When I began to travel differently, choosing to spend my vacation time to seek different experiences rather than relaxation and tourism, I found myself in different sorts of destinations than my previous travel.

Obviously, I don’t travel specifically to look for poverty. But it turns out that when you change the reason you travel, and try to maximise its sustainability impact, you might find yourself in poor communities.

It’s not often, because poor communities usually can’t also host travellers. But sometimes, you can come close enough. Being from a developing country myself, despite my privilege, I’m only one generation after the one who grew up in poverty. So I think the family stories give me context to understand what I’m looking at, in those times.

The experiences also taught me the different places that extreme poverty could be found, but also what that means to them and what is left to them to help them cope with it. And you understand a little bit better why ending poverty is the first of the UN SDGs. It is one of the development goals that go to the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

Poverty impedes your ability to obtain all of the core human physiological needs. We simply are unable to think longer term or about bigger issues until these needs are met at a basic level. And the hundreds of millions of people in extreme poverty are not going to think about any other development goal, let alone work on them, while they are desperately poor.