rē•Thinking the Way We Take Our Summer Vacations
Make space for mindfulness on your trip.
As parts of the country revert back to the “old normal” once again, it begs the question: Is travel back to normal too? 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 on 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, which specializes in curating adventure, creativity, embracing the beauty of the Earth 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, being able to empathize with their stories, being able to find those similarities between your stories helps to create this mindfulness when traveling.”
After a year and a half of uncertainty, and months of feeling trapped by familiar surroundings, many are in a uniquely receptive mindset to consider 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, to the world around us, and to the local communities we plan on visiting.
Post-Pandemic Travel Tips:
Before you embark on your summer travels – whatever they may look like – Hunnigan shared five tips to take with you on your next adventure to approach your travels more mindfully, every step of the way.
For Hunnigan, traveling responsibly has always been a focus, but it has taken on renewed significance in our post-COVID world — particularly 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, not only to protect yourself, but to protect the community that you’re visiting. Be aware of the rules and guidelines that are set in a place where your destination is, and honor them. Above all, it is important 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 perspectives. 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 that you are visiting by staying open to their culture — even if it’s not something that 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.
In our own hometowns, shopping locally is vital to uplifting small businesses; the same is true as we visit 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. This is why during their international trips, Wind Collective works directly with local guides for tours, 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.”
No matter where you are, there is plenty to see: even in America, we have 3.8 million square miles of land to experience on the road as opposed to jet-setting around the globe. 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. But road trips provide a slow, intentional travel style that doesn’t allow you to miss 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 just 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 incredibly important 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