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April 30, 2020 7 min read

Ohana chatted with Ingrid Asoni, the ‘Founding Misfit’ of Consciously Connected Travel (CCT). CCT focuses on travel and wellness with purpose. They craft, create and cultivate the most culturally rich and locally immersive travel and wellness experiences.

Every time you travel with CCT – either through their Travel Design service, Culturally Connected experiences, Immersion Weekends  or Retreats, a percentage is donated to a local project, charity or community, and a tree is planted to help combat your carbon footprint.

Why did you start Consciously Connected Travel? 

Being a Cameroonian, Palestinian, the drive to succeed, excel and rise from the ashes is almost embedded in my blood, carved into my genetic makeup and programmed into my system mainframe. Understanding and navigating the world from two different cultural lenses has taught me to embrace the world's people and all our differences.

Understanding that there could be a way to integrate the things that we love and enjoy that also helps to pour back into ‘self’ and utilising those same things to pour back into people and place all motivated me to start CCT. 

 Driven by a need to create a synergy between travel philanthropy, I have spent the last few years developing a formula that allows your travel footprint to affect change, support growth and create hope. What better way than to leave a little part of yourself behind, every time you travel, simply by travelling!

What does it mean to be 'Consciously Connected?’

Being Consciously Connected means to live intentionally, with purpose and in service. It’s about being mindful of the world and the people around you and your place within it. Travelling with CCT is about discovering the world through a new lens and rediscovering yourself in the process:

  • Consciously promoting positivity and rediscovery of self, curious to expand your perception of the world beyond your doorstep and your phone.
  • Placing value on the importance in authentic, connected travel, wellness and living, curious to explore your awareness of global traditions, which ultimately support us in breaking down social barriers.

Being Consciously Connected can sometimes mean getting a little uncomfortable, being willing to shake things up and getting your hands a little dirty. We are all so deeply connected, it’s just about taking the time to listen, learn and truly connect, with an open mind and heart.

How is purpose and travel connected? 

Purpose and Travel as it stands today isn’t connected. But that is why CCT is trying to bridge the gap. Travel has primarily always been seen as an act to self. It is something we do to relax, unwind, celebrate, explore and experience for ourselves. But, it never really reflects how our footprints in that place have a rippling effect either positively, negatively, or both. Often time, it is pretty disconnected to the culture, customs and people of the place we are experiencing as we opt to remain within the confines of a luxury resort, venturing only as far as the tourist trails allow.

This isn’t to say that style of travel is wrong, but ask yourself, when you return home:

  • What did I actually learn?
  • How did I integrate with the culture, customs, local people?
  • Did I pour back into the local economy rather than overpriced trendy tourist traps?
  • Did I venture a little off the beaten path to feel the heartbeat of the place and engage in conversation with the people to hear their stories?

Travelling with purpose is about firstly understanding why you are called to a specific place:

  • Is it something intuitive that has yearned within you for some time?
  • Do you feel drawn to the place?
  • Has it come up within your life intuitively?
  • Are you being led there because it's the new trendy destination?
  • Is it ‘the place to be’ according to your favourite influencer or travel magazine?

What connects with one person, may not connect with you. How they experienced a place, may not be the same way you experience it. Travelling with purpose should be about understanding why are you called to a place and what you hope to get out of it.

When we add real context and meaning to our choices, the way we consume things changes because it’s coming from a grounded, intentional and purposeful place. 

Talk a bit about your values. What drives your purpose? 

Our values centre around ‘being the change you want to see.’ We don’t place the responsibility of change on our travellers, we place the responsibility of change on ourselves. Their travel just provides us the opportunity to make it happen.

We share with them the change their trip supported in creating. If along the way, this inspires them to delve deeper, then great! If it doesn’t, then the change still happened regardless.

People don’t like being guilt tripped or told how they should live or what they should do, so we simply don't. We do what we need to do for our global family to ensure that these beautiful places that the world has, remain available for our generation and generations to come to experience it.

Our only drive is to think outside of ourselves and be of service to people and place. We gain so much when travelling that we should also want to find a way to pour back into. We are all capable of being catalysts of change. Every intentional step, whether big or small, has great impact.

How do you offset the carbon footprint for the travel/retreats? 

We plant trees for every traveller and provide them with the coordinates which allows them to not only monitor the growth of their tree, but this leaves them with a momento for the journey. We make a conscious effort to partner with suppliers that have a sustainable footprint. From fully sustainable, independent hotels and properties, to eco-transport and so much more.

Why is it important to sustainably interact with the local community whilst travelling?

Foreigners often travel, and even with the best intention, and try to connect with locals as a means to ‘save’ them or to observe and be entertained. More often than not, the locals live far richer lives than we do, because they place value on what truly matters.

The first step is changing our mindset. Connecting with a local community can enrich your travel. But, do it in a format that is authentic to you. If art is your thing, connect with a local artist. I don’t mean a guide that will ultimately regurgitate the speech they have practiced. I mean a local artist. Research artists, different styles of art or works that you resonate with and reach out to them. In the first instance, you already have something in common. Now you can experience the destination through their local lens, listen to their story, learn about their journey all while supporting their craft in the process. Look at this like you are paying it forward.

You will be surprised what rich friendships will blossom in the process. If this method isn’t always possible, then support the local economy:

  • Take a coffee a little off the beaten path at a local spot rather than in a fancy touristy coffee shop.
  • Shop in small, locally owned, independent stores.
  • Pour your tourist dollars back into the pockets of the people that need it.

Gentrification is a thing even when you are travelling. Fancy stores and hotels aren’t able to pop up without the local people being pushed out of that area to allow them to do it. So venture a little further to explore what lays on the other side of the velvet rope.

How can you 'travel the world' by going within?

Our ‘intuitions’ play a crucial part. Unfortunately for many of us, we have become so disconnected with ourselves that we struggle to reconnect with the thing within us that knows what is best for us. 

The saying ‘trust your gut’ isn’t something that has been spun from nowhere. It’s important to trust ourselves and listen to instinctive responses our bodies make in certain situations. It could be as simple as feeling called to a place that you have never been to. We often dismiss these signs because there is no real concrete explanation as to why.

But ‘the why’ responds to taking the journey. There is something within that place that you are destined to connect with, learn from and be inspired by. Travel can be a transformational tool if we start experiencing it intuitively, intentionally and with purpose.

Any tips for daily practices of consciousness?

Meditation and ritualist practices can be found in everything we do on a day-to-day basis. The idea that we have to adopt these elaborate rituals of self-care and self-love, becomes unsustainable and takes us further away from embracing the simple pleasures and beauty in even the mundane.:

  • Making your bed can become a beautiful ritual.
  • Making tea can be a meditative ritual, something that has been done for hundreds if not thousands of years from Asian to Latin American cultures adopting these practices.

Consciousness is about being present, expressing gratitude and finding pleasure in even the most mediocre of moments.

How can we stay connected throughout the lockdown measures?

Silence!  Embrace the stillness, embrace the silence! Try to remain as disconnected to social distractions as possible.

The first connection we have to make is within ourselves. It may be uncomfortable and it may feel scary. You may carry anxiety at the thought of facing the voices within your own head. But we all have them! The sooner we all learn to get real cosy with the uncomfortable, the sooner we begin aligning with our purpose and path. 

Exclusive Ohana and CCT Discounts!

  • OHANACDWSP (To be redeemed on subscriptions)
  • OHANACDWS (To be redeemed against single classes/workshops)

To find out more about Consciously Connected Travel, visit their website (www.consciouslyconnectedtravel.com/) or follow them on IG (@consciouslyconnectedtravel).


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