You know that feeling when you can’t seem to stay at one place for too long? Some call it having itchy feet or wanderlust , for others it is an escape from the ordinary everyday life. For us, it is a means of knowing more about our beautiful earth and about ourselves too in the process. Or at least it was before things came to a halt.
And while everyone is happy that travel has come to a halt and that mother Nature is getting the time to heal, we know that there are so many of us who are dying to explore more of the earth. And while we totally want to do the same, this time has taught us that we need to be even more conscious of the impact that we are creating as we travel. And we need to adopt more sustainable ways to reduce our carbon footprints.
Some might argue that this is the only life that they have and they want to explore and see as much as possible. And we totally understand that feeling, we want to do that too. But not if it harms the earth. Because we only have one. And it will continue to be there, even when we are not.
And as we think more about it, we are forced to think what legacy do we want to leave behind.
Do we really want our grandkids to live on an earth that “was once really beautiful place” or to be able to live and explore that beauty themselves? We think that with COVID-19 teaching us these lessons in lockdown. We don’t need to strike back with booking tickets and travelling as much and as far as we can. We need to be aware of the impact we are creating and do our best to minimise that. Here is how you can do that when we are all allowed to travel in post cover-19 scenario:
This will come as naturally to most travellers because international travel will not be as free as it once used to be. We think the visa restrictions will be even more strict and people will be more inclined to explore and travel domestically. And it’s great. Good for the environment and local economies as well.
Travel local and explore your backyard first. There is beauty everywhere.You certainly don’t need to hop on an airplane and go somewhere far away to explore. Local travel is good for the local economies as well. Post Covid-19, local economies will need your support as much as possible.
Stop Use of Single Use plastics:
This one is super important and isn’t that difficult to do. Stop the use of all single use plastics. When you are at home as well as when you are travelling. We understand that it isn’t always the easy thing to do, and that you will need to make some efforts at your end. But that’s the need of the hour.
While travelling, stop buying plastic water bottles and carry a refillable one with a filter with you. You can also carry along some re-usable cutlery and washable cloth napkins. We always pack a cloth bag with us when we travel, so that if we are going grocery shopping for fruits etc, as we usually do, we can just use the cloth bag.
Eat & stay local:
Home stays and Guesthouses are becoming more and more popular these days. So try looking for airbnb accommodations or home stays and guesthouses on your next trip. All the big hotel chains use too much energy and aren’t as eco-friendly. Also, the home stays offer you a deeper and more authentic experience of a place, that the big hotel chains seem to lack. And not to mention, home stays are cheaper on your pocket as well.
Same goes with your big fancy restaurants. Eat local food whenever possible. We love exploring the local markets and trying the local delicacies. It is also great because the local dishes are always made using the ingredients that are in season and thus taste even better and are way cheaper too.
This will help the local communities as well, instead of just making profits for the big hotel chains. Consider it as a way of paying back to the local communities for allowing you to explore their beautiful surroundings.
Another thing that we would like to mention here is to have as much plant based meals as possible. Now we understand that not everyone wants to do that, but if you could cut out meat from one meal a day, it makes a huge difference.
take a direct flight:
If you absolutely need to take a flight, take a direct flight from point A to B. Direct flights are better for the environment than connecting flights, even though the connecting flights are cheaper at times.
Again, sometimes it’s simply not possible to take a direct flight because of the timings or because of the costs being way too high. But whenever it is possible and whenever you can afford it, opt for the direct flights.
And whatever you do, make sure to pay the carbon tax. A lot of companies work to offset your carbon footprints for a fee for each flight that you take. Of course is is not as good as not having created any carbon footprint at all. But it is the next best thing.
Also, how we fly also matters. Flying business or first class is even worse for the environment because more first class seats mean less economy seats and thus less passengers travel for the same fuel and resources.
Travel off Season:
Consider travelling to a place off season or in the shoulder season. This will not add to the un-necessary tourist pressure and will allow the local communities and that place a breathing space too.
Over tourism puts a lot of strain on the local communities with over consumption and pollution. And having these peak seasons mean more hotels need to be constructed and thus more wildlife gets inhabited and more trees are cut down. So whenever possible avoid travelling to a place during the peak season.
TRY slow travel:
We have been advocating slow travel for the longest time. Instead of taking 6-7 small trips a year, maybe take 1-2 long trips. This will allow you to decrease your overall carbon footprint with having to take lesser flights. And slow travel also allows you to travel deeper and have a more enriching travel experience. take time to get to know the people and a place rather than just going to the touristy spots and getting your pictures clicked.
Sustainable travel on land:
Whenever you are at a place, think about what are the best ways to get around. use local transport as much as possible. And if you are taking any trips, try looking for tour operators that are conscious about the environment and are transparent about their sustainability practices. A lot of tour operators help the local communities in one way or the other and when you have to take a tour, selecting such operators is always better.
We also highly recommend renting a bicyle to explore whenever you can. It is environment friendly and allows you to take-in more as you travel. We did that in Vietnam and it was such an incredible experience as well.
And if you are renting a car, try avoiding air conditioning as much as possible. Renting a car is great too if there are 4-5 of you and you are making optimal use of the space. Of course if you are travelling solo or as a couple, car is not the most sustainable option.
These are some of the ways in which you can be more sustainable as a traveller. One last thing that you need to understand is that travel isn’t a right, it is a privilege. And we need to be more respectful of mother nature if we want to keep travelling and exploring its beauty.