Thor has spent his life adventuring all over the world. He’s now considering how to make a lighter impact while still  having fun. Here are a few of his top tips.


For those living in the Global North, travelling and undertaking big expeditions – in the name of science, records or self-realisation – has never been easier.  But how does it affect the communities that we visit, and should we give something back? I think so.

After circumnavigating New Guinea in a traditional canoe together with three Papuans in 2017, (watch the trailer for our expedition film titled SAILAU) I developed the philosophy: Redefining Adventure.



This philosophy is about foregrounding inclusion, culture, and purpose when venturing out and having extraordinary experiences.

Reflecting on this approach, I’ve made a list to guide people with aspirations to visit remote places and communities.

First, let me be clear, I think that anyone wanting to go on a big adventure should go for it, and this article has not been written to make it more difficult for aspiring adventurers to realise their dreams. On the contrary, when you travel with a greater purpose, everything becomes a lot easier.

So, here are ten things to consider before booking those flights:

1. Make the Journey About More Than Yourself

Do your research about local communities in the area you want to travel to, and find a purpose or cause to support and advocate for.

Identifying a good cause will likely connect you with local organisations that have people on the ground, which means you’ll already have a connection to the place.

2. Make a Proper Introduction

Always start by stating your business and paying respect to the leader of the community, be it a minister of the church, local government officer or a chief.

These people of authority can guide you and introduce you to the rest of the community and ensure that everyone knows why you’re there. This will help to avoid misconceptions that may impact the local community and relationships.

Read more: Talking to Aboriginal Locals About Respectfully Exploring Arnhem Land

3. Give Back

The exchange of gifts is a common practice when greeting people in most cultures.
You don’t have to hand out gold watches; a postcard from your home or some sweets is a good start.

I have a friend who carries a mini printer so he can hand out the photos he just took. Helping in the garden or teaching in the school is another way to show your appreciation.

4. Consider Your Impact on Small Communities

Cultural obligations of hospitality and caring for guests can be a strain on your hosts. Uneven sharing of wealth or prestige associated with hosting a visitor can also create jealousy and competition.

So take advice from village leaders and consider contributing to the common good, such as the local school or health clinic.

Read more: The Ethics of Travelling to Aboriginal Communities in Post-lockdown NSW

5. Be Open to Other Worldviews

There are many ways of perceiving the world, and these views have enabled local people to thrive for millennia. Just look at the Dreamings here in Australia that have guided First Nations peoples for over 60,000 years.

Keep an open mind about different religious, cultural, and spiritual values and practices. Ask questions, respectfully, and most people will be happy to explain.

6. Eat the Local Food

There’s nothing like the local cuisine to teach you about the surrounding environment and culture. In most places, food production and gathering is the main part of daily life.

I once lived on root vegetables, coconut, herbs, and spring water for seven days and I’ve never felt better. So lend a hand in the bush, help with the cooking, absorb the local molecules – suck it in.

7. Consider Who Owns the Land You’re Walking on

Land is always governed in one way or another, and some areas can be taboo. This is also true here in Australia and it’s important to get the appropriate permits to access Aboriginal land and to seek permission from Elders.

Always ask for guidance and permission, people are usually proud of their land and will point you to the best locations and warn you away from sacred sites or dangerous places.

Read more: Can I Visit Any Pacific Islands Right Now (and Should I?)

8. Know the Colonial History

Sadly, most of the developing world is still marked by the genocide and wealth extraction of colonisation. By knowing the history, you can see the world in a broader context and this can guide your conduct and purpose.

9. Stay in One Place for a Long Time

This is the way to gain a deeper understanding of the places we visit. Staying for an extended period will also help you to learn some of the local language and develop life-long relationships. You’ll have experiences that few short-term visitors would ever know about.

10. Share Your Findings

You may already be sharing your experiences live on social media. Why not keep the ball rolling now that you have an insight that few people gain?

You may have learnt about climate challenges, logging or the needs of local organisations. Advocate by sharing pictures and links, or start a fundraiser. Even after your adventure, it’s important to give back and keep the relationships alive.


When you travel with a purpose beyond yourself, things become easier: you receive goodwill from hosts and develop meaningful relationships with locals. And when the going gets tough, you’re more likely to persevere knowing others depend on your success. This approach also makes gathering support for your next adventure a lot easier!

How much or how little altruism you can manage is up to you. But if you have the means to pull off a great adventure, you also have the means to give back.