I feel 2021 will see a strong rise in sustainable tourism and travellers will be a lot more conscious about how they address their travel requirements without causing a lot of damage to the environment.
So, here are some travel tips to keep in mind before they plan their next trip:
Follow the rules: Be aware of the protocols followed by different states and their respective entry restrictions. Comply with the necessary regulations. Secure valid E-passes and quarantine procedures as required.
Carry the essentials: Masks, sanitizers, disinfectant wipes, gloves, face shields and medications should be the foremost things that you need to pack while loading your bags. Wear proper helmets and safe riding gear if you are riding on a motorcycle to your destination.
Try to carry your food: Pack as much home-cooked food and water as you can to avoid buying it outdoors. This will eliminate the use of plastic packaging and minimize the spread of infection.
Be mindful of cleanliness: Ensure proper hygiene factor of public restrooms, ATM’s and petrol stations that you may use during your visit. Consider leaving any place you stay, clean and proper for the next person who may use it. Your negligence may risk others’ safety too.
Choose eco-friendly accommodations: Try to stay in small locally-owned accommodation and guest houses. During your stay, minimise your use of water, AC, heating and light. Turn them off when not in use. Be careful how you dispose of your litter. Try to recycle as much as you can.
Pick the right place: As a general rule, the shorter the distance from home to your destination, the lesser the impact on the environment. So, discover places closer to where you live and explore nearby towns and cities without spending too much on extensive travel. Staycations are the new norm with a charm of their own.
Try camping and trekking: The most sustainable form of accommodation, it leaves little or no carbon footprint at all and allows you to make the most of outdoor nature. It also lets you control how much you pack and is a good means of making new friends!
— Joe Abilash, Motorcycle enthusiast
Consider activities that combine experience with environmental benefits
I feel sustainable travel will be a buzzword this year. Conscious travelling will no longer be niche, but mainstream. As a very mindful traveller myself, I feel it’s a great opportunity to connect with a travel destination on a deeper level.
But for it to be transformative, I would suggest some tips:
Research the location: If you haven’t yet made your travel arrangements, research the place better to know more about when the country or city celebrates major spiritual/religious events, traditions, national holidays and carnivals. Visiting during these times can offer a great magnitude of experiences, especially for photographers.
Rethink your packing: Less is more! When packing for a trip, don’t hoard excess items and pick very essentials. Avoid using too much plastic packing and don’t forget to carry a reusable water bottle, cutlery and a tote bag. Choose chemical-free toiletries and cosmetics to reduce pollution to the destination you’re visiting.
Take public transportation: While it comes with its share of risks, public transports like buses and trains are not only economical but are most effective in reducing emissions and thereby your carbon footprints. Also, it’s a sure shot way to meet new people and enrich your overall travel experiences by learning more about locals. Whenever possible, try to walk to nearby places.
Ask permission before taking photographs of local people: This is a no-brainer, but don’t be that traveller who sticks his camera in a person’s face to take a photo without ever asking permission. It creates a barrier between travellers and local people. Instead, interact and ask permission first. If there is no common spoken language then use charades to communicate that you’d like to take the person’s photo.
Protect the local wildlife: In your effort to get too close to animals, don’t disturb the local wildlife. Close human encounters confuse and scare animals away from their natural habitat. If you are keen on taking photos, do so from a long distance and leave no trace of your visit (plastic wrappers, bottles, food, etc). Also, when encountering animals in the wild, try not to feed them.
Shop local: When visiting a new place, try as much to shop local. Pick up souvenirs and products that have been made by local businesses and artisans, and with materials sourced from the local resources. This also helps preserve their cultural heritage. Instead of buying from supermarkets, buy organic from local street vendors and consume seasonal produce.
Try volunteering: You can mix your love for community service and travel by volunteering in local activities. Helping local orphanages and shelters also rebuild local infrastructure. Consider activities that combine experience with environmental benefits, like beach and heritage cleanups.
— Srivatsan, photographer and founder of Madras Photo Bloggers