The current pandemic is nothing if not a wake-up call to how much we exploited and destroyed our planet. It's also a reminder of how we should act when it all comes to pass to respect the lives that were lost and the suffering COVID-19 caused throughout the globe. Once this nightmare is over and travel bans are lifted, people will want to go somewhere else and unwind.
Too much time in self-isolation can create a cabin fever effect for many and make them feel imprisoned, regardless of being surrounded by loved ones. If anything, this situation may help you reflect on how to be a mindful traveler and a better person. Here are some suggestions on how we should travel in the future and help our planet recover and move forward.
Start traveling locally first
There are many landmarks in your own country offering interesting things to see and do. Instead of traveling abroad, start getting to know the place where you live. This will show you the benefits of traveling slowly and taking the time to know people and locations in your country.
Interacting more with people, learning about the history of the place, and exploring local nature is the best way to discover a lot about your destination. If you never traveled slowly before, this will be a great way to get your bearings and learn some tricks before you go to a foreign country to do the same. After all, the best way to get to know a destination is if you take your time exploring all that makes it special.
Avoid high seasons
When you travel to a place during the high season, you can hardly move around from all the tourists. Overcrowded destinations usually cause more trouble than pleasure, like problems booking a popular restaurant, waiting in long lines for museums, or sold-out tours. Not to mention that locals are not as forthcoming and pleasant as they usually are since after this increased number of tourists usurps their lives.
This is why you should travel to a place offseason and have a peaceful vacation in some of the most exclusive spots in the world. You'd be surprised how beautiful and quieter these places can be outside of peak periods. Fall and winter in Europe are as beautiful as spring and summer, and monsoon season in the Pacific brings out the green and lavish nature to the front. Off-season traveling may give you opportunities to know a place you wouldn’t usually have when it’s overflowing with tourists, making the experience more meaningful.
Say ‘yes’ to eco-friendly travel
While it would be ideal not to use planes or cars and avoid living a carbon footprint, that is not possible if you want to travel far. Instead, there are other ways you can be a mindful traveler and go green. First off, start using cotton bags for shopping and reusable water bottles which will also keep the beverage cool.
Pick up garbage after yourself when in locations that may not have visible bins, like beaches and national parks. Today, many hotels and restaurants adopted environmental policies and are trying to run a greener business, so do your research before you book accommodation. When making a list of places to visit, make sure to add local producers doing good for the community and using eco-friendly practices, like farms and farmer’s markets. This is also a great way to try local delicacies and unique products hardly available anywhere else.
Travel for volunteer work
There were a lot of countries out there in need of help before the pandemic, and there will be more of them after. Instead of being just another tourist, volunteer overseas and help nature and people with kindness, knowledge, and fate in a better future. You have many options to do that, like volunteering in the wildlife sanctuary or teaching English to underprivileged children.
Sometimes you can participate in the construction work or bringing irrigation to remote locations so people can grow food. If you are a medical worker, your expertise is always needed in field hospitals and to treat the poor. This will not only allow you to improve people's lives and save nature but also to meet different cultures and learn more about their values firsthand.
Stroll away from the main attractions
Everyone knows at least one main attraction of any country, and usually, that is the first stop when they arrive there. Eiffel Tower in Paris, La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, and Coliseum in Rome are only some examples of those popular spots. Sometimes the true charm of a destination is in the less famous neighborhoods and away from these attractions.
Wonder off the city centers or go on day trips to see as much as you can besides the usual tourist locations. It can give you a chance to truly feel the destination's spirit and experience something unique and profound. Moreover, it's more fun to discover new things and have a private adventure.
They don't say 'seize the day' for nothing. If anything, this COVID-19 pandemic has taught us to value little things and each other more. And that is the way we should travel in the future — aware there is more to the destination than what a brochure says. Becoming a mindful traveler and a better person is the only way to make the world more amazing.