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This blog entry is all about answering those and many other questions regarding our grand future plans. Strap in, grab the popcorn and hold on tight!
During our family visit to Canada, one evening Colette and I were discussing our plans and ideas for the Guatemala eco-lodge project. We got to the question of "What are we really trying to achieve with this and what is the best way to do it?"
The answer to the first part of the question is to create an opportunity to enable people a perspective shifting type of travel experience. Why? Well because you can shout and stomp the ground all you want when it comes to world issues such as; environmental degradation, economic inequality, poverty, famine, war and hatred - but in this age that won't get you very far. In order to change the world, you need to change the way people think - the way you think. But the most important part of this equation is that you cannot force others to change their minds and ways of thinking, they need to willingly do it themselves. They need to be inspired, they need an epiphany.
We realized that we had gone through this very process in our travels and many new perspectives were made possible by our willingness to go out and see the world for ourselves. In the end this is why people travel, not just a vacation where you can relax from your everyday stress, but really a soul-searching kind of travel.
Running an eco-lodge we could really affect a lot of people in positive ways, but probably not enough people and with not enough depth. There is a limitation there, only so many people can visit over a certain period of time. It's located in one particular geographic spot and people are only ever visiting an experience that really belongs to others. So therefore it is not as effective as it would need to be in order to truly create the opportunity for big scale change.
Now comes the second part of the big question: What to do...?
During our travels the most influential experiences were the ones where we were truly able to get into the local vibe. To see, feel, smell and participate in the everyday lives of the people who are there all the time. This enabled us to experience true sharing of one another's world, walk in their shoes, so to speak.
But these experiences were very rare and hard to achieve in the current realm of travel possibility. When you get down to it, currently there are only three different ways to travel:
- The guide book - Generally chosen by the younger and more impoverished travel makers. It has become quite the popular option really, and maybe that is the problem - everybody is doing it! You end up in the same places, doing the same things and eating the same stuff as pretty much everyone else who is travelling. This is alright and can be very social, but in reality has little to do with where you actually are and more to do with the international travel community.
- The organized tour - Imagine walking into a travel agency and booking a tour to see a country over a few weeks, or even days! Once you get there, you are sharing the private shuttle with another 20-30 people and most of your travel is spent looking out at the world through the windows of a bus. It's the safer option, albeit more costly, and this might well be why many older or unseasoned travelers choose this option.
- The independent - Arguably the most frustrating way to travel, particularly if you are entering an entirely different culture, language or climate. This type of travel can be very rewarding but it's a bit of a gamble and the sought after returns on your risky investment are sometimes very hard to accomplish. It is by and large very inaccessible to most travelers. Naturally this also ends up the most 'dangerous' option as you might often end up in completely disorganized situations without any ways out. Solid courage is a necessity and so most independent travelers turn out to be well seasoned before they even embark on their trip.
The gap in the travel industry becomes evident:
- Travel needs to be decentralized to prevent a place and its people to be spoiled by mass tourism.
- People need more choice and accessibility to truly local and authentic travel experiences.
But what if you could jump online, browse a map or search a few keywords that might interest you in your travels and end up with results showing ranked local 'tour-guides' in limitless locations around the globe? What if there was an easy system, one built on community trust and user ratings? What if it was accessible to all kinds of budgets? And most importantly, what if customizing your travel experience in a uniquely local way was the daily rule and not the annual exception?
Enter Talking About A Travelution, our new blog dedicated to developing these and many other questions and ideas. The ultimate goal - making it possible to revolutionize the way we travel, and share the world in a truly meaningful way.
Naturally, and sadly, this will be our last blog on this website. Please do stay in touch and keep following us, as you already have so faithfully, on to our next big adventure - the travelution project!