I was floating on my back staring at the vast blue sky, tropical palm trees swaying gently in my peripheral along the shores, the water a perfect temperature rocking me as I casually drifted along, and mist dancing around the peaks of towering dramatic limestone mountains in the distance. It was a scene from a post card, so tranquil, calm, everything I’d wanted and needed after a busy year. Aaah Thailand.
That bubble quickly burst as something wrapped around my neck, and another brushed against my leg, and then hand and then stomach. I quickly jerked up out of the water to find myself suddenly floating in a sea of plastic chip packets, wrappers and cigarette butts. Tranquility crushed, paradise lost, and I’ve never been the same since.
Four years ago when I was returning from Thailand from what was meant to be a relaxing, mindless sun-soaked holiday, I was feeling anything but. I was stressed, overwhelmed, angry and saddened by the amount of plastic and pollution that had plagued the streets, lined the beaches and filled the oceans the whole time I was there.
To me, this was all wrong. The very places I went to immerse myself in and ultimately relax, were trashed. People in cities were less concerned about culture and community, and the dominant conversations flowing through the streets were ones that encouraged mass consumerism, screaming “Indulge, buy more stuff you don’t need!”. And you know what, I was part of the problem.
Travel has a huge impact on the environment, wildlife, local culture, and the communities we visit from air miles to the way we consume and behave where we land our feet.
I decided then and there that I can no longer do the “switch off and sun bake” thing, and if I was to continue to travel, it would have purpose attached to it. The purpose of giving something positive back to the places I visited, and taking great lessons and growth to help me in the greater cause of conservation.
Conscious travel is something I want to explore more of as a generation of wanderlusters go out and explore the world with an ever expanding bucket list. We may have the passion and drive to explore the world, but not necessarily the awareness as to what impacts we are having on community, culture and of course the environment as we move through different places and spaces.
With a background in ecotourism and conservation, I will explore and share with you here, topics of travel and adventure with purpose, my insights and stories, and tips and tricks which will hopefully offer some inspiration for you to rethink the way you tread on this earth.
Have you had an awakening to the impact you have abroad, or even in your own backyard? I’d love to hear your story in the comments below…