You are a travel addict; you are thirsty to discover new cultures; greedy to explore the whole world and impatient to uncover the Earth’s magic thanks to Meaningful Travel Experiences. But when you realise that a flight from London to Hong Kong represents 25% of the average UK’s annual carbon footprint you feel the guilt coming up.
Even if you feel guilty about your environmental impact, you can’t help it… The travel itch always wins.
Ever faced that internal conflict?
Babe, I feel you! Backpacking is my passion, I find it incredible and I doubt I would be able to do what I do if travels were not my reward.
I remember my discomfort when I was solo traveling in central America early 2019. I was happier than ever, and my takeaways were numerous: spiritual awakening, self-confidence, the strength to carry on with my mission to make the world a better place.
Yet, the idea that I had to fly made me feel s**t. (Pardon my French!) So, I looked for ways to make travels more sustainable and I discovered a few tools.
What if I tell you that you can make your passion for travels a lot more sustainable and a lot more acceptable?
After reading this post, you will feel reassured because you will have a new tool to make your travel more sustainable. It will allow you to keep doing something you love without feeling too guilty. Keep reading!
Longer Trips For Meaningful Travel Experiences
Wanna stop feeling guilty about your travel’s carbon footprint? Try to go for longer periods. Girl, I am aware of my privilege to backpack for 5 months and I know it’s not something everyone can do.
That said, if you ever feel like backpacking is a real need, that you can afford it and that “only” fear is holding you back, go for it! I can only refer to my own experience but going for it is the best decision I have ever made.
Going away for more than 2 weeks in summer (which is absolutely fine) gives a new perspective to travel. First, you get value from your carbon emissions if that makes sense.
Then, it teaches you a lot about yourself as a person: your own values, your behaviour, your adaptability. It stretches you in many ways.
Finally, you really have the time to discover the country, to liaise with people and to understand the culture. It makes meaningful travel experiences.
Want a meaningful and guilt-free travel experience? Try to travel slow.
I remember a holiday with my best friends in South East Asia. We flew every 3 or 4 days, which was exhausting and awfully polluting!
Why did we do something that silly? Because we wanted to go fast and see as much as possible. The goal was to proudly tick countries out of the to visit list. That is what makes a meaningful travel experience, right? See as much as possible!
Mmmhhhhh maybe not! What if seeing as much as possible means seeing less places? Take the time to discover a place properly, don’t just scratch the surface. Walk the same street 3 times to note every detail. Really see people and connect with them to understand their beliefs.
Also take the bus. Yes, it’s slow but I guarantee that you’ll learn a lot about locals when you see them traveling their own countries. Ever heard about chicken buses in Guatemala? By far the preferred means of transport by Guatemalans, the network relies on the old yellow school buses from the US. And believe it or not, in the middle of the crowd (yes, I am talking about a crowd in a bus) it’s not uncommon to see chickens. I spent hours captivated by people in those buses.
Give Back For Meaningful Travel Experiences
If you still think that travelling slowly for longer period is not enough to quiet your guilt, give back! Remember, sustainability is not ONLY about being eco-friendly. It also requires social and economic efforts. If you ensure that your visit in a country supports local population and economy, you explore another aspect of ethical travel.
There are a few ways to give back to the local society. Volunteering is an obvious one if you are lucky enough to stay in a country for a longer period. You could join a local charity and use your skills to support their projects. The volunteers I met in different countries loved that unique experience. Please DM me if you want more information around that topic, I would be happy to help!
If volunteering is impossible for you timewise or that you need to relax, I understand for not having volunteered myself, give back by consuming local. You may go to the market and local restaurants instead of Walmart and McDonald’s. I pushed it but you got my point, right?
Vote with your dollars (pounds and euros)! Inject your cash in the local economy, not in big international chains. Support the locals and the national economy.
Travel Local With Fresh Eyes
Girl, this one gonna make you feel guilt-free if you do it right. Travel local.
Let me repeat that: travel local!
Traveling (to me) means exploring! You don’t need to go far to explore but it requires fresh eyes and a new perspective. I used to take the tube to an unknown area of London and opened my eyes to marvellous surprises.
Shift your mindset and refresh the vison you hold of your surroundings. You might not need to visit 3 tropical countries per year, even if I know how satisfying that feels. You need to spice up our life with weekend getaways in some unknown places. Whether it is close or far.
Let me give you one very concrete piece of advice about how you can travel local and enjoy it.
- Take a map, look at what is close to you and easily accessible by train or driving (pool drive with some friend to reduce your CO2 emission by person).
- Then make a list of 10 places (cities and natural spots) you have never visited before.
- As soon as you get the travel itch, pick your list! Which place do you want to explore?
- Finally, schedule a trip there and be open minded.
In that post, I shared with you 4 ideas to make sustainable and meaningful travel experiences. You don’t have to silence your nomad heart out of guilt anymore.
There are many other tools to make your travels ethical and eco-friendly! I regularly discuss that topic on my Instagram so give me a follow to forget your travel guilt.
Babe, I know that feeling too well. We can find solutions to reduce the impact of our trips while making the most of them, we can embrace those two sides of ourselves. I got you!
Wanna know how to pack in an eco-friendly way? Click here!