For a long time, the general rule on travel has been: the more exotic the better. Instagram was flooded with pictures of influencers in tropical islands, posting photos with exotic animals and showcasing their exotic dishes. The start of this year has seen this come to an abrupt end, with holidays being cancelled and everyone, including jet-setting influencers, staying at home. Already, we’ve seen many signs, from the peaceful canals of Venice to the sudden drop in levels of pollution, as to how our previous travelling habits were harming our planet. Looking ahead to the future of travelling, we’ve put together some ideas of how it can start to look different and better from now on. Because we all long to explore the world, but what if we could do it in a way that doesn’t harm, but even helps our planet Earth?
1. Stay Local
It’s been the theme of this year so far and we are happy for it to stay. Travelling local is not only more budget-friendly, but it also benefits your local community and reduces the environmental impact of your travels. While it can be tempting to think of travelling as jetting off to the other side of the world, there are always plenty of places to explore closer to home. From nearby towns and villages to local nature spots, this is your chance to discover the hidden beauty of your region. You can even create a map of your area and colour in the parts you’ve explored after each excursion!
2. Travel with a purpose
Why do we travel? To discover the world, to learn new things, to experience new cultures… While there are plenty of good reasons to travel, try to make your travels more rewarding by setting a goal for each journey. This can be a personal goal, such as going on a trip to relax, unwind and re-connect with yourself. Or it can be a shared goal, such as going on a trip to participate in an animal welfare project. Make a habit out of setting a goal for each trip you take. You can even set learning targets by making a list of everything you want to learn about your destination, depending on your interests. Travel with a purpose to make your travels more meaningful.
3. Be an active, not a passive traveller
What’s the difference between an active and a passive traveller? A passive traveller is a spectator, an active traveller is a participator. Leave a positive mark on your destination by finding ways to contribute and add value to the communities you visit. Before travelling, do some research on your destination to find out what the greatest issues and challenges they are facing are. Look for ways to contribute, whether that’s by visiting a local charity or participating in a community-wide project, even if it’s just for a few hours. And if you are having trouble finding ways to be helpful, just be open and friendly towards the people around you. Make an effort to bond with the locals by inviting them to join you in a cultural exchange of knowledge, ideas, and stories.
4. Think about where your spend is going
When we go on holiday we tend to become more reckless with our spending. Not just in terms of how much we’re spending, but also where. If you make an effort to support local businesses when you shop at home, why not do the same when you travel? While it makes sense that you’ll want to visit your destination’s most famous art galleries and restaurants, try to also consider local eateries and art spaces, which could use your support. Keep an eye out for the independent coffee shops, boutiques and quirky new spaces. Not only will you be doing your part in supporting local businesses, but you will also get to discover a lesser-known and more authentic side of your destination.
5. Collect memories not things
Let’s be honest here, does that miniature Eiffel Tower on the shelf really trigger warm memories from your trip to Paris? Or is it actually the photograph on your fridge with your friends by the Seine that gives you warm and happy feelings? Travel differently by collecting memories and not things. Skip the museum gift shop and opt out of that overpriced museum guide book. Instead, spend your time at your destination looking for authentic and local experiences. From a homecooked meal with a local foodie to an art gallery walking tour guided by a passionate local artist, there are plenty of ways to experience your destination away from the tourist hotspots, which are, after all designed to get the most money out of you. Because at the end of the day, it’s the memories we make, and not the things we buy, that stay with us.