You might wonder what Kind Travel is? As a responsible travel blogger, this term piqued my curiosity too. So I decided to find out more and ask Lauren Yakiwchuk, founder of the responsible travel blog Justin Plus Lauren, more about this and how she focuses on responsible tourism.
Lauren Yakiwchuk is specifically passionate about ethical animal tourism and she often volunteers with wildlife around the world. Her writing has reached several major online publications like Lonely Planet, Green Global Travel, and Huffington Post.
There is no doubt she is a talented woman determined to spread knowledge about ethical travel in more than one way. Let’s get to know her and find out how she can inspire us to travel better!
Meet Lauren Yakiwchuk
Lauren Yakiwchuk is from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She is a full-time travel blogger and a part-time traveler, slowly making her way around the world. She mostly writes about couples travel with her partner, Justin, although she also travels on her own and with friends.
She writes about something she calls “adventure and kind travel”, which involves not only going on amazing adventures but doing so in a kind manner. Lauren focuses on being kind to people, animals, and the environment as she travels the world. On the blog and social media channels, she focuses on outdoor adventures, exploring small towns and big cities, as well as finding the best vegan food around the world. She’s also a self-proclaimed coffee addict, so she makes sure to write about the local coffee culture, too. When she’s not traveling the world, she can be found chilling at home with Justin and their two adopted rescue cats, Chickpea and Tiny.
Lauren Yakiwchuk interview – Kind Travel
What does travel mean to you?
Travel is an investment in yourself. By traveling the world, you gain a much better understanding of it and you learn so much. It’s amazing to explore incredible natural places, meet people from around the world, and learn about their histories and current struggles. I love inspiring others to travel through my words and photography because there’s really nothing like getting out there and exploring a brand-new place.
What does responsible tourism mean to you?
We should all aim to be responsible travelers. It’s very important that we see the world in a responsible manner. There are many ways that we can be responsible travelers: leaving no trace when we explore nature, viewing wildlife in a manner that is not disruptive to them or their natural habitats, supporting local economies when we travel, and learning about local cultures. I focus mostly on the nature and wildlife side of things on my blog, although everything is connected.
When did you first start to be conscious about the way you travel and the effects your travels have on your destination?
I feel like I’ve always been conscious of it, but there’s always room to learn more and improve. When I travel and volunteer helping animals, I make sure that the organizations have a long-lasting positive impact. Furthermore, it’s important that you as a volunteer aren’t taking away from potential jobs in the local economy. I think it’s all about doing your proper research, too. Sometimes places that are labeled as animal sanctuaries aren’t always sanctuaries. There was a time when I didn’t realize how harmful it was to ride elephants or swim with captive dolphins. I think it’s important to ask questions before you travel anywhere or to ask those questions on your travels (how a particular activity or attraction impacts people, animals, and the environment).
Have you traveled to a specific destination that you found especially sustainable that you would like to recommend to other travelers?
I volunteered at ARCAS in Guatemala and they do so much good for the animals. They rescue victims of wildlife trafficking, seized by the Guatemalan government. Through the tireless efforts of local workers and volunteers, these animals are rehabilitated and released back into the wild. This is no easy task: it takes between four and eight years for many animals, like monkeys, to be released. Volunteering at ARCAS involves daily tasks like feeding the animals, cleaning their enclosures, and taking care of them. Naturally, we are not permitted to talk to the animals or hand feed them because they are wild animals that cannot trust humans to live successfully in nature.
What do you do to travel responsibly?
In addition to volunteering, I try my best to support local businesses and tour companies. I try to use public transit as much as possible, go cycling, or walk on foot. I bring a reusable water bottle and try my best to create as little waste as possible. I travel following a vegan lifestyle, so I only eat plant-based meals on my travels. Going vegan is one of the best things you can do for animals and the planet!
I’m also promoting sustainability, responsible travel, vegan travel, and eco-friendly tourism through my own tour in March 2020. I’ll be co-leading a tour in India where we focus on sustainability, supporting small businesses, and eating all of the amazing vegan food. Here are more details on my tour and I invite you to come travel with me to India!
What are your top 3 advice to travelers that want to travel more responsibly?
Ask yourself if you’re traveling in a kind manner: is your travel being as kind to people, the planet, and animals as possible?
Say no to animal tourism and only choose responsible wildlife tourism. Do not visit animals in captivity unless they’re in a proper animal sanctuary. Don’t participate in tours and excursions that are harmful to animals, like elephant rides, visiting the pig island in Bahamas, and swim with the dolphin programs. Choose to view animals from a distance in their natural environment in a non-disruptive manner.
Educate yourself. Continue to learn about how you can be a responsible traveler. We all learn new things every day, and it’s good to continue to read blogs and websites that promote responsible travel.
See more from Lauren Yakiwchuk
I would like to thank Lauren for taking her time to share her insights on Kind Travel. I definitely got inspired by her perspective on responsible tourism and I hope you did too!
If you want more inspiration from this incredible woman, you find her on her blog, Justin Plus Lauren. Or maybe you want to join her in India?
Also, make sure to follow her journey and find Kind Travel Advice on your favorite social media channel too! And yes, you find her pretty much everywhere: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest.
Is there anything else you wish I had asked Lauren about? Feel free to ask in the comments.
Read next: An interview with Patricia Ryniak – Make the small changes count
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