It was 2011 when I planned a film ad to a big Finnish travel agency. It was a film full of lively clips about real life: a small crab sidewalking on the beach, a towel behaving wild in the wind so that it’s nearly impossible to set it on the sand, a coconut drink without plastic rubbish etc. In the most ideal case travelling would look and feel like this: so natural that it would be in balance. There would be space for that tiny crab so that it could walk peacefully. The shells would stay on the beautiful beach because people would understand to admire them but would also understand to leave them behind etc.
But tourism has only grown and grown super fast: has any operator understood to take the responsible perspective in travelling? I’m not talking about green washing but really influencing. I visited the Nordic Travel Fair in Helsinki, and now after the concerning IPCC-report you could see some climate talk and sustainable strategies there – but still they are not the main focus. After all businesses want more people to the top destinations and more people to travel in general. Well, the airlines have finally started talking about the climate issues – that’s a start! Earlier it felt like they thought that it’s a cliché to talk about climate for an airline company. Now they understand that it is something they need to do.
The world would not be the same anymore unless everybody takes his/her part in stopping the global warming. Unless we want the ice fields to melt away, the dry places to get dryer and the species to die (it’s crazy that the amount of wild vertebrate animals has decreased by 60 % in the last 40 years!), everybody should feel concerned: the travel industry, the countries / the destinations and the consumers. I claim we can’t follow the travelling trends anymore (beside the ecological awareness trend). We need to start planning and put some effort on solving this. The money and the winnings can’t be the only matter in the travel industry anymore. There need to be a certain intake number in travellers coming, and travelling itself can’t be so unsustainable: there can’t be 20 € flights and so many take offs (especially with empty seats!). The system can’t afford single use materials – plastic bottles and coffee cups – anymore; it needs to be circular economy now! And we people, we consumers, need to understand that we can influence with our choices. We also have to be ready to support the change and vote with our wallet. The world is our home and we should be ready to “pay some rent” that the places stay good for living. In the end, we are the ones who need to demand and support the structural change for better. We need to enlighten ourselves and change the mind-set and the system. Sooner or later everything is natural – as it should be in nature.
The world needs some heart and empathy quickly and this should be adapted into travelling too! So here’s my advices to myself what to do. Maybe you consider these too?
A bit more sustainable travel plan
Prefer the tourism nearby
Of course it’s more sustainable to travel in the close-by-areas and to the destinations that you can reach by land. Now that I’m back in North, I have quite some places to explore even in my home country in Finland. Also the Baltic area and the Eastern Europe interest me. And from there I can continue to further in Europe by the modern trains or maybe with an electric car.
Choose an authentic destination
Don’t go to destinations that are too full! Often there are news reports telling how many cities or other touristic destinations are having too many people and they don’t have the control anymore. In fact, the “Canary Island effect” has happened in quite many places on Earth. According to “Welcome to paradise” book by Jennie Dielemans the Canary Islands are the first example for mass tourism, and it was later repeated elsewhere in the world. Mass tourism often follows a certain pattern: there is an uncontrolled construction boom in the area: it involves exploitation of the country, unauthorized construction, illegal sewers, waste mountains and destruction of the marine habitat. Then after a decade or two the area is totally run-down when everything is sucked out. The place starts to look shabby in the eyes of tourists and the business is brought elsewhere to take over a new paradise!
So once you go somewhere exotic maybe you should consider checking a place that can afford to have you there. Break the most obvious touristic pattern (travel blogs might help in this). So skip Santorini and Venice for instance! And check the accommodation, tour guides etc. that are responsible. And we come to the next point!
Drive the structural change
As a consumer insist the correct information from the societies, the brands and the services – insist them to be open and transparent. We NEED information. Often we don’t have it; and we can’t make better choices without the information. Information is the future – we have to have it. Period. Of course the information has to be honest and somehow certified (that it’s not only green washing). Meanwhile support the eco certified products and services – and challenge more operators to join this good movement.
As the Helsinki University professor Atte Korhola stated in the Nordic Travel Fair: “Everything is connected in this world. Our daily choices reflect in different parts of our planet – and thus our everyday choices should support those decisions that are building this system towards the right direction. We need to find the balance between the usage and the limits of this world.”
Take the direct flights (IF you fly)
Not too long ago I learned that the take off takes most of the fuel, so if you need to fly you should definitely fancy the direct flights. Now that the airlines and the flight searching engines have started to bring up the climate stuff as well I have noticed that for example Skyscanner shows the best flights with an eco sign. Eco sign means the flights with the most modern planes and direct routes. Finnair just started a “Push for change” program where it’s possible to buy bio fuel for instance. I have to look into this and other means – now that we human start doing things better!
Nowadays I also think that flying is not an option anymore, for example when I’m travelling in homeland. Flying the distances which you can reach by land doesn’t really work anymore…
Just travel less
I have started to ask myself: do I even need to travel that often? When I go somewhere I will stay a longer while then (if I’m for example escaping the Finnish dark period). Maybe a maximum one remote trip per year would be enough, IF I even need to have that! I have to admit I’m pretty excited about the local trips now.
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I’m still considering my acts in general; how can I affect so that I could say that I am a responsible traveller. As I have told before, I try to make this world better through my work cases but lately I have understood that I need to do my part of course and also reconsider my travel choices so that I can underline that WWW is an aware blog. There is a lot to think and there is a lot to do. So let’s get back to this theme!
As the Whattawowworld slogan goes: ”The world is a miracle. Make sure it stays like that.”
We are not only responsible of ourselves and our children but also of our planet.
I’m very happy for the big project that I have started – that is something where I’m aiming to affect on these world issues in the early education. In fact, I might be a bit busy soon so I have to see, if I have time to write the blog posts. Or maybe I will make the English articles shorter summaries. Is that ok? Please give your feedback, what do you think! And any conversation is welcome about this sustainable travel theme.