Don’t let the man keep you down.
~ Ancient Hippie Quote
The Hippie Trail
In the same way as I looked at the 17-19th century European travel experience known as The Grand Tour for inspiration, the hippie trail can be useful to study for modern digital nomads and superheroes. There are many things we can learn from these journeys.
According to Wikipedia;
The “hippie trail (also the overland) is the name given to the journey taken by members of the hippie subculture and others from the late 1950s to the 1970s from Europe, overland to and from southern Asia, mainly India and Nepal. The hippie trail was a form of alternative tourism, and one of the key elements was travelling as cheaply as possible, mainly to extend the length of time away from home.
In every major stop of the hippie trail, there were hotels, restaurants and cafés that catered almost exclusively to cannabis-smoking Westerners, who networked with each other as they travelled east and west. The hippies tended to spend more time interacting with the local population than traditional sightseeing tourists.”
So if done rightly: Networking with locals and fellow explorers towards inner development and planetary citizenship.
Of course, most hippies were normal flawed human beings, made a lot of mistakes, and gave the whole thing (and many generations of travellers) a bad reputation.
But there is gold to be found in this experience; on the hippie trail.
The stops on the hippie trail were carefully selected. Most of them are very inspiring – or at least were back then. Places, which meant something to locals and travellers. Places which have been used for rituals and have symbolized spiritual transformation for thousands of years. Places of immense beauty. Places which were very far removed from home and the hippie himself.
Kathmandu still has a road, Jhochhen Tole, nicknamed Freak Street in memory of the many thousands of hippies who passed through.
Goa in India and Bangkok are destinations, which no longer sound mysterious and exotic after too many books and films.
But there are places which are still worth a visit on the trail. Who knows which they are?
There are really only three roles in this simplified world. Sure, some combinations exist, but these are roughly the main players in this game:
1. The Fresh Backpacker
This is our hero in this adventure. The inexperienced, adventure-seeking novice, who’s saved money for many months to be able to go on his trip. With a new backpack and limited amount of money, he is eager to explore the world with a beginner’s mind.
2. The Old Guy
This character has been everywhere on the planet. He has driven a Vespa through the jungles of Cambodia, survived civil war in Central America, and stayed with nomads in Mongolia. The Old Guy is often a compulsive liar, but there are also quite a few Old Guys who are the real deal. These sit quietly in the corner of the bar and read Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces or make something with their hands. Perhaps a little wooden flute.
3. The Local
This person is a regular guy, just like you and me, who happens to live at the destination. His local knowledge is his power. With this power he enters in various exchanges with the other two archetypes. It can be money, knowledge, food, experiences and many other things which are exchanged.
Sometimes one of these archetypes becomes another one. The Fresh Backpacker will after years of travelling turn into the Old Guy, and the Old Guy often turns into The Local. This former transformation is often accompanied by the Old Guy finding a viable business model. For old hippies it was often teaching English, shaping surf boards, writing or becoming a spiritual leader, which turned them from Old Guy to Local.
You might have noticed that these three roles are actually sitting on a spectrum from Fresh Backpacker to Local. Or perhaps it’s a circle?
Superhero Spaces in partnership with other organisations (under the name Superhero Travels) are working on a learning experience, which takes the best of the hippie trail and turns it into a program for nomadic changemaking.
Stay tuned for that one, man.