, finding ways to stand out and offer genuine insights becomes a constant challenge. Building and retaining a loyal audience that values your perspective can be demanding, requiring a delicate balance between personal experiences and catering to audience expectations. Moreover, the process of selecting destinations for content creation is a blend of personal preferences, current market trends, and active audience engagement. For example, Skyscanner’s Travel Trends 2024 report found that 59% of Indian travellers have booked a trip to a destination based on specific restaurants they would like to visit, with 38% wanting to try a local cuisine as a top priority when traveling abroad. I keep in mind trends like that in my content creation so that I know my content can relate directly to what my followers are after. When I was in Spiti, what I
recommended was indeed local food like Chhang beer and Arak, and how travellers can find great food at hidden restaurants. So, staying abreast of travel trends and understanding my audience’s
preferences is absolutely crucial. This approach ensures that my travel plans reflect authentic experiences while also offering something valuable to my followers.
How do you balance showcasing popular destinations with promoting lesser-known gems in your content?
During my early days of travelling, I focused on popular destinations, but as my years of
exploration have accumulated, I’ve realised that the lesser-known places are the real treasures. I’ve unearthed unforgettable cuisines, rich cultures, and unique customs through these off-the-beaten-path locations. Now, when planning my travels, I make a conscious effort to create an itinerary that blends well-known spots with those off the radar. This approach ensures a more comprehensive and enriching trip, allowing me to discover everything a place has to offer.
Often while travelling, people get into a conundrum whether to just sit back and relax at a comfortable spot or explore that place as much as they can. What are some of the ways that one could strike a balance between the two?
Travelling is a captivating journey that lets us break from routine and discover the wonders of the world. Yet, striking the right balance between relaxation and exploration is important to ensure a satisfying experience. Here are some ways I try to achieve that balance:
-Prioritise Must-See Attractions: Begin by identifying the key attractions or experiences that are a must-see at your destination. Plan your itinerary around these highlights, ensuring there’s room for spontaneous discoveries and unplanned moments.
-Schedule Downtime: Intentionally allocate some time for downtime in your travel itinerary. Whether it’s savouring a leisurely meal, reading a book in a park, or simply people-watching at a local cafe, adding planned moments of relaxation can help you enjoy your travel more.
-Set Realistic Expectations: Recognize the time constraints on your trip and manage your
expectations realistically. Instead of trying to cover everything, prioritise a more relaxed approach. This mindset helps alleviate the pressure to constantly be on the go, allowing for a more enjoyable journey.
-Explore at Your Own Pace: Resist the temptation to pack every moment with activities. Grant yourself the freedom to explore at a comfortable pace, allowing for breaks and moments of rest.
Can you share a travel tip that has become a game-changer for you and your followers?Something that you have discovered over time during your career as a travel influencer?
Planning a budget-friendly trip is all about having some savvy tips and tricks up your sleeve. As I mentioned earlier, Skyscanner has been my go-to app for my adventures, and this has been a game-changer. I remember during my trip to Iceland, we took a flight with multiple layovers, as those tickets were much cheaper compared to direct flights, and we also got to explore additional countries without shelling out much (or very little) extra cash! When it comes to smart travel planning, meta-search platforms such as Skyscanner prove to be
incredibly convenient. One of my personal favourites is the ‘Everywhere’ search tool. This tool allows you to input your location as ‘Everywhere’ in the destination box. Skyscanner will then display the cheapest destinations based on price.
Additionally, if you’re looking for more hacks to cut travel cost, a trusted tool I look to is the ‘Whole Month’ feature. This will help you identify the most cost-effective month to visit a destination when utilizing the ‘flexible dates’ search. Another tip that can help you save is travelling during the off-season, as flights and hotel prices can be much cheaper compared to the peak season. Renting a vehicle was another lifesaver.
During our Iceland trip, we made early bookings because, trust me, renting on the spot can be quite costly. Planning and reserving the tickets early helped us stick to our budget even when wetravelled to Canada as Skyscanner consistently offered the most affordable flights, pulling in
options from various websites. If you are unable to plan early, one hack I usually use is to mix and match different airlines for my trip. Travel platforms like Skyscanner lets you do that easily, and you will find that saves you a great deal of money usually. Lastly, during my trip to Iceland preparing our own meals helped us save money during our trip. We used to go to the local market and stock up on basics as the food was expensive, and for someone with a tight budget, it was just not feasible. So, we shopped for groceries and prepared our sandwiches. It not only saved us money but also allowed us to have quick meals on the go.
Share a travel mishap and how you turned it into a positive experience?
In my early days of exploring Spiti as a new traveller, I had a little adventure that taught me a big lesson. While wandering in the beautiful mountains, I made a mistake and got lost. I took the wrong path and ended up facing a tricky situation – I had to cross a really cold river. Crossing the icy river was tough, both physically and mentally. Instead of getting upset, I saw it as a chance to learn something new. The cold river crossing taught me how important it is to remember the way when coming down the mountains. This experience turned out to be a good thing. It made me more aware and respectful of the challenges of hiking in the mountains. After that day, I always made sure to remember the way I went up, making my journey down safer and more enjoyable. Every mistake can teach us something, and this adventure in Spiti helped me become a better and wiser traveller.
Share your thoughts on the evolving landscape of travel influencers and the challenges and opportunities it presents
The landscape of travel influencers has evolved a lot in recent times. The growing competition has undoubtedly pushed us to constantly innovate for our community. Authenticity is key as the
audience appreciates genuine experiences. The challenges are apparent, but they also present
growth opportunities. Finding your niche and sustaining the community requires a deeper
connection with the audience, which can be achieved by engaging them – in a way that we tell stories, share our perspectives, and have a genuine passion for travel. Adapting trends is also essential, considering the dynamic industry and evolving audiences. As influencers, we need to stay aware of these changes and incorporate constructive feedback from our audiences in our content to ensure we are giving them what they want while balancing it with our unique style.
What message or experience do you hope your audience takes away from your travel content?
My goal is to inspire my community through my content, igniting a sense of wanderlust in them. By sharing my travel experiences and practical tips, I aim to empower them to explore the world just as I do. Whether uncovering popular destinations or hidden gems, my objective is to cultivate a passion for travel, fostering a community that appreciates diverse experiences and embraces the beauty of the unknown.
Of all the places you have visited in your life, which places will always remain close to your heart and why?
Iceland holds a special place in my heart as it was not only a dream destination but also a significant achievement. The trip became a reality through commitment and careful budgeting, turning it into a personally fulfilling and unforgettable experience.
For those who love to travel but are unable to take out time to follow this passion, how can they still make use of the time they get?
For travel lovers juggling a busy schedule, there are fun ways to sneak in a bit of adventure. You can explore nearby spots, plan short getaways, or take day trips. It’s great to take small adventures from time to time and discover hidden gems in your backyard. By making the most of weekends and holidays, you can satisfy your wanderlust in not-too-time-consuming and manageable doses. Now, thanks to Skyscanner, travel planning is easier. By using its features, you can score great deals and discover new routes to your dream destinations—you can check the ‘cheapest month’ feature to know the best time to book in advance, get notified about deals on flights with the ‘price alert’ feature to check options that fit your budget, etc. So, whether it’s a spontaneous trip or not, you can count on Skyscanner to make your travel planning smooth and stress-free.