Jinal Inamdar’s YouTube channel Talkin Travel is almost synonymous with ‘offbeat travel’. Glance through her videos and you will almost instantly ask yourself – is there a place in India that Jinal hasn’t visited? And also – how does she find such hidden gems in India? Her YouTube journey is just 2 years old and in this short period of time, she has amassed over 36K subscribers and a total of 2.6M+ views (this number may have increased depending upon when you are reading this). Head over to her Instagram handle and you will be amazed at the quality of her posts. Jinal is definitely one of the most underrated content creators in India.
Here is Jinal’s most-viewed video that is inching closer to 1 million views. If you know Jinal and have been followed her travel tales on Talkin Travel, you probably would have already seen this. If not, I highly recommend you watch it before going further.
In this interview, I asked her questions about her childhood, the tattoo on her hand and its significance, traveling in India, finding offbeat places, the scariest moment, tips for budding female YouTubers, the benefits of solo travel, and more. Here you go.
Jinal Inamdar Interview
Q1. Your YouTube channel is named ‘Talkin Travel’. Is there any story behind this name?
So whenever I used to meet my friends, obviously we all used to talk about our own experiences and things. I used to talk about travel a lot – the places I have seen, people I have met, etc. In fact, that was always the only topic I would talk about. Hence, I thought I might as well name my channel like this – Talkin Travel. There were 4-5 other names as well but this is what I chose to go ahead with.
Q2. Have you been traveling since your childhood or this is something you started recently?
I have been traveling since childhood with my family. We just explored beaches and local places that we may not have seen earlier. Nothing fancy as such. While growing up, I always had this urge to travel and know the story behind the places – interesting stories, funny stories. So it has been a big part of my life and while earlier the purpose was leisure, it has now become my work.
Q3. In one of your videos, Jinal, I saw a tattoo on your hand that has coordinates pointing to Muscat. The coordinates read 23.5880N 58.3829E. Can you share the significance of this with us?
There is no big story as such. It is the place where I was born and it is very close to my heart. I did my early schooling there and then moved to Abu Dhabi, UAE. We never got to go to Muscat after that but that place is close to my and my parents’ heart. The tattoo is just to remind me that no matter where I go, Muscat will always remain special.
Q4. All the recent videos on your channel are of Indian places. You started this channel during the first wave of Covid, i.e. the first half of 2020. Is it because most of the international travel was banned or is there some other reason?
A couple of reasons. First, the obvious one is that no one could consciously travel outside of India due to Covid. Now the situation is different but back then it was just not possible. The second reason was that I just feel there are so many untapped, untouched places in India that need to be explored. Even if you take the top metropolitan cities of India like Delhi or Bangalore. When you are traveling to these places, chances are that people will react negatively. But when I travel, I carry a different perspective. I don’t visit typical places. I try to find nooks and corners of a place that most people don’t know of but should know of. And this is what will do justice to that place. If you speak to a tour operator or Google, you will always be shown typical places. But when I traveled to slightly different, offbeat, or adventurous places, it made me happy. Hence, I thought there may be a group of people out there who may be looking for such different places but may not have the time. India is so vast and diverse and has so much to offer.
Q5. Will you continue to travel in India, even though international travel has opened?
It is 50-50. 50% is dependent on how I plan things and what kind of places will help me create great content. The rest 50% is dependent on brand, properties, and tourism boards that approach me. I do plan to cover a few international destinations this year and I am in talks with a few brands at this point in time. When such opportunities knock on my door, I will not deny them.
The topmost priority, although, being content, i.e., will I be getting good content for the channel.
Q6. How do you really find these offbeat places? As you said, research (online/offline) will point you to typical places.
A lot of research goes into this. I don’t see them as places but as content. My primary research is Google, like everybody else. If someone else would search for ‘places to see in X’, I would search for ‘offbeat/adventurous places in X’. Different types of keywords. This is 20% research. Basically, knowing what language people speak, which are the famous places, how far are they, etc.
80% of research is on-ground when I reach that place. I talk to the local people a lot. These could be anybody, not just tour guides, but even waiters, drivers, reception guys, etc. I will strike random conversations with these people. I ask them things like where they spent their childhood, which place they like going to with friends, etc. This uncovers so many places. I give most of the credit to these local people who give me so much content. And then when I tell them that I am a YouTuber, they get even more excited and encourage me to shoot at their recommended locations because they think there is nothing that their place offers to a tourist. These local people have, at times, accompanied me to these places and given a detailed walk-through.
Q7. Most of your travels are solo. Can you share one super-scariest moment you had during any of your travels?
I am always apprehensive about a lot of things, from the minute I step out of my home till the time I am not back. But yes, there was one moment that I want to mention.
I was once doing village hopping. I had finished shooting at a village and was traveling to a hotel in another village. And I wasn’t aware that this hotel would be deep inside. The property was beautiful but it required an hour’s trek to get there, which I was not prepared to do. I didn’t know about this. Hence, I reached that place around sunset time thinking the hotel will be easily accessible. The hotel had sent a porter to carry my luggage which was 18 kg in weight and I was told to follow him. It was pitch dark. There was not a single beam of light en route. We were trekking over a rocky mountain. I was dreading it because I also had a bag with me, plus I couldn’t clearly see the porter who was very swift because he knew the route. There was no one around us, not a single person. The porter knew I was alone. So what if he took me to some other route and I would never come to know about this. On top of this, there was no network after 10-15 minutes of trekking. I ended up asking my porter about the network. So he even knew that I wouldn’t be able to contact anyone. I was all vulnerable. I do have a few emergency contact numbers on my phone but I couldn’t have contacted anyone anyway. But that’s when you trust your instincts. Ultimately, I did reach my hotel and the porter was a sweet guy but that moment was really scary.
Q8. Where does this boldness of solo travel come from in you? Your parents, peers, friends?
I have always been a rebellious child. If someone said this cannot be done, I would be the first person to do it. But that’s when you trust your instincts. I always believe that if you want to do something, it will happen. I take things up as challenges and find a way out.
When you travel in a group, you tend to naturally be dependent on someone, like someone may be arranging a car, guiding the driver, planning the day, etc. The moment you are alone, you are the one responsible for looking at all of these things. I was very bad at directions. The moment I started traveling solo, I became perfect in it. If someone wakes me up in the middle of the night and asks me for directions for traveling anywhere within Delhi, Amritsar, Hyderabad, etc., I would be able to guide them perfectly. I just become so much more aware of my surroundings. I become much more confident. I learn so many things. Dependency is gone. I get to discover so many hidden strengths of mine that I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to. So the boldness that you are asking me about comes from the fact that this is going to be the end result.
Q9. Imagine you are stuck on an island with Will Smith, what would you do?
I would ask him to not slap me! Okay, jokes apart, I would just strike up a nice conversation with me. I will ask him about his life and share a few things about mine and just have a good time. That’s it.
Q10. Imagine you are made the Minister of Tourism in India, what would you do?
I would go head over heels promoting my country. Sadly, to date, many tourism boards are still not aware of Influencer Marketing or Digital Marketing. Many brands these days are setting budgets aside for influencer marketing on Instagram, etc. So I would pick up the pace and go digital to try and show my country, beyond the typical places.
Secondly, aligning the infrastructure and logistics better. Meaning, if we are inviting someone to visit our country, these things should be better. Not something that can be solved easily but we need to make a start, bring in some initiatives, and give people incentives.
Q11. Can you share some tips from budding female YouTubers who want to make a mark but aren’t getting the right support, guidance, etc.?
I actually get a lot of messages from female acquaintances asking me to talk to their families for allowing them to travel. So this is a very common problem. So the advice I want to give is not to the buddy female YouTubers but to their parents, husbands, in-laws, and whoever it is who is stopping them. The first thing that can be done is they can be shown examples of other female YouTubers who are doing similar things. Don’t be a rebel, try to explain to them.
Families are primarily concerned about safety, especially if it’s a female who is traveling. So sit with your family and explain to them that you have their number in emergency contacts, or that you are carrying things that you will use in case of any problematic situation, or that you are grown up now to take care of your own self. Give them that assurance. It comes with time, and may not come overnight. Also, explain to them why solo travel is important and how it will help you grow as an individual. With dedication and truth. Never lie. Always tell everything about the duration of your travel, the place and who you are going with. Communication and transparency are of utmost importance here.
Q12. Budding YouTubers or solo travelers may not be aware of the benefits of solo travel so let us hear from you. What are the benefits of solo travel and how do you think it has changed you?
Travel has changed me a lot as a person. The topmost things are self-confidence, satisfaction, getting out of a crisis, self-dependency, learn from local people or other random travelers. You learn a lot about your own self too.
I feel everyone should travel solo at least once in their lifetime, no matter what the age. It is a very beautiful thing.
Q13. You have to make one promise to us. What can we, as your fans, expect from your once you cross the 100K, 500K, and 1M mark on YouTube or Instagram?
No change in me. I will always be available and approachable to you guys. That is the thing I pray to God always to keep me grounded so that I can reply to comments and questions, which is the entire point of this channel – to help find places that were otherwise not known. Content will grow a lot but I will not change.
Here is a link to Jinal’s YouTube and Instagram handle again. Do follow, and subscribe to his social media handles for interesting updates.
Let us know who you want us to cover next in this interview series. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.