Responsible tourism is the word on everyone’s lips, but talk is cheap; this month, we turned the spotlight on Pathfinders Ellie and Ravi from Soul Travel who truly embody an eco-friendly travel style.
Give us the low down on your blog…
Soul Travel helps travellers find the best and most inspiring options for sustainable and eco-conscious travel around the world. We know that there are many wonderful eco-friendly accommodations, community tourism initiatives and tours and activities that actively give back and help host populations, but it’s not always easy to find them and work out if they are the real deal. That’s where we come in with our responsible travel guides.
We started the blog in 2015 as a sabbatical ‘project’, and it’s still going strong! We are very grateful to all of the thought leaders and sustainability pioneers that we have met on our journey so far, and it’s thanks largely to them that our enthusiasm for the blog has kept on growing.
Describe your travel style in three words…
Curious, immersive and sometimes-nostalgic.
Top three places you’ve visited?
India (particularly Ladakh and Maharashtra), Costa Rica (for the nature) and Iran (for the people).
Tell us about your most unforgettable travel memory…
Probably something to do with Indian train journeys – we have a few stories on this topic. But the most epic was turning up at Jaisalmer railway station at midnight for our train to Haridwar (halfway across the country) only to find out our train was delayed by 10 hours. Seeing as no hotels were answering the phone at that time we had to spend the night at the railway station. Our train was cancelled in the end, but the story ends well; we managed to get a train out the following day and met one of the kindest families ever who kept us company for the 17-hour journey, and we’re still in touch today.
Why do you think it’s important to advocate for sustainable travel?
It’s easy to think in today’s world (and especially thanks to social media) that travel is accessible to everyone, but only 20% of the world’s population has ever boarded a plane. We feel we have a duty – because we are privileged enough to be able to travel – to really care about our footprint and try to ensure our style of tourism benefits people in the places that we visit.
It’s also easier than ever to take small steps to travel in a better way, and these small steps add up to a huge difference. Imagine if everyone who travelled used a refillable water bottle vs single-use plastic, or chose to support local organisations vs chains wherever possible. We want to encourage our readers to make those changes wherever we can.
What advice would you give someone looking to travel more responsibly?
There’s never been an easier time to travel more responsibly which is great news. Starting is easy: avoid single-use plastic wherever possible (take a refillable water bottle, bamboo straw, cutlery and reusable bags). If you need to fly, take direct flights where possible as these are more co2 efficient, or consider some overland slow travel if you have the time. Stay longer in one place to create a positive economic impact, too.
Read up about the destinations you visit ahead of time and see if there is a way to learn more about the cultural traditions, to interact with locals, and support local tourism initiatives. We love responsible travel platforms such as Visit.org, Backstreet Academy and I-Like Local for homestays, farmstays and responsible travel activities. We find the best travel memories and stories are the ones that have the best impact, too.
If you’re a member of our Pathfinders community and would like to share your story, drop us an email at [email protected] and tell us what exciting things you’re up to on your blog.