Meet Ellie and Ravi, a British-Indian couple wandering the world and trying to make a positive difference along the way. Through their site, Soul Travel Blog, they share stories of mindful travel and the most inspiring sustainable travel projects they stumble upon along the way! Soul Travel Blog is an inspirational and practical guide to sustainable travel. It’s for people who want to travel to improve, to connect with themselves and the world, and to make the world a better place through sustainable, positive-impact tourism.
Read on as Ellie shares more about their journey and this inspirational platform. And check out why they also encourage going to destinations one might not have thought of, or that have negative stereotypes associated with them.
Journey to responsible travel…
We come from different backgrounds but travel is what has brought us together. Soul Travel was born back in 2015 – out of a frustration at the lack of airtime that responsible and sustainable travel was getting and to help share information and tips with travellers about where to go and how to travel more sustainably. Ravi and I (I’m from London, UK) met on our travels two years later in his hometown of Mumbai, India and the rest – as they say – is history. We’ve both worked for corporate travel companies and combine that with our travel experiences to provide solutions for travellers who want to create a positive impact.
Soul Travel stands for…
Soul Travel helps conscious travellers from around the world find the most inspiring and best sustainable travel options for their next trip. Over the last few years we’ve (fortunately) seen an increased interest in mindful and sustainable travel, but unfortunately sustainable travel is still often an afterthought, and not every lodge that calls themselves “eco” is really that. So our aim is to demystify what sustainable travel is and guide our readers to the best companies and places to create a positive impact.
One of our favourite destinations that wins for all round sustainability efforts is Slovenia. Sandwiched between Italy and Croatia, Slovenia is a small country that is easy to explore and benefits from incredible landscapes and culture, great food, and rich cultural traditions. Most importantly, Slovenia recently won an award for being the first sustainable country (Green Destinations) in the world, and the tourism board has rating systems for destinations, hotels and tour operators making it easy to choose to travel sustainably there.
We also like to encourage our readers to go to destinations they might not have thought of, or that have negative stereotypes associated with them. This is a great way to not only get away from over-touristed parts of the world, but also to discover different perspectives of countries and cultures. For example, Egypt, Tunisia, and Iran are 3 amazing destinations that could use more tourism right now.
Traveling sustainably but cheaply. Some ideas around this…
Sometimes people think that sustainable travel means staying in expensive eco resorts. Wonderful as these are, there are many other ways to travel sustainably without breaking the bank. Some of our favourite ways are visiting local coffee shops and restaurants where you don’t see any tourists and taking time to slowly chat with locals. Not only are such places often half the price of places that are marketed at tourists, but it’s a great way to learn more about day to day life in other countries, too.
Another great way is to travel by public transport – not only is it cheaper, but as above you have the chance to mix with locals and see what life is like living in a country as opposed to merely visiting it. It’s also usually the most carbon-friendly way to travel, too!
Easy ways to ensure travelling responsibly
Be mindful of different cultures and sensitivities when we travel – we like to think of ourselves as guests in another country, and with that mentality we then give respect to the places we visit and the people we meet there. Be prepared to get out of your comfort zone, eat different food and even adjust your dress style for a few days or weeks, and learn many new things!
Avoid using single use plastic on your travels, this is much easier to do if you travel with a refillable water bottle with built in filter for purifying water, carry bamboo or aluminium straws, cloth bags and avoid take out food and drinks wherever you can.
If you’re shopping for souvenirs, try and buy these directly from artisans or cooperatives wherever you can to maximise the revenue that goes to them directly. Many big markets offer inauthentic produce, often imported from China rather than the real deal. In other places where handicrafts are genuine, middle-men take a big chunk of the profits, meaning less benefit for the community that creates them.
A little about solo female travels
Every traveller is different, including solo female travellers. Some people might be very well travelled and comfortable in most countries, whereas for women (or men) travelling on their own for the first time we generally recommend sticking to more touristed countries with easily accessible infrastructure – such as Europe, South East Asia, or some parts of central America. Places with more tourism infrastructure make it easier to meet up with other travellers should you feel the need of company along the way, and English is more likely to be spoken. There’s no need to be paranoid about safety, but letting someone know your plans and taking basic precautions are advisable – wherever you are in the world.