How Udacity’s Ishan Gupta’s passion for travel opens up new worlds at work and in life

November 2, 2018

Ishan Gupta, MD, Udacity, an online education provider and founder of EduKart talks about his love for travel....

A firm believer in channeling one’s non-touristy self whilst traveling, Ishan has been able to relax, learn and live during all his trips.

Whether it is sailing on Lake Wakatipu in South Island, New Zealand or exploring the Inca trails to Machu Picchu, or riding a rickshaw in Beijing, it is travel that can refresh and energise you, says Ishan Gupta. The well-known, Delhi-based entrepreneur who launched EduKart, is now with US-based online education provider Udacity as the managing director for their India business.

Ishan Gupta

Travel and the mind

According to Ishan, travel is important for many reasons and it is important that we realise its value. “Travel gives you a chance to relax, a time to reflect and an opportunity to discover different cultures. When you travel to a new place, you get to eat different foods, meet different people and enjoy the miracles of nature. It is a beautiful experience,” he says.

Some of Ishan’s favourite destinations include South Island in New Zealand, Singapore, London, San Francisco and Beijing. “New Zealand is one of the most stunning places I have ever seen,” he recalls. “Another favourite place of mine is Machu Picchu in Peru.”

No adventures, please

Ishan is not into adventures as he loves to sit back and relax, when on vacation. “I was very fortunate to have a month-long break before joining Udacity and, during that time, my wife and I went to South Valley in New Zealand for two weeks. We hired a car and spent 14 days travelling across the country. I haven’t seen such lovely blue waters or blue skies anywhere else in the world,” he observes. “We spent a whole month enjoying the beauty of the landscape, trying out a variety of cuisines and meeting some incredible people.”

Ishan, however, does not like to jump onto the tourist bandwagon each time he travels. “I have this firm belief that when you go to a country, you should not visit everything there. I like to think that once you go to a place you love, you will go back to that place again in your lifetime and you should leave something for your next visit,” he says.

Don’t miss the cuisine

Ishan loves exploring the cuisines of different countries. “Cuisine-wise, China was very interesting,” he says. “We decided not to eat from any of the global fast food chains there and decided to visit the local Chinese restaurants instead. But the menus were vague and meandering and we took a long time figuring out what we could eat. It was one of the few places where I actually faced a challenge with food.”

For the most part, Ishan enjoys any kind of cuisine. “Whenever we go to countries with multiple cultures, we like to try out their cuisines,” he says. “On our recent trip we tried out Vietnamese, Italian and Ethiopian cuisines, among others.”

A spectrum of insights

Travel has also given Ishan several insights in life. He recounts one of his best memories in China.

“When I went to China I realised how advanced the country was in terms of its mobile usage,” he says. “Even a rickshaw puller in Beijing had two screens attached to his rickshaw where he was consuming content continuously. It was a great insight for me to see where India could be heading in terms of mobile consumption. This was an insight I was able to use at work,” he recalls.                        

Ishan does not believe in shopping for the sake of shopping while travelling. “I believe that special objects should find you instead of you finding them,” he says. “One of the things that is very dear to me was found in a small village in Holland. We were not looking for anything special there but when we went to a shop in the village to browse around, we spotted a beautiful set of butterflies made out of bronze. We bought it immediately and today it holds a pride of place in our house. This is why I never look for anything when I shop but always believe we will stumble on the right things.”  

Some tips for travellers

According to Ishan, travel can open your eyes to many new experiences but it needs both time and planning. “Travel is an expensive hobby and I think one has to be realistic about that,” he says.

“If you save up, you can plan your travel according to your budget. Please travel, because every time you travel, you learn so much about yourself and about the place you are visiting. It’s worth taking a shot.”

And hopefully one day…

“One of the places that I really want to go among so many others, is Finland or Iceland to see the Northern Lights,” he says. “Bhutan is also on my must-visit list for a very long time. And, thirdly, I want to visit the rainforests in South America.”

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