We continue our interview series with Karen Rose Kingsbury, the creator of the travel and wellness blog Transform Me Travel. Passionate about transformative travel and mental health, Karen also writes about traveling vegan and inspiring stories of life on the road. She believes in traveling mindfully and sees the positive side of travel in a post-coronavirus world.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Karen and I’m enthusiastic about many different things. The main ones are eco-conscious travel, naturally nutritious food, and writing about both! I’m from the U.K. I’ve also lived in Australia, New Zealand, India, Greece, Spain, and Egypt. I used to be a dancer, I’m now a writer and I believe the best careers continue to evolve and change. Just like us humans. And just like life.
Q: What was it like for you traveling as a vegan in the beginning?
Traveling vegan in the beginning was very challenging. I had been passionate about travel for many years and was concerned about the way I traveled needing to change. I thought I’d miss out on cultural experiences as a vegan traveler but I needn’t have worried. In stark contrast, traveling became an evolved, more interesting (and delicious) experience.
Q: How much has vegan travel changed in the past years?
OMG heaps! It’s no longer a challenge to find vegan food in many places. Of course, some countries are more vegan-friendly than others, but food labeling and intolerance awareness has improved greatly in the last 2-3 years. This has helped make vegan travel easier, less daunting, and far more diverse. That said, I still carry emergency vegan snacks … to avoid unwanted ‘hanger.’
Q: Can you share some of the best vegan-friendly places you've visited?
Popular and busy cities are some of the best options for vegans; London is my personal favorite. Cities provide vegan food in fun and innovative ways. Australia is perhaps the most vegan-friendly country I’ve visited with a healthy mix of excellent vegan chains and quirky local vegan establishments too. My favorite overall vegan holiday destination has to be Bali.
Q: If you could choose to stay in one place for one year, where would it be and why?
Great question! I’m torn between Canada and Asia (both HUGE places with plenty to explore over a year). After the year we’ve had in 2020, I’d probably choose 365 days in Asia. I’d re-visit beautiful teachers in India, explore historically rich locations in Cambodia, China, and Vietnam … and happily eat rice and fresh local vegetables for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Q: Tell us about Transform Me Travel.
Transform Me Travel was born out of the notion that travel teaches us about life and ourselves. After keeping travel journals of my favorite destinations, I noticed common themes; nature is healing, people are mostly loving and language isn’t just spoken with the tongue. At Transform Me Travel, we publish responsible travel ideas, transformative travel inspiration and couples travel destinations too.
Q: How did the COVID-19 pandemic change the way you view travel?
Wow, what hasn’t COVID-19 changed? Whilst all of us that work in travel have faced challenges during 2020, mainly the pandemic has positively changed the way I view travel. As a result, I hope to see more interest in exploring the wonders of our local areas and countries we call home, alongside greater environmental awareness and increased support of the small businesses we value the most.
Q: What are your thoughts on how it will change the way we travel?
I’ve mentioned some of these above but I also hope that the COVID-19 pandemic will change the way we think about travel. Travel is a huge privilege and not all passports are created equal. Those of us with that privilege should be advocating for travel for all, for sustainable travel now and in the future, and investing our travel currency in local businesses that rely on us for income.
Q: What do you think are some of the biggest challenges of international travel for the next few months?
Sadly, the situation is highly unpredictable and the challenges are diverse and complicated. I believe last-minute travel will increase and the destinations offering incentives to visitors will do well. However, I believe we all have a responsibility to travel mindfully, now more than ever. Think about where you really want to go and why? And then work out how your visit can have a positive impact.
Q: What advice and tips can you share on traveling in a post-coronavirus world?
I go into specific detail on what travel will look like post-COVID-19 at www.transformmetravel.com. When it comes to general travel advice and tips, my stance has not changed; travel mindfully, travel consciously, and travel sustainably. Invest in local people and their small businesses, seek vegan and ethical tours and experiences, and use travel as a way to evolve and transform something in your life.