“To travel is to live” according to Coni Fernández, founder of the sustainable, solo female travel blog Experiencing the Globe. And she means in a sustainable way! And I couldn’t agree more!
I like this lady already!
As a Human Rights lawyer, Coni is especially passionate about the human aspects of sustainable tourism, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have a focus on the environment and the wildlife too.
I’m extremely excited to talk about responsible tourism with Coni Fernández in today’s interview! So let’s get to know this inspiring lady!
Meet Coni Fernández
Coni lives in Croatia but is originally from Chile. She’s a Human Rights lawyer turned traveler, travel writer and photographer.
With a huge desire to explore the world we live in, she has created a never-ending bucket list of travel adventures she plans to get through, so she is not stopping yet!
Through her blog, Experiencing the Globe, she shares her passion for sustainable travel as you tag along her journey around the world. You find anything sustainable and tips about solo female travel, off the beaten path, outdoor adventures, political insights, and slow travel on the blog.
She is also a wine lover, so expect to see a lot of beautiful wine destinations!
An interview with Coni Fernández
What does travel mean to you?
To travel is to live. Might sound over the top or cliché, but I mean it. I wouldn’t know how to live my life in only one place. I feel like myself when I’m on the road, way more than when I’m at home.
I thrive when I’m experiencing a new place, meeting new people, learning about other cultures, breathing in nature…
I also think that traveling makes us grow, and transforms us into better people. You learn many lessons by traveling, like the fact that we’re all the same, no matter where you grew up.
If that’s not the best campaign for Human Rights, I don’t know what could be. It also makes us aware of the fragility of the world, so it pushes us into being more sustainable.
What does responsible tourism mean to you?
It’s also important not to forget about the people. A sustainable traveler will try to support the locals, and will not contribute to overtourism, the main issue nowadays.
When did you first start to be conscious about the way you travel and the effects your travels have on your destination?
I had two “turning points”. The first one was through my studies. I’m a Human Rights lawyer, so traveling sustainably, from protecting the local culture perspective, became a priority.
I wanted to see how people live around the world. How their place of birth influenced who they are. And I wanted to support their way of living with the money I was going to spend while visiting.
Then I became a vegetarian. I started researching and I realized that there’s a lot more to do to protect our furry friends beyond not eating them.
As a travel photographer, I came out with a set of rules to make sure I do no harm. And I’ve been transitioning towards an entirely plant-based diet, protecting our planet a bit more that way.
Have you traveled to a specific destination that you found especially sustainable that you would like to recommend to other travelers?
Due to the sanctions, the country is quite closed. This has meant that it has to be self-supportive.
Luckily, they have such diverse geography and weather that they can grow everything. All fruits and veggies are organic, produced without pesticides.
There’s really little use of plastic, especially because takeout food is not much of a thing there. Most of the time you eat with local friends, and food has more value.
Also, you connect a lot more with the locals. Since there are few travelers, Iranians are very curious to see what brought you to their country.
From a Human Rights perspective, it’s great to talk to people and see their take on the government.
What surprised me the most is that, even the ones against the regime, live happy lives, because they value things we take for granted. Such a big life lesson!
It’s a hard destination today, but completely worth it when things come down a little.
What do you do to travel responsibly?
There’re so many little things that I believe make traveling more sustainable, but I’ll go for the ones that I think make the most impact.
I’m trying to fly as little as possible, choosing trains whenever they’re available. I also always carry a reusable bag and water bottle. If tap water in the destination is not drinkable, I also take with me a life straw to filter it. I support the local community by eating in local eateries and staying in locally own accommodation (like b&bs). I always respect the rules of the places I visit to care for the wildlife, their habitats, and the historical and cultural sites. And I talk to the locals as much as I can, that way I can understand their culture and traditions, which makes a much fulfilling travel experience, and helps me to spread the word and encourage tourism, especially to off the beaten path destinations.
What are your top 3 advice to travelers that want to travel more responsibly?
Try to travel off-season, or at least in the shoulder season. It’ll be cheaper, less crowded, and you’ll help the locals to have an income all year around. Absolutely avoid places that suffer from overtourism during peak season. I understand that we all want to see Venice or Barcelona, but not only you’ll be damaging them, you won’t enjoy your trip.
Be respectful of the locals. I’ve seen so many tourists feeling entitled and treating locals as if they were slaves. Remember that even if your vacation is about relaxing, there’s plenty you can learn, no matter where you are in the world.
When you visit a natural sight, protect the wildlife and their habitats. Don’t feed animals, stick to the paths while hiking, don’t take anything with you (like stones, leaves or sand), bring back your trash (and pick up any you see on the way), and make sure you leave everything how you found it.
You might also like: Sustainability – it all starts at home
See more from Coni Fernández
Did you get inspired by Coni or even learned something new? Make sure you follow her journey on her blog, Experiencing The Globe. If you have any questions you would have liked me to ask her, feel free to comment below!
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