How to Change Your Travel Habits to Become a Sustainable Traveler
The time you found out your go-to destination was closed forever shocked you to the core and made you think differently about how you…
Travel Writing. Sustainable Traveling.
The time you found out your go-to destination was closed forever shocked you to the core and made you think differently about how you travel
Imagine This: You go to book a flight to a place you’ve visited before that always made you feel good. You remember good times there and how you always came away feeling refreshed and renewed. So you’re eager to go there again.
But when you try to search out the schedule for the flight to this destination, you discover it’s not available. Why? Not because it sold out, but because the airline removed the route from their schedule.
You wonder why that is until you further discover it was due to over-tourism in a particular area. As a result, the country closed off visitors to this place of wonder. Over-tourism had wrecked it from years of careless tourists leaving trash, damaging the ecosystem, killing flora and fauna along the way.
You get pissed thinking you’d never do that. You are angry at the callousness of those who caused this problem. Surely, you were never one of those types of visitors.
When you visited there, you would be mindful of disposing of your trash properly. You were careful where you stepped, where you walked, and what you touched. You never impeded the natural growth of the area’s plants and vegetation. The enjoyment was splendid. This place always made you feel good.
And now you can never revisit it.
The damage done by careless visitors was irreversible. It will never reopen to the public again.
It’s one less place on this beautiful planet destroyed forever by over-tourism.
Your feelings of anger and disgust give way to hopelessness. Then, finally, you shake your head, thinking, “what a shame!” It’s sad, pathetic, and humbling that such a thing could happen.
It never occurred to you that you might have been able to help prevent such a catastrophe.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” -Benjamin Franklin
But how? You are one person. You’re not a billionaire philanthropist. You just want to enjoy natural places on Earth whenever you can, on your own time and dime. You travel a few times a year and feel privileged that you can do so. It’s a regular part of your life’s routine. Now it is disrupted with a rude awakening.
Limitations are being imposed upon you that you didn’t cause. And now you feel helpless.
Is it too late to become a sustainable traveler at this point?
Is there still time to prevent this scenario from happening in other natural wonders of the world?
There’s a saying; the longest journey begins with one step. Not a misstep but a step of intention. Of conscious choice to make a difference. Even if it’s one step, it’s a step in the right direction.
What is that first step?
Purchase Carbon Offsets
If you are starting your travel plans by booking a flight for a trip, you may be able to offset the carbon emissions from one jet plane. How?
First, check to see if the airline you prefer offers purchasing carbon offsets. Not all do.
That is one small measurable step you can make.
How does purchasing carbon offsets help prevent another beautiful place from disappearing, you wonder?
The pollution from fossil jet fuel on today’s aircraft contributes to about 3% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Those greenhouse gases, or GHG, are causing climate change. The changes are affecting the biodiversity of our planet in destructive, non-recoverable ways.
“If we were to exclude land-use change emissions, aviation accounted for 2.8% of fossil fuel emissions. The Global Carbon Budget estimated total CO2 emissions from fossil fuels and cement production to be 36.6 billion tonnes in 2018. This means aviation accounted for [1 / 36.6 * 100] = 2.8% of total emissions.”
Ok, great to know, but how does that impact you personally? Especially now that you want to go somewhere for a relaxing vacation. You’re okay with purchasing carbon offsets. However, the place you wanted to go to, destroyed due to over-tourism, seems to be a different story altogether.
But that’s where the story of climate change and over-tourism intersect.
You can’t have one without the other.
“It is one thing to discuss the pollution of airplanes and cruise ships, for instance, but another to measure the stress put on cities and attractions by an increased number of visitors and the international cadre of workers who serve them.”
One solution is to change your mindset on where and how you travel. Stay closer to your home locale. Don’t fly. That would limit the GHGs coming from aircraft.
Use sustainable train or bus service to go somewhere closer to home.
Hmm, you wonder if that will tick the box for your idea of a relaxing outdoor nature type of adventure vacation. So you decide to give it a whirl researching places within a 100-mile radius of where you live.
Still, you wonder, it’s not as exotic as those fantastic beach locations you used to fly to around the world.
Is there a way to get to one of those last-chance destinations? (Last-chance refers to the possibility of more places phasing out of reach of the ordinary traveler)
You decide to take that chance, booking a flight and hotel to an overseas beach location. A place that is known for friendly locals who can guide you when you get there. Or you can go it alone, independently like you usually do, finding those unique restaurants and spots of interest.
You forgot about the dire warnings of climate change. Yet, you know it’s there and seems so far away — -from you.
You are trying to forget about over-tourism ruining one of your favorite destinations. But you know it’s still there.
You just want to enjoy this one limited vacation time to reconnect with your inner place of contentment.
Perpetuation of Affordable Global Travel Leads to Over-Tourism
And so it goes, with one tourist after another leading to last-chance tourism piling on to the problematic over-tourism.
There has got to be a solution to these problems. And it starts with you. Be that one person willing to change their outlook on how they travel — leading others to change their ways too.
By making these personal changes in our travel lives, we can ask industry and government to change their outlook. The economy depends upon it, but the business model has to change to make travel sustainable.
All of us together, becoming aware, making personal changes, and collectively starting to stem the tide to prevent the destructiveness of climate change and over-tourism.
This is the single step you start in your journey on how to become a sustainable traveler.
Be that someone who gives a damn about the future of travel. You’re not entirely willing to forego your usual travel places, but you are conscious about the problem and ready to commit to change.
Welcome yourself to becoming a sustainable traveler on our planet. Share it with your friends too!