Last updated November 15, 2022
Traveling is one of the most exciting, yet often stressful, experiences we can have while taking the risk of enjoying somewhere new. UNILAD co-founder Sam Bentley does this well—and safely and effortlessly.
Forbes named Bentley as one of the 30 Under 30 in 2017 for building social media’s most-viewed publisher of all time, UNILAD, with a whopping 4.5 billion views in one month. Now Bentley is on a journey around the world to prove that conscious travel and eco-friendly development can actually save the world.
One of Bentley’s proudest projects at UNILAD was a series called “The Dark Side Behind Tourism,” which looked at tourist activities that, unbeknownst to most people, contribute to animal cruelty. The docuseries inspired Bentley to continue investigating productive and harmful travel to show his followers how to make each experience better for everyone involved.
In the midst of a number of environmental crises, Bentley is learning to appreciate life’s luxuries while being kind to nature. His goal is to not only encourage conscious travel but to present it as the only option for those with a serious case of wanderlust.
Bentley has been traveling across the States while living and preaching sustainable travel, offering tips while planning his next adventures. We checked in with Sam on the road.
Vacayou: How can you best maximize your conscious travel experience during COVID while keeping yourself and others safe?
Sam: Seek out quirky places to stay and find escapism on your doorstep. I think it’s really important to find opportunities to be immersed in nature during this time so quirky stays such as a tiny home or a small cabin can be a great way to find that escapism for a few days whilst ensuring there’s limited contact with others and the outside world.
Vacayou: What are your thoughts on choosing countries in need of tourism to alleviate losses caused by COVID-19?
Sam: There are a lot of countries that depend heavily on tourism (see the great visualization below), so for me, it’s about looking at your locality to those destinations to see which nearby countries you can support with your dollar.
For example, if you live in the U.S., Mexico is a great option, as are the Caribbean islands. If you’re in the U.K., Croatia is a great shout which had over 383,400 jobs in travel and tourism in 2019.
Vacayou: How are you using your platform to advocate for more conscious living and conscious travel?
Sam: I think in the Western World we’ve grown up in a time where we live in a very excessive nature and also are highly dependent on large companies. Through my social channels, I’m promoting and producing content around small ways we can live a more self-sufficient and conscious lifestyle, from learning how to make your own Oat Milk, to how to travel more consciously without damaging communities or nature as we move through a new space.
GRAPHIC: Visualizing the Countries Most Reliant on Tourism
Courtesy Visual Capitalist