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Featured Traveler: Go Eat Give’s Sucheta Rawal

Something was missing from the quarterly vacations that Sucheta Rawal took when she was an investment banker. Wanting to learn more about the people and culture of the places she visited, she began taking “volunteer vacations” to get involved with local communities. These trips eventually inspired her to found Go Eat Give, a non-profit dedicated to connecting travelers with local culture around the world through education, experiences, and food. Now, Sucheta’s quit her job as investment banker, devoting her time to Go Eat Give, cooking, and writing about where she goes (she’s been to more than forty countries).

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See all of Sucheta’s Highlights.

Right now I’m hosting a Destination Dinner in Atlanta, GA.

Though I would much prefer to be at The Yoga Barn in Bali.

Occupation: Founder of Go Eat Give, food and travel writer, cooking instructor.

My next trip is to Belize, where I will be exploring some of the sites most tourists overlook.

My last trip took me to Cuba, where I led a group to volunteer in the communities of Havana.

My first international trip was from New Delhi to New York City when I was 16 years old.

A painting of Neuschwanstein set in the winter is my most treasured travel souvenir. I had it on the wall of my office at my last corporate job, and it is a constant reminder of living my dream.

Favorite hotel: Old Edwards Inn at Highlands, North Carolina.

Favorite restaurant: Hot Millions in my hometown of Chandigarh in India (mostly because it makes me nostalgic).

Favorite shopping destination: Florence, Italy. I love shopping at local stores that make fine quality goods, where no two pieces look the same.

If you’re in Quebec City in the winter, don’t miss an opportunity to participate at the Snow Bath Parade, part of the Quebec Winter Carnival.

Travel exchange programs (such as Servas and Couchsurfing) are the best way/place to connect with locals.

Favorite airport and why? Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. It has everything from cheesemongers, bakeries, and fresh tulips to a museum, casino, and spa. You can spend a whole day there!

What’s the one hometown place you miss most while traveling? A healthy salad from Fresh2Order.

First thing you do when you get home: Take a very long, very hot shower.

Where do you always take out-of-town friends? Fanoos Persian restaurant because I feel like I’m visiting a friend’s home in Iran.

Favorite travel book: The Geography of Bliss, by AFAR Contributor Eric Weiner.

Most out-of-character travel experience? Something that you would never have done at home: Hitchhike to go skydiving at a little farming village in New Zealand.

Biggest travel mistake? Not packing a carryon. When I went to India for New Year’s, my checked luggage did not arrive for over 10 days.

Favorite foreign word or phrase: “Vamanos, amigos!” (Let’s go friends).

Travel has taught me all people are the same everywhere. We have the same desires, needs and ambitions we strive for. It has taught me to not to judge people based on their culture, religion or nationality. I have also discovered most people are good at heart and have a story to tell. You just need to make a small effort to know them.

Photo by Peter Nguyen