rē•thinking the Way We Take Our Summer Vacations

Make space for mindfulness on your trip.

By: rē•spin
rē•thinking the Way We Take Our Summer Vacations

The concept of “conscious travel” has been a concern following the economic and cultural turmoil caused by the pandemic. The post-lockdown lifestyle forces us to be mindful on our trips, understanding the impact of our travels on the planet and local communities. It also means being more selective about when and where we decide to travel while making us more appreciative of our experiences. 

Where mindfulness and travel meet

Three years ago, Clé Hunnigan co-founded the travel community Wind Collective, specializing in curating adventure, creativity, and embracing the Earth’s beauty for travelers. It was important to Hunnigan for Wind Collective to be a lifestyle business over anything else, designing culture-focused adventures that focus on people and their stories. They host monthly group travel experiences globally, working with local partners for an immersive experience that celebrates local culture and allows each guest to cultivate a one-of-a-kind experience.

“The way to regain awareness and be grateful is to put yourself in a place where empathy is normalized,” Hunnigan said. “I think there should always be a period [during your travels] where you can experience something cultural or significant for that location. A five-star hotel is a five-star hotel everywhere. But if you can, find something that makes that location special. Hearing people’s stories, empathizing with their stories, and finding those similarities between your stories helps to create this mindfulness when traveling.”

After two years of uncertainty and months of feeling trapped by familiar surroundings, many are uniquely receptive to considering new experiences when it comes to planning vacations, with a new appreciation of what travel affords. Namely, connection is at the forefront of our minds as we ponder our future destinations: Connection to ourselves, the world around us, and the local communities we plan on visiting.

Post-Pandemic Travel Tips:

Take precautions

For Hunnigan, traveling responsibly has always been a focus. Still, it has renewed significance in our post-COVID world — mainly because different destinations have been impacted differently by the adversity faced in 2020. He encourages travelers to take precautions, whether that means getting vaccinated, quarantining, and/or getting tested, to protect themselves and the community they’re visiting. Be aware of the rules and guidelines set where your destination is, and honor them. Above all, it is essential to remember that our freedom and safety to travel — now as ever — is a privilege.

Respect local culture 

Storytelling while traveling is essential in capturing the moment, but it’s important to partake in responsible storytelling. As travelers, Hunnigan explains that we often come into spaces with Western privilege and Western perspective. He tells rē•spin, “When we go into countries trying to tell the stories and projecting ourselves onto the stories, it can come across as disrespectful for that community.” Keeping that in mind, respect the communities you are visiting by staying open to their culture — even if it’s not something you are used to. If you’re traveling there, you’ve been invited in to tell their story and experience just as it is, as an observer and perhaps a participant rather than a commentator.

Shop local

Shopping locally is vital to uplifting small businesses; the same is true when visiting global destinations. As you take the opportunity to support the local community where you are traveling, seek out local restaurants, shops, businesses, and artists. This enables you to connect with the country’s culture while nourishing the community. Wind Collective works directly with local guides for tours during their international trips, allowing guests to experience the community’s culture right from the source.

Don’t underestimate the road trip.

Road trips have become particularly prominent since COVID, and they remind us that it’s about the journey and not the destination. “I think road trips remind people of something that we may have neglected pre-pandemic,” Hunnigan says. “It reminds people of the importance of human connection. The slower, smaller community trips are the way going forward. I’m finding that now too.”

There is plenty to see no matter where you are: even in America, we have 3.8 million square miles of land to experience on the road instead of jet-setting around the globe. Unfortunately, we’ve become accustomed to traveling by plane and getting from point A to point B so quickly that we tend to miss everything that happens in the middle. Still, road trips provide a slow, intentional travel style that doesn’t allow you to forget what happens between the beginning and end of your travels.

Breaking past the fear

“We humans have an exploratory spirit,” he says. “We want to go out; we want to explore. We want to find new things. What new experiences can you go away with? I feel like we don’t go out to see the world. We end up just being stagnant, and I think the world has so much to inspire us on, and so I’m hoping that people get out to travel and experience the world again, be it safely and responsibly.”

That being said, dealing with nerves and worries after a year of a largely sedentary and secluded lifestyle is to be expected  Hunnigan acknowledges that feeling – and being – safe is significant and looks different for each of us, so be patient with yourself as you remember travel is so vital in the first place, and why it might just be worth it again.

Image Source: @carleyscamera

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