Sustainable Socially Conscious Travel
One of the greatest impacts that travel has had on me over the course of the last eight years of traveling the world, undoubtedly has to be observing the negative effects that the increased number of global travellers is having on the sustainability of the world. These issues range from overcrowding, to economic exploitation, to the devastating effects travel is having on the environment. I mean, the entire population of Venice is doubled daily. Approximately 55,000 tourists flock in everyday to visit it.
The average cost of living in places like the Yucatan Peninsula, has increased the cost of living for the locals by 500% in the last 15 years. Wages have risen by only 40% in the ensuing period. This has largely occurred due to the over development of huge extravagant resorts frequented by its unaware tourists. Thus, the local people suffer, while tourist remain ignorant or indifferent to their plight.
Even in the Himalayas, the explosion of travellers using single use plastic water bottles is causing an environmental disaster. This is happening to one of the most pristine and vital fresh water supplies to the world. I feel as travellers, we have an obligation to at least think. We need to think of how our visit to a place will have greater long-term effects on the people, places and cultures we choose to visit. Should we continue to ignore these issues, we will do so at our own expense, and thus, generations to come will suffer.
But I want to see Venice and Climb Mount Everest…
Socially Conscious Travel doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t visit these places. It means doing so in a way in which your visit could have a positive impact or add benefit to the people places and cultures you visit. Even more of a bonus is if you can experience this journey in a way that allows you to connect on a deeper and more authentic level with the local people. Most importantly, perhaps even learn from, and contribute meaningfully to their daily lives and stories. Thus, in an instant, you would be reversing these negative impacts. More so, however, it may go as far as to add value to the lives of the people you are visiting. The added bonus to you could be learning something about yourself that you may not have realised before.
Socially conscious travel organisations
There are many organisations who today organise volunteering opportunities to homestays to service based experiences. But if you are not entirely comfortable with traveling this way and you would like your vacation to have an aspect of discovery with a touch of style and luxury, while still being sustainable, there is a serious group of emerging travel companies who have deeply committed socially conscious approaches to travel. Most importantly, they are visionaries in the way in which they have created opportunities for you to experience the world’s most wonderful places. All in comfort and safety as a traveler, while ensuring your travel is sustainable, contributive and meaningful in the lives of the local place, peoples and cultures you visit.
is one such company. They organise culturally immersive travel experiences for families or individual travellers. And, they do so to some of the most remote and beautiful culturally unique locations. Global Family Travels’ motto is to Learn, Serve and Immerse, using travel as a means to build cultural bridges and to foster global citizens.
Their organised immersive tours are some of the best out there. They take people to the world’s most enticing locations, while using the momentum of travellers to create opportunities for the local communities that they visit. Thus, by offering sustainable tourism opportunities, they are therefore able to strengthen the local communities they visit. Most importantly, they help to alleviate poverty. They do so in alignment with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs). Thus, these community-based excursions support the preservation of local and native cultures, conservation, education and economic growth.
And all their tours are to really exciting locations. Your accommodation is beautiful, safe and allows you to connect with the locals and their stories. You don’t even have to go outside of the US. Their tours in and around the Seattle area are helping to alleviate the growing tide of homelessness and poverty that impacts the city and its people. Most importantly, by working with local providers they are helping homeless people back into work and homes. Therefore, your dollars spent with them will give you an experience to remember, while giving back to the community.
is another organisation offering immersive experiences for people. Their offering is specific to visiting one of the most stunningly beautiful tropical islands of Fiji. Thus allowing people to have a unique cultural experience. You get to live beside and become a part of the indigenous culture and tribe into which you are welcomed. Therefore, you are able to experience a side of Fijian life that is rarely if ever experienced by outsiders. Your contributions make a real and sustainable difference in the development of the lives of the villagers too. Thus, in visiting, your stories get an opportunity to merge, while making a meaningful difference to the community
If you like to do-it-yourself, NuMundo is a wonderful organisation offering travellers a range of opportunities to contribute. Through this online portal, you can connect with a broad range of decentralized network of ecovillages, intentional communities, permaculture farms, social projects and retreat centers. Most importantly, it connects socially conscious travellers interested in finding accommodations, learning and service opportunities, with the right travel opportunities. For the want of a better description, it is a type of peer-to-peer network for the socially conscious traveler. They also accept Cryptocurrency payment methods. They are developing opportunities in this field, thus aiming to create a more equitable world.
And of course there is me, The Destinator. My Destinator Experiences
Destinator Experiences are for travellers to explore a perspective of the places they visit that even the locals rarely get to experience. They are socially conscious travel experiences, aimed at learning, contribution, development and growth. They include the At Home In The World Family Retreats series in Bali and Transylvania.
My Budapest Unknown experience even has a unique traditional village homestay. This not only allows you to gain first hand experience of the real way the local people live, but also, allows the villagers to keep their stories living, and their culture vital and alive for the generations to come. Therefore, your visit also contributes directly to the village cultural upkeep fund. Most importantly your visit allows the village to organise immersive experiences of learning and contribution for other visitors too.
To me, travel is a brilliant opportunity for all of us who think of ourselves as global citizens to leave a vital legacy. A legacy that will positively impact the places, people and cultures we are privileged to visit. This can only add to the vitality and sustainability of travel. Most importantly, it can give greater meaning to the reasons why we choose to travel and learn about our fellow human beings. I think this is an important question to ponder, but perhaps, one for another article.