WORDS BY LANDON PEOPLES
An independent platform that connects travel with culture and creativity called Trippin’ is the latest Gen Z-led community to demand widespread change through a vibrant mix of data and content. Its report The Future of Travel gathers everything you need to know about traveling sustainably in one place.
Have you ever judged someone who has traveled throughout the recent pandemic, but then boarded an airplane during said pandemic yourself? Or have you ever found yourself wondering why influencers and the like are flocking to a specific city, and then finding yourself there, too? The travel industry may inspire contradictions and controversies, and it may very well be outdated—but that doesn’t mean travelers themselves can’t effectuate the change the industry needs.
Trippin’, an independent platform that alleges to connect travel, culture, and creativity like never before, is here to provide a belated alternative. Perhaps one of the only good things to come out of Facebook, what started as a group of likeminded wanderlusts quickly grew into a diverse, influential travel community all its own—and with it, their latest report: The Future Of Travel, produced in collaboration with University College London and a panel of avid culture seekers within their network.
Across 58 pages, the guide answers just about every question you can think of when it comes to what you can do to not just emit less carbon throughout the friendly skies, but how to make every step of your upcoming journey that much greener.
“The travel industry doesn’t represent everyone,” Trippin’ cofounder Kesang Ball tells Atmos. “It’s full of old players that move slowly and are from large organizations that are unable to act quickly on change that the consumers want to see. There’s a lot of confusion in the space, too. What we’re trying to do is drive a new, clear narrative through the help of storytelling and backed by the data that we have in the report.”
Page nine asks the key question: Who is the creative traveler? To Trippin’, they’re not the average millennial but someone—of any gender, between the ages of 18 and 35—who is “extremely conscious of their impact on the environment” and “strives to live more sustainably.” They have a personal income of anywhere between $20k and $100k and their success is measured in happiness and fulfillment, wherever that may come from. Lastly, but by no means of little importance, they have a significant social following.
The report then dissects what it means to travel with purpose, the environmental, social, and economic implications of travel, how intersectionality can play a key role in propelling travel toward a more progressive system, and more. And they’re not just suggesting to take a train versus a plane. Trippin’ encourages you to consider, for example, Norwegian or Virgin Atlantic airlines, who seem to be committed to actively engaging in and supporting sustainable environmental policies via reducing their emissions (Virgin Atlantic aircrafts, for example, alleges they emit 30% less carbon per trip). Or a hotel over Airbnb, which supports communities with secure work opportunities where the publicly-traded rental platform can drive locals out.
Traveling with purpose understands that we leave a mark everywhere we go. The report itself insists that going someplace far away is the single biggest action you can take to worsen climate change. In a pandemic, when “unnecessary travel” is left up to interpretation, traveling with purpose might mean taking it upon yourself to ask the important questions: “Is my travel justified?” and, if so “Am I taking it in a way that minimizes exposure and impact?” That our every move impacts all life on the planet is the foundation of purposeful travel—that our every move should be a positive and reciprocal exchange should be the result.
If traveling with purpose requires more than an acute awareness of the implications of travel, then something should be done about influencers. Instagram’s geotagging feature, for instance, has sparked a surge in visitors to camera-friendly natural wonders, which has led to increased litter, trail erosion, and wildfires. “People always think about the traveler instead of thinking about the local community as the primary,” Trippin’ cofounder Sam Blenkinsopp says. “To be able to travel is a privilege, and [during the pandemic] to have access to a vaccine. It might not be appropriate to go to a more developing country when they don’t have those resources.”
The report also found that money is the biggest barrier preventing young people from traveling more sustainably: 56.3 percent of creative travelers said their main frustration with purposeful travel was the cost, with the second being lack of access to information.
Blenkinsopp adds that inequity within the travel sector involves access to market: “There are some incredible sustainable initiatives out there that get lost amongst everything else because they don’t have as much money or resources. Unfortunately, because of everything the brand might be doing [to be more sustainable], the price point might be slightly higher. Travel becomes a bit of a price war as everyone tends to look for the best value.”
At the end of the day, however, Ball and Blenkinsopp posit that traveling more sustainably doesn’t just start with calculating your carbon footprint—and understanding that a business or first class seat doesn’t mean one has more access to a sustainable lifestyle and thus is more sustainable throughout their everyday life—it starts with changing your mindset. And, even though the entire world is grounded at the moment, that doesn’t mean the mind can’t wonder.
“The narrative of what is sustainable very much represents and mirrors a white, middle-class person that actually has a larger carbon footprint‚ due to their lifestyle and the way they act. For example, they might have business class, which comes with a larger carbon footprint,” Ball elaborates. “But someone from a lower economic background who might, for example, also be a person of color—or even further marginalized, queer—could consume that messaging and think they have to basically combat even more carbon, but of that person’s emissions, too; even though their personal lifestyle might not reflect the same as that of a white, middle-class person who the industry tends to portray as this uniform messaging of what sustainability looks like.”
So, it’d seem that judging someone’s travel habits might not be the most productive thing to do when it comes to reducing aviation emissions and curtailing our own complicity. But it’s at least sparked a much-needed conversation. And, since the mere mention of a vaccine has the potential to surge bookings by upwards of 25 percent, it’s high time to do your research. Ball’s overarching tip is to shift your own perspective and go from there: “The world is there to be explored. It’s there to be traveled. And it’s there to be experienced.”
Before the world opens up again, head over to Trippin’ to read the full report and join an ecosystem that empowers people to travel with more purpose through championing global creativity, mapping underground scenes, and connecting cultures worldwide.