Perhaps during lockdown you have scrolled through destination ideas for sustainable or responsible travel, seen a lush Eco resort on Instagram or read an article on slow travel. Low impact, living like a local or ecotourism are terms you might have come across too. Hopefully, they intrigue rather than confuse you and maybe you are looking to do things a little differently when you travel again.
Now, I am no Greta Thunberg but I wanted to show you some ways that mean you can have these interests in mind and still continue to travel as you want to. It doesn’t matter if you are someone who demands sustainability practices are part of their travel plans or are just learning more about it.
- Try a no fly option. Does the city that you've desperately wanted to visit have to start and end with a flight? Why not jump on the Eurostar for a long weekend instead. Did you know that you can even take the train down to Greece for your summer holiday in 2021? You could go 50/50, train it there and then fly back if you haven't got enough time off work.
- You can pick a certified hotel next time. It's getting much easier now to see how certain resorts are doing their part, especially if they have earnt a certification. Consider the little things like recycling efforts, plastic drink straws ban, local foods on the menu or maybe they've ditched the small plastic toiletries.
- See the sights on two wheels instead of four. You can opt for a city bike tour one day and really get a sense of the place and enjoy a far more intimate experience. Why not take it to another level and actually base your whole trip around cycling. See more and get closer to the areas you've decided to visit. Means you can indulge yourself on the delicious local food after all those calories you’ve burnt off. Your choice of cities or countries to discover is growing all the time, whether it is India or Italy. You don't have to be next Sir Chris Hoy, as long as you are confident and bring your sense of adventure plus there is likely to be a support vehicle to jump in if needed.
- Join a small group tour and be a part of their targeted efforts to give back to the local communities that you visit. The average max group size is only 16 people, perfect for post covid travel in 2021. There are so many gains with organised group adventures, but the key ones are that they use public or shared transport, are lead by knowledgeable local guides who speak the lingo and take you to the best local areas and restaurants for a more authentic experience. You can also get off the beaten path to avoid over tourism and get to see the other exciting and Instagram worthy places that didn't make the guidebook. Many operators now have responsible travel as part of their ethos and are creating new itineraries that travel more intensely and cover less ground. And it's not just overland tours who are trying to give back, cruise and expedition companies are also prioritising sustainable practices. - You could make a difference just by choosing a destination that is internationally recognised for their efforts, like Costa Rica, Iceland, Botswana or the Azores. Whether they have protected their national parks or marine reserves or use more solar energy to become more efficient, your visit can be a positive one for you and your hosts.
Remember it could be just smallest choice that makes a difference, from what (and how much) you pack to where you buy your souvenirs. A few years ago I wanted to make a real effort to reduce my impact when I was on the road, especially when I saw so much trash in the oceans and on the beaches. I focussed mainly on single use plastic and made a point of finding places to re-fill my water bottle - I love the water stations I found in Thailand. I began rejecting straws and carrying a tote bag so I didn't need to take a plastic one at a shop. Baby steps I know, but it has inspired me to take a closer look now on the subject of responsible travel and the impact we have as travellers and also the proactiveness we can take ourselves. Maybe there are some ideas or changes you can start in your travels, if you routinely recycle at home, why not do it on your travels too?
I have a number of hotels and experiences which have been recognised, signifying their efforts towards greener practices. When I'm planning your future trips, I can look at their list of efforts, suggest overland options or other ways to still get everything you want from your trip and satisfy your inner Greta too. Let's have a chat and tell me what you think of those ideas.