Written on June 16, 2020
This is a truth universally known that human activities are harmful to our dear planet. We use natural resources until stocks run out, consciously create non-biodegradable products, and destroy hectares of forest and entire species. The experts all agree and have sounded the alarm, the planet is in danger and it is everyone's responsibility to act.
The Covid-19 pandemic is impacting terribly all countries around the globe and its consequences will be felt for some time. However, some good came out of it anyway. We have all seen these magnificent photos and videos of wild animals venturing into unknown places usually frequented by humans, the return of sea turtles to Thailand, fish in the canals of Venice, and the gray clouds of pollution dissipate around the metropolises of the world.
What lessons can we learn from it and how can we apply them to our next trips? Traveling yes, but responsibly.
1. Employ local people
One thing we learned from the virus is that it does not discriminate. Everyone, anywhere can be affected. In a way it got us closer as a global community. So why not help the local people by using local tour guides and local facilities rather than flying-in a foreign ‘expert’ or sleeping in establishments belonging to big international groups. Your trip can be as successful and your experience even richer knowing that you have contributed in making the world a better place.
Mr Linh’s Adventures & family in Ha Giang
2. Social distancing
Some countries will recover faster than others from the pandemic, but all of us have had to face social distancing measures. These rules can still be applied for safety reasons in your travels, they will remain an important part that both travelers and tour operators will consider when building a trip. For example, reducing daily time in a car, choosing small group tours of only a dozen people maximum or even private tours, and visiting less touristy and more original destinations.
Dong Van from a distance, Ha Giang
3. Wellness and wilderness
2020 was mostly spent indoors so 2021 will most likely be spent outside! Travellers will redefine their expectations and looking for more active tours, out in the wilderness, even away from too much technology. To ease the mind and detach yourself from electronics, people may turn to cycling experiences, trekking or caving. In other words, ask for adventures in less populated destinations, in places where they can simply exist and reconnect with our natural world.
Get off the beaten path in Cao Bang
4. Choose your destinations wisely
Social distancing guidelines are likely to cause limits on where travellers can go, attractions may limit the number of guests, but it is the perfect occasion to opt for an off-the-beaten-path destination. In addition, popular destinations are likely to attract crowds and this is exactly what most of us will try to avoid for our next travels.
Imagine choosing Vietnam, yes it is a demanded destination as a country, but have you considered all the possibilities offered there? Instead of going to Sapa for instance, other places offer a similar outstanding landscape of terraced rice fields such as Mu Cang Chai in Ha Giang province. Or you can also favour Con Dao Island for a peaceful retreat instead of Phu Quoc. Go beyond the obvious choice!
Quietude on Con Dao island
5. Travel off season
First of all, off season travel is cheaper, no surprises here. However, money is not the only reason anymore to consider off-peak months as a perfect option. Fewer visitors, shorter lines, more space between people, authentic experience surrounded by locals, to say a few. Imagine experiencing Angkor in Cambodia without trampling on hordes of tourists. That is definitely something to consider…
Majestic Angkor in June
In conclusion, socially responsible travel will be a challenge in the first few months for both travellers and tourism professionals as we adjust to the transition. These new changes will hopefully last as more and more people have opened their eyes on environmental issues. As Lonely Planet puts it “we have a responsibility towards local communities, the environment, and to ourselves to improve the way we go about exploring our world.”
So make good choices and a local tour operator
that is able to support you with those responsible choices!