(This feature was published in Homegrown.ph last March 19, 2014)
How far would you indulge the wanderlust in you? Tara Let’s Go! Asia caters to those daring for something more exciting than the usual tours.
To debunk the misconception that travel is only for the rich people or those with high-paying jobs, Giancarlo Gallegos, created events where people could find innovative ways to earn funds for travel. In the process, he introduced the concept of “Random Road Trips” to encourage people to go out of their comfort zones and try something unplanned to prepare them for their own travels.
From that endeavor, Tara Let’s Go! Asia (TLG) was born.
Thrill-seekers in charge
“TLG is a travel movement,” revealed Gallegos who is also a writer, photographer, entrepreneur and online marketing expert. “I created a community where anyone who wishes to travel can collaborate and find support.”
Gallegos is a thrill-seeker who lives by the motto, “you only live once”, as he has always been the adventurous type. Three of the members of the TLG team are people he actually invited from couchsurfing.org, seeing them as like-minded individuals who share his passion for traveling.
With Jeffrey Lui, Charlotte Johansen, and Annabee Tiangson on the team, the group began to bring together other working professionals or 9-to-5 employees by offering them the opportunity to travel from briefcase to backpacks.
For Gallegos, who started traveling at a really young age, “My goal is to bring people together, encourage and teach on how to travel. It does not matter where you go. Just go. Go out and see the world, explore possibilities, challenge your beliefs, and best of all learn from the people and cultures you meet on the road.”
Since the group started with their mission, they were able to reach out to over 1,000 people. “Many of our 50 random road trippers have become best of friends and travel buddies. We hope to continue building that sense of community,” shared Gallegos.
TLG organizes road trips every month and the destinations are kept confidential, but most places are nearby Metro Manila. In the past, they have visited the provinces of Rizal, Bulacan, Pangasinan, Quezon, and Quirino. Such adventures are ideal for those who are willing to do something totally spontaneous and travel with strangers.
Because TLG is not a tour company, it doesn’t really follow the standard tours that include the usual tourist spots.
Gallegos explains, “In our random road trips, we make sure we go to the places we have never been, so we can look at the place with eyes of excitement and wonder. We have been so lucky in all our road trips. Our planning is basic but we had the privilege of discovering hidden gems, meeting national artists, saving sea turtles, swimming with glowing planktons, and meeting amazing locals.”
The group believes that you are never too old or too young to travel, and it is never too late to travel as well, so they welcome participants from different age groups and different travel experiences. The common denominator of all participants is the love for traveling.
TLG takes care of fixing the itinerary and budget planning but they do not disclose the destination to the participants. For the participants, the destination, transportation, and people they’re with are all random.
“With each of our seminars, workshops, and Random Road Trips, we put considerable thought into making sure we give our participants the most value for money. We plan about all the things we want to teach and share, about the experiences we want others to have, make sure they’re safe and well fed, and basically make them have a spontaneously good time, especially with our road trips,” explained Lui.
Lui even disclosed that sometimes they—the organizers—have to step out of their comfort zones during those random trips. But he enjoys it because he found out that he gets to discover unknown places and see things with new eyes with this kind of unplanned spontaneity. Another nice thing about it is getting to form bonds with fellow travelers.
For those who crave for a different kind of travel experience, consider joining one of the Random Road Trips of TLG. However, there are no clues on where the next destination might be. Lui can only say, “You’re just gonna have to trust us to take you on a great adventure!”