RDU International to Washington Dulles. A hop and a skip across the pond to Lisbon. No time for sunsets and seafood though, just a quick stopover before heading to Casablanca.
The year is 2018, and the only virus that’s running rampant is the travel bug I’ve got.
It all seems like a distant, foggy dream. You know, the kind of dreams that are so clear three minutes after waking up but that you can’t remember just ten minutes later.
Sadly, for many, the cloudy storm that is COVID-19 has blotted out the sunshine and joy of travel.
Lockdowns and distancing, lightning, and thunder. No end in sight, no chance of travel. Or is there?
Would you believe me if I told you that just last week I “stood” in the shadow of the Kremlin in Russia’s Red Square? Yes, the seat of power and force of The Republic.
What if I said I took a stroll through Central Park? Birds chirping, squirrels scurrying, an expansive oasis of peace and calm in an otherwise concrete jungle of chaos.
Heygo is a free, online live streaming platform that’s helping travel enthusiasts, backpackers, vacationers, history buffs, students, families, and couples experience the world right from the convenience and comfort of their living rooms.
Personally, I prefer my bedroom, but you get the point.
I’ve been involved in my fair share of projects, but Heygo may very well be the most important to date. I’m writing this to share with you why that is and why you should care.
Here are four things I’ve learned in my first month as part of the team:
Fairness, justice, and equality: core values that are intrinsic to all human beings.
I think you’ll agree with me when I say that it doesn’t seem fair that throughout history large swaths of mankind weren’t able to travel. In many places, a thousand years ago, you would be lucky enough to visit the next village over, let alone ever dream of seeing the seven wonders of the world.
While that is completely understandable, what isn’t understandable is the fact that in 2021 free, unfettered travel to the world’s hottest destinations is still exclusively reserved for a small percentage of the global population.
Heygo is the democratization of travel; it’s helping people all over the world discover new and exciting places that otherwise would be completely inaccessible.
Travel shouldn’t be reserved for a small, select group; it should be readily available to anyone who has a burning desire and curiosity to learn, grow, and experience more of the world we live in.
That is what the Heygo team is building, and it’s one of the main reasons why I decided to be apart of this community and ecosystem.
It comes as no surprise that the COVID-19 virus has disproportionately impacted travel and tourism.
Right or wrong, global travel came to a screeching halt last spring.
Guides, who in some cases have over ten years’ experience showing the nooks, crannies, and unique eccentricities of their cities and towns, suddenly found themselves displaced and marginalized.
Left with dwindling options and their livelihoods at risk, many in travel and tourism were forced to abandon the only work they’d ever known.
I’m proud to say that Heygo is not only helping guides bounce back, but also excel during a tough time in our world’s history. The key ingredients here are scale and access.
By live-streaming tours, guides are able to reach a much larger audience than is possible in person. A tour with three-hundred people in an Accra, Ghana street market simply isn’t feasible.
On the Heygo platform, it’s just another Tuesday.
Not only are audiences larger, but they are also naturally broader in diversity. By helping a wider range of people to travel, you have what I call a generosity coefficient that works to help guides succeed financially.
Professionally, I think one of the most important things you can do is to directly help another person make a living.
Heygo is my opportunity to do just that. And yes, we are looking for more awesome tour guides, creatives, bloggers, vloggers, and influencers to join our guide network!
France is not the same as America, and Japan isn’t Germany. We all have unique features, characteristics, and cultures that collectively work together to create a global community.
The issue is when these differences are taken in isolation without the proper context. Cultures different from our own can sometimes give rise to discomfort or misunderstandings, or at worse outright discrimination and antagonism.
As millions of people around the world are “coming online” for the first time, there is a growing need for these groups to both understand and be understood by the world.
There is no panacea, but I look to Heygo to be a driving force in helping the world come closer.
By helping users learn about new cultures and places, we’re building a real community of globe trotters who are empowered to discover, learn, and question what the world we’re moving into is really like.
This might be cliché, but I saved the best for last. It’s only been one month, but I’ve been completely blown away by the Heygo community. The team, guides, and users are all brimming over with enthusiasm and passion for what we’re building together.
It’s a collective of artists, visionaries, techies, designers, musicians, writers, travelers, hobbyists, and entrepreneurs who have all come together to transcend cultural barriers with the simple, unified goal of exploring the world together. It’s been quite stunning how great everyone’s been.
So, where to next?
Right now, I’m writing this from Dakar, Sénégal, West Africa.
Tomorrow? I might start my morning with a stroll along the charming riverbanks of Ljubljana, Slovenia. Then maybe it’s off to ‘Shakespeare & Company’ in Paris where Hemingway and Djuna Barnes often gathered in the 1920s. I’m thinking about finishing the day in the barrio of San Telmo in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
But who knows? That’s the beauty of Heygo, you never really know exactly where you’ll end up. One thing is certain though, you won’t be alone in getting there.