Mindful Travel with Nina Karnikowski (EP#132)

by Alexandra Anttilla September 07, 2021 68 mins read

Nina-karniokowski-podcast

 

Travel writer and author Nina Karnikowski is putting a new lens on the way we view travel. In her recent sustainable travel handbook, Go Lightly- How to travel without hurting the planet, Karnikowski urges the reader to forget the bucket list and replace it with an itinerary that's more about connection. Connection to the lands we visit and the cultures native to them. Connection to the impact our travel is having on local economies (95% of travel dollars get funneled out of the destinations we visit). Connection to the languages spoken by the artisans that whittle and weave crafts to feed their families. And more connection to the idea of sustainable travel, which means doing a lot less and making our actions count in every way possible.

 

For many of us, venturing overseas to explore far-off corners of the globe is something of a right of passage into early adulthood, and for some, a way of life. But as Karnikowski states, 'the staggering reality is, that only 6% of the world's population have ever even set foot on a plane'. This statistic really puts the idea of privilege into perspective, and as the adage goes, 'with great privilege comes great responsibility'. Working as a travel writer for over a decade, traveling to some of the world's most remote destinations, Karnikowski has seen firsthand the destructive side of global travel. In this chat with Tahnee, Nina offers soulful insights and practical notions of how we can not only leave a lighter footprint but maybe even leave a place better than we found it through regeneration and mindful reciprocity. This conversation will have you yearning for connection, inspire you to do better, and make you incredibly nostalgic for travel. Mostly, it will open your eyes to the many little things we can be doing to make a positive impact on the places we choose to travel and the type of memories we create.

 

"And of course, during that time, I think a week after one of my editors writes to me and she says, 'Can I tempt you with this three-week private jet trip around Africa and you will be going to see the gorillas in Rwanda, and you'll be seeing the rock churches in Lalibela in Ethiopia'. And just this incredibly enticing trip. And I just had to say no. And of course, all these invitations kept coming. It was the greatest test of all but I thought, 'No, I've got to draw a line in the sand here'. Two years later, and I feel very strongly that the overarching message is unfortunately we have to just do a lot less of it".

 

 

Tahnee and Nina discuss:

  • The power of conversations.
  • How to travel more sustainably.  
  • Leakage in the travel industry. 
  • How to support local artisans.
  • The art to a good travel wardrobe.
  • The potency of a daily writing practise.
  • Over tourism; Thinking twice about geo-tagging. 
  • Being more mindful of how we spend our travel dollars.
  • The negative impacts of tourism on local accommodation.
  • Slowing down and spending more time connecting to people and nature.
     
     

    Who is Nina Karnikowski?

    Having worked as a travel writer for the past decade, Nina Karnikowski is now on her greatest adventure yet: making her and her readers’ travels more conscious, and less harmful for the planet. The author ofGo Lightly, How to Travel Without Hurting the Planet andMake a Living Living, Be Successful Doing What You Love, Nina is dedicated to helping people find less impactful ways of travelling and living. She also runs regular writing workshops focused on connecting more deeply to self and the earth. 

     

    CLICK HERE TO LISTEN ON APPLE PODCAST 

     

    Resources:

    Nina's website
    Nina's Instagram
    Go Lightly, How to Travel Without Hurting The Planet
    Make A Living Living, Be Successful Doing What You Love

     

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    Check Out The Transcript Here:

     

    Tahnee: (00:00)

    Hi everybody and welcome to the SuperFeast podcast. I'm really excited today to be speaking to Nina Karnikowski, I think I got that. She's a beautiful Polish lady who is also Australian and an incredible travel writer and author who I'm actually lucky to share a neighbourhood with, just around the corner from us. Nina's worked as a travel writer for the past decade, which is a long time. And she's now getting to be a published author and she's written a really excellent book called Go Lightly, which is about making your travel more conscious and less harmful to the planet.

     

    Tahnee: (00:37)

    It has some really beautiful reflections on how we can continue to enjoy exploring our planet with as much impact as we've been having in the last few decades. So Nina, I'm really stoked to have you here because I'm really passionate about this topic and I kind of didn't realise until I read your book how much of what you were saying is how I've always intuitively travelled. I hate the popular places and I hate the places where there's all the tourists.

     

    Tahnee: (01:06)

    I've been really sad to return to places and see how tourism has damaged them. But I'm also, like you I think hopeful that tourism can be a force for good in the world as well. So, I feel like this could be a really juicy and fun chat. So, thank you so much for joining us today.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (01:23)

    Thank you so much for having me. I am excited to dive in.

     

    Tahnee: (01:26)

    Yeah. Like at SuperFeast, Mason and I, the first thing we did when we got together was jump on a plane and went to Costa Rica and we spent a month there and then some time in the States. And then, I went off to Thailand and I was thinking about how much we have just always had travel as a part of our life style. And then obviously, Corona has come in and it's just been complete stillness for the last couple of years.

     

    Tahnee: (01:54)

    And for me, it's been really beautiful. I was wondering about you as a traveller. Like you've been travelling for at least a decade nonstop, possibly longer. So, are you finding this kind of time is actually really restorative for you or are you feeling a little bit restless? How are you going in lockdown?

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (02:12)

    Wow. It is a very big journey in itself, experiencing this lockdown. I think I have been through many waves, as I'm sure everybody feels. There are periods in which I am completely at peace and feeling very restored, feeling connected to the community, feeling connected to myself, feeling the wonder and beauty of everything that is around us all of the time. And actually probably connecting to that the first time in a really, really long time.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (02:46)

    And then, there are other weeks when I just feel ... I mentioned this word to you before we started talking, but I feel the [fernway 00:02:54] very acutely, which is this German word that expresses the opposite of homesickness. So, this desperate desire to just get out and see the world. I ache for the world, I ache for faraway places, I ache for the inspiration of that. And really what I have come to realise is that that cannot be replaced.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (03:17)

    I thought that it might be for awhile, but there is actually nothing that replaces that. But it is really something to be ... It's a period in which I've realised that travel is something to really be revered and to treasure. And I have come to really treasure my travel memories during this time. And also like I say, I've fallen in love with Australia again and the places close to us, which is really important when we're talking about the state of travel.

     

    Tahnee: (03:54)

    Yeah. Something I really got out of your book was those kind of micro adventures, like getting in a car and going not so far and experiencing things close to us. And I want to stay on this idea of wanderlust a little bit because I'm super interested in ... I've been talking to a lot of people during lockdown about this and people are like, "You know, it's this right of passage. Every Australian gets to travel." And thinking about these 18 year olds that are stuck here and a part of me is like, "Well, it's actually a privilege that we get to do that, it's not a right."

     

    Tahnee: (04:26)

    It's this incredible privilege to be able to jump on a plane and go anywhere in the world. And this idea that we could spend a year living in Europe or a year overseas somewhere, completely agree, invaluable life experience. But it's this sort of real privilege as well to have that. And I guess I think a lot about what is it in us that craves something new, what is it that needs to go and experience these other cultures? There's lots there for me because I think about Australia being in some ways quite cultureless, and we can talk about that.

     

    Tahnee: (05:02)

    And I also think about how humbling and how beautiful it is to expose yourself to another culture and have to adapt your way of thinking to their way of being. So, they're the two things that have really come up for me is like experiencing something so different and so unreal. And obviously, the nature piece. Have you done any reflections on what are those motivations for you or where did that wanderlust arise from in you?

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (05:31)

    It's a really important question. I think that we've all had a lot of time to try at least to get to the bottom of. Because I think it's so multifaceted. And just on the privilege thing, I'll share with you a really interesting statistic that I came across while looking to create Go Lightly. It's that 6% of the world's population have set foot on a plane.

     

    Tahnee: (05:56)

    Wow.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (05:56)

    6%, isn't that just staggering? And when you think about that and you think of how low that is compared to what we think it is, you really start to realise what a huge privilege the idea of travel really is. And that has really reframed things for me. But just about what that desire to travel is and where does that come from, I mean I think you're right in that it is this desire to experience difference and to really frame our own experience within that idea of the other, the other place, the other culture.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (06:45)

    Really I think we find a way to understand ourselves better through that. And there's just definitely that hunger in me. I mean, my whole lens as a travel writer was to go to the most far flung corners of the world. I loved places like Mongolia and Papua New Guinea and Ethiopia and Namibia. These places that a lot of other travel writers actually didn't really want to go to that much because they were kind of lesser known and more mysterious I guess.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (07:22)

    And often places that weren't really that heavily populated. And what really drew me to them was how do people live in those sorts of places. And often, the people that were living there were ... There were ancient cultures there that were living in ways that had largely been untouched by modernity. Spending time with nomads on the Mongolian Step and seeing how do these people survive in this environment where they're picking up all of their belongings, they're moving seasonally.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (07:57)

    And they have this tiny community that is so small but so deeply connected. And similar idea with the [Himba 00:08:05] tribe in Namibia and with the [Omo 00:08:08] Valley tribes in Ethiopia. I'm just fascinated to see these ancient ways of living and ways in which are so much ... When we're talking about going lightly, that is the ultimate going lightly, is just living in those ancient ways and really understanding how overcomplicated we often make our lives back home.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (08:36)

    So for me, it was often about that. Just kind of reframing my own experience and telling stories that helped the reader reframe that for themselves and to really ask the questions of is this the best way to be living. Is the way that we're living really bringing us happiness or is it just a conditioned response? That was always the big fascination, at least for me.

     

    Tahnee: (09:01)

    So, how did you find yourself with these opportunities to travel to these places? You studied journalism? Or you were doing some kind of journalism? What was your background?

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (09:12)

    Yeah, yeah. Well, I went to university in Sydney, UTS, University of Technology. And I studied journalism with international studies. And so, a year of that I spent studying in France because I spoke French. I still speak French, rusty now. And I really was just so fascinated in the idea of using writing to explore the world and explore other cultures. And then, once I'd finished that degree, I did what most people coming out of university in Australia with a communications degree do and desperately scrounged around for any job that I could get.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (09:59)

    Because the amount of degrees that are coming out are very disproportionate to the opportunities that are available. So, I did a lot of free work experience and things like that and basically begged a big publishing company here called [Fairfax 00:10:14] Media. I begged for a job until they decided they could handle me doing that anymore and they created a position for me, which was a junior writer role. So, I basically started out doing all the things that the senior journalists didn't want to do.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (10:32)

    And I started on a magazine called Good Weekend that I had studied a lot at university. And a lot of award winning journalists and things. Of course, I was just there transcribing their tapes and writing the parts of the stories that they didn't want to do or didn't have time to do. I learnt so much from them. So, I kind of revolved around the magazines there and wrote things about food and fashion and profiles of people and a bit of travel.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (11:01)

    But then, after doing that for about five years, a job came up on the travel team and I lept at that. And was lucky enough to get that job. And so yeah, I became an in house travel writer, which meant that I was sent on assignments every other week to ... At the beginning it was really wherever anyone else didn't want to go because all of the other travel writers had been there for quite some time. And then, I actually ended up moving to India for a year, which is another story. But I continued doing that job for a year there.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (11:40)

    And when I came back, they restructured the whole team just a few months after that. And they decided why on Earth are we paying in house travel writers when we could be not paying that person's salary and just using contributors. So, I put my hand up for voluntary redundancy at that point and became freelance travel writer. Which was actually ... It was a great move because it meant that I could write for a whole variety of publications and I had that really great foothold already in the industry. So, that's when I really started moving into the more remote parts of the world. And I did it every since.

     

    Tahnee: (12:22)

    That's very brave. I mean, I think I remember that restructure. Was that when they were restructuring all the Fairfax and News Limited in Australia?

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (12:31)

    One of them, yes.

     

    Tahnee: (12:34)

    One of those, okay. So, that was a really big one. I was graduating, yeah, it was a big change. And I guess from moving into freelance, are you then able to ... You're pitching your story and you're kind of picking the places you want to go and you're interested in exploring and that's providing you with the opportunity to go and do that. That's kind of how your life's been the last 10 years?

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (12:56)

    Well, yeah. I mean, it's interesting how it works. A lot of people are confused as to how somebody could make a living out of doing this thing. So basically, a company will usually approach you as a freelancer if you already are writing travel stories for publication with a big readership. And they will say, "Okay, we've got a new itinerary in Zambia and we would like a writer to come and experience it and write stories about it. So, would you like to come?"

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (13:29)

    And in exchange for that, for being taken on this trip and having your expenses covered, you write a series of stories about your experiences and you sell them to different publications. And so, I was lucky writing primarily for newspapers in that there was enough volume of work to make that a reality because the magazines, you might only get three stories in a magazine a year. But for a newspaper, I was filing sometimes four stories a week. And you'd go on a trip and you'd come back and you would take one two week experience and you would write eight stories about it. So, that's how that sort of became a reality.

     

    Tahnee: (14:16)

    Mm-hmm (affirmative), yeah, cool. And that was quite a long part of your career. So, I noticed your first book was really more around people's passion and soul. So, I'm interested in how that sort of came about because you've been working, travel writing and then you sort of made this segway into being a published author, which is really exciting. And I want to congratulate you on that because I know how hard that is. I worked in publishing for awhile. So, what was your motivation in putting together your first book? Was that just coming from your own passion?

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (14:49)

    Yeah. Well, I was actually approached by somebody at the publishing house who said, "You've got this really interesting career. Do you think you might create a book around it?" And I didn't really like that idea of having my story at the centre of it, but I loved the idea that they were curious about how that had become my life. Because I always thought that about other people, you know? I would see these fabulous lives on Instagram and I'd be like, "Wow, how did that person become a wood carver? How did that person become a medicinal mushroom [crosstalk 00:15:28]."

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (15:31)

    And I would look at these people and think, "Wow, I'm so curious about that. I wonder what kind of sacrifices they made to get there. I wonder how much money they started with." All the questions that people had asked me, like how do you actually make money as a travel writer? How do you become one? What are the downsides of that? All these kind of questions that I wanted to ask other people. So, the book ended up being my story just as the intro and then 26 stories from people from around the world who had made a living doing what they love.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (16:03)

    So, there's a Japanese tiny home builder and an Armenian visual artists and a Tanzanian photographer and a weaver in the US. All these different kinds of people. But really looking at the realities of what it takes to do those things because I think social media has a lot to answer for in making things sometimes look a whole lot easier than they really are. But also, encouraging the reader to take actions themselves. So, somebody who might be stuck in a nine to five job that they feel incredibly dispassionate about and how do they start implementing more creativity into their life.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (16:43)

    I have exercises in there to help them do that, lots of advice from the people that I featured to really empower people to take control. I mean, we spend such a huge part of our lives working. And I just think it's a tragedy if we are not enjoying what we're doing and feeling creatively fulfilled. And also, redefining what success is because let me tell you, as a freelance travel writer, I was not making heaps of money.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (17:15)

    But I was having an incredible time, I was telling great stories, I was seeing the world. And I had to really look at my definition of success and go, "Okay, well if my bank account is not heaving, then am I feeling fulfilled? And how do I help people see a different version of success that might empower them to take a few different chances in their life?"

     

    Tahnee: (17:43)

    I think that piece around like when you aren't really passionate about something and it feeds you, you often make a lot of sacrifices, which often is financial as well as other things. I don't think we discussed that compromise enough as a culture around ... You do see ... I know people have said it about us. They're like, "You guys are so passionate and motivated." I'm like, "Yeah, but those things that we all come from is because of this." And not everyone is willing to make that sacrifice. I haven't had a chance to read that one yet but I'm really excited and I think [Mika 00:18:13] and Jesse are in there too. So, I'll have to-

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (18:15)

    Yes, exactly. Who are Byron based chocolatiers. They make the most delicious chocolate. And she's an example of somebody who you'd be like, "Wow, a chocolatier?" You think of movies like [Chocolat 00:18:34] and you're just ... It seems so romanticised and I loved that she was so honest and she's like, "There were so many naysayers." And actually, the reality, there's a lot of ... So much hard work. She just works all the time.

     

    Tahnee: (18:48)

    All the time, yeah.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (18:49)

    Yeah. But she loves what she's creating and she's very passionate about it and has a different view on what she wants to be spending her time doing than other people might. So, I think all of that is really important to convey because if you're someone who ... A lot of people really love the nine to five model and that's also really great because if you want to be able to properly switch off before and after work as well, then maybe being an entrepreneur or a creative is not for you. So, I think it's just important to show the realities of it so people don't go into this and then get a shock at how much work might be involved.

     

    Tahnee: (19:34)

    Because I think about travel writing as one of those industries that people think is very glamorous but I'm sure you would be the first to tell us that it's not. And I mean, I wonder for you, is that something you see yourself doing forever? I mean obviously none of us know the future but what's that sort of looking like for you? Would you continue to take those assignments and then is there more books in your future? Or what are you looking toward?

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (20:00)

    The great mystery.

     

    Tahnee: (20:01)

    Yeah. Just throw that one in there.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (20:04)

    Well, yeah. First of all, I would say you're so right. It's absolutely not as glamorous as people might think. There's a lot of illness, I'll say first of all. A lot of illnesses I experienced because of that. And it's very fast paced. It's very you hit the ground running. You are working from the first moment you open your eyes until your head slams down on the pillow at the end of the day because the whole time you are just meeting people, gathering notes, taking photographs, making sure you've got everything to tell these stories the right way.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (20:46)

    And you've also got to be up all the time because people are hosting you and you want to be enthusiastic and you want to stay curious and you want to keep your eyes open wherever you are. So, that's not for everyone. And I certainly met various travel writers throughout my time who weren't really suited to it. And they would turn up and say, "I don't really want to do what we're doing today." And it's like well, you have to kind of do what is organised because people are expecting you to do that.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (21:14)

    So, that was definitely something. And also, you miss out on ... I was away a third of every year. I have a marriage to maintain and a life and family relationships and things. It's really difficult when you miss out on a lot of things. Okay. And then, as for what is ahead, well I mean, I've had such a huge shift in my thinking about what I'm doing and why over the past two years and even a bit before that. Which I'm sure we'll talk a bit about coming up.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (21:58)

    But I'm definitely going to change the way that I do what I do. So, it will be much less travel. It will probably be instead of 12 trips overseas a year it would be more like one or two longer trips so that I can tell more stories in one place but then come back and have that time at home. And definitely more books. I love creating books and I love actually almost as much as that the conversations that they start, like this. And being able to talk about these ideas with people and express them in other ways.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (22:36)

    I've started running workshops and things, which I find really deeply fulfilling because I think just conversations are so powerful. And I think for a long time I forgot that. I was in my storytelling, writing mode and I didn't even think about other forms of communication for a long time. I didn't have the space to. So, that's been a real gift in this time. And kind of just following my curiosity as well. I'm working on something with my publisher at the moment which is actually a totally different modality that I'm excited about and more in the writing craft realm. And I think as creatives we stagnate if we don't keep evolving. So, I'm looking forward to seeing how that mystery unfolds.

     

    Tahnee: (23:28)

    Yeah. I want to make a little note on the sustainable travel tips you just gave us around less trips and longer times, I'll come back to that. But the last piece I wanted to talk to you about was a little bit off the book, was it's actually about your craft. Because one thing I noticed in reading, I've looked through your social media and read your book obviously. And you write from this really heartfelt, reflective and very self aware place, which I think is quite for me, anyway in my experience with travel writing, very unusual.

     

    Tahnee: (23:59)

    And also, even on social media there seems to be this real sense of reflection and a lot of heart in your writing. So, I wondered if that's something that's come with time for you or is there a practise? Or is it your life style? I think I saw that you meditate. Those are things that kind of build your craft? Or is it just something that you think you've honed over time? Do you have any advice for writers in terms of how you've come to find your voice?

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (24:25)

    Well, that's a beautiful question and thank you for saying that. Outside of my professional writing, I am a big journaler. And I am very self reflective, probably to my detriment at times. But I really love the practise of writing every single morning without fail, emptying the brain onto the page. I have done that since I was a teenager. I experienced quite severe anxiety in my late teens and I started to do it then. And it wasn't probably until a few years after that that I really solidified the practise after reading Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (25:11)

    Where she advocates 20 minutes every morning. And I just find it such a powerful way of unburdening yourself every day. But also staying connected to your essence, to your purpose, to motivation, all those sorts of things. And also, just venting in a way that doesn't impact other people. So, you don't really have to do it to other people, you can just do it to the page every day. So, I think that's probably where a lot of that comes from. And then, bleeds through.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (25:41)

    I love social media for that, as a way of really connecting to a deeper truth that often in travel writing you're not that involved. The writer is not that involved in the story. Places taking centre stage. So, it's nice to share some more personal things on there. And I think for anybody who wants to write or even just evolve as a human, I think a daily writing practise is just so potent. And it's free, and it is just available to use at any time. I always say I've saved so many thousands of dollars on therapy by just self administering this therapy to me.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (26:22)

    It's often just what it feels like when you write down that thing that you would think, "Oh my God, I would never say that to anybody." And once you've actually written it down, and if you need to tear it up afterwards, by all means do that. But it's gone for you, it's gone. And you can really alleviate a lot of your own suffering that way. So, that's a big part of it.

     

    Tahnee: (26:46)

    Yeah, the cathartic process, shedding those layers.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (26:52)

    Yeah.

     

    Tahnee: (26:52)

    I dated a guy who gave me that book, I don't know when it was, it was a long time ago. But it similarly was one of the few things from her book that stuck, the morning pages. And to a less extent since my daughter was born, I'm the same. Still in there. It's more like afternoon or night pages these days.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (27:13)

    Yeah, also okay.

     

    Tahnee: (27:15)

    Any time pages.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (27:16)

    Yes.

     

    Tahnee: (27:17)

    But yeah, I think piece around getting ... I think that's what I see a lot with people is that subconscious, unexpressed I guess shadow aspects of ourselves, which don't necessarily have to be negative. But just those things that we haven't digested or processed, you know? Pulling that out. And I felt that in your book. Like in Go Lightly, that you were ...

     

    Tahnee: (27:39)

    I hope this isn't a terrible thing to say, but it felt like it was almost a cathartic process for you on reflecting on your own journey as a traveller and as a travel writer and coming to this place of recognising some of the mistakes were yours as well but also the opportunities were yours. And that was kind of what I got out of reading it. Does that sound like a fair review in a way?

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (28:04)

    It does. You can tell you had a background in publishing, it's a very astute observation. Yeah because that book was ... I wrote that book in a fever and it came from such a place of my eyes being opened to something that I thought I need to remedy this right now. I need to create a resource that I could not find at the time. So, the genesis of it was, I mean it was a cumulative process but really it was this trip that I took to the Arctic in 2019.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (28:35)

    It was my last big overseas assignment, which I can't believe I'm saying that. That's been two years now. Me two years ago would have just completely baulked at that idea. But i went to a town called Churchill, which is the polar bear capital of the world. 900 polar bears to 800 people. And I went there and I learnt firsthand about the plight of the polar bears, which of course I already knew. But to see these things firsthand, to learn about the melting of the ice caps and how that is impacting the breeding season of the polar bears. And how there's absolutely nothing that they can do to alleviate that situation themselves.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (29:15)

    But there is something we can all do. That really, heavily impacted me. And I came home from that trip and I calculated my carbon emissions and I thought, "Oh my God, I have got to change the way that I do this thing." That is so necessary for me as a human being. I felt it was the air that I breathed at that time I travelled. But it was the single most heavy thing that I was doing for the environment. It counts for something like 8% of the world's carbon emissions. And my carbon emissions personally were out of control because of that.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (29:57)

    And so, I really had to find a way to be more accountable and to understand how I could continue doing this thing that I loved. And it also accounts for one in 10 jobs in the world. And it does so much for our personal growth and it connects us as human beings. It does all these wonderful things so how could I continue to do it but in a way that was less impactful. And so, honestly almost immediately after that trip I wrote to my editors. I said, "Okay, I need to just take a little break. I've lost sight of why I'm doing this when I really came face to face with the impact of it. I need some time."

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (30:42)

    And then, that same day I wrote to my publisher and I said, "I need to write this book. I need to figure out all the things that I've done wrong and figure out how to do it better." And to help other people figure that out too because we want to keep doing it but in a way that is less impactful. And so, I wrote that book then in the following three months. And of course, during that time, I think a week after one of my editors writes to me and she says, "Can I tempt you with this three week private jet trip around Africa and you will be going to see the gorillas in Rwanda and you'll be seeing the rock churches in Lalibela in Ethiopia.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (31:24)

    And just this incredibly enticing trip. And I just had to say no. And of course, all these invitations kept coming. It was the greatest test of all but I thought, "No, I've got to draw a line in the sand here." Two years later and I feel very strongly that the overarching message is unfortunately we have to just do a lot less of it. Which we are always hoping for a silver bullet. But aren't they going to make trains electric or run them on seaweed or something like that? But really, we just have to do less travel but make our travels count when we do them.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (32:05)

    Like everything in sustainability, do less and make our actions count. And perhaps even move towards regeneration. So, how do we give back to the places that we visit? How do we really make sure that there's reciprocity happening there? And how do we as 6% that have this ability to travel, how do we make our very potent travel dollars count in these places?

     

    Tahnee: (32:36)

    Well, that statistic just dropped in for me. Like 6% of people are using 8% of the carbon emissions just in travelling. That's a really ... That's sort of mind blowing. It's interesting because I find a lot of problems with how we view these developing places and how we go there and we're rich there so we behave like divas. It's something that I've always really struggled with. And look, I've definitely done it too so I'm not saying I'm immune from this.

     

    Tahnee: (33:10)

    But the reciprocity piece I thought was a really beautiful part of your book. And I think there was an African ... One of the first actual indigenous Africans to own a lodge, you interviewed him. I think his interview was really big for me because it really impacted me on how we really need to do our research and make sure that these places aren't owned by westerners who are just funnelling the money out of there or putting it toward their Range Rovers or whatever. It's actuallY going back into the villages and into the communities and supporting them in some way.

     

    Tahnee: (33:45)

    And I don't know, do you have any thoughts on that kind of mindset shift that we might need to make as a population? That we're not going there to live like queens and kings. We're going there to participate in their economy and participate in their culture and in their world. I'm curious as to your thoughts on that.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (34:03)

    Yeah. I love that that came clear to you through reading it because that's really I think the most powerful thing that we could do. I mean, keeping the 6% figure in mind and then also keeping this figure in mind, which is that 95% of our travel dollars get funnelled out of the destinations that we visit. So, that's something called leakage in the travel industry. And so, we want to basically stop that from happening as much as we possibly can. So, that's looking for, like you say, companies like [African Bushcamps 00:34:39], which is in love with the first black owner of a bush camp in Africa. I can't even believe that.

     

    Tahnee: (34:48)

    Yeah, that blew my mind. I was like, "Hang on a second."

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (34:51)

    Right, right, exactly. So, putting our money into those sort of companies, also into locally owned hotels, into locally owned restaurants, into indigenous crafts and making sure that we understand that. And putting in the time to meet makers and really diving into the culture in a deeper way. And putting in the effort to learn the language. All these sorts of things which are helpful as well. But really, it's thinking about the travel dollar all of the time and always asking the question of who owns this and is there an alternative for me.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (35:38)

    Doing things like home stays are amazing and always so powerful as a traveller. We've all experienced going and staying in some sort of high rise Hilton and feeling like you could be anywhere in the world. And then, staying with a local family. Like I did this trip in Nepal where we stayed with families. And I spent four days family and learnt so much more about the culture and developed a really beautiful connection with the couple and their children.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (36:10)

    You get such a richer, deeper experience. And then, you develop relationships that then can carry on throughout your life, which I think is one of the most important things that we need to do as well as travellers is to create ongoing relationships with places. So that then if a tragedy occurs in that part of the world, the way we work is we'll be more inclined to act if we've visited that place, understood the people there and understood the culture. And so, that's another benefit of thinking that way as well.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (36:42)

    And just going back to [Lex 00:36:45] and what he said in that interview, he said something like the places that we travel to are nourishing for us, how do we give that nourishment back? How do we ensure that we are being nourishing too? So, that comes down to things like cultural exchange and making sure that we are offering something in return all of the time. So, if we're learning something and are we paying a fair price for things, first of all. And are we using our money in the right places?

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (37:18)

    But also, just having conversations, building deeper relationships in places and making sure that in that way we're giving back as well. There's so many ways to give back as a traveller and it's not just about ... I think we had this outdated mindset of, "Okay, if we want to give back, we've got to sign up to build an orphanage in a destination."

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (37:44)

    But the truth of that is that there's a lot of problems relating to that, which is often it can take away jobs from locals or build something just to tear it down once the travellers have gone because it's actually just a way of making money. All these sorts of things. So, I think that direct action, putting money in the pockets of locals and also building those more robust relationships. And just putting in the effort to really learn at that deeper level about culture.

     

    Tahnee: (38:18)

    Yeah. Well the big kind of word that kept coming up for me in reading your book was slowing down. And I think I was reflecting on the most meaningful trips that I've had and they weren't probably very Instagramy in terms of I would walk around the city for four days and just sit at a café and talk to some old man about his experience living there for ... I did that in San Francisco. I spent three hours with this 70 year old gay man who had been through all of the amazing cultural shifts in San Francisco.

     

    Tahnee: (38:47)

    And I learned more in those three hours than I would have learned in a museum or anywhere else. And same in Japan, I did a cultural exchange when I was 16 and lived with families there. And I still have them as a vivid memory of the grandparents every morning tending the shrine and the breakfast we were served and their gardens. But they're not particularly memorable memories in a way. Like in terms of sharing them with people or anything like that. They're just very special to me.

     

    Tahnee: (39:17)

    And I think that was kind of the stuff that kept coming into my head reading your book was those experiences helped shape me. Yeah, I won't so much a picture and it was an incredible experience. I actually had a lot of resistance to going there. My husband made me go. He was like, "You will like it." I was like, "I'm not going to that place. It's too many people." He was like, "Just go." And we went at six in the morning to try and avoid the people. And yes, it was an incredibly sacred experience but we went to another temple, it was just him and I and that was for me a more sacred experience.

     

    Tahnee: (39:47)

    So, I think all those notes that you made around getting off the beaten track, actually listening to locals, asking them where their favourite places to go are. Slowing down and spending more time connecting with people, I think those are the keys to really having that meaningful experience. Rather than being on those itineraries where you just go, go, go, go, go. Which we've all done those too.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (40:10)

    Yeah.

     

    Tahnee: (40:10)

    Would you say that's kind of ... Is it slow? And is it mindful? Are these the kind of key words that are coming up for you in your research?

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (40:19)

    Yeah, yes, absolutely. And so much of what you said is reflected in this, is thinking as a citizen rather than a consumer, right? We're so destructive in the way we travel a lot of the time. We go somewhere, we want something from it, these experiences. We don't care how we get it. But we I think need to shift and think, "Okay, but if we're acting like locals then we are more curious, we are paying more attention, we're having everyday conversations."

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (40:57)

    And that way the experience actually becomes so much more delightful for you because like you say, you might not have experienced bucket list things in San Francisco, but you had a conversation with somebody that is yours, you know? And in that way it's like tailored clothes, they fit so much better. If you're tailoring your travel experience to yourself, it means you're not just going and going, "All right, I'm going to tick off that museum that I actually don't even care about that but everybody says to go. I'm going to tick off that big hat restaurant that everybody goes to."

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (41:36)

    It's actually questioning what do I love, what am I deeply interested in and finding a way for that destination to help you find that. So, in that way you're growing as if you've seen. You're actually seeing things that you will be more engaged with. And it just personalises everything. I had this fantastic trip to Guatemala a couple of years ago, which was all based around weaving. And it was with this really beautiful little company called Thread Caravan.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (42:13)

    And they take groups of women to weaving villages where we met with these women. We spent the whole week with these women who had been weaving their entire lives. They're carrying on this very important cultural tradition, which is actually ... It's bringing income into these towns and it is also keeping it alive because that weaving tradition is being threatened by globalisation and by mass production and all those sorts of things.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (42:42)

    So, us going there as travellers, we're learning a skill that is just ... It just lit me up, learning how to weave on a back strap loom from these women who have been doing it their whole lives. So, you're learning something but you're also showing that community that actually hey, this cultural tradition is still worth something. And you're playing a part in keeping it alive in that sense as well. And you know, we saw how they were naturally dyeing these threads and they were telling stories about weaving.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (43:19)

    It gave me a whole new appreciation for that art as well which I'll now have for the rest of my life. Now had I simply gone and kicked off some big site, I still would have had a good time, sure, but it wouldn't have been tailored to me in that way. And it wouldn't have been something that I cherish so deeply like I do with that experience. So, I would just urge anyone who is perhaps at the moment only in the dreaming phases of their next event, but really thinking about what is it that I love. What is it that I want to learn more about?

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (43:53)

    And is there a way that I can go to a place and allow that place to teach me that? And for example, I'm, as so many of us, into gardening and permaculture and things at the moment. So, I'm dreaming of going back to India and seeing if I can spend a few months on a permaculture farm and help out there because that way you're helping out but your also learning something in exchange. And developing a whole new relationship with that place via the soil. So, that's the kind of thing that I am envisaging now, the kind of journey that I'm envisioning.

     

    Tahnee: (44:35)

    Yeah. I really love that idea too. It comes back to that self reflective piece, but yeah, understanding your motivations and your kind of why I guess, which I think was a big emphasis you placed in the book. Was really getting to the core of what lights you up about travel and why do you want to go. I mean you spoke about WOOFing quite a bit in the book as like an option for people. And if people aren't aware, it's a great way to give back to the community and learn some things.

     

    Tahnee: (45:05)

    I've done that as well. I just think there's some really magical experiences to be had there. We were unable to go because of COVID but we were supposed to go and live on a farm in Argentina and my husband wanted to be a [guapo 00:45:20]. The cowboy. Said he wants to go and be a cowboy and I was going to cook with the women and tend the garden. Those kinds of trips are the ones that we get excited about, which aren't super fancy. But I just think for my daughter to live on a working cattle ranch, I think that's a really cool life experience. Hopefully one day we can do those.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (45:41)

    That sounds incredible. And actually, I will add as a parent how much better is that as well when you slow something down to that extent? You're actually living somewhere and you've got more space then because you're not dragging a child around from monument to monument. You're just living life in places.

     

    Tahnee: (45:59)

    We've travelled with our daughter a lot and my huge learning on that was exactly what you're saying. Like rent a house, stay put, become a local. What are the great hikes in the area? Even in Bali, we just ... The best place I went was [Lovano 00:46:17], which was as far from Bali as you can get. But my daughter could play safely on the streets, she could make little friends and it was just this really ... Yeah. Like just to be very low key I think is amazing with kids. Because they get so much out of just interacting with other people.

     

    Tahnee: (46:33)

    And there's no prejudice or preconceived ideas. So, they just accept things completely as it is, you know? And I love that about them. And they don't do well schlepping so there's no point trying. It's a nightmare. I did try it once. I was like, "No, never again." I don't know if you're familiar with ... There's this photography agency called Magnum, which was started in the 40s. Do you know about that? Yeah. I'm a big fan of just their story. A bunch of crazy renegades.

     

    Tahnee: (47:06)

    But I kind of thought about that when I was reading your book as well because they documented a lot of places that were completely unvisited by westerners. Especially coming up through the 40s, 50s, 60s when people didn't travel as much as they do now. And they also in the interviews I've read with some of the photographers, they said 20 years later they really regretted having shared those stories because it dramatically changed the places they visited.

     

    Tahnee: (47:37)

    And I wondered because you've been travelling for such a long time, have you seen that in the places you've visited? Like over tourism and what have you seen impact these cultures and these communities? And as consumers and travellers, what can we do? Obviously all the things we're talking about but are there any other tips or things that you've noticed that you think people can be more attuned to or aware of?

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (48:01)

    Yeah, definitely. I think that that is a huge consideration that to be honest I didn't think too much about for a long time. I was very passionate about sharing these places with people and everybody needs to know about this place. And I never thought if I start geo tagging anything or revealing these places because I thought I want to share it with everyone. In quite a naïve way really because that is exactly how over tourism happens. And I have been to some horribly over touristed places.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (48:36)

    For example, Barcelona where we were at this [inaudible 00:48:39] and the line was something like three and a half hours long. And everyone is just going in to see the same thing. And you go in there and you can't really feel anything because how can you when you're surrounded by thousands of people and flashbulbs and cameras and things. I felt the same thing at the Taj Mahal actually because in India it's the same level of over tourism and everybody wanting to see the same thing.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (49:06)

    And to a lesser extent, there's just places, it doesn't necessarily have to be a volume thing, it's an infrastructure thing. So, there are certain towns and even rural places around the world that have become famous for a particular selfie thing made in a certain spot. And I mention a couple of these stories in the book where locals will just be completely inundated by ... And it might only be a few hundred people coming there but it's too much for their little place to bear.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (49:40)

    And there might not be enough places for people to go to the toilet and all those sorts of things. Or on the other end of that, it's like Venice where locals can no longer find accomodation because everything has been turned into tourist accommodation.

     

    Tahnee: (49:59)

    Or Byron Bay?

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (50:00)

    Or Byron Bay, exactly, where we are. It's the same problem. And we all know how that feels. And you see it happen in part of Paris. I remember doing an assignment there and my guide was saying that used to be a baker, that used to be a hardware store, that used to be the local cobbler. And now it's just all Airbnbs and there's actually no services for locals here now. So, in order to avoid all of those things, again it comes down to tailoring the experience.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (50:32)

    To really not rushing where everybody else is going but questioning like where do I want to go. And is there a place that's close to a place that everybody is going that might be more delightful? And asking locals where they go. And really getting clear on your own personal desires in that way. And also, another great approach is asking where needs your travel dollars. That is just becoming such a more profound question now with the variety of disasters that are happening around the world.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (51:10)

    It's a great way to approach it, to say, "Okay, is there a destination that experienced a natural disaster that might need tourist dollars? Is there a town that has experienced ..." For example, I went to Nepal for the third time just after the huge earthquake happened. And they were just desperate for tourists. People were either scared or they thought there was nothing left to see. And that place really needs your tourist dollars. So, looking at it as again, how can I use my dollars in a way that might help the local community.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (51:48)

    And also, another big thing is travelling closer to home for a lot of us. And that is something that I think obviously forced to do in some ways over the last couple of years. But have really been enjoying. So, really just thinking about what places near me are not discovered really that much. And I went to an amazing dark sky park, which was just an eight hour drive from [crosstalk 00:52:21]. Yeah, near there, yes. And it was the best star gazing.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (52:28)

    So, they call it a dark sky park because there's very little light pollution. And I saw better stars there than I did in the middle of Namibia. And did some incredible hiking and learned about the indigenous history of the area. And that area had been heavily impacted by the devastating bush fires in Australia. So, it felt good to be returning somewhere that people were perhaps a bit hesitant to go to at that time. So yeah, falling in love with the places closest to us.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (53:02)

    And I also did a road trip. This is the other thing, put nature at the centre of your journeys is a big thing to do what I'm talking about. More sustainable or regenerative travel. So, I took a road trip earlier this year from our house to the Daintree Rainforest. It was a month and it was just me and the car and I slept in the car some of the time, which is actually really fun. People are always shocked. But I was camping as well and also staying in beautiful mud brick off grid house for a while.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (53:41)

    And all a variety of different places but it was all just about hiking. It was about visiting permaculture farms. I visited a mushroom farm. I got to go and see the state of the great barrier reef for myself and understand what's happening there. The same thing in Daintree. So really, also getting curious about what ... I'm very interested in the impact of climate change on natural places at the moment. So, that was a great way for me to see that firsthand and to kind of activate myself in that way. And I think that's something we can all do as well. What issue am I interested in at the moment and is there a place that I could go to learn more about that than wait and worry to figure it out?

     

    Tahnee: (54:29)

    Yeah. My mom and dad travelled Australia a lot when they were young and I think I've been Australia twice but I don't remember any of it. I've done a lot of it as an adult now as well. But yeah, I watched you travel to North Queensland which is where I grew up. And it was really ... It's something that I've found shocking living down in New South Wales that people don't know. Like I'll say I'm from Mission Beach and people go, "I've never heard of it." And I'm like, "Okay, Cannes." And they're like, "Oh, yeah, okay. Is that near [Townsland 00:55:01]?" And I'm like, "Like the great barrier reef?" And like okay.

     

    Tahnee: (55:04)

    Wow, people in this country don't know. And I'm not even actually from Mission Beach, I'm from [Bingle 00:55:09] Bay but nobody even has a clue where that is, you know? And it's just like to really try and get people to see their own country. Aren't we proud? When I was a 10 year old in the 90s, we used to get ... I think there was something like, I don't know, four or five international flights a day into that Cannes airport. My parents were in tourism so you could know everyone in Cannes was Japanese. Like every single ...

     

    Tahnee: (55:32)

    I used to get my photo taken because I was blonde and white haired. It was such a different place then. And people from all around the world were travelling to that place and Australians don't even know where it is on a map, you know? So, I was super excited to see you going there. And you drove your little eco car too which I was like, "Yeah." It's a really great example to set I think for people to see how much amazing nature is right on our doorsteps in this country.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (56:00)

    That's right. And also connecting more deeply to the indigenous history of this country and really thinking about what we might learn in that respect about just understanding the history of the place that we stand on. And asking yourself everywhere that you are who's land is this and am I behaving in a way that is respectful to those people. If you're asking yourself those questions when you're travelling at home, then that then translates as well when you go overseas.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (56:39)

    And you will be more inclined to think that way than ways that you might behave in the past, which is where we just kind of think, "Oh, well we're overseas, it's not our place, it doesn't matter how we behave." It always matters.

     

    Tahnee: (56:53)

    It comes up to [inaudible 00:56:55].

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (56:54)

    Yeah, right. So, kind of almost practising it at home as well. Practising how do we be better travellers and how do we ... Even getting used to things like camping and biking and hiking and all those sorts of things that we do at home and are comfortable doing it overseas.

     

    Tahnee: (57:16)

    Yeah. I was thinking a bit about ... Well, there's two little things that really landed for me again in reading your book. So one was around ... I actually have also been to Guatemala and hung out with the weavers, not through Thread Caravan but just on my own adventures. But I remember purchasing a weaving from them, a piece of fabric and it's become such a treasure of mine because again, like you're saying, the story. She was telling me about how the different moon cycles affect the colours of the dye.

     

    Tahnee: (57:48)

    So, to get a vibrant colour it goes on the full moon and the more mute colours, the new moon. All these kinds of things. It's become this possession that I'm attached to in a really ... I think in a beautiful way. Compared to things I've bought on other trips that have maybe ended up in a nut shop or not become ... It sounds terrible but it's true. I've just been like, "Eh." It's a kind of disposable piece, this thing that I've bought. So, I wondered around souvenirs and trinkets, what are your thoughts? Is it connecting with the people that are making it? Is avoiding those mass produced souvenir shops or do you have any kind of thoughts on that part of travel?

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (58:28)

    It's such a good question. And I'm very passionate about that. I'm passionate about that at home as well. About really thinking about everything that we allow into our lives and thinking about where it's going to end up. And thinking about just the life cycle of every single thing that we own and about how we might treasure our possessions more and really think of them as becoming part of us. And if we really think about how is it made, where was it made, who was involved in the creation of this thing, we would develop such a more respectful relationship with the physical object in our life.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (59:12)

    So, with thinking about that, I love to collect things on my travels. And my house is definitely filled with those things. But I always thought about the life cycle of it. Instead of ... Well, not always. There was definitely in my 20s, you would buy things that would make you laugh or whatever. You bring it home and then [crosstalk 00:59:43].

     

    Tahnee: (59:43)

    We've all got them.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (59:44)

    Yeah, yeah. But no, I definitely think now about where is this going to sit in my home and is this something that could be biodegradable at the end of it's lifetime. Woven baskets or wooden items or things like that, does this item really tell the story of the place that I was in? And always also asking do I have to buy five of those things or maybe I just buy one more expensive one. And always also in that respect I think it's always worth paying more for something that is made properly and by an artisan.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (01:00:28)

    As opposed to thinking, "Oh, okay, I can just buy three of those knockoff ones next door." Really coming back to who has created it, what energy has gone into creating it and bringing that reference to it. And also, the important things around questioning whether what the thing is made out of, is that ethical. So, there's all the things being made out of tortoise shell or bones or anything like that that might be an endangered species. I think that all comes into it too.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (01:01:05)

    But I really do think that that idea of reverence and buying directly from artisans is really important. And I know that the pieces that I have bought are now going to be with us forever because they do hold those memories. And I can remember each person who sold me that thing and the interaction that we've had. And some of the things it was with people who I'd been interacting with for days and then fell into relationship with so that it really has a story to it. So, I think that's also then something that does bleed out into our everyday life. And to change the way that you see them then when you're at home as well.

     

    Tahnee: (01:01:54)

    Yeah. And that beautiful opportunity to reflect every time you see that piece and it's meaning to you and where it comes from.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (01:02:01)

    Right.

     

    Tahnee: (01:02:03)

    Yeah. I've noticed in researching your work that fashion seems to be a topic you're passionate about as well and not consuming fast fashion. And just it's something I always find interesting with travelling, especially when you meet weavers and you look at how much work goes into producing a piece of cloth. And then, you think about I can buy a singlet for $5 from Target or something. It's such a crazy ... I know a machine's doing it, so it's a bit different. But yeah, I find that's a big schism in my brain that I can't quite reconcile.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (01:02:41)

    I have so much to say on that but I'll try to be brief. But no, it's true. And I love that you experienced that in Guatemala and you saw. I think once you see something like that, it's very hard to forget it. When you see oh my gosh, that took three months for somebody to create by hand. That's actually what it would take for a human being to create a woven piece of clothing. And when we put that lens on things, it really just shifts the whole experience.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (01:03:18)

    And it's like ... I don't know if you're familiar with [Tika Han's 01:03:23] work where he often talks about an amazing zen Buddhist teacher. And he talks a lot about when you are eating a meal, you look at the food in your bowl and really question every bit of energy that went into creating that meal. So, you give gratitude to the son and the rain and the soil that nourished the plants that then grew and then the work of the farmers who harvested that for you. And then, the people who processed it and brought it to you.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (01:03:58)

    All of those things that create a meal. And I think we can think about that with clothing too, you know? Really thinking about ... Okay, if this is a very cheap piece of clothing, what energy was put into it and how has it been possible to create it for that price? And understanding that that is reflective of something that probably isn't ethically made. And also, bringing a sense of reverence to every item that enters your world so that you're not likely to just cast it off when the fashion changes but you're really looking for something that speaks quick deeply to you that you will look after for the rest of your life.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (01:04:43)

    Or that you will pass on in a respectful way to somebody else. Because we might just think fashion is this fun folly but wow, it is really responsible for so much pollution and also mistreatment of human beings and our environment. So, it's something to love and to use to express yourself but also to really think quite deeply about the origin of all those things. That's why I'm so passionate about secondhand clothing and things like cloth swaps and things because that way you end up with pieces.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (01:05:26)

    Like I went to a clothing swap recently and I ended up with pieces from my friends that I'm like, "I've got a piece of that friend." And every time I wear it I think of them. And I'm likely to look after it more because it is attached to that person. And there's definitely a beauty to that. And also, I always think about there's a lot of companies now that say, "Our lines are sustainable, and it's made with this material," and all that sort of thing. But really, there's nothing more sustainable than buying something that is already in [crosstalk 01:06:02].

     

    Tahnee: (01:06:01)

    Production, circulation.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (01:06:03)

    Has already been in circulation, exactly. So, reusing in that way.

     

    Tahnee: (01:06:13)

    And so, in terms of your travel wardrobe because I loved that you touched on this a bit in the book. And I think it's always so interesting depending on where you're going and what you're going to need. And I always find when I have to go into multiple climates, it's a bit of a headache. But what's your go-to in terms of travel and packing? Are you pretty ... I'm assuming being a travel writer, you're pretty light weight. But I'm interested to hear how you approach packing and selecting clothing. Do you research the places first and try and be culturally sensitive? What's your thought process around that?

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (01:06:51)

    So, yeah. I became a bit of a master packer over the years. And I think the key for me was really just packing as little as I possibly could and also packing things that could be multipurpose. I was really big on packing block colours, things in linen, denim, those sorts of things. I'm a jeans and shirt kind of gal with some Blundstone boots. And I would wear the same pair of boots on the plane that I would then wear pretty much the entire time. And a pair of tether sandals.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (01:07:32)

    But then the jeans with a variety of different shirts. And that's really what I was always just trying to work with. Trying to make it as easy as possible to also kind of just hit the ground running. You don't want to be worrying about how does this go together with that when you're in the middle of an amazing destination and just trying to have a great time. And that's also a much more sustainable way of packing because the heavier your bag is, the more fuel the plane or train or car will actually use.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (01:08:10)

    So, it works on all fronts. I'm going to admit to something kind of embarrassing here but I often would mood board a destination. So, I'd be like, "Oh, okay. I'm going to Namibia and the landscapes have these colours in them. And I want to wear some colours that are reflective of that too." And so, I would think about that. I would admit that here.

     

    Tahnee: (01:08:35)

    I like that though, yeah. I think that's really nice because each place has a vibe, right? Like you kind of want to tune into that a little bit.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (01:08:46)

    It does. Yeah, exactly. And also, just being aware of the usual things. Is it culturally appropriate for me to wear this sort of length of thing here? Or how do the women in that place dress? And is the way that I'm dressing going to be okay? And just making sure that I guess you can also just feel good. That was a really big thing. I think when I first started professionally travelling, I was much more concerned about the way that I was appearing when I was at these places. And it ended up just these huge suitcases and I was always uncomfortable.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (01:09:31)

    I always felt like I was wearing the wrong thing. But over time I just figured out the simple is better. Just make it so that you can feel comfortable so that you can get going and be really active in the place. I love to be active and that's another part of travelling more sustainably is being able to go and get out into nature and go and hike and go and really experience these places. And to do that you need to be comfortable and ready for action at any given moment.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (01:10:00)

    And also, I'm a massive fan of anything multipurpose. So, the blanket that doubles as a [saran 01:10:07] that doubles as a headscarf that doubles as a skirt. I love that kind of thing. So, that's always first in the bag as well. And the tote that can be a shopping bag or a bag to pick up rubbish with or a bag to take out at night. It can be the one bag for all of the things.

     

    Tahnee: (01:10:26)

    Yeah, I loved that. I always do that too, chuck a linen bag in my bag. I think even just as a handbag it's super handy when you're somewhere for [sunnies 01:10:38] and keys and whatever. And I really liked your tips on bringing your leftovers on the flight instead of eating yucky plane food. My husband and I are those weirdos with our own shopping bags full of stuff, having to give up cashew cheese because it's a liquid.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (01:10:52)

    Oh, no, no.

     

    Tahnee: (01:10:55)

    I was like, "What is this?" But I think there's something about eating good food and having your own containers and stuff. Especially overseas, it's so helpful because most places you get served way too much food. You can take some of that home with you, all that kind of stuff. So, those were really great tips in the book too I thought.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (01:11:15)

    I'm glad to hear that, yeah. I think the food thing is so massive when it comes to travel. And I think a big thing is also if you've got those containers with you, so say you've taken your leftovers or whatever on the plane and then you're in the destination and you can go to the farmer's market. You can find if there's a farmer's market, a produce market. Pretty much everywhere in the world that I've ever been, there has always been a food market somewhere.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (01:11:42)

    It's such a great entryway into a culture. It's such a great way to meet locals. It's such a great way. You just ask people, "What do I do with this? How do I cook this?" It's a great way to start conversations and things. And then, because you have that container, you can use that at the market. Hopefully you're staying somewhere that's not a big high rise hotel that might allow you to cook there. So that then you can go and experiment with that and put your leftovers in there and take it with you the next day.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (01:12:07)

    It just gives you that more of a local feel. Something as simple as taking those reusable containers. Which might seem like a naff tip to give people but it actually is quite radical when you think of it that way. That it can kind of follow you through your whole journey.

     

    Tahnee: (01:12:24)

    Well especially if you have kids, like for snacks and straws. We've even taken a Vitamix with us once.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (01:12:32)

    That's amazing.

     

    Tahnee: (01:12:33)

    It's a bit extreme. But it was like well, my daughter likes it. It's one of those.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (01:12:38)

    Exactly. And do you know what? You're always weighing that sort of thing up, right? Because okay, it might be heavier to take the Vitamix but think about all of the disposable cups that you saved for all of those soups or smoothies. Or the money you might have saved, all of those sorts of things as well. So, there's always that sort of weighing up.

     

    Tahnee: (01:13:02)

    Yeah. It also blew up the power too. So, we checked out first people [crosstalk 01:13:10]. Anyway, I feel like we could talk all day but I am full of time so I want to thank you Nina for being here. It's been such a pleasure. You're such a wise woman and it was a real pleasure diving into your world today and in research for this. Really enjoyed getting to know your work a bit more intimately. So, I highly recommend this book.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (01:13:32)

    I've absolutely loved [crosstalk 01:13:34]. I've just loved talking to you. I feel like we could exchange travel tales all day. And I mean, this is really one of the great beauties of travel as well, isn't it? It's just the exchange of stories and experiences and it brings all of those gifts into our lives. So, this is just another way of giving back.

     

    Tahnee: (01:13:57)

    Yeah. And I hope people who are stuck at home right now in Australia, you guys can take some inspiration from this and start planning your next mindful trip. And I know we have a lot of listeners overseas who are probably travelling right now, so really love to hear from anyone who's incorporating these changes into their lives. Get Nina's book, it's called Go Lightly. It's everywhere, right? I've seen it overseas. It's not just an Australian publication, you've got a UK publisher, is that right?

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (01:14:23)

    Yeah, I do, yeah. It is everywhere. In the States it's apparently in Urban Outfitters and other quite cool stores like that. Which just makes me really happy because it means that people who may not be into sustainability on a day to day basis might be picking it up and learning something. And that excites me. So yeah, get your hands on it, please. I would love to hear your thoughts.

     

    Tahnee: (01:14:52)

    Yeah. And it's actually a great size and a great ... I can imagine picking it up before I go anywhere again. If you wanted to even take it with you, it's not huge. It's a good size to chuck in your carry on or in your suitcase, so it's awesome. And also, if people want to connect to you, you've got social media. So, you've definitely got your Instagram, which we can share the link to that in the show notes. Is there anywhere else? You've got a website. Anywhere else people can connect?

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (01:15:18)

    Yeah, I do. But I really think that ... I mean, Instagram's the easiest. It's @TravelsWithNina. So, Travel with an S. Travels With Nina. And in my Link Tree I have links to my website, which is NinaKarnikowski.com and to the books and to various ... I have some E Courses, writing E Courses and things like that on there too. So, yeah, that's the easiest place I'd say.

     

    Tahnee: (01:15:41)

    Awesome. And what was the name of your first book again? Because we spoke about that at the beginning.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (01:15:45)

    Yeah. It's called Make a Living Living, Be Successful Doing What You Love.

     

    Tahnee: (01:15:51)

    Amazing. And that's the same, it's a global publication. It can be found everywhere?

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (01:15:54)

    Yeah, yes. And actually, how crazy is this, it got translated into Russian as well as Spanish, German and Dutch. So, if there are any ... Particularly the Russian version I was excited about because I am part Russian. And I just never imagined in a million years that that would happen. So, that's exciting.

     

    Tahnee: (01:16:19)

    I bet you're huge in Russia, yeah. And congratulations. I worked in sales for awhile so I know that's a big deal getting your international rack. That's very cool for you.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (01:16:30)

    Thank you, [Dani 01:16:30]. Thank you so much for having me.

     

    Tahnee: (01:16:32)

    Thank you Nina.

     

    Nina Karnikowski: (01:16:32)

    I really loved talking to you and I love everything you guys do. So, nice synergy.

     

    Tahnee: (01:16:39)

    Perfect, awesome. Well, thank you and have a beautiful day. And everyone please reach out to Nina if you want to share your thoughts on her work. And I will be very excited to speak to you all next time on another SuperFeast podcast.

    Alexandra Anttilla
    Alexandra Anttilla



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