Home The ETG Take On Travel The Fight Against Disposable Travel

The Fight Against Disposable Travel

by Nick Clark
Mouchi tribe photography in Laos

When asked about my favourite travel moment, I am generally stumped, in the same way that I am when asked what my favourite movie is. Put simply, there are too many answers to give and one great moment (or film) is so different from the next that it becomes difficult to compare.

Besides, just like I don’t want to watch The Godfather after a long day at work, different travel moments fit different times of life. If I were on a holiday with my wife, would I enjoy my boat breaking down on a remote part of the Mekong River, and having to spend the night onboard? No, but it is still one of my favourite travel memories as when it happened, I was 19, stupid and on my gap year. Likewise, usually, my travel involves interactions and meeting new people but after I had just got married, my wife and I didn’t want to have to speak to anyone; a beautiful small hotel in the middle of the French countryside was just what the occasion called for (we did talk to each other a little over those few days!).

In a nutshell, what makes travel special are those moments that are perfectly “of a time” and, often, cannot be repeated. For us at Experience Travel Group (ETG), this is when travel truly counts, allowing you to make emotional connections that will enrich your life. It is very difficult to quantify the value of these individual moments.

Disposable plastic found on a beach

Plastic and Travel: the shared history

This is all well and good, I hear you cry, but what has it got to do with disposable travel? Well, at ETG towers, we spend a lot of time thinking about how we can help our clients to have fun and meaningful travel experiences that reach them on an emotional level. During one such review, I was reading a Guardian long read called ‘The Plastic Backlash’ and it got me thinking about the similarities between the growth of plastic and mass tourism, which in turn led me to think about the concept of disposable travel.

Firstly, let’s look at the similarities in the history of plastic and air travel, which is clearly the precursor to mass tourism. The Wright brothers took flight in 1903. Then, in 1907, also in America, ‘Bakelite’ was invented and is considered the first material that would be recognisable to us today as plastic. In the early decades of the twentieth century, both developed to high levels of public fascination and wonder but remained far from indispensable to everyday life.

As with lots of inventions, the greatest early developments came from the military and it was the second world war that showed how powerful and useful both could be. This was the precursor to wider public use, with the first commercial jet flight and the invention of thin plastic wrapping in the 1950s, which in turn led to the exponential growth of plastic use and mass tourism in the 60s, 70s and 80s.

The rise of disposable travel

As flying became easier and cheaper, travel started to lose its wonder and people stopped thinking about its true value. It has become something that ‘everyone’ does but often with people (both the public and travel companies) going through the motions, not stopping to consider the what, where and why. How many times have you chosen a destination based on the cheapness of flights, or because everyone seemed to be going there, then came back thinking ‘meh’? Travel has become an end in itself; don’t like it, and you can always move onto the next shiny new destination.

The development of the internet and in turn TripAdvisor, online booking platforms and social media have only exacerbated the problem, bringing algorithms that send everyone on the same journey. Tour operators & travel companies have certainly played a part too, as they raced to the bottom with a relentless focus on efficiency. Travellers from all over the world now follow each other around like lemmings. As people queue to have a photo taken under a (mediocre) waterfall, the point of travel becomes saying that you have been somewhere rather than the emotion you experience.

Travel should be so much more than that. It should be more than just a holiday and a holiday should be more than just a break. There is more to life than the same old everyday and travel is one of the greatest vehicles (excuse the pun) to take you away from that everyday. Whether it be a 6-month adventure across Asia or a weekend in Suffolk, travel should enrich your life, be a learning experience and allow you to create those connections. Disposable travel cannot do that. So we’re on a mission to make travel count.

Sea plane flight Sri Lanka

Introducing: the ‘envoy’ consultation

So what can we do about this? We have come up with an exclusive, in-depth consultation which we call the Envoy Process. This is a pre-travel conversation with your dedicated travel consultant designed to help you be curious, push your comfort zone and most importantly, ask yourself ‘Why’. By doing this, you give yourself the opportunity to eschew disposable travel and have those magic moments on your next great journey.

As Head Of Travel, it is my job to lead our excellent Travel Team as they help our clients on their way to better travel. However, this is not something that we can do without your input. Meaningful travel cannot be an ‘off the shelf’ product but it is worth investing resources into – not just money but time, focus and energy. Our consultations are a two-way process and it is only by committing to that, that you can get the true value of our service. It is your journey after all, so why not truly own that?

Engaging with an expert then becomes a creative and collaborative process, with non-linear problem solving allowing you to create something that has never been created before and to truly elevate your experience. The whole process becomes fun and engaging; after all, Travel is more than the act of travelling. It is the planning, the sharing and everything that comes with it.

Our Travel Consultants and Advisors are all highly trained to ask the big questions and facilitate this process. They believe that true insight comes from discovering what you did not know about yourself. They focus relentlessly on what is best for you and where you are coming from. In doing this, they build an understanding of how to push you from your comfort zone. Don’t worry, we don’t go too far with this, but we believe it’s often where the magic happens!

I do have to warn you though that none of this guarantees you any of THOSE moments. As I mentioned earlier, they are moments in time that cannot be repeated and are perfect for you in that unique set of circumstances. We will use everything we learn to open doors for you but it will be up to you to walk through them and the alignment of the stars on any given day to create those life-enhancing moments.

We do promise you, though, that your next journey will not be disposable.

Happy planning!


We’d love to help you make your travel count. You can book an in-depth consultation via our website or by giving us a call on 020 7924 7133 .

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