Ever wonder where to find Paris' finest sex shop? Do you wish you knew which countries are best for cheap volunteer gigs? What is Bunny Chow?
Freddie Pikovsky and his small, but well-traveled team of three other full time staffers, have set out to answer those questions with the launch of Off Track Planet, a blog-turned-magazine, aimed at young explorers on a budget.
The Brooklyn-based publication is now in its fourth print issue, with copies sold for $4.95 at Barnes & Noble and on college campuses across the United States. Metro caught up with Pikovsky, co-founder and CEO of OTP, to hear about the trip that inspired it all, why it's easier to hire younger writers and what it means to be young, sexy and broke.
Metro: How was Off Track Planet born?
Pikovsky: Four years ago, I took my first trip abroad. I started in Israel and made my way through Western Europe to Greece, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands. It was life changing to see how other people lived their lives. I came home to LA and I was on a mission to inspire other people to travel the world because I felt it would create positive change to see life through others. I realized there was nothing connecting independent youth travel to an audience in the US., so I decided to come up with something edgy and truthful. I moved to NYC, where I spent my first year living and working at a youth hostel in Brooklyn, then began to develop a team.
What is the "young, sexy and broke" theme all about?
I qualify anybody who is young to be automatically sexy. Broke means you might still be living off your parents or you’re not able to afford luxury cruises and five star hotels. You want to do it and you can, but in a fashion that is very low budget. A lot of the topics are about sex culture and party culture around the world. It’s easy to say we’re edgy, but we are trying to get their attention and the way we relate is that we are truthful about what’s at the top of the list when you’re a young traveler.
What kind of information can travelers expect to find in Off Track Planet?
We do tips and advice, best destinations on a budget -- not just destinations for budget travelers, but we will talk about going to expensive places on a budget. We write about the sexiest people from different countries, movies you should see before you travel to a country and how to haggle. We brand a lot of things we do, like the "What the F---" section, which is anything that you’d say that would cause somebody to react that way. We use it to discuss cultural issues.
What has the response from readers been like?
People love us because we are so honest. We are taking traditional travel writing and turning it upside down in the sense that most writers typically paint a very beautiful picture. We like to be more risky and very upfront and honest because that’s what this generation really responds to. We have a high demand from people who want to write for us, but we tend to work with younger kids in college who haven’t done actual travel writing. It’s easier than re-training a travel writer in the new style that we use.
We really set out to create more movement around the world. One of the most rewarding things is that we’ve been able to accomplish that. We get emails from people who decided to take on volunteer programs or travel abroad. We hope we are on the right path and continue to grow.
Co-founders Freddie Pikovsky and Anna Starostinetskaya.
Follow Cassandra Garrison on Twitter @CassieatMetro