On September 30 we hosted the first Retravel Live, the start of a series of enlightening and inspiring online conversations focused on the ways we can all travel better. Our founder, Bruce Poon Tip, was joined by a panel of expert special guests to tackle the hottest issues facing travel beyond the pandemic.
For the first edition, our guests were Elizabeth Becker, Author of Overbooked: The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism, Juliet Kinsman, Sustainability Editor, Condé Nast Traveller, U.K., and George Stone Editor in Chief, National Geographic Traveler U.S.
Check out some of the biggest takeaways from the conversation, and then if you’re hungry to learn how you can Retravel better, you can watch the whole event below!
1. Travel like you live there
Our panel recognized that we are all citizens of different communities, so we should think about our individual impact on not just our own but the communities we visit as well.
“What’s been important is that we’ve learned, or I hope many of us have really started to think about the ‘we’ and not just ‘me.’ I feel a huge responsibility around helping those who are less fortunate and around wealth distribution.” —Juliet Kinsman
“I always say it’s time to start thinking as a citizen. I would like all of us to think that we’re citizens in where we are and where we’re going to visit.” —Elizabeth Becker
“It’s really important that travellers think about the community and their place in the community, about themselves as visiting a place where people live and leaving the place where people continue to live. So absorbing your reciprocal relationship, whether it’s with the community or the environment, and really bringing that into your travels and thinking about that community and how you spend money, where you spend money is so important.” —George Stone
2. The travel industry needs to change its role
As we look forward to when we can fully travel again on the other side of the pandemic, there needs to be a shift in how the travel industry thinks about its role in improving the ways we explore.
“I’m of the mindset that travel wasn’t in a great place before this forced pause, so there’s great opportunity for us to rethink and restart.” —Bruce Poon Tip
“Travel is this major industry. It should be sitting at the table of governments. It should be talking about energy, it should be talking about transportation. When climate emergencies come up, travel should be sitting at the table.” —Elizabeth Becker
“It’s all about storytelling. And through these stories educating each other, exchanging ideas, more two-way conversations about impact; what’s having a good effect and what’s having a bad effect, and educating ourselves.” —Juliet Kinsman
“The key tool we can use, we’re representing travel media, travel writers, it is the power of the story. A deeper narrative that has more texture and more context about the role of the traveller, the role of the community in this economy is what I think travellers want now. And it will affect their journeys and their decisions in the future.” —George Stone
3. As travellers, we will need to change our behaviour
The panel agreed that as much as we can all talk about the ways we want to travel better in the future, it will take deliberate, conscious action to make a lasting impact.
“The only way travel can and will change for the better is if we rewire capitalism. All I’m saying is us as consumers are more conscious and we choose businesses that are impacting change. Each of us can make a decision to support a good business.” —Juliet Kinsman
“We’re going to see travel as much more a privilege. People are going to take fewer trips and stay longer. The consumer is going to have to reimagine what’s important to travel. Maybe do a lot more homework. Maybe we’re going to learn the languages a little better. It’s going to be a little deeper because we’re going to have to take our time. We’re not going to have the choices we had in 2019.” —Elizabeth Becker
“The vendors have to change as well. I think the consumers who have done their research will expect more, they will absolutely demand that from their vendors.” —George Stone
“It just takes a small group of people to change for us to have a massive impact on the future of tourism.” —Bruce Poon Tip
4. Tips to travel better
The panel offered their expert advice for travellers who want to think more deeply about their travel choices.
“Avoid all the chain hotels and stay local instead. It can be difficult, but you have to go out of your way… Close contact with the local community can be very helpful because you have more environmentally- and community-oriented low-cost travel and tourism. But it’s going to take some planning.” —Elizabeth Becker
“Travel is a practice, like a lot of things. Often you aren’t very good the first time you do something, the goal is to get better as you move along... The thought I have, because of Robin Wall Kimmerer and her book Braiding Sweetgrass, about reciprocity and how we relate to communities and the environment, really has to be considered more deeply.” —George Stone
“We’re the only animals that explore for the sake of exploring. But we do it because we’re curious and we want to experience things. Ask yourself why you want to travel. I’m craving that taste, that smell, those sounds of different places that transport me and remind me what a rich world this is.” —Juliet Kinsman
“It’s just about asking questions. You just have to do a little work. You just have to scratch the surface and understand the power you have when you decide to purchase anything, not just travel.” —Bruce Poon Tip
5. Travel will (hopefully) look very different in five years
As the conversation came to a close, Bruce Poon Tip asked our panelists to predict what the state of travel will be five years into the future.
“You’re going to see fewer trips lasting longer. Even our cherished wilderness trips are going to be watched a little bit. You’re not going to find Yellowstone crushed with tourists anymore… I want to see the travel industry as political as anybody else about protecting the planet.” —Elizabeth Becker
“I’m going to put my rose-tinted spectacles on. Everyone’s thought more about the importance of educating young women and girls in remote rural areas and they’re all going to go out and make it their life’s purpose to improve that. And in five years, as a result of that, [women will] be finding more solutions … I just wish every country had a leader that was like a great parent. Modelling behaviour, inspiring all. Because inspiration and giving people optimistic, great messages to incite them to do good things is what we need.” —Juliet Kinsman
“We’re going to see a better quality of traveller. Someone that is more engaged in the conversations that are relevant to places. Someone who is really thinking more critically about communities and identity. I don’t see how we can go through this and not come out touched and moved and changed.” —George Stone
“The world needs people to travel, local communities need people to travel. More people understand the power and privilege they have and take that seriously in the decision when they want to explore.” —Bruce Poon Tip
Next up … Retravel Live: Animal Welfare edition!
Join world-renowned ethologist and environmentalist Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE and our founder, Bruce Poon Tip, for an engaging online conversation about travel’s impact on wildlife around the world, and how we, as travellers, can do our part to help protect the magnificent creatures we share our planet with.
Alongside her groundbreaking research on chimpanzees, Dr. Goodall has always championed for people to make more compassionate choices regarding our world’s wildlife — an idea that’s equally as important for our travel choices as well. Together, we’ll be talking about the power our travel plans have to make a difference, while tackling each other’s important questions along the way.
Sign up at retravellive.com and submit your question for Dr. Goodall today!