From ‘self-acceptance’ camps to ‘celestial sufi’ retreats, Ingrid Asoni, founder of Consciously Connected Travel, explains how ‘impact travel’ can improve both people and planet.
What is Consciously Connected Travel?
Consciously Connected Travel focuses on “impact travel” and “wellness with purpose”. We craft culturally rich and locally immersive sustainable experiences. We are a community of “conscious” travellers, promoting positivity and rediscovery of self, curious to expand on people’s perception of the world.
Consciously Connected Travel approaches retreats from an altogether different perspective. Utilising travel as the tool for discovery and as the catalyst for inner and outer emotional and physical change.
Each retreat features a collaboration with a leading health and wellness expert from around the world, providing a specific focus and purpose, in addition to a curated team of some of the best holistic practitioners and a programme that connects clients to people and place. We now offer mixed-gender spaces within some of our retreats, but the fundamentals remain the same.
When and why was it founded?
Consciously Connected Travel has been in the making for almost a decade but it truly came to fruition in 2018 after a four-month trip to South East Asia. All the pieces seemed to fit so seamlessly following my own unexpected personal journey of self-discovery.
Life had forced me to take a step back to begin healing my own trauma and I found myself connecting with so many incredible humans on their own personal journeys, listening to their stories and coming to the realisation that when it came to wellness, there was a real disconnect.
As women we wear many hats, juggle the world and do it all with as much grace as possible. While often battling inner turmoil and self-doubt. But neither ourselves nor society allow us to be vulnerable and when we are its perceived as weakness. We are conditioned to feel that we must always be strong and resilient.
I wanted to create a synergy between travel and philanthropy. I felt that travel was not only lacking a positive impact for the countries being visited, but also for the people visiting. Our drive to travel has shifted to an instant gratification, mass consumption focus. We want to see and do everything and we want it all right now. We are visiting places, but not really connecting to them – instead we are focused on the perfect spot for a selfie.
How do your trips help people find their ‘core purpose’?
Whether we are designing a bespoke journey through our travel design service for a client or they are joining us on one of our intimate group Culturally Connected Journeys or Immersive Wellness Retreats, getting to the core of who you are requires you to get back to basics.
Our private spiritual journeys often take shape through one-to-one daily teachings, practice and immersion with a master, spiritual leader, shaman or monk.
A previous journey for a client saw them spend two months in the remote mountains of Japan with a priest. Everything from water submersion to forest bathing, noble silence and sun gazing were part of their journey.
While our retreats and journeys can weave in anything from drum journeying, regression, shamanic breathwork, ecstatic dance, release sessions, sound and gong baths, ceremonial circles and transformational local immersions.
What role does philanthropy play in your trips?
The projects we align with are extremely varied, from the repatriation of trafficked women and children to bridging the gap for artists and artisans to further develop and grow their craft. We continually grow and evolve alongside these projects and causes. Not just serving the imminent need but also supporting in creating a more long-term, sustainable strategy.
Who guides your journeys? Are they for groups or individuals?
I personally navigate our Culturally Connected group journeys. One thing I love to do is bridge the gap between my global friends and personal relationships, and the CCT “tribe”. For example, acting as an insider on our Consciously Cultivated journey to Senegal will be local “man about town” Seyni Ba, the co-founder of Dakar Lives.
We have also worked with a leading curandera [a traditional native healer from Latin America], a shaman in Peru, a healer in Namibia, a sufi master in Morocco and a shaolin master in China.
What kind of once in a lifetime experiences have you arranged/do you have coming up?
We have a Consciously Cultivated Journey in the Peruvian Amazon coming up, which sees us discovering the destination on water, aboard a five-star, eco-friendly vessel. Designed by innovative architect Jordi Puig, the boat is custom-built to explore the Peruvian Amazon and the famed Pacaya Samiria National Reserve in absolute comfort but with minimal impact to the delicate Amazonian environment. I spent many many months meeting and speaking with local tribes to set it up.
What’s your connection with the Transformational Travel Council?
I sit on the advisory council. As thought-leaders and drivers in the movement, our board of directors, advisors, ambassadors and operations are working towards building this industry trend into an industry standard.
What retreats do you have coming up for 2021/22?
Our “Self-Acceptance” retreat (£500) will take place in Panama – it will be led by pro-surfer and body positivity activist Bo Stanley.
Our “Self-Development” retreat (£500) in Joshua Tree will be led by “culture alchemist” Katharine Hargreaves. We will also be running a magical “Celestial Sufi” retreat (from £500) that takes place over the New Year in Morocco with a powerful sufi master.
Then there is our “Self-Healing” retreat (from £800) in the UK’s Cotswolds, which will be a transcendent journey that fuses art, play, sound and sight as part of the self-healing process.