Personalization is the Key to Regenerative Travel: Amanda Ho in Conversation with Juliet Kinsman

Words Sara Hagen
Date

As part of Bodyism’s Body Talks series, Amanda Ho, CEO of Regenerative Travel, joined Condé Nast Traveller’s Sustainability Editor, Juliet Kinsman for a discussion about luxury and eco-travel retreats, sustainability and regeneration, and how we can be more thoughtful and responsible travelers. 

Our Five Key Takeaways

  1. Every choice is a chance to make a regenerative impact.
  2. Be open to cultural exchange and exploration as a traveler.
  3. Do your due diligence when planning a trip. Think critically about your accommodations and their regenerative practices.
  4. Redefine luxury as unique and authentic experiences that impact how you view and experience the world.
  5. It matters who you give your money to.

Regenerative and Sustainable Travel

What does sustainability mean to you? Kinsman says it comes down to the simple fact that every choice we make can either positively or negatively impact local communities, humanity, and the environment. Every time we spend money, we have a chance to support a small business or organization.

On a recent trip to Ecuador, Kinsman visited the Cloud Forest, of which only 5-10% remains. Ecuador is one of the most biodiverse places on Earth, from the tiniest insects to sprawling forests. 

It’s easy for us to turn our attention away from biodiversity when we live in an industrialized world. Travel to places such as Ecuador is vital in supporting biodiversity by supporting the local hotels and businesses in richly biodiverse areas. 

Enrichment, Exploration, and Cultural Exchange

While it’s simple to have an all-inclusive trip, those trips (and hotels) are bubbles of conventional tourism inside of a local community that many visitors don’t engage with. South Africa’s philosophy of Ubuntu means “I am because we are”. It is about the interconnectedness of everyone in all aspects of life. Ecuador’s Quechuan philosophy of Minka is about communal, voluntary work for the betterment of the community.

When we travel, our most memorable experiences are always ones of sharing culture with people. It can be as simple as maintaining curiosity. Talk to your Uber driver or your server. Ask about their lives and perspectives.

Traveling Responsibly

The travel sector accounts for nearly 12% of the global economy and employs 1 in 10 people.

Consumption and capitalism clash with regeneration. There isn’t a majority of the global population that cares about regeneration for this planet, this singular ecosystem.

People choose vacations based on location, cost, and comfort. If they are offered the sustainable option, they’ll likely pick it. This wasn’t the case years ago, as Kinsman explained, when she had to begin by defining the term “sustainability”. As altruistic as regenerative travel is, it won’t convert most people.

If you search for the most sustainable hotel in your destination, you’ll see misleading results from hotels that have paid to have their name appear in the search. It helps to cross-reference terms (e.g. “sustainable + regenerative”). Word of mouth is still an invaluable tool.

Kinsman recommends going to a specific hotel’s website. Check if their site has a “sustainability” section. If so, does it say something like “We care about people and planet”? Continue reading. Everyone cares about people and planet. Make sure they go into more detail. 

Kinsman says to look for information about energy and water conservation and natural resource management in general. Kinsman says, “We hear about global warming, but the water scarcity in the world is such a big deal.”

Due to an earthquake in Marrakech last September and media coverage of drug cartels, Moroccan tourism has been steadily declining. It is wise to postpone your trip after natural disasters, but don’t cancel it. Countries go through an economic recovery period after natural disasters. Spending money on a trip can shorten that recovery period and help long-term recovery. 

Visiting popular tourist destinations during the high season isn’t helping, Kinsman points out. She says visiting your destination during the off-season is helping.

After the earthquake in Morocco, girls who had been educated as a part of a social project called Education For All could use their education to activate emergency aid. The Kasbah Du Toubkal Hotel funded and co-founded Education For All. 

As important as travel is, it comes with a heavy carbon footprint. While better than nothing, carbon offsetting isn’t the future of sustainability. As Kinsman points out, “less than 5% of people elect to carbon offset” on booking sites like Skyscanner. 

What’s more critical than offsetting? The power company you chose to provide your home’s energy, the banks you use, and perhaps most importantly, adopting a plant-based diet.  The primary focus should be on the footprint of our accommodations. 

Redefining Luxury

Luxury doesn’t have to mean overly indulgent. Many luxury hotels, such as the Datai in Malaysia and Mandarin Oriental Hotel group, are luxury hotels that invest in sustainable practices. They can invest in sustainability because they have a lot of money.

The cut-and-paste five-star chain hotels aren’t luxury. What is the new luxury? Kinsman recalls the origin of the word ‘luxury.’ “It actually just means rare,” she says. Unique experiences are the new luxury. Want to see an artist in residence? You could strike up a conversation with them at breakfast and open your eyes to a perspective that never would’ve happened at a chain hotel. That is luxury.

Kinsman’s three key takeaways:

  1. It matters who you give your money to
  2. Buy less, consume less, pack less
  3. Fly less and invest in slow travel

Empowerment Through Storytelling

Even people well-versed in sustainability and regeneration don’t make ethical choices 100% of the time. As long as we do our best, we are making progress. Regenerative Travel encourages businesses to make changes one step at a time, whether inventing new initiatives, changing operations, etc.

Kinsman finds inspiration in inspiring others with journalism and storytelling. Creating optimism and hope through journalism is powerful and vital. Telling stories written for those outside of one’s community is also essential. Who are we reaching with our stories? White people in sustainability need to decentralize themselves in their storytelling.

When Kinsman realized she was preaching to the converted, she started writing for The Evening Standard, a free local London newspaper, to expand her mission’s reach.

Sharing stories that lift people up and expand them incites much more action and thoughtfulness than doom-and-gloom angles, which tend to shut people down and discourage action.

How do you want people to remember you? Do you want to be someone who didn’t actively oppose an existential crisis? Or do you want to be someone who uses their voice for good?


Join our Upcoming Regenerative Retreat in Portugal

We are hosting our next community gathering Regenerative Retreat in Portugal from May 27-31, 2024 to explore “Crafting Conscious Narratives for Impact” at our member hotel, Craverial Farmhouse with Juliet as our co-host. Through storytelling workshops, facilitated discussions, and wellness programming, we will return to a state of being that embraces your inner regeneration. Realigning with nature’s rhythms and the simplicity of just-being, we will uncover your personal narrative and how to use your voice to empower those around you in your own community.


» Experience one-on-one time with Juliet and Amanda to work together on elevating storytelling for your business.


» Take advantage of the opportunity to present and participate in group workshops where you can showcase your offerings and receive valuable feedback on how to make the most impact through your sales strategy and communications.


» This retreat is designed to help you refine your storytelling skills and enhance your business narrative in a supportive and collaborative environment.

Learn more and apply here

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