As mindfulness becomes more popular, people also want to bring these practices into their travels. More travel coaches and mindfulness teachers are appearing to help support those who strive for mindful travel.
As part of my series about “exciting developments in the travel industry over the next five years”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Josée Perron.
Jo is a Mindful Travel and Expat Coach. She works with those who have an adventurous spirit in 1:1 coaching, hosts retreats, offers courses, and writes about exploring the inner self during travel. Her company You Choose the Way aims to bring more mindfulness into travel so that global adventures become a catalyst for transformation of individuals and the world as a whole.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I’ve traveled and lived abroad most of my adult life. Straight out of college I moved across Canada, my home land. After that first adventure, I was hooked. I loved to explore new countries by moving there and setting up a temporary life.
I did this in Australia, Guatemala, Peru and I now live in Spain.
A few years into this lifestyle, I started to wonder whether travel would fulfill me the way I wanted it to.
I craved finding a place where I felt found or at home. Like Goldilocks, I was looking for a place that felt juuuust right. “Would travel be able to give me that?” I wondered.
I concluded that it never would. This is where I embarked on a whirlwind expedition within myself.
This has been the wildest journey of my life. It’s been bumpy, but I’m glad I found this detour.
Once I arrived in Spain, I started taking courses to deepen this exploration. I got certified as a yoga and meditation teacher and started teaching classes and hosting retreats. I became a coach specializing in NLP and mindfulness.
Eventually, these two worlds collided. I wanted to bring everything I was learning about inner exploration to fellow travelers. They already had a wild sense of adventure and curiosity. I wanted to help them use those super-powers to embark on something deeper, more meaningful.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
Last year, my partner and I went on a 5-month motorcycle trip from Madrid, Spain to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Although it was one of the most incredible trips I’ve ever done, I also found it unexpectedly challenging.
We were moving at a quicker pace than I was used to. Every few days we were in a new town, city, or mid-mountain camping site. The action was non-stop, which felt hard to take in.
Before leaving, I’d been so keen to bring mindfulness, yoga, and other wellness tools along for the ride, but somewhere along the way, they got lost.
I got lost.
I lost my connection with myself.
It was that trip that reminded me how important mindfulness is while I travel.
It was after coming home from that trip that I decided to pivot You Choose the Way to work specifically with travelers and expats. I wanted to guide them and support them as they discover more mindful ways of exploring the world and living life.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When I look back at how unprepared I was to launch my business when I did, I laugh.
The idea wasn’t even fully sprouted and I was telling my boss that I’d be leaving my 9–5. An opportunity had appeared that made that the ideal moment to pivot. So I took it.
My business was still just a baby blog and I was still an online business rookie.
Two years later and I still sometimes feel that way. That’s why it makes me laugh so much that I left my job when I did. Luckily, through freelance work, I was able to find my footing as I built my business.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
As responsible and conscious travel start to become more important, I focus on these same elements but coming at them from mindfulness. This practice can help us achieve all the same fairness, equality, sustainability, and care, but with the force coming from within each traveler.
It’s been through a lens of mindfulness that I’ve recognized the inequality and destruction that tourism can create. I’ve seen the power and privilege packed up in my backpack.
The first time I started seeing these things was in Guatemala many years ago. I didn’t even know what mindfulness meant, but I felt present and connected with the group of women I was working with. I felt my inner reaction to the pain, suffering, and challenges they faced. This one small encounter shifted everything.
The world becomes interconnected in a new way. My words, actions, and how I showed in the world affected everyone, those nearby, and even those on the other side of the world.
You Choose the Way is all about helping others find that sense of interconnected.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”? Can you share a story about that?
Bring mindfulness into each one of your daily tasks. Injecting mindfulness into the travel industry isn’t just about teaching travelers about living in the present moment, but also the workers, the companies, and the organization that works in the field.
While driving through Turkey during this motorcycle trip, we stopped at a homestay in the north of Turkey. The man who owned the guesthouse lived and breathed mindfulness. He would have never needed a course or a travel coach to teach him how to be present, he just instinctively knew how to experience every moment of life.
We live in a society that teaches us the opposite. We are taught to stay busy, be productive, fill every second with busyness, and multi-task at all times. We’re on the go non-stop allowing our autopilot to guide the way.
If we could all live, travel, work like this Turkish man did, we would never burn out. We’d thrive but in a healthy, holistic way. We’d work hard, but we’d also rest and take care of ourselves. We’d get things done, but treat each task with attention, care and presence.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
A particular group that feels especially important are all the international female entrepreneurs here in Madrid. I’m lucky to live in a city that has such a thriving network of like-minded folks.
They served as an initial inspiration to take my life into this direction. Then, down the road, they’ve provided tools, resources, support, guidance, and plenty of insight into how to keep moving forward. Without them, I surely would have given up long ago.
Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. Can you share with our readers about the innovations that you are bringing to the travel and hospitality industries?
Mindfulness is the most powerful tool I’ve found for transformation. This isn’t just about helping travelers change themselves, but also transforming the communities we travel through, and even the world.
To create a world with more peace, love, connection, and equality we need to start by finding those gems within ourselves. This is what we help people do as they travel.
We transform as we travel, not just to have incredible experiences in far off lands, but to improve our everyday lives, our relationships, our communities, and the world.
Which “pain point” are you trying to address by introducing this innovation?
Travelers often speak of a desire for travel to be more than just an opportunity to visit sights and drink too much beer. Sometimes that might be all we want from our time abroad. Just an opportunity to escape. In other moments, we want more.
We want travel to be a place of transformation, growth and gaining new skills, mindsets, or perceptions. But it can be hard to sort through all the mental, emotional, and physical shifts while alone in a foreign land.
That’s where we come in to help!
I’m like a sherpa that walks by your side guiding you from one mountain to the next. We start at mountain A, which usually feels unfulfilling, lacking joy, truth or meaning, and guide you towards mountain B, a life that feels authentically designed for you.
How do you envision that this might disrupt the status quo?
We buy too many shoes, binge watch Netflix and endlessly scroll through social media or use work, drinking, or other vices to keep ourselves distracted. Travel has become one more of these escapes.
We book trips with far too many stops, spend our time at each sight taking selfies and posting about the sunshine and rainbows of our holidays, but we aren’t truly experiencing any of it.
This is what causes overtourism, destruction of our natural resources, lack of consideration about the impact of our travels, and turning a blind eye to the inequality happening around the world.
We need to rethink how we buy, sell, consume and exploit sights, cities, and countries for tourism.
Traveling can be a beautiful life-changing experience, but it can be a lot of other things as well. We need to start getting real about all the dark sides of travel, as travelers, and as companies to create dialogues about how to improve this industry that is expanding exponentially every year.
Can you share 5 examples of how travel and hospitality companies will be adjusting over the next five years to the new ways that consumers like to travel?
1 Tour companies are starting to offer itineraries that encourage more slow and conscious travel.
2 With wellness tourism booming, there’s been a hike in the number of retreats and wellness escapes on offer. People want travel to help them pamper their body, mind and soul.
3 As travelers become more aware of the negative impacts travel can have, more companies are offering sustainable travel experiences. Eco-accommodations, buying experiences instead of knick-knacks souvenirs, carbon offset programs, alternative forms of transport, and carrying alternatives to single-use waste are appearing more.
4 New apps and online platforms are appearing to help us connect as we travel. Some are to get in touch with locals and some to meet other travelers who are in the same area.
5 As mindfulness becomes more popular, people also want to bring these practices into their travels. More travel coaches and mindfulness teachers are appearing to help support those who strive for mindful travel.
You are a “travel insider”. How would you describe your “perfect vacation experience”?
Perfect is relative based on what’s ideal for me at any given moment, which is constantly changing.
Figuring out what I want for my next trip always starts with a bit of time reflecting on it. In this space, I’m asking myself what I’m feeling about the upcoming holidays and what I feel I might need.
Once I get clarity about what I’m needing from my next trip, the planning begins.
Can you share with our readers how have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Mindfulness and inner wellbeing are things everyone should have the opportunity to learn about. I’m trying to consciously build a business that allows as many people as possible to benefit from the tools and support I offer, no matter the race, economic situation, religion, profession, or any other irrelevant issues that often block some groups of the population to acquire these teachings.
My vision is to find unique business strategies that allow me to share these tools with as wide of an audience as possible.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
We create a better world, by becoming better people. Both those things can happen through becoming more mindful and connected to our inner selves. By becoming more aware of our emotions, thoughts, beliefs, identity, and perceptive, we can create a stronger and more love-filled bond with ourselves, which then overflows into our relationships with others and our communities.
What sits at the base of You Choose the Way is that only by becoming conscious of how we built our own paths, can we build lives that fulfill us and bring us joy. Only then can we build more equal and compassionate connections and communities.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
I share all my most valuable stuff on my website, but I’m also on Facebook and Instagram. I also have a Facebook group for anyone interested in this intersection of travel and personal development. I’d love anyone into that stuff to join our conversation at Travel to Transform.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!