En route to success with Eleonora Sacco and her entrepreneurial travel project Pain de Route
Eleonora Sacco, traveler and entrepreneur, has transformed her passion for travel into a successful business. We explore her project and reveal that her secret lies within everyone’s reach.
“Since 2015, Pain de Route has been promoting conscious, respectful, and independent travel in little-known areas,” is how Eleonora describes Pain de Route: her travel blog and related social media pages where she shares travel stories and thoughts with tens of thousands of followers. It is also a consultancy service for organizing tailor-made trips and cultural tours. In addition, Eleonora is the author of the book Piccolo alfabeto per viaggiatori selvatici (Little alphabet for wild travelers), co-author of the podcast Cemento and the new podcast Kult launched in January.
Eleonora says she was lucky to be born in a wealthy country, to a family with no major problems, in a city with three nearby airports serviced by low-cost flights: a series of factors that made developing a passion for travel possible. Pain de Route is her way of giving back and sharing this passion with the world. During her many travels, especially in the Mediterranean and Eastern Europe, she explored different ways of traveling and living. She realized that “checklist” tourism did not enrich her personally.
What made her feel alive were spontaneous encounters with local people who guided her to a deeper understanding of other cultures. She advocates internet-free travel, forcing you to rely on local people and their hospitality. Eleonora’s approach to travel crystallized into her blog. It was a space that simply aimed to tell stories and share thoughts and reflections gleaned from her travels. The blog gained an avid readership and has become an important point of reference in the panorama of online travel content focused on Eastern Europe. In her opinion, these countries influence the past, present, and future of Europe and the wider world in ways we often overlook.
People immediately took notice of her novel approach to exploring the world, and requests to travel with her began pouring in from travelers wanting to experience her enthralling “wild,” spontaneous, and spartan way of traveling through areas recently devastated by conflicts.
Her project was born from a desire to share her passion and insights with local people but also with Italians back home. In an age in which many people, unfortunately, travel with the express purpose of sharing photos online, their experience can be stripped of immediacy and the joy of discovery by the constant need to document, curate, and seek validation from others. This mindless approach to travel has begun to weigh heavily on the landscape and cultural fabric of popular tourist destinations. Many places have become overcrowded, stripped of their charm, their economies entirely oriented towards satisfying the needs of tourists who queue to take selfies against the same backdrop as millions of others for the sake of likes on social media.
Eleonora has been able to harness the power of the internet to engage her followers by centering intimate portraits of the places and people she visits. Her content is engaging and promotes socially responsible, respectful, and contemplative tourism. Her responsible interpretation of “sharing” is the key to her success.
Eleonora explains that one of the aspects of her business she is most proud of is her attention to what she decides to share on social networks. In her opinion, the journey must be experienced fully and in the present. Only later, if necessary, should it be documented. Everything she shares online, she explains, is the result of a careful assessment of any potential impact on the dynamics of the place and its people. She knows the danger of driving tourism in pristine areas and causing them to degenerate into banal Instagram spots.
She feels strongly that sharing online should be secondary and not the engine that drives us to seek travel experiences. In an increasingly saturated travel sector, this is certainly a selling point that distinguishes Eleonora’s entrepreneurial project and which, along with her transparency and honesty, has given her success.
Alongside these core values is the importance she places on investing in quality content, preferring to provide lasting value. Quality content can bear fruit by acting as a springboard for other projects. An example is the podcasts that Eleonora and her colleague Angelo Zinna offer free of charge while promoting her book and her group trips.
Pain de Route, Cemento, Kult, and Piccolo alfabeto per viaggiatori selvatici are all projects that, beyond offering interesting insights into Eastern European countries, offer a window on a way of traveling, thinking, getting to know places and people, exploring different realities, and, most importantly, looking past our screens that can become barriers to living in the moment as we travel the world.
Cover photo: Pankisi Valley, Georgia
Images provided by Eleonora Sacco