As countries start to open up again post-Coronavirus, you may be starting to think about getting that Wanderlust fix you’ve been dreaming about for the best part of the last year. In Australia, overseas travel is resuming to New Zealand, and Singapore may not be far behind, so many are rushing to book a trip as soon as they can.
This is a great opportunity to create the new ‘normal’ that you want to live by. A clean slate almost to live a life that you are more fulfilled by. You’ve started to transform your home into a more planet-friendly and human-kind friendly environment so you may be wondering how you can bring these new practices into the way you travel.
So, we want to show you how to travel sustainably, so that you can be a little bit friendlier to the planet when you travel in the future.
The impact that tourism has had on many countries is massively damaging. Many destinations which once had thriving communities have seen people pushed out from their homes in order to make way for huge, corporate-owned hotels. Local businesses have been crushed by American-owned restaurants and coffee shops taking their customers. Areas of beauty have also been destroyed by the sheer footfall of tourists visiting popular and well-published areas.
One example is Maya Bay, on Ko Phi Phi Leh island in Thailand. You would recognise it from the movie The Beach with Leo DiCaprio (yep, that one!) which has been closed indefinitely to tourists thanks to an overwhelming amount of pollution on the island. At its peak, the island was receiving almost 5,000 tourists and 200 boats a day, who brought litter, boats and sun cream caused. It is estimated that more than 80% of the coral around Maya Bay has now been destroyed.
Travelling sustainably doesn’t mean that you need to stop flying altogether, or leave the life you know and take to the road for 6 months. However, there are a few simple changes you can make to your mindset and your actions that can make a huge difference. Here’s how:
1. Think carefully about your destination
Obviously, the distance you are travelling will impact the environment but it’s good to check how eco-friendly the actual city you are visiting is. One of our favourites, Ljubljana in Slovenia, has been voted one of the greenest in Europe.
2. Stay in one place for longer
If you can, base yourself in one city or area for long enough to soak up the culture, meet the locals and get a sense of your surroundings. Book homestays or local apartments to stay in instead of big hotels. Spend time getting to know your hosts if you have the time, ask them for recommendations, take up offers of dinners and be more flexible with your travel plans.
3. Travel by road or train to your destination to save on carbon emissions
Choose a location that you can explore on foot or by bike. Take the road less travelled. Visit destinations and attractions that are a little bit less known, don’t just follow the guidebook’s recommendations or go to that clifftop on everyone’s Instagram. Avoid crowded areas so that you’re not contributing to the damage to the flora and fauna.
4. Seek out local guides to show you the area, rather than big tour companies
Tip generously. Ignore the guidebook and contribute to the local economy by shopping and eating in smaller, locally owned businesses. By support locals, instead of global corporations, you will be enabling the community to thrive and survive for years to come.
5. Pack smart!
The most important thing is to pack light, especially if staying in homestays which won’t have a porter service. Try to think about which toxic products, like sunscreen, soaps, shampoos, you are taking with you and look for natural alternatives.
6. Share your stories with your friends and family afterwards.
Pass on contacts of what you enjoyed, encourage others to do the same! Lastly…leave the throw away little trinket souvenirs there and complimentary hotel toiletries alone. You’ve probably got plenty from pre-corona time travel still sitting in your bathroom.
Do you think about how sustainable you travel? What are some of your favourite eco-friendly methods of travel? Let us know in the comments below.