A better way to explore

The first in a new series exploring the most sustainable and transformational travel experiences the world has to offer

Travel is in our DNA. Since we first stepped onto the African Savanna we have been wandering, curious and eager to explore the world.

These days tourism is one of the planet’s largest and fastest growing industries. Last year alone the number of international travellers exceeded one billion for the first time in human history. By 2030 that number will have almost doubled. Travel may be in our DNA but now, more than ever before, we have a responsibility to do it positively.

This column is about discovering new landscapes, encountering new kinds of people and challenging ourselves with the simple thrill of stepping into the unknown. But it’s about doing it in a conscious and sustainable way.

History has shown that the travel industry has the potential for enormous ill: exploiting communities, and destroying the natural world in pursuit of profit.  But the tides are turning. We increasingly want to know where our hard-earned holiday cash is going. We want to tread lightly, and buy locally. When we travel responsibly, far from damaging the landscapes and lives we visit, we contribute positively instead. Tourism can also be a force for good.

“Positive travel connects us with the world in authentic and meaningful ways”

‘Positive travel’ empowers local people, providing social and economic benefits to surrounding communities; it respects the cultural heritage of a destination, allowing it to flourish in an authentic and responsible way; and it preserves the natural environment, conserving resources, reducing pollution and protecting local ecosystems and wildlife.

But it’s not just about the destination; it’s also about you. Positive travel connects us with the world in authentic and meaningful ways.

Mark Twain said: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.” As we encounter new ideas, and new ways of being, we challenge our preconceptions and come home richer, and deeper, for it. This is the reason I travel. Exploring the world is a catalyst for personal growth; it’s transformative.

As Positive News’ travel editor, it’s my job to keep up to date with the best travel experiences on the planet, and I will be using this column to share those with you. Each post will have a selection of positive travel adventures that have been vetted to meet our strict criteria: empowering, respecting, preserving and connecting with the people and places you visit.

We have no affiliation with any of the businesses associated with these trips, and gain no financial reward by putting them forward: they’re simply travel ideas that we love, and think you will too.

Explore the world, expand your mind. After all, it’s in your DNA.

India: Spirit of the South
Remote rural communities in India often struggle to survive as young people are increasingly forced to leave their homes to find work in the city. Village Ways offers an alternative solution. By working in partnership with local communities to help set up, and market, sustainable tourism businesses within the villages themselves, they not only provide an economic lifeline, but also offer a unique, and deeply authentic, way to experience the country. A new 16-day trip links four Village Ways projects in southern India. Travel from the spice gardens and fishing villages of Karnataka to the coffee plantations of the Western Ghats and the Kerala backwaters. Stay in rural guesthouses, immersed in the daily rhythms of village life, spending time with local families and eating the best, freshly prepared, Indian food of your life.

More information:
Tel: 01273 750 049

A 16-day Spirit of the South trip costs £1,157pp including all accommodation, meals, transfers and local village guides. Discounts available for groups of 4 or more. International flights not included.

Ecuador: Otobo’s Amazon Safari
The Huaorani have lived in the lowland forests of the Ecuadorian Amazon for at least 6,000 years, but their territory is now under threat from oil companies. A unique new camping safari has been set up by one of these remote tribes, and is helping to protect Huaorani lands from exploitation.

Welcoming only a handful of visitors a year, guests will spend a week living in the deep forest with Otobo and his people. Walking in the footsteps of one of the last hunter-gatherer societies on Earth, visitors will learn to see the jungle through Huaorani eyes, hunting with blowpipes, and taking dugout canoes to spot wildlife along the Rio Cononaco.

More information:
Otobo’s Amazon Safari costs around £1,000pp for an eight-day trip including all meals, guides and internal flights. International flights to Quito, and transfer to Puyo airport, not included. Discounts available for multiple guests.