Traveling Slow Benefits You, Local Communities and the Environment

We have a tendency to go about traveling as we go about our busy daily lives: frantically ticking off our to-do list to make sure we make the most of our time – and have a lot of Instagrammable pictures to show for it. But more and more people are realizing that making the best of our time might mean something completely different: it requires us to slow down, so we can really appreciate the places we visit. The best part: while traveling slow gives us a more meaningful experience, it also maximizes benefits for local communities and the environment. With traveling slow, everybody wins.

A Newbie at a Thai Monastery

A long line of people dressed in all white formed a silent procession through the forest. Putting one foot in front of the other slowly and carefully, no one made a sound. It was an impressive sight–one that continues to fill me with awe. If you would have told me a few years ago that I would be part of this line, I might have laughed. I was as down to earth as it gets. Yet here I was: in a Buddhist monastery amidst the hills of northern Thailand participating in a walking meditation.

Why Myanmar Needs You: A Story of Three Meetings

The entrance to the Shan Palace was hidden behind a neglected garden. While I walked past overgrown bushes, some stray dogs barked at me. The palace turned out to be an old mansion, that I imagined once looked grand but was poorly maintained and partly in decay. When I reached the front door, I was invited into the house by a modest but charismatic old woman. As I sat down in the living room, she started to tell the story of the last prince and princess of Hsipaw.

Traveling for a Better World: A Comprehensive Guide to Responsible Travel

Last year the popular Thai island Koh Phi Phi closed to tourists. After years of excessive tourism causing extreme damage to coral reefs, a complete tourist ban was necessary to give local ecosystems a chance to survive. Luckily, reports indicate marine life is slowly returning. Nonetheless, the closure of Koh Phi Phi should serve as a wake-up call to the world. Traveling has a huge impact on the planet, and unrestricted tourism comes at a high price.

Peace Between the Ashes in Varanasi

The distinctive smell of burnt skin and hair entered my nostrils, as I watched a group of men hoisting a body onto a pile of logs. Behind them, a man was wading ankle-deep in river water, to disperse the bones and remainders of his father — just cremated — in the holy Ganges. From a back alley, murmuring sounds announced a new arrival. Sure enough, a body was soon being carried forward on a stretcher, spit out by the maze of ancient alleys that makes up Varanasi’s city center.

Eighteen Days of Hiking in the Himalayas

The moment you cross the border between India and Nepal, you step into a different world. Nepal is quiet and peaceful, and the people are friendly and quite introverted. This was a welcome change, as after India’s chaos (no matter how much I loved it) I could really use a break to catch my breath. After crossing the border, I traveled straight to Pokhara: the second biggest city in Nepal and the jumping-off point for hikes in the Annapurna mountain range. Because that’s what I was planning to do in Nepal: hiking. I spent a few days in Pokhara preparing for my trip, and then left the city behind and took off… into the Himalayas!