Sustainable travel is easier than you think – and here’s how you can make a difference when the world reopens!
Before Covid hit we were constantly tempted with incredible destination and foodie images on social media, to the point that travelling and tourism was taken for granted, as we jumped on planes to consume the latest in – vogue location. But when in 2020 travel suddenly halted, our identity as travellers and tourists changed, and many of us were forced to do some real soul-searching on our personal contribution to the world around us. Lockdown consequences were striking. The drop in carbon emissions resulted in an incredible decrease in city air pollution, the restoration of city rivers to beautiful crystal-clear waters, and the sound of birds and sight of wildlife tentatively exploring urban areas for the first time.
We do care about our environment.
Today however, as restrictions are scheduled to be lifted and the planning of future trips begins to unfold, the allure and dream of travelling is no longer taken for granted as before, and our ecosystem has quickly become very precious to many more of us. Sustainability has taken centre stage in much of the recent soul searching as we realise how much we care about our environment. We want to meet our travel needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs.
We can make a difference.
The question we are asking ourselves is this. How will we be able to get the benefits of travel, and be able to immerse ourselves in local surroundings and experiences but at the same time minimise our environmental impact? Fortunately, there are some activities that we can all undertake, which are extremely easy indeed! Here’s our three top tips:
1. Choose smart cities or less popular destinations
A few cities have recently been working to combat the harm done to their natural and cultural heritage and their residents. Some of their schemes include investing in cycle infrastructure or banning tourist buses from the city centre to reduce pollution. Why not show your appreciation and favour a visit to one of them? Something else you can do is to focus not only on the major landmarks in a destination but seek out the lesser known, but just as important, sites and venues of a city. You could also time your tour to say the evening when you can appreciate the night lights and also avoid the crowds. If you add the joy of walking to these activities above, that would be a real benefit not just to a city but to your own health!
2. Engage with the locals
Truly discovering a city means you not only get to experience its rich traditions, but you also gain a greater cultural awareness of them. There is no better way to do this than by engaging with the locals, connect and chat to them, you’ll learn so much. You will also be able to share your traditions and customs, so that a mutual cultural respect can be formed. One of the best ways to do this is to stroll round a city with a local guide, where you’ll get fascinating insights, history and stories, and so be able to make these cultural connections.
3. Go for digital products that tread lightly
Everyone has a phone these days and with the recent boost in technical skills due to the lockdown, digital apps have become the new norm. Many travel apps can provide a concierge in your pocket, the better ones can be your local travel assistant, allowing you to enjoy the absolute best of a city. Plus, they allow for contactless payment, making them even more eco- friendly. There is no need for printed paper, additional electronic devices, or plastics/paper manufacture. Digital really does tread lightly!
Let’s do this!
Travelling and touring gives us real joy as we connect to the soul of a destination through its history, language, culture, food, and people. Our recent lockdown has made us appreciate our world even more and we want to take better care of it. We can all make a small contribution to this by exploring with the intention to preserve, learn and fully experience new places and people. It is a wonderful experience to discover a new city but it’s even more wonderful if you can come home with a better understanding of, and appreciation for, where you’ve been, knowing that you have not contributed to harming or damaging it in any way. It’s our choice!