Sunday, 16 August 2015

Travel to make the world a better place

I was discussing with a friend the idea of making a world a better place and how could an individual contribute to it, considering that he has so much more to do and worry about before he can put a thought to making the world better and happier.

He put me a question if travelling or tourism could make the world better, help preserve the nature and sustain the local people across the globe.

Today is a rainy day, and rains bring a clarity to thought. I thought about it and this post is an attempt to respond to that question.
There were more than 1 billion tourists and travelers in the world in 2014, all kinds of people traveling to all kinds of destinations - mountains, beaches, one-day trips to nearby places, trekkers , adventurers, working people, backpackers, students, foreign tourists. Everyone wants to travel today, whatever be the reason or motive behind it. 

1 billion (and growing) is not a small force. If all us one billion people, or even a fraction of these, decide to do certain things in a different way, i have a feeling that there should be a way to make the world better, to save the nature, to sustain the local people and environments, to even help reduce the economic disparity. 

Thinking from the fundamentals, more travel means more fossil fuels, more pollution, more hotels, more roads, more deforestation. Increasing spending capacities of the upper middle class means more of all this, and at an increasing rate. Paying to the companies and buying great travel packages, taking away from the nature its beauty, a source of pleasure or a stress buster at the expense of the local people, the wildlife and the nature. 

Is this what travel is supposed to be ? Is it going to be this way always ? It can't . 

So, do we stop travel ? Stop tourism ? Make it less enjoyable. NO. But just do it right. A sense of giving can shift the whole paradigm. To give back more than we take. 
Travel and tourism can change the world for the better, once we just decide to give a thought to it. 

Be local

Experience the place as it is. By that, i mean , travel like a local. Because that is what travel actually should be, isn't it ? If you want the same comfort of your home, the same people around you, the food from the same big outlets and hotels you find everywhere, the trip is just a temporary pleasure or a "gateway" (i hate to use this world for travel) , not a source of everlasting happiness, something that remains with you forever.

By traveling this way, you are definitely going to have a better experience and also, maybe unknowingly, you affect the ecology and society in a positive rather than a negative way. By being content with what is available there and enjoying it, knowing about it, you are supporting the local ecosystem in very positive way, which may not meet the eye directly. 

Be aware

Before buying a travel package or planning your trip, do give a thought about where actually the money you are going to spend is going. Is even a part of it going to the people to whose homelands you are going for your vacation. If it is a yes, it is a great contribution in the direction of conserving natural places, wildlife and the environment. The local people will do their best to conserve their surroundings if it pays them back.

So, what an individual can do is try to pay directly as much as possible. Pay to the local people, live in homestays, eat at local food joints. This all will add to an enriching experience as well.

Make a connection

Wherever you go, try to make a connection with the people. Try to understand their problems. The problems may look huge sitting far away but all that may be needed is a small effort, but from all of us travelers. The problems may be related to education, healthcare, living conditions. Do your part, may be individually, (for example, by teaching a few kids) or may be through the job you do, or the government position you hold. Each one of us is capable of at least doing something for the better.

If one billion people can do this, travel can definitely change the world. 
-A strong believer