We travel for all sorts of reasons, to spend quality time with friends and family, discover strange new places and people, relax, unwind, do business, or sometimes just sit by the pool and drink sangrias until sunset, but in today’s increasingly self-conscious world, there’s a growing movement of people hunting for something a little harder to find.
We’re not talking expedition-style adventures or authentic and immersive cultural experiences (as popular as they’ve now become), rather the growing demand among the traveling classes for environmentally and socially responsible travel; being able to go on a trip, without suffering the sinking guilt trip that so often follows when we come to terms with our own cognitive dissonance.
A recent study into the travel hopes of thousands of North Americans, found that three in four (79%) travelers want to be more ethically conscious in their future travels, and a similar number (78%) have already started making more responsible travel choices as a result of this moral imperative.
It’s not exactly proof that we’re all about to follow in the footsteps of Greta Thunberg, who’s choosing to sail to the United Nations Climate Action Summit this month rather than jump on a transatlantic flight, but it does point to a growing sense of unease with the true impact of our travel decisions, and a willingness to do something about it.
Naturally there’s a lot to love about travel. The industry generated 10.4% of all global economic activity in 2018, and currently accounts for one in ten jobs around the world, creating one in five of the new jobs created over the past five years. The travel & tourism industry is hands down one of the best tools available to governments who want to generate prosperity while creating the kind of jobs that tend to support women, youth and other often marginalized groups of society.
Travel is naturally also celebrated for broadening the mind, lending perspective to social and cultural difference, and helping ideas to pollinate around the world.
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts,” wrote Mark Twain in The Innocents Abroad. “Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things can not be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things…who doesn’t agree we need more of that in the world right now?
Of course one could argue that the internet has given us all a more global perspective, and helped to erode some of the technical hurdles that once stood in the way of cross cultural conversations and broad mindedness, but there’s little proof that it has helped to eradicate prejudice and bigotry, and rather a lot to suggest it may have even made it worse. If we are, as a species, aiming for greater social and cultural cohesion, then travel is surely one of the best tools at our disposal.
But even with those good intentions, traveling with a conscience in 2019 can be something of a moral minefield. How we travel, where and when we go, what we do while there, and who we choose to do business with can all have (often unforeseen) consequences for the places and people we come across.
It can be hard to know where to start, what to look for, and who to believe, so we’re launching a new blog series exploring some of the best ways that travelers can reduce their carbon footprint, have a positive impact on the communities they visit, and (because we are a technology company after all) use technology and emerging blockchain solutions to do good in the world.
Fortunately there are plenty of options for the ethically conscious traveler, and ‘tourism for good’ is a rapidly growing sector. Over the coming weeks we’ll be exploring six of the best ways to travel responsibly. Six things to be mindful of when you sit down to plan your next trip:
- How to get there: Avoid flying if you can, but if you must, fly direct and offset your carbon footprint
- How to spend it: Focus your spending on community-run projects and businesses, and book with them directly wherever possible
- What to do: Seek out locally-run tours and activities, and choose those that have a positive mission and minimal impact
- Where to go: Look for places off the beaten track, and where possible avoid visiting obvious destinations at popular times
- How to help: Find an ethical volunteering project, and give some of your time to your hosts, while getting to know the place like no one else
- What tools to use: Support technologies that are innovating like crazy to change things for the better
Here at KeyoCoin we’re on a mission to promote independent travel providers, empower local communities, and bring travelers closer to the home-grown experiences that will stick with them forever. We’re building solutions that help people to book direct, avoid bearing such a high cost for the heavily intermediated distribution model that has exploded over the past 20 years, and get rewarded for actions that have a positive impact on like-minded organizations in our growing travel ecosystem.
We’re on this mission because we believe in travel. We believe in its ability to create harmony, to lift the poorest in society out of hardship, and to help people break from routine, break form the screens, and find new meaning and purpose in life. We believe that traveling with a conscience, being mindful of the footprint we leave behind and giving back to the communities we visit, is not just our responsibility as travelers, but can actually enhance the experiences we have as well.
Stay tuned over the coming weeks for tangible top tips on traveling responsibly, the best ways to support local communities, and a roundup of some of the best bleeding-edge tech that is promising to help us to leave smaller footprints and enjoy more rewarding experiences.
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