French travel blogger Stéphanie Langlet gained recognition for her stories of India’s tribal communities. Now, she is promoting the cause of sustainable travel in the country.
Travelling around the world since 2004, Stéphanie Langlet has participated in a monk’s cremation ceremony in Thailand, danced with villagers in Java, and attended weddings in Cambodia. But it is her Indian sojourns, and extensive coverage of tribal communities, that have earned her global popularity.
Now the popular French blogger is using her experience and following to develop sustainable travel programmes in India.
Stéphanie first arrived in India in March 2010, visiting Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Mumbai. “I was dreaming about the colours of India and I wasn’t disappointed,” she says, citing Elephanta Islands, Periyar Tiger Reserve and the Zanskar River as some of her favourite places.
In a later trip to India, in 2012, Stéphanie visited Bastar during Dussehra. “I didn’t think about India as a place to meet some tribal people. But it’s fabulous to learn about their culture and beliefs.” Her writing about the Bastar community has, over the years, caught the attention of travel bloggers, publications, and even tourism boards.
“In 2015, the Indian media covered my trip day by day. I used this popularity to talk about the tribes,” Stéphanie says, citing her writing about Bastar as the most popular posts on her French blog. “My second blog in English becomes more and more popular. As they both are full of cultural facts, I attract the right people, the ones who really want to be immersed in these cultures. The local people are proud to see so much love for their culture. It makes my messages more powerful.”
Championing sustainable travel, Stéphanie now plans to launch a travel-mentoring programme for travellers from India and abroad.
Stéphanie, who has worked for two decades in hospitality management says, “My audience often asks me: ‘How can I also help the tribes, what should I learn first if I want to work in hospitality, etc.’ I’ve proposed this programme to answer these requests and show the behind-the-scenes of creating a social business.” She offers travellers the opportunity to travel with her to destinations while learning by hands-on experience, the nuances of interacting with local tribes and cultures, travelling consciously, and learning the ropes of setting up sustainable hospitality businesses.
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The experience is complementary, and indeed intended, for travellers who cannot otherwise afford to participate in such programmes. Stéphanie aims to keep the schedule flexible and have personalised tours for participants; the destinations she has in mind are Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and regions she is familiar with, but she is also open to exploring associations in other parts of India.
Small measures are most significant when it comes to conscious travel.
Stéphanie says, “The main point for me is respect and tolerance for the differences. As a traveller, we have to adapt our behaviour to the country we visit, not the opposite. I always eat local and from the streets as often as I can. I buy most things from local markets and vendors in need. I do activities that have the smallest impact on environment and never throw my garbage on the streets.”
Taking her travels and professional experience in the hospitality industry, Stéphanie now plans to create fair-trade guesthouses in India. The aim of these guesthouses is two-pronged. On one hand, they will offer international travellers fair-price accommodation and help them avoid tourist scams. But the more important aspect of these guesthouses is that a few rooms will always be available – for free – to local families in need.
Intending to use these accommodations to foster cultural conversations, she says, “I’d especially like to propose various customised tours, like taking guests for lunch with a local family. As I want the local families to benefit, they will receive some of the things they need in exchange. I strongly believe in a business model that everyone can gain from.”
Stéphanie is currently engaged in preparing legal contracts with associates and negotiating with the French government on her work status, allowing her to launch the activity. “I’ve just learned that my work status (creator of a company and travel blogger) doesn’t allow me to launch an activity abroad. It’s a legal loophole in French law! I’ll have to submit the case to a mediator, but I stay positive.”
Sustainable travel that brings travellers closer to local communities is more important than ever. Stephanie says, “our world is losing its values and references. Remembering our past, reconnecting with our roots help us to keep our identity alive.”
To read Stéphanie’s blog, travel with her on the mentoring programme, or collaborate for a local guesthouse, click here.