Greetings virtual travelers! I hope you’re hanging in there with staying home and keeping your families safe. Did you know that the 50th anniversary of Earth Day was celebrated on Wednesday this week? This special holiday recalled how meaningful travel is intricately linked to the health of our environment.
With the loss of tourism, the Venice canals are clear, the air quality in Los Angeles has drastically improved and wild animals are napping on the roads in our national parks. The majesty of nature and Querencia, meaning a sense of place, was strongly impressed upon us on recent trips to Alaska, the Galapagos Islands, Mexico, and Arizona.
An important trend in travel is called “sustainable” travel, and many travel suppliers are incorporating this philosophy into their business models in various ways. As travelers, we can make choices that reflect sustainable travel principles, and it’s easy to do. Read on for how you can travel sustainably when we are back to normal and how this practice will enhance your travel experiences, adults and kids alike.
According to Costas Christ, Virtuoso’s (Virtuoso is our consortia and the leading network of agencies for experiential and luxury travel) Head of Global Sustainability, “One of the most significant transformations underway in travel today is the idea that we can have the trip of a lifetime, while also caring for the local people and places that we visit. Sustainability is not a trend, in that sense, but rather an evolution of travel – and Virtuoso is committed to being on the cutting edge of innovation in the global travel community.”
What does sustainable travel mean to you as a traveler? Below are ten factors to consider:
- Reducing plastic waste
- Eco-friendly practices
- Protecting wildlife
- Eating local foods/supporting local farmers
- Giving back to communities
- Animal welfare
- Respecting culture
- Staying at green hotels
- Conserving coral reefs
- Safeguarding historic sites and cultural heritages to protect an authentic sense of place
What can you and your traveling companions and families do to support sustainable travel? It’s easier than you might think. If you travel with children, get them involved and ask for their ideas when planning your next vacation. Below are five ways you can travel more sustainably.
1- Skip the plastic straw for paper, bamboo or other enviro-friendly materials
Many of us enjoy tropical drinks on our vacations but plastic straws threaten our environment. This small change is easy to make every time you order a drink and beneficial to our oceans and sea life.
2- Buy reusable bags and souvenirs made by local people
The World Tourism Organization reports that of every $100 spent during a trip, only $5 benefits the local economy and destination. Washable reusable bags are an environmentally friendly purchase that will remind you of your amazing trip every time you use them. Take it a step further and shop for souvenirs that are handcrafted locally instead of a distant factory.
3- Volunteer to make your destination a better place after you leave
Travel suppliers like Me To We allow travelers to make a positive impact with local communities (see a previous newsletter for details). If you have a scuba diving certification, like one of our Hidden Gem team who is pictured in this newsletter restoring a coral reef in Mexico, you can help preserve the environment underwater. High-quality travel suppliers like those in the Virtuoso network can arrange the right experience for you.
4- Plan your itinerary around sustainable experiences which are often hidden gems
Instead of the crowded Sistine Chapel, seek out lesser-known frescos in Ravenna. Visit Slovenia which is a country dedicated to sustainable travel with all of the charms of a European city. Instead of flying to a second city, take the train if available. These are just a few of many ways you can plan your experiences sustainably.
5- Be vocal about your choices and align your spending
Vacation at hotels and resorts with a strong (and even award-winning) commitment to sustainability principles like Six Senses and The Langham Hotel in London. Share your choices and experiences in the context of why you made them with your friends to inspire them to do the same.
For more ideas, check out this recent blog post from Virtuoso for 12 specific ways you can make a difference in your future travels:
The bottom line – sustainable travel is an important trend in travel and even more so given the state of the world today. Whether it’s watching a family of wild elephants gathered at a water hole on the plains of Africa or listening to chanting monks in a mountain top monastery in Bhutan, when we travel the sustainable way, we are investing in a brighter future for the planet and our children.
Don’t stop dreaming – when the world opens again, I’ll be here to help you plan your long-awaited and well-deserved vacation.
Hidden Gem Tip: Check out our Facebook page HGTC FB where we’ve shared some incredible videos from our friends at Lindblad/NatGeo who are very committed to sustainable travel. The most recent one showed Manta Rays!
Wishing you and your family continued good health,