Since COVID-19, the global economy has caused severe disruptions to the global economy. The pandemic has brought international travel to halt and significantly affected the tourism industry. Policies and travel restrictions implemented in several countries have influenced the perception of tourist tourism during a pandemic or after the pandemic has ended.
This has increased the awareness of 'sustainability and eco-friendliness and also about traveling consciously.
What is conscious travel?
Conscious traveling means taking into consideration the impact your travel has on the ecology, the community, and the culture. When traveling it is important to travel mindfully. The necessity for conscious traveling first came to light with the rapid increase in global warming and the heaps of plastic litter on the beaches and the oceans, which was deteriorating sea life.
The lifestyle choices that you make are important in every aspect of your life, including travel. The goal of conscious traveling should be to create a positive and empowering impact on the communities you interact with during your trip and create a sustainable travel economy.
According to research, almost 78 percent of travelers defined themselves as more 'ethically conscious' and preferred to shop and eat locally when traveling. The participants defined a conscious trip as one where they learned about the culture of the place and brought souvenirs from the local merchants.
It is important to enforce the difference between having a positive impact on the community and performing acts for digital content. There is a growing trend in 'voluntourism' where people go as volunteers go to a 'third world nation' and post pictures with the locals to gain more clout on social media. Whereas in conscious travel, there is a sense of humility and compassion, hence the locals aren't used as props for your feed.
Why is it important to travel consciously?
Helps the local economy
When traveling it is important to know where your money goes and who is benefitting from it. Is it the locals or the corporates and capitalists? When you shop and eat at the local market, eateries, and restaurants, the money you spend is funneled back into the economy of the place you visit. Unlike when you eat at a food chain, the money you spend trickles into the wallets of international firms.
Also when looking for accommodations, preferable to choose homestays or guest houses. According to a study by Unilever, over a third of consumers prioritised sustainability when booking their holidays, and chose companies that provided conscious travel.
A fulfilling personal experience
Conscious is a mindset that is not limited to your vacation but extends into your daily life. Choosing a more ecological option by going local makes your travel a more insightful and authentic experience while being kinder to the planet and the communities. The local travel guides, will give you a thorough experience and take you to the depths of the culture. When traveling it is not only about getting away from your mundanities, but connecting with the place, the community, and the people, and doing something purposeful. The experience should be fulfilling for you and the others too. Do people you’re interacting with feel just as good as you are?
With conscious traveling, you can form better relationships with the locals, and even after your trip ends you can stay in touch and support them.
How to become a 'conscious traveler'?
Get your research right
Read, watch, read. Read books, blogs, do google searches and educate yourself about the place, and the culture you are traveling to. It is important to respect the culture, instead of imposing your own. If you know of someone who has been to the place before, talk to them about their experiences. Have an accepting mindset when you travel. Be ready to learn new perspectives and enjoy new experiences. Watch videos and documentaries about the place. This will help you understand the culture of the place. It is also a good way to know your dos and don'ts to become a better traveler.
Also when booking your accommodation, check up on your hotel's temper towards sustainability. Checking their profile will ensure you have a healthy and guilt-free holiday.
Carry sustainable products, and limit your use of single-use plastics. When packing make a list of sustainable essential packing items. You'll be traveling and staying there for a short time, the locals should not have to bear the brunt of your unconscious actions. Tonnes of waste ends up in landfill, which releases toxic pollutants damaging for the environment. Some waste is unavoidable, but make sure to recycle as much as possible.
Instead of carrying single-use plastic bottles carry reusable water bottles. This will reduce the wastage of reusable cups and also water. You can also pack your towels that can be used throughout the trip instead of paper napkins. Cloth towels, napkins can be washed, dried, and reused.
Every small action you take has an impact. Next time when you take a trip after COVID-19 ends, be sure to be accountable for your actions. This will go a long way in creating a positive impact in conserving the ecology, the communities, and the culture. Be a catalyst for change with your actions.