Mass tourism is back, how to make it sustainable?

Choose local

Speaking of reciprocity, one of the easiest ways to give back to local communities is to put as many of our travel books in the pockets of locals as possible. According to the UN’s World Tourism Organization, only 5% of the money spent by tourists actually stays in the local community, with the rest ending up in the hands of multinational corporations. We can change that by making sure we stay in local hotels, eat in local restaurants, employ local aboriginal guides, and buy locally made handicrafts.

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nature first

By surrounding ourselves with thriving natural environments, embracing hiking and biking, camping adventures, and sailing trips, we allow ourselves to have admiration for our planet. Research tells us that this sense of awe tends to make us kinder and more generous, and encourages us to give up our self-interests for those of others and the world. Exactly what is needed at this crucial moment.

Choosing travel companies and hotels that are committed to conservation or fund conservation initiatives is another way to protect the natural world while traveling. Seeking rewilding or citizen science trips goes even further, as guests can participate in projects that restore environments and boost populations of endangered species, often alongside local scientists and researchers.

If you’re reading this and thinking: we’ve just wasted two precious years of travel, let’s not make this more difficult than necessary, then think again. Only 6% of the world’s population has ever set foot on an airplane. That’s right, six. It is imperative to remember what a privileged trip really is and to do it in a way that is as rewarding for the places we visit as it is for us.

Go light: how to travel without harming the planet by Nina Karnikowski is available now (Orion, £14.99)

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