Why I Created Travel & Tree

Portrait of Irene Smetana in penumbra, smiling

My contribution to life

I love to travel. I also love nature and exploring the natural beauty of this planet. Topics like climate protection and sustainability are also important to me. How is it possible to combine the aspects of traveling, protecting nature, our climate, and our planet?

It did not appear to be practicable at first glance. Although there are great green and sustainable travel deals, many trips are still associated with extensive carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, e.g. for every flight. Unfortunately, this will not change soon. If emission-free flights ever materialize, I’m sure I’ll be a big proponent.

So, what shall we do?

Plant a tree! In the best case, we plant a tree with everything we do and with everything we buy.
Don’t you agree?!

Let's go along with a shovel and a few seedlings

Henrik Lindner and Irene Smetana standing in tree plantation field
Irene Smetana planting a tree sitting on her haunches

I planted trees for the first time in 2017. Sturdy shoes, standing in the field with a shovel and some tree seedlings in my hand – it was an exceptional experience and feeling. Friends and family supported me in this campaign. I planted some trees for them and added a small wooden tag with their names engraved on it. This experience was a lot of fun. The joy I gained was priceless.

Dark blue hiking shoes on tree plantation green field
Tree plantation field with four planting rows in Quesitz, Saxony, Germany
Close up of tree seedling in tree plantation field
Close up of tree seedling in tree plantation field

How a congress helped me find the right business idea

Because of various personal reasons, I eventually had to consider how to place myself professionally. I also had to envision how I wanted to live my life in the future. I was looking for a new challenge and wanted to contribute to something worthwhile—a legacy I would leave behind. It was essential for me to follow a mission and a higher goal—something that was not just about the interests of an individual or a single company.

In October 2019, I attended a congress about tourism. It was my first time hearing about how climate change would affect the global tourism industry. In a nutshell, if we do not radically and rapidly cut global CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, about one-third of the world’s travel destinations will no longer be accessible. Floods, droughts, civil wars, social unrest, etc., will be the reasons it will become impossible to travel to regions that are now still beautiful holiday destinations. Just think of the destruction that Hurricane Dorian caused in the Bahamas in August 2019, the disastrous bushfires in Australia from June 2019 to February 2020, and the floods in Venice, Italy, in November 2019. Because of these environmental disasters, refugee migration towards the north will pose new and unprecedented challenges to all western nations.

I found the information to be both shocking and alarming. I had never thought about it! Why was nobody talking about this? Why was this not mentioned in the media? Why wasn’t it being discussed in public? It was an alarming wake-up call for me. However, I knew it would be impossible to convince travelers to stop traveling or to travel green. I was aware of the fact that I couldn’t influence other people’s travel behavior and thinking. Eventually, I realized I could use the fun of traveling for climate protection and combine travel with climate protection. The idea seemed plausible and attractive to me. I came up with solutions, and that’s how I created Travel & Tree.

Travel & Tree is my dream about how to make the world a better place.

I have lived in Central America and South East Asia for almost two years. I know about the natural beauty in these regions, and I am also familiar with the challenges people have to manage every day. I think it is our responsibility to reduce our global CO2 production, protect rainforests, and support reforestation efforts to improve people’s wellbeing and protect their livelihoods. If we don’t change our attitudes, we will destroy many of the world’s regions. We cannot ignore the consequences of CO2 emissions.

Book cover SONNENLAUNE, author Irene Smetana

Personal recommendation

I wrote and published a universal guidebook titled SONNENLAUNE – 555 Tipps für einen schönen Urlaub.
It has 555 tips on safe and healthy travel.

The guidebook also contains tips on how to avoid problems, fraud, sickness, etc. It’s available in e-book and softcover versions only in German (at the moment).

You can find more information at https://travelandtree.com/sonnenlaune/