What is a Conscious Traveller?

When Bali Soul Journals was born, it was as sibling to another book, Things you need to know about Bali. As author, I had felt there was ‘something missing’, the ‘je ne sais pas’. It wasn’t until I chatted with Jack Canfield, author of the famous Chicken Soup for the Soul series, that the penny drop. While it is fine to give practical advice, capturing people’s stories about a location was not only more interesting, it was necessary.

I returned home and began researching a term that Jack had used, ‘conscious travel’.

It resonated with me, and my friend Google spewed out information which captivated my marketer’s mind. This was not only a growing segment, but one that currently had many unmet needs. And while there is always a commercial element to marketing, the fun of it for me is giving people what their hearts want, not what I want them to want. More like the end of the movie What women want, than the beginning.

Justin Francis describes the future of travel as being ‘deep’ travel[i]getting under the skin of a place. We already seek out authenticity – real experiences rather than fake culture packaged up for tourists – but travel in 2020 will go further. It will be about the appreciation of local distinctiveness, the idiosyncrasies and the detail, the things that make a place unique and special. It will be as much about the smell of fresh spices in Kerala in India and the colourful tailors of Hoi An in Vietnam as it is about rediscovering the exotic and locally distinctive closer to home.

The emergence of the ‘conscious traveller’ and ‘responsible traveller’ is happening coincidental to rising fuel costs and people seek spiritual growth and a connection with the planet.

A greener travel experience

The model for this has been developed is seven P’s which encompasses a greener travel experience (developed by Conscious Travel):


They define Conscious Travel as a movement, a community and a learning program that enables places to attract and welcome guests in a manner that doesn’t cost the earth.

They go on to point out that the operating model that created a global tourism industry is dying and a new model is emerging. The rules of the game are being re-invented, right now. Getting in board is not just financial good sense. It has far greater reach for the planet and the survival of what we have left to preserve: culture, environment and heritage.

In conscious travel, there is system of three elements: Places, Guests and Hosts.  And, (I love this bit from Conscious Travel) as such, it’s all about PEOPLE. If people change their values and their perception of how the world works, then everything else changes. Similarly, tourism is embedded in and dependent on a biosphere for its life support.

Apart from financial freedoms due to cheap airfares and accommodation, travellers are searching for inner expression and connection with the planet. This is a natural flow-on from the advent of social media and cheap flights, when tourism became a race to ‘check in’ to exotic places to impress friends. Tourists collect the passport stamps and digital photos, and move on to the next ‘unmissable’ sight. Travellers collect memories and forge positive footprints.

There is also the ‘emerging conscious traveller’, who is awakening, and who we hope will connect with the soul of the book and its intention to share stories for positive change.

Studies have revealed the differences between a tourist and a traveller and described it this way:

Microsoft Word - Document1

The “New” Consumer

Alongside the Conscious Traveller, there is a new consumer, identified by Euro RSCG Worldwide who gives insights into who s/he is:

They still want more, but they are defining that differently. Not more shiny trifles and mountains of consumer goods, but, rather, more meaning, more deeply felt connections, more substance and a greater sense of purpose.

At the end of 2009 they conducted research across seven countries (Brazil, China, France, Japan, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States) and 5,700 adults and found:

–        72% are trying to improve the way they live

–        71% are trying to improve who they are as individuals

–        59% worry society has grown too disconnected from the natural world

–        67% believe most people would be better off if they lived more simply

–        69% claim to be smarter shoppers than they were a few years ago

–        64% say that making environmentally friendly choices makes them feel good about themselves

People are becoming sick of excess, are weary of the push to accumulate more.

The “consumer” is effectively ‘waking up’ in the ‘era of mindful spending’ with four key attributes:

–        embracing substance

–        growing up

–        rightsizing

–        seeking purposeful pleasure

A Darwinian Gale (THE FUTURES COMPANY 2010) describes the New Consumer further, pointing out that ‘risk’ is now back on the agenda.

They describe three eras that are giving way to new behaviours:

–        Era of readiness

–        Era of indulgence

–        Era of consequence

Era of Readiness

Era of Indulgence

Era of Consequences

Economic risk ever-present despite best efforts to manage it. Standing on guard.

Risk thought to be manageable with high-tech macro-economic tools. Indulging risk.

Risk abruptly returns unexpectedly, creating uncertainty. Reassessing externalities.

Value found in … NEW FRONTIERS

Value found in … TRADING UP

Value found in … RESPONSIBILITY

New phrases emerge in books such as Eyes Wide Open, Wallet Half Shut,  which observes:

It is an undeniable fact: the recession has created not only a universal sense of anxiety and fear, but a greater level of consciousness across all ages and genders. We can’t go back. We have heightened our perception; we are awake, alert, aware – whether we like it or not.

Are you a conscious traveller?

Ann Pollock (www.conscioustraveller.com) describes the conscious traveller as being:

Wired to ENGAGE with what’s REAL, ONE-OFF, UNIQUE and LOCAL.

They are:

  • Hungry for information BEFORE they leave
  • Keen to participate DURING their visit (Note: they are not buying products!)
  • Want to take home and share memories AFTER their visit.

In short, they are ‘wired to share’.

Being connected is important to them.

They are also ‘wired to care’.

“Purpose is the new passion. Participation in the new consumption”  BBMG

They are storytellers.

They live to tell and share their stories.

Story Travellers and Trip Advisor are leading the way, along with Facebook and social media.

social media

They participate & connect

They give back, they involve themselves, they care.

Know found that 51% of their study would like to be part of a truly important cause.

–        While they are digitally connected, they worry that it is weakening human bonds.

–        43% complain about not having enough close friendships.

–        40% want to lead a more spiritual life (with the majority from Brazil, China and the USA)

–        A staggering 59% were feeling disconnected from the natural world. Story telling is a way of reuniting that feeling of connectedness.

travel sharing

The importance of Conscious Travel

Unless tourism embraces the emerging new model, profit margins will continue to shrink;  resilience to external shocks will weaken; viability will diminish. Tourism entrepreneurs and their communities must take responsibility for changing and cannot assume that traditional institutions or agencies can supply fixes. Therefore, while we may complain about many things in Bali, it is up to us as guests to lead by example, to help our hosts when needed and when wanted, and show that if tourism is to flourish, things need to change. The quick buck needs to be rethought. It won’t change overnight, but Facebook paints a picture of many people out there who are waking up and quietly, passionately, going about making a difference.

For Bali, this is critical. Unless we encourage, nurture and support and conscious travel industry, islands such as on Nusa Penida, artisan skills such as weaving, and stories such as Ketut’s or JJ’s, risk being lost forever.

Things you need to know about Bali began this thought. We wanted tourists to come to Bali and behave. We wanted them to not inadvertently encourage crime by being vulnerable to opportunists. We wanted them to have a wonderful experience while respecting the culture and tradition of this beautiful island.

Bali Soul Journals is a sibling to this concept. It takes it one step further, by being the eyes to the soul of Bali. To all that is good. It doesn’t deny that bad things happen. It’s still a realist, and indeed, many of the stories recount ‘bad’ things or obstacles that have temporarily distracted someone from their journey on this planet. But it is their pioneering attitude in the face of perceived difficulties that is what shines through.

Join hands with us and open your eyes to the magic of the world around you, whether it is in Bali, or in the township next to yours. Listen to people’s stories. Open your heart and connect. And join us on this journey.

The journey of the conscious traveller.

For more information about the Conscious Traveller or for Clare McAlaney to speak at your tourism event, please use the contact form below. Should you have any story of interest that you would like followed up on, please also contact us.

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Drop us a line to share your thoughts on conscious travel, or leave a post.

[i] The Conscious Consumer Report, 2009, BBMG

3 thoughts on “What is a Conscious Traveller?

  1. Reblogged this on Conscious.Travel and commented:
    Serendipity and Synchronicity are powerful concepts and words. You’ll start to use them the more you let go the need to plan and control; trust the process and live in the present. Both are happening in my life now. I wasn’t aware of this blog post until two weeks ago when I received an email from the authors thanking me for being a source of inspiration for their latest book creation. They sent me an e-version of the book before it went to the printers and even though I had to squint to read it, I couldn’t stop. The essence of Conscious Travel is all here. What an affirmation that a new Story can emerge just at that moment when despair darkens the sky. The book is being launched at the end of November – so get your order in quickly, in time for Christmas.


    1. There is something at work here. As I sit and listen to an eminent storm’s wind rustling the palms, I know change is coming. We can focus on what is wrong, or embrace and teach what is right. It’s taken me 47 years, but I feel that this is the journey I’m now on. Thank you. You made it crystal-clear. Clare


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