Insider tours from locals
Rest, relax and find your way in a foreign country - that's quite a claim on a holiday, isn't it? Katrin Köberle's answer is: Your Local Hero. Actually, she wanted to offer tours for her heart area, the Côte d'Azur, after all, the Côte d'Azur is not only a jet-set destination, but also has a rough, wild nature, the first underwater nature reserve in France, is a hiker's paradise, and just abounds so before culture. But a single holiday is not enough to find all of this. So Katrin came up with the idea of ready tours on her Blog to offer, which tourists only have to imitate. Independent of course.
She designed excursions that allow travelers to discover the beauty of the Côte d'Azur, with playlists to turn an ordinary excursion into an unforgettable day. With that, Katrin wanted to be the friend in a foreign land that she would like to have with her everywhere because, in her experience, a holiday is much better when you visit someone who gives you great tips.
Home for everyone: sustainable, inspiring and mindful
But then Corona came. It was no longer possible to travel, but you could still write about it. And Katrin thought her idea bigger, not limited to the Côte d'Azur and her blog, but as a network, worldwide. For everyone who wants to make their homeland accessible to others. All with the same values, namely sustainability, mindfulness, interest in the region traveled to and the different traditions and cultures - together, a step towards more tolerance. Their philosophy is: if we feel welcome in a foreign country, we give it back. Katrin is now working on making the Côte d'Azur an experience with her tours and at the same time she is looking for people who would like to do the same for their respective region. By the way, anyone who wants to present their homeland to others can take part.
Katrin Köberle is a trained photo designer and has been self-employed since 2008. She founded her blog in 2017 and from the beginning she wrote tours to make planning easier for tourists and to "show" them the great area.
1. WHAT was, is your motivation behind "Your Local Hero"?
The idea for "Your Local Hero" arose at the end of 2019 from the question of what could actually be done to prevent the world from going to the dogs. Back then, Trump was in full swing, Brexit was dominating the news – it seemed as if society was going backwards rather than forwards and everyone was looking to themselves rather than to community. I thought that was a pity and asked myself whether I could personally set an example. Actually, Your Local Hero is the quintessence of everything I have experienced, wish for and live. I am convinced that tolerance is the key to almost all of our problems, because tolerance requires understanding, which in turn counteracts fear, which makes one narrow-minded and selfish. When I understand why something is the way it is, I don't have to fear it, I can accept it.
However, we are all so busy these days that we hardly have time to acquire knowledge and understanding. This is actually only possible on vacation. But even that has somehow changed in such a way that one is hardly recovered. So many demands that are made: perfect selfies, a great tan, deep relaxation, new impressions - everything you don't want or should do on vacation. However, the average holiday is statistically getting shorter and shorter, how are you supposed to manage all that?!
When I used to travel as a teenager, I always came back with at least one pen pal. The feeling of having friends all over the world was great. And these friendships often lasted for years. The tips I got were great, I traveled and went on a discovery tour with them in a completely different way than if I had planned the trips myself. That's why I asked myself whether, as a travel blogger, I couldn't do anything to be "a friend from abroad" to travelers. And that's how the concept for Your Local Hero came about.
2. What is your advice to our readers: What can you do specifically for a better future?
I think we need more understanding of our differences and more awareness that our actions have consequences. When we travel we are visiting another country, another homeland, this is not an open air amusement park for our personal amusement. We should behave respectfully and ideally learn something from the local people. Cultural exchange enables us to be more mindful of mutual contact and to understand each other better. At the same time, we learn about the impact of our actions. If tap water is scarce every summer in southern Europe and this affects you in a very concrete way on your own summer vacation, you are more careful with tap water at home - at least I hope so.
In the best case scenario, on vacation we leave our everyday life and thus our comfort zone and open ourselves to the unknown. Therefore, my advice is: leave the usual paths and go on a discovery tour on vacation. Take a winding path, ask locals for recommendations, learn something about the region you are visiting, develop an understanding of others and the consequences of your own behavior. Because just because something isn't or doesn't work the way we're used to, doesn't mean it's worse. It's just different and there's always a reason for that. Find out and let yourself be surprised how simple the reasons are sometimes, the effects of which can otherwise make you so upset because they supposedly make your usual life more difficult.
3. How do travel and sustainability go together for YOU?
Actually not at all. Travel, as it is often offered these days, is not very sustainable per se. However, traveling is also a way of overcoming borders and discovering new things. And that's important, because if everyone just stays in their own bubble, then progress isn't possible and change isn't sought. In the last decades (decades) tourism has adapted to the general change: It is about the immediate and cheap fulfillment of any wish, which means that the flights are too cheap, the local service providers such as food producers or staff not being paid fairly. If we get away from this mentality and see travel as a luxury again, then we can create sustainable tourism, I am convinced of that.
For me, sustainable tourism means behaving respectfully on site, leaving my comfort standards behind me and instead trying what the locals use and leaving as little long-term traces as possible. I think the key to sustainable travel is personal responsibility and awareness of the consequences of your actions. But this is aimed equally at private individuals as well as at companies! I'm not a big fan of condemning some types of travel. For example, that you should only do long-haul flights if you stay in one place for at least four weeks. Most will probably then rent a car locally and just go on a four week road trip, the question is whether that's better than staying in one place for just two weeks, even if it's far away.
And cruises cannot be banned just like that, because for some people they are the only way to go on holiday at all, for example people with walking disabilities or minorities whose way of life is forbidden in other countries. Homosexual friends of mine don't dare to go to "normal" hotels and anyway many countries are not possible for them. They feel most comfortable on cruises because there they are safe from persecution or even punishment. If cruises were to be abolished now, many people would lose the opportunity to travel at all, I don't think that's right. However, if the shipping companies accept their personal responsibility and (co-)finance research in the field of alternative drives, pay the employees fairly, maybe even build schools in regions where there is a regular route and not only offer sightseeing at the stops, but also with non-profit organizations cooperate locally and educate travelers, then that would be a great step towards sustainable tourism. Or tourists simply get such great offers close to home that a long-haul flight is no longer necessary, with tours from local heroes.