What happens when you find someone who loves to connect travelers in an authentic way with travel experiences? You get someone like Sharzad (Shar) Behzadian, who is the founder of TravTribe! Shar is not only passionate about travel, cultural exploration and connecting travelers to each other but also about traveling whenever she can! To collaborate with Shar, contact her on www.Sharzadian.com!
Read more of today’s Culture with Travel interview with Shar:
How do you think travel unites us or teaches us more about the world?
Travelers meet the people of the world. See corners of the Earth, hear unimaginable stories and live new adventures. The mind’s limits expand by travel. In an effort to discover other places, we get into conversations and hear stories that teach us about other cultures. We learn to listen more. To observe more. To genuinely be interested in others’ stories. A traveler discovers that we are all the same, despite our differences.
We all love to live fully, to laugh more with our loved ones surrounding us.
Thus, the traveler seeks to share these experiences all the time; on Instagram, opening a blog, conversations with friends, etc. Through a traveler’s experience, her friends and community also learn about the world. That we are all the same; despite all of our seeming differences.
What inspired you to start TravTribe?
My vagabonding experience in Oaxaca, Mexico. I changed. I learned how to be more comfortable with being me. Then, I wanted to continue traveling but I had to stay in the US for multiple reasons. So, I decided to ultimately solve this problem not only for myself but for the whole tribe of wanderlust-ers.
I entered Mexico not knowing the language or anyone there; left with tens of friends from Argentina, Israel, Germany, Spain, Brazil, Australia and other parts of the world. I got to know nomads that left their luxurious lives in South America or Europe; inventing jobs on the go to sustain a travel lifestyle. They used their creative skills to realize a dream of world travel. I learned so much from them about what really matters in life; Experiences, People, Spontaneity, Living life to the fullest.
I learned about me and my life through all these friendships. I couldn’t stop thinking about travel after I returned to the USA. And, I couldn’t stop talking about the nomads who were courageous enough to leave the comfort of home to live the comfort of the world.
I realized that many of my friends were also travel dreamers, but financial limitations would stop the venture. Yet I had seen that such limitations could be tackled in creative ways: digital nomadically!
I believe that travelers that are so curious and courage to step out of their comfort zone, step into an experience that transforms them and helps them grow an understanding that is not taught in any school or any work context. Such understanding has the power of changing communities at large. I wanted to provide travel opportunities for such travelers; my tribe!
Where do you hope to take TravTribe in the coming few years?
We’ll be the global center that empowers digital nomads. We share remote gigs with digital nomads, help them connect with each other and with travel sponsors. We also provide access to our partners that are worldwide living and working spaces for digital nomads.
By the way, since the term is kind of new let me define “Digital Nomad:” when your mind constantly plans for your next destination, and your office is as big as your laptop; then you have the luxury of living as a digital nomad: travel the world full-time and work remotely on any time-zone.
To lead such lifestyle, a traveler needs to know how to start such an adventure and then how to make money on the go. We provide access to brands and resources to facilitate finances; as well as a network of social media influencers for nomadic knowledge.
We partner with any brands that care for digital nomads. Partnerships that facilitate nomadic life from sponsors offer social media gigs to hotels and airlines that love nomads.
What do you love most about travel in terms of learning about a new or different culture from your own?
My biggest joy in travel is to meet new people and hear about their stories. Every raw story tells about colors of cultures, celebrations and the country’s history. And, every time I am mind blown how small our differences are.
When you pour water in a bottle or a cup, it takes the shape of it. It looks different, but it is still water. You know, we are 75% water! Cultures, history, religions and all these differences become the cup, the pitcher or a bottle. Traveling shows me how we are all the same and I get to rediscover life’s possibilities and my life through those.
You are from Iran. What’s something about Iran that you believe makes it unlike anywhere else in the world?
Iranian hospitality. Iranians’ love and value their guest more than their own. Ok, imagine you are invited to an Iranian’s house. We are tea drinkers and like it hot! So, you’ll be refreshed with hot tea every 10 minutes. Ha!
Then for the main dish, a typical host makes at least 3 types of food. Even when you are the only guest. And, they keep refilling your plate at least three times, while you are at the table.
We have this term called “Tarof,” which is an endearing way to ensure others are well before you take care of yourself.
Which dish do you feel best represents Iran? Share a picture and tell us why you love it!
Ha! This is such a hard question. Depending on the weather and humidity, from north to south of Iran, Iranians have various kinds of dishes. But then, certain dishes are nationally known and loved such as ghorme-sabzi, zereshk-polo with chicken, baghali-polo and lamb, gheymeh, etc. Now, the main dish in Iran is mostly rice and some kind of stew.
Ok. Let’s stick with ghorme-sabzi. While it is theoretically not so hard to make, it is really difficult to cook a good ghorme-sabzi. Cooking a good one shows how much of a good Iranian chef you are actually. And, eating good ghorme sabzi with Salad-Shirazi and Mast-o-khiar is the most nostalgic taste you can get in Iranian food. Every Iranian knows it. 🙂
Talk about the role of family in your life. What does family mean to you? Which family values are valuable to you?
I was lucky to be born into my family. They shape my character and mindset every day of my life, even now that they live so far away. I’ve learned from my father to be fearless and adventurous, from my mom to share my blessings with others without any judgment or expectation. From my brother to smile in face of adversity and never take no for an answer, and from my sister to be persistent and consistent in every effort I take on. My decisions and actions are now led by these traits, and that I owe it to them.
We don’t really get to choose much in life. As we are born into a family, friends and colleagues appear into our life. We don’t choose them. We don’t choose our life conditions, too. Our only choice is to adopt a positive attitude.
How important is spirituality and religion in your daily life? What do you do to celebrate either?
“Don’t look outside for answers. Everything that you’re searching for, is in you. “ – Rumi
“You are not a drop from the universe, you’re the whole universe inside a drop.” -Rumi
These quotes are the core of my spiritual beliefs. I believe that only by going inside and getting to know yourself better, you get to know the outside world. Any problem, question, or challenge is inside you. You may search for answers outside yourself, but only by keeping an inward looking eye, you get to grow out of the problem.
Travel helps to dig deeper inwardly. In my journey, travel played a major role in helping me learn about myself and grow into the person that I am today. Traveling helps watch the inner world in other people’s stories. Traveling helps one turn the world inside out.
It is a hard work to keep a learning mindset and constant awareness of the self. It needs consistency of certain practices. For me, it’s nature, philosophy/poetry and solitude.
Some of my practices are daily mindfulness practice and reading Rumi. I also try to camp in nature at least once a month. When I struggle with challenges in life, I randomly open a page from Divan-e-Shams by Rumi and read his wisdom.
Art and dance can tell a deeper story about local culture. Tell us the story of a specific artwork or dance that has a meaning for you. Share a photo. (It can be anything from street art to a festival to a painting to architecture to woven artwork, to woodworking, a family heirloom, etc.)
Argentine Tango. It is as beautiful to watch as it is to practice. The dance is a constant practice for trust, balance, letting go and leadership. As the follower, you learn to lead by following. And, you lead by intuitively connecting with your partner. As the leader, you learn to trust yourself, the flow, and the partner to improvise moves that seem nothing like improve.
Tango teaches the dancer about communication, relationships, and expression. The dancer learns to read the dance partner without a word. It’s beauty in it’s rawest forms.
Languages not only give us the power to communicate but also can unite us across cultures. Share a favorite saying you know.
I’m going to share a favorite saying from Rumi: “Whatever you’re looking for to become, you are already that.”
Who is the most inspiring person in your life? In which ways does this person inspire you?
Travelers inspire me. I am fortunate to be surrounded by travelers both when they are visiting SF and when I am traveling.
“Build your life on fire of your passion. Seek those that fan your flames.” – Rumi
I am lucky to have a globetrotter as my co-founder. Jerry and his wife Liz. worked to build peace in Africa for 16 years and traveled to +50 countries in the last 20 years. They inspire me with colorful stories from people of the world and keep inspiring me to scale travel for more wanderlust-ers in our tribe.
Every story proves the enormous transformational power of a traveler in changing lives around the world.
Have you ever met a stranger during your travels who made an impact on your life in a certain way, or maybe it was you who helped someone else? Share the story!
I have many stories. I believe that every conversation and encounter shapes us and forms us into a new person. I’ve made friends in travel that only hung out for a day or two. Yet, their impact on my character and life have been larger than my life-long friends. But, let me tell you the story that shaped my thoughts around TravTribe.
An example that comes to mind is an Argentinian female surfer friend that was traveling nomadically to experience waves everywhere. She surfed in the morning. Then, she’d go back to her hostel and bake cookies. Close to sunset time, everyone would gather at the beach to watch the sun setting. And, she’d appear with her tray of fresh baked cookies and sell them. The earned money was enough for her daily expenses and enough to keep her traveling. I was so inspired by her.
Her acceptance of a risk of uncertainty to earn the promise of a full life awakened me to the nomadic life. I started looking for other nomads and learning about their ways. Some worked in hostels, some made bracelets, some worked in local businesses, and many worked on their laptops. “What an adorable attitude! This has to be compensated and adored all around the world.”, I thought.
Unfortunately, stereotypes exist in the world. What are some common misconceptions you’ve heard about Iran? What is considered disrespectful in your culture that visitors should be aware of?
Misconception: Some people think Iranians are miserably living in poor conditions. Some ask me with an empathetic look about how my friends are surviving back in Iran. Although the economic conditions are unfortunately bad and the average wage for the majority of the country is estimated at $470 – Iranians have learned to live happily. To create jokes out of any problem and keep each other’s back. The collective culture made a habit of getting together every week, eat together and dance in every occasion. Iranians are very progressive thinking and early adopters and creators in technology; opposite to some existing stereotypes.
Going to an Iranian’s home, you want to take a gift with you. As we say in Iran: ”Don’t go empty handed to a new friend’s home.” It is generally nice to have some kind of a gift; flowers, cookies, or a souvenir from home.
TravTribe is a media startup for any travel lover to turn into digital nomad and travel full-time. TravTribe shares creative gigs among its users to enable a nomadic life-style. Contributors share travel photos, stories and videos; and get compensated with more travel. Follow TravTribe on Facebook and Instagram.