The Slow Burn - Sustainable Travel
Whether your vacation consists of a minor escape from the snow and ice or a month on the Mekong, your choices about where to stay and eat, how to get around, what to do and who to buy from are meaningful.
It can be a deflating experience to return years later to the location of a cherished holiday memory only to find the lively street market has turned into a gaudy strip mall and the bandstand has been replaced by piped muzak.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Invest in the places you visit by giving locals a stake in your continued enjoyment of their hospitality; at the very least you’ll be giving the regional economy a boost, you may well be helping preserve the experience for generations to come.
You’ve probably already planned your March Break vaycay, but here’s some food for thought about how you’re spending your hard-earned tourist dollars: indulgence and investment can (and should!) go hand-in-hand.
So without further ado, here are some Milkweed-approved suggestions on how to travel sustainably.
Keep it local:
Look for locally-owned hotels and tour operators, who employ local people. When more of your money stays in the local economy, it’s more likely to be reinvested. The places you love to visit can then protect their fragile ecosystems and local culture - which your children will appreciate when they get old enough to visit on their own and reminisce over family adventures.
And remember that locals who are well paid will appreciate your visit, and are perhaps more likely to divulge the location of a secret beach or an under-the-radar dinner spot where you can catch the sunset.
Make your souvenir purchases with local craftspeople or artists, rather than something that’s a souvenir by name only. Do you really need that made-in-China magnet?
Keep it wild:
“If you want to see wild animals thriving in their original habitats, then you need to support those habitats,” says Joss Kent, the CEO of travel company &Beyond.
The same can be said in reverse; don’t support tourism that encourages animals to be captured and treated poorly. Think carefully about whether to visit zoos, aquariums and other places where you are paying for access to live animals.
This concept extends to the terrain you find yourself on as well; the ‘take only memories, leave only footprints’ maxim holds true.
Keep it clean:
Think about sustainable methods of travel.
Do you need to fly? Is there a more direct route? The train is super relaxing, and often a faster and safer way to go in many countries with rapid rail systems. Bike trails can take you to places off the beaten path that many other travellers will never see. Consider taxis as a last resort, but if you do get in one, talk to the driver! However you end up getting around, always bring your own shopping bag and water bottle - it’s the small things that add up!
If possible (and here’s where being nice to people might pay off), it’s always an amazing cultural experience to tour a local, craft grower of cannabis when you’re looking to relax (or manage your health) in another country. Find a producer who is giving back to the local economy,
So in closing, do your research and think about where you want you money to end up. This world is a village, and we all live in it.