Do you want to travel or be a tourist? Mindful travelling.

What’s the difference? Travelling is one of the greatest joys of life. Most young people nowadays dream of exploring hidden corners of the world, immersing themselves in cultures and experiencing adventure. However, increasingly more people think and wonder how to reduce the negative impact it could have on local communities or the climate. In short, to travel more ethically, more mindfully.

So, do you want to travel or be a tourist? There is a programme called Volunturism where you can travel and volunteer at the same time making a positive impact on the local communities. Check this page for more information :

Travelling is different to tourism in that it is about self-discovery, helping local economies, sharing stories, connecting and widening horizons. I call this Mindful Travelling.

Are we selfish when we decide to explore the world and fly across the planet? Are we putting our own needs of fulfilment above the needs of other nationalities, tribes, and the environment? I think, that travelling is one of the activities we choose for a great adventure and I would argue it is good for humankind.  We need to do it mindfully, though.

What are the challenges?

  1. There has been evidence that recreational travelling boosts the local economy, it enhances the local labour market, and creates job opportunities through spending money on accommodation, food, and local activities. However, the drawback of that is the seasonality of jobs. Most importantly, many people decide to spend their holidays in all-inclusive hotels, on cruises or in big tourist complexes, where the money benefits directly the multinational companies.
  2. Tourism develops from the top down in many places. Instead of benefiting the local communities in 100%, it creates some obstacles and challenges for locals. The residents relocate due to the tourist, the traditions and culture is being forgotten, the access to the local beaches and places is limited due to many tourists there.
  3. Pollution. undoubtedly, one of the biggest issues when travelling is the carbon footprint emission. Travelling by plane, by cruise ship or by car affect the climate and can lead to the loss of natural habitats.

So what can we do as individuals to contribute to more mindful travelling?

Starting Mindful Travelling

Awareness is the key.

  1. Select your travel destination with care. – You can think about less crowded destinations such as Georgia and some islands of Indonesia instead of going to Venice or Rome in a high season. These unknown places have so much to offer and we at the same time avoid the high density.
  2. Consider alternatives to all-inclusive resorts. Many resort destinations where the cruises are being sent, or where there are many all-inclusive hotels suffer from economic leakage. Money is being sent elsewhere instead of contributing to the economy of the country. Maybe it is worth considering staying with locals, in smaller, local hotels and contributing to the communities where we receive the proper and authentic experience. MOst ideally, look for accommodations with sustainability certificates. 
  3. Staying outside of the resorts, buying local food and local gifts are even much cheaper than those things bought in the tourist zone.
  4. Consider your options for getting there. Is it possible to arrive there by bus or by train? Share the car with a group of people? If you have to fly, try to choose a non lay-over options.
  5. Engage with getting to know the locals! Talk to people, listen to the stories, and exchange smiles. Maybe even engage in local activities if that’s possible. If you are going for a longer period of time, consider volunteering.


I became an unintentional mindful traveller as I first entered the Erasmus+ universe: youth exchanges, trainings, entrepreneurship, studying and working abroad-experiences promoted and sponsored by European Union. As a participant of many international projects, I discovered a new way of exploring the world: one that benefits me, the traveller, the community I travelled to and the project’s organisers, usually local NGOs. Fighting discrimination, promoting sustainability and learning entrepreneurship are a few of the causes behind my Erasmus+ travelling.

Another aspect of mindful travelling is completing your activities in harmony with nature. Being a regular/full-time traveller can have a big impact on the environment. So try your best to minimise your ‘travel footprint’. Think about it! If nature is polluted and destroyed, the experience of world exploration wouldn’t be as appealing. We have seen the signs during the pandemic when nature started to recover, and the sky and oceans cleared up.



So, I am writing this to encourage you to add meaning to your travels by getting involved with local projects, pursue greater causes and do it in harmony with the environment. There is nothing wrong with being a tourist but as a Mindful Traveller you take an active interest in the community, become a better person, build life-long friendships and discover yourself.

If you would like to find interesting project opportunities you can visit our web page which provides a wide range of programmes including: VolunteeringYouth ExchangesSeminarsTraining courses, Internships and many more.

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