Hiking is the future of the travel industry

Hiking is the future of the travel industry

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I’m here to say that hiking is the way of the future for the travel industry.

 

At this point, we all realize that air travel is terrible for the environment. We’ve seen the iconic images of Greta Thunberg sailing across the Atlantic Ocean on a zero emissions boat, looking like this generation’s superhero. The movement towards a more sustainable future is here. There’s even a term in Sweden (flygskam) meaning “flight shame”, which draws on the guilt or shame one feels when traveling by airplane. The more I dive into this topic, the more I understand how conscious travel and hiking go hand in hand. If you’re like me, you’ve probably asked yourself:

How can I travel with the environment in mind?  

Here’s why hiking is the most sustainable form of travel:

  • Hiking is zero emissions, no burning of fossil fuels required.
  • Hiking is a form of slow travel, allowing travelers to really get to know the place they’re visiting.
  • Boosts local economy as hikers stop at local restaurants and shops.
  • Walking in nature brings a greater appreciation for the natural world.
  • Walking long distances is a form of spiritual practice and can be deeply transformative.
Green mountainous view with sunset
Photo: Grant Ritchie

Here’s some common questions around hiking and travel that I’ve seen:

Define ‘hiking’.

Hiking in this sense is getting out there on the streets, trails, paths, or sidewalks and walking. Hiking doesn’t mean you have to go backpacking or sleep in a tent. It’s easier than that!

It means you are getting to know a place through your senses. You walk past the local bakery and breathe in the smell of the freshly baked croissants. You decide on a whim to stop for an espresso at the cute coffee shop on the corner. With pep in your step, you turn down an unknown side street and are pleased to find a brightly colored mural covering the wall.

Hiking is about tuning in with the world around you.

What’s so bad about alternative forms of travel (airplane, car, bus, train)?

Each mode of transportation does varying degrees of harm on the planet. The front runner for this is traveling by plane.The average American car gets about 30 miles to the gallon, the average airplane gets something like four hundred feet to the gallon. A single passenger on a flight from Paris to New York and backgenerates around the same level of emissions as the average person does by heating their home for a whole year.

Only 5 percent of Americans use any kind of public transportation on a daily basis. The rest drive almost everywhere they go. The problem with this is the more we burn fossil fuels, the more heat is trapped in the Earth’s atmosphere. This causes global warming, resulting in  extreme weather like droughts and super hurricane or tsunamis, increasing extinction, melting ice caps and warming oceans. All of these things will drastically change life on Earth for humans.

Climate change protest
Photo: Markus Spiske

Wouldn’t you have to travel by car or plane to get to different places for hiking?

The idea is to get to where you want to hike using the most eco-friendly route possible. Then, once you’ve reached your destination, you stick to walking!

This is what my clients do when they walk the Camino de Santiago. It’s an extremely rewarding and humbling experience.

How does hiking help with self-discovery and personal growth?

You hike through the changing landscapes and something within you changes. You are here. By disconnecting and staying present, you are more connected to yourself and your world than ever before. I have experienced this many times first hand and my clients say the same!

So often we rush through life, from one thing to the next. What if we allowed ourselves to slow down and experience the world around us? In a society that is always constantly speeding around, this is radical. This is what it takes to create radical change in your life.

A German street with lovely buildings and flowers
Photo: Roman Kraft

How can I start traveling like this?

  • Start with your own neighborhood, town, or state.
  • Download AllTrails and see what trails are around you.
  • Walk around your town and imagine you are traveling there for the first time. What do you notice? Is there anything that surprises you? Journal about it.
  • When you’re hiking, allow your senses to be your guide. Sight, sound, smell, touch, taste, and intuition!
  • Feel inspired to take a life-changing, transformative journey? Let me help you plan a long-distance walk.

 

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