Slow Travel will become more popular — In a world in which everyone is connected 24/7 and nothing ever stops, travel is the perfect way to tune out and reset. Slow travel means a focus on quality instead of quantity. Slowing down to really get to know one place and have a deeper travel experience there while connecting with the local culture. People will be looking for quieter, less touristy places for these types of experiences. There is an opportunity for the travel and hospitality industry here to promote mindfulness experiences, like wellness retreats and spas. Traveling slower makes sure that you can have a more meaningful, energizing experience of which you will feel that you don’t need a vacation after your vacation is over!
As part of my series about “developments in the travel industry over the next five years”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Veerle Beelen.
Veerle Beelen is an Internationally Certified Travel Coach. As a Travel Coach she empowers travellers to have transformative travel experiences and to focus on their “Travel Mindset”. Her goal is to help expats and other travellers transform their personal lives and careers through their travel experiences, guide them through the preparation process of moving abroad and coach them through the transition process of living in a new country. Besides that, she inspires people to use travel as a tool for personal growth, self-awareness, reflection and to boost their overall wellbeing. You can learn more about Veerle Beelen and her Travel Coaching at https://unpackbyveer.com
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
As an expat and after living in 4 different countries over the past ten years, I found that there was a gap between the services that were offered to expats, like relocation and visa support, and the support they actually need when moving countries. I often felt that it would have been great and accommodating to have a coach to support me during the trialing times of moving and adapting to a new country. I felt like I lacked someone to help me stay on track with both personal and professional goals. I needed that to feel grounded and energized during the journey. Since I couldn’t find that, I spent a lot of time focusing on my own self-growth. I realized that by concentrating on having the right mindset I could make my time abroad as beautiful and successful as I wanted it to be and I could attract the things I want in my life.
Working on my mindset and personal development helped me so much, and I believed it could help others too. I had been looking for something that could help me and couldn’t find it, so I realized I could create it myself and that’s how I became a Travel Coach!
As a Travel Coach I assist others who dream of moving to a new country to make that dream become a reality. In my framework I coach that preparation and mindset are the key aspects of a successful move and of a fulfilling travel experience in general.
Besides that, I love to inspire others to use travel as a tool for self-growth and reflection, instead of just having an escape from daily life. To feel energized after a trip instead of more exhausted! It’s beautiful when you realise how impactful travel can become a boost to your overall wellbeing. I have experienced this during my own travels and I’m grateful that I can now spread this message to other travellers and to my clients.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
Once I started this journey of becoming a certified Travel Coach so many things started to fall into place. I believe that everything that happens in our life brings us a lesson. If we are open to learning from the bad things that happen to us and take them as experience, it gives us an opportunity for growth. Due to the pandemic, I lost my job and visa and had to leave Australia where I had been living the expat life for almost 3 years. At first, I was devastated and in shock and didn’t know what my next steps in life would be. Therefore, I tried to figure out which lessons I had to learn from this. Right now, I feel that this life event happened so that a new door would open for me to pursue my dream of having my own business. Most likely I wouldn’t have had the courage to take this step if I had stayed in my comfort zone. Since I made the decision to follow my own path, I have met beautiful people and interesting opportunities crossed my path that I would have never thought about before, like doing this interview! I can’t wait to meet great people to work with and to see what else is coming my way in the near future.
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 first started, I was so excited about what I had to offer that I felt like the whole world was waiting for me and that I would be very busy from the start. However, in the beginning I heard crickets! So very soon I realized that building a business with a solid foundation takes time! I had to take a step back and focus on how to reach my ideal audience better. I focused on learning new skills, like marketing, advertisement and finding my own authentic voice. It’s sometimes easy to believe all the ads that promise you that you can build a 6-figure business within 3 months. However, I have learned to have patience and not to rush myself but to trust that everything happens at the right timing. Also, it’s important for me to do things in my own authentic way and find ways of running a business that match with my personality and lifestyle. That mindset shift helped me to attract beautiful people and to feel inspired to guide them on their transformative travel journeys.
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?
First of all, I think it’s very important to take your time and to work in your own flow. What I mean with this is that you can’t be productive every day and that’s okay. If you push yourself too hard, you will not only stop enjoying your work but you will also burn out quickly. To avoid burn out I think it’s very important to feel inspired and empowered by what you do. This will keep your energy high, which will not only improve your productivity but most of all your overall happiness.
In my case, I have to step on the brake often so that I can continue to thrive. For me this means having enough me-time, offline time and spending time in nature to de-stress (and of course travel whenever that is possible!). These things help me to slow down when I want to do too many things at the same time.
By finding my own flow, taking time for things to develop and by trusting in my own journey, I learned that slowing down in the short-term actually helps you to speed up in the long-term!
None of us are able to 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?
Absolutely! I’m grateful for my business mentor and coach Sahara Rose de Vore, who is the founder of the Travel Coach Network. The network consists of a beautiful group of ambitious people who are all passionate travelers and certified travel coaches. Even though there are so many different niches in the travel industry and every Travel Coach is specialized in something different, we all find ways to support and empower each other. Being an entrepreneur can be a lonely process sometimes and that’s why I believe that it is very helpful to have a support group of like-minded individuals around you to connect with regularly.
Thank you for that. 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?
Everyone has heard of travel agents that help you with booking your trip, but Travel Coaches are still relatively new in the travel and hospitality industry. Travel coaches focus more on the experience, goals and mindset of a traveller and giving the power back to the traveller in terms of travel planning. With the support of a Travel Coach a traveller will become more confident and self-aware to plan a trip that aligns with that person’s purpose and life goals. This new Travel Coach approach is very powerful and I’m very excited to call myself one of the ICF accredited Travel Coaches in the industry!
Which “pain point” are you trying to address by introducing this innovation?
As a Travel Coach I help my clients making their travel experiences purposeful and lifechanging. Instead of using travel as an escape from daily life, travel will be used as a tool for self-reflection, a deeper connection, finding clarity on life goals, a time to reset and learn. I empower my clients to think about ‘why’ they want to travel first instead of focusing on ‘what’ or ‘where’. Through a reflection and planning process they come up with a travel plan that aligns with their deeper life goals.
In my coaching approach I focus on preparation and mindset. This combination helps people not to overwhelm themselves during the travel planning process, but to stay organized and reflect on what they are looking for in their travels and life in general. Part of this is also about managing expectations and being flexible and open-minded to whatever comes your way.
For example, in the case of moving to a new country, this is not only a beautiful adventure but also has its challenges. Think about having to learn a new language, finding your way in a different culture and a new city, dealing with common ‘expat problems’ like homesickness and culture shock and the list goes on. In my coaching sessions I help my clients to gain new perspectives on these challenges and give them tools to feel more confident and excited about their move. After all, I want them to make the most out of their journey!
How do you envision that this might disrupt the status quo?
Research has shown that in the future people will be looking for more purposeful and intuitive travel experiences. During the pandemic many people realised how important travelling is for their personal life and wellbeing when travel suddenly became limited. Spending more time at home gave us the opportunity to reflect on what is important in life and what truly makes us happy. Therefore, when talking about the Future of Travel, hospitality and travel companies will have to adjust to people wanting to have more meaningful travel experiences, not just an escape from their daily routine but travel experiences for personal growth, wellbeing and purpose. That is where I step in as a Travel Coach to guide travelers to have transformative and intuitive travel experiences that align with their life goals, career, wellness and overall happiness.
As you know, COVID19 changed the world as we know it. 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 will prefer to travel?
Although travel shut down during Covid19 and the travel and hospitality companies have been hit hard by this, we need to be hopeful towards the future. One of the things that this pandemic has shown is how important travel is for people. You sometimes don’t really know how important something is to you until you don’t have it anymore. This was definitely the case for travel for many people. Even though we cannot predict the future, upcoming trends in the travel industry have shown that there are new ways that consumers will prefer to travel in the future. Here are 5 examples of how travel and hospitality companies will be adjusting to this shift.
1 ) The focus will be more on the experience instead of the destination. People will be looking for more fulfilling travel experiences and don’t want to just use travel as an escape from daily life anymore. Instead of just sitting on the beach, people are looking for experiences to be inspired, to learn something, to connect with the local culture and to feel some sort of transformation. The travel and hospitality industry can tap into this trend by focusing on what experience they can offer to their consumers. It’s about providing new opportunities for consumers for connection and inspiration. For example are there opportunities to connect with the local culture? Or is the destination known for a natural wonder that will surprise the consumer? Are there opportunities for relaxation and reflection etc?
2 ) Slow Travel will become more popular. In a world in which everyone is connected 24/7 and nothing ever stops, travel is the perfect way to tune out and reset. Slow travel means a focus on quality instead of quantity. Slowing down to really get to know one place and have a deeper travel experience there while connecting with the local culture. People will be looking for quieter, less touristy places for these types of experiences. There is an opportunity for the travel and hospitality industry here to promote mindfulness experiences, like wellness retreats and spas. Travelling slower makes sure that you can have a more meaningful, energizing experience of which you will feel that you don’t need a vacation after your vacation is over!
3 ) Travellers are looking for more personalised experiences to boost their wellbeing. Due to the pandemic there is an increased focus on health and safety for travelers, but besides that the overall wellbeing of travelers will become more important as well. This means that people will be looking for more personalised travel experiences that align with their desires. The travel and hospitality industry will adjust to this trend by providing services to travellers that are more tailored to their personal needs. For example providing personalised programs and travel packages designed for a specific type of traveller. People want to feel supported and cared for during their travels and will be looking for experiences that boost their wellbeing. Besides that people are, now more than ever, looking for connection. Travel and hospitality companies will therefore find new ways to create more personal experiences for their customers and for example focus more on authenticity, personality and local connection in their services.
4 ) There is more choice and control in the hands of the consumer. Travel and hospitality companies will support consumers with more elaborated digital tools so that they have more choice and control over their travel planning. This will give consumers more flexibility and certainty for their itinerary and specific needs during their journey, making it easier to adjust their planned trips when plans change last-minute. The further digitalization of the travel industry will also give consumers the opportunities to have more personalized solutions which enhance their overall customer experience.
5 ) People would like support from a Travel Coach. As I mentioned previously, people will be looking for more personalised experiences that not only boost their wellbeing, but also give them more fulfillment in terms of inspiration, empowerment and connection.
Travel Coaches will be playing a more important role to fulfill this need, since they are the travel experts who can support travellers to focus on wellbeing, mindset and individualized, transformative travel experiences. Depending on the niche a Travel Coach is specialized in, for example solo travel, wellness travel, sustainable travel, female travel etc., travel and hospitality companies will use the services of a Travel Coach to gain a better understanding of how they can boost their offers to align with what consumers are looking for. By working with a Travel Coach people will find out what the deeper purpose of their travels are. Whether they want to use their next trip to gain clarity on their next steps in life, whether they want to re-connect with family and friends or spend quality time with their partner, or use travel to heal from a traumatic life event or travel for self-empowerment. The travel and hospitality industry can provide solutions for any type of trip by tapping into what the underlying reason is that people seek to travel.
Even though Covid-19 has had a destructive impact on the travel and hospitality industry, there is hope for the future because people will always want to continue travelling. It’s part of our human nature. Now more than ever people are looking for the positive transformations that travel can give them. They want to explore to be inspired and empowered, and to feel motivated to deal with the challenges of daily life. The upcoming trends in the travel industry post the pandemic will give many new opportunities for travel companies to redefine the value they offer to their consumers and to make sure that travellers can have transformative experiences.
You are a “travel insider”. How would you describe your “perfect vacation experience”?
Before I plan a new trip, I always ask myself what my goal or reason for this trip is. By asking myself this ‘why’ of travel, I’m more certain that I will get the desired outcomes after my vacation and create the ‘perfect vacation experience’. Usually what I’m looking for in ‘the perfect vacation’ is to make sure that I’m feeling more energized after my vacation as before I left! This usually means a combination of preparing myself for my trip but also making sure that there is enough time for spontaneity, relaxation and reflection.
Besides that, I love to learn something new during my vacation. This is often linked to experiencing a new culture, connecting with locals and coming home with lots of stories to tell. It can also be trying out new activities in nature and stepping out of my comfort zone.
I try to create transformative travel experiences for myself and that’s why I also always take a journal with me during my vacation. Often when I’m at a new destination and tune off from daily distractions and triggers, I receive lots of inspiration and creative ideas! I love to write them all down in my journal. This is not only an enjoyable experience during my vacation, but it’s also a beautiful way to reflect on my trip once I’m back home again.
Summarized, I can say that my ‘perfect vacation experience’ is a combination of wellness, feeling inspired, feeling connected and learning about new cultures, trying out new things, stepping out of my comfort zone, and last but not least, spending quality time with myself and my travel companions.
Can you share with our readers how have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
It’s my mission to empower and inspire others to make the most out of their travels and living abroad experiences. Therefore, I love to make connections with people on social media or in person, hear from their experiences and share my own travel stories and lessons. I also enjoy providing lots of insights and tips in my weekly online videos and on my blog. I believe that we are all students and teachers at the same time, who can learn from each other and can inspire each other as well!
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. 🙂
Within my expertise as a Travel Coach I want to create a ripple effect and inspire my clients to turn the lessons they learn during their time abroad into something positive, not only in their own personal life and career but also for the places they travel to. If we could all make a positive change in the places, we travel to by having a positive mindset, being open minded and by making meaningful connections with others and giving back to local communities, I believe that there would be more empathy and understanding in the world.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
It would be lovely to connect with your readers! You can find me on:
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!