REDEFINE YOUR ECONOMICAL HOLIDAYS WITH GOSTOPS
Have you ever traveled solo? I – during a memorable summer exactly ten years ago, when, as a student in London, I decided to visit the beautiful countries of Spain and Portugal. With limited means, I chose to travel with a guided tour company aimed at young travelers. For a two week period in June 2012, I rode the bus in my twenties, soaking up the culture and history of the Algarve region by day, partying by night and visiting many youth hostels in the countryside to catch our twenty winks. It was my first experience living in a hostel. Fortunately, as a discerning company, our tour operators had chosen the best hostels on offer and we were not disappointed.
Having experienced the hospitality of the best European hostels, I always wondered if our Indian counterparts would pass in comparison. So when the goSTOPS team invited me to stay at one of their many properties across the country, I accepted the offer. At first I was keen to visit Coorg in the remote and seemingly beautiful south, but the logistics of the trip were not in our favor. The next best option was their brand new property in Baga, Goa. For the uninitiated, goSTOPS is India’s largest and fastest growing backpacker hostel brand, founded in 2014 by Pallavi Agarwal and Pankaj Parwanda. In just eight years, they have established a presence in each of our country’s major tourist spots and have welcomed over 500,000 travelers at 32 properties with over 3,000 beds. They cater almost exclusively to the age group between 18 and 30 and include a cross section of solo travellers, group travellers, backpackers, digital nomads and people looking for interesting stay experiences or working from hostel options.
Their real estate locations range from popular northern Indian locations like Agra and Amritsar to Bengaluru and Kochi in the south; and they are also present in offbeat destinations like Bir, Naggar and Munnar. However, conversations with frequent goSTOPS visitors revealed that their location in New Delhi is the most popular as it is a transit stop for people traveling across the country.
For my visit to goSTOPS Goa, my brother and I arrived on a rainy Friday afternoon in May, and we made our way through the endless traffic from the airport before finally reaching the Baga hostel. It was located in a small nook at the end of an alley, difficult to access by large car but offering a lot of privacy to those who sought it. We were greeted at the brightly painted door by a smiling Nikhil Tandel, the property’s General Manager and his colleague Neharika Patni, who quickly ushered us to our private room – one of eight in this 96-bed hostel. . I really enjoyed the comfortable placement of the bed, bedside cabinets and desk, attached bathroom and adjoining balcony – trust me, at my station in life, I’m not one to sleep in dorms!
Once settled in we ordered a place for lunch – options were scarce, limited mainly to eggs for breakfast and a few basic Indian dishes for lunch and dinner – but they satisfied our cravings after the trip . When the evening came, we were ready to go, because what good is Goa if you don’t party? Booking a taxi proved a difficult task, but the resourceful Tandel handled it for us without too much trouble, and before long we were off to the fun.
During our 48 hour stay we were mostly on the move and very much appreciated our convenient location in North Goa. Yet it was obvious that those who seek the company of others or simply prefer to stay at work with minimal breaks, also had plenty to do at goSTOPS Baga. A pool table, large screen with a choice of movies and videos playing throughout the day (and night!), large welcoming common room and swimming pool were highlights for many. Those on a tight budget could enjoy these things at no cost while booking a dorm bed for a nominal fee and partaking in food at a very reasonable price.
Perhaps that’s why one of our co-residents at the hostel – an inveterate traveler who has tasted every possible hostel brand in India – shared that goSTOPS was quickly becoming his go-to choice. in India because of its fresh approach, good service and friendly atmosphere. Another reason to praise goSTOPS is the brand’s focus on and encouragement of sustainable travel. For their latest initiative, they’ve partnered with sustainable travel company Shoshin Tribe for the latter’s ‘Odyssey Travel Scholarship 2022’, where six people (and then eight) won a 35-day, all-expenses-paid trip to a number of Indians. cities, with the aim of promoting sustainable travel.
goSTOPS Marketing Manager Priyambada Nath explains, “As a company operating in the travel industry, we wanted to do our part to educate everyone about sustainable travel. It is important to understand that travel generates carbon footprints. But it is equally important to understand that traveling in a sustainable way is possible, and the idea of starting this scholarship was to educate young people to do so. The team followed simple principles like taking public transport, walking as much as possible, bringing their own water bottle and eating local foods, minimizing plastic waste. In addition, as part of this educational program, the team was also able to meet various people involved in initiatives at the community level. They spent three days on an organic farm, experienced a stay at the Moth and Butterfly Conservation Park, and learned how important insects are in the food chain. The team also cleaned up trash generated by others on their trek to Triund. These are small messages that we wanted to highlight.
Their support of a worthy cause and the warm hospitality of goSTOPS are to be commended. Although initially we encountered minor issues with dirty sheets and a broken bathroom window leading to bug infestation, I very much appreciated the management’s quick and efficient response to both of these issues. Therein lies the strength of goSTOPS as a brand – it is their willingness to go all out to make you feel at home, while you interact with like-minded people and explore a new place. with a limited budget. As India’s premier hostel chain, goSTOPS is ideal for young travelers who are on the road purely for the sake of the trip, with the destination being a memorable complement.
Noor Anand Chawla writes lifestyle articles for various publications and his blog www.noornanandchawla.com. She can be contacted at [email protected]