Travel journalist Gert Corremans about slow travel and sustainability

Gert Corremans 1
Purpose Lab likes to shine a light on people and organizations that inspire to travel consciously. If it is a mission in life, combining a way to make money with doing the right thing or using your talent: you will find inspiring people with unique stories all around the world and in your own country too, of course.

Gert Corremans

This time we interview freelance travel journalist Gert Corremans. He writes about sustainability in tourism and publishes books and travel articles in Belgian magazines Pasar, A.S. Adventure and Travel Magazine, mostly about European destinations. In his travel books local people called ambassadors let you experience their village or region.

Interview with Purpose Lab

Purpose Lab interviewed Gert about sustainable travel, his role as a journalist and his book Bij ons in het dorp.

Gert Corremans 2

What drives you in your work as a travel journalist?

Encourage readers to travel slowly and suggest original travel ideas, also close to home. You don’t need to make a long journey to immerse yourself in a new world. For instance, I felt very far from home in Slovenia, visiting beekeepers and discovering their ancient traditions. There are also great adventures to be had in the Benelux countries. In Luxemburg, you can go mountainbiking in an iron quarry that looks like a wild canyon. Or you can rent your private ecological hut on the Drenthe Heath. I try to make readers dream about nearby destinations.

What is your most precious travel memory and why?

Reading a novel by Mario Vargas Llosa in a hammock on a riverboat on the Amazon. I travelled for a year in South America, only using buses, trains and boats. The small riverboats in Peru are floating villages, crammed with hammocks. I felt my neighbour’s knees the whole night long. In the evening they showed very appropriate films on a tv-screen: Anaconda and Titanic. The next day, people rushed to the life jackets when we crossed a small storm.

How do you see the ecological, economical and/or sociological impact of traveling?

Hurried travellers bring very few benefits. Venice introduced an entrance fee to discourage day trippers. People who book a few hotel nights, don’t even notice the price difference. The same goes for remote villages. When CNN praised the new North Coast 500 route in Scotland as one of the best roadtrips in the world, local hotel and camping owners were not too happy. Roadtrippers only staying for one night occupied rooms that used to be booked for a week. Slow travel stays the best way to travel. It’s maybe the only thing corona doesn’t change.

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What is the highlight of your career so far?

I particularly enjoyed working on my travel books Rijn & Wijn and Bij ons in het dorp. They promote the kind of slow travel I believe in. In Rijn & Wijn the photographer and I show the historical Middle-Rhine region through the eyes of 25 local ambassadors. We visited the village of Bacharach during every season to follow a young wine maker in her vineyard. Bij ons in het dorp is a collaboration with two colleagues and uses the same approach for the 50 most beautiful villages in Flanders. The ‘village ambassadors’ learn you how to enjoy their village in the same way as they do.

What can we expect from you in the near future?

I am working on a website about tourism in my own country and preparing travel articles for a few Flemish travel magazines. For instance, I am planning to cycle along the river Scheldt, from source to mouth, and camping on my way. An adventure I am looking forward to.

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And last, but not least, what personal advice on a conscious life would you like to share?

(Re)discover your backyard. Replace a hectic citytrip with a peaceful village weekend. Try out microadventures in your home region. Stay longer than needed in most places. You will not get bored but have to try out original ideas that will surprise and surpass your expectations.

More info?

Would you like to follow Gert in his mission or do you want to get in touch with him? Check out his LinkedIn profile. Purpose Lab received and read his book Bij ons in het dorp. You can read more about it in this (Dutch) inspirational blog about staycations.

The credits for the photography in this interview belong to Karel Duerinckx, Purpose Lab colour edited the photos in order to fit into the website.