Find joy, well-being, and connection on your travels while helping heal the planet.
If travel is to see new places, sustainable travel is an invitation to tread lightly and nurture a symbiotic relationship with the destinations we encounter — cherishing the beauty while safeguarding the essence of these places for generations to come.
The world’s travel and tourism industry is a vast and powerful force, generating billions of dollars in revenue each year. But with this power comes responsibility. As tourists, we have a choice: We can either contribute to the destruction of our planet, or we can use our travels to help heal it. All too often, our pleasure and enjoyment come at the expense of local habitats and wildlife.
When we travel sustainably, we are more likely to slow down, take in our surroundings, and connect with the natural world around us. This can help us to feel more grounded and create a pathway to mindful exploration. Imagine walking along a pristine white-sand beach, the sun shining down on you, and the waves crashing gently against the shore. To be surrounded by lush green vegetation and the sound of birdsong renders the soul at peace.
Sustainable Trip- Planning Tips
- Book bus or train travel instead of a flight.
- If you must fly, significantly limit your flights, choose a more responsible airline, and book a direct flight where possible.
- Regardless of your transportation, offset your carbon.
- Choose references penned by reputable locals and community members.
- Pack in a sustainable suitcase. The most sustainable option is the one you already own.
- Book a sustainable, environmentally friendly or small- scale, locally owned hotel.
Download the full Pre-Trip Sustainability Checklist at sustainableguides.com.
When we carry a reusable water bottle instead of a single-use plastic bottle, or when we choose to walk or use a bicycle instead of driving, there is an undisputed sense of fulfillment and harmony within an adventurous spirit. My personal journey toward sustainable travel began with a profound and undeniable realization: that the essence of truly enriching our explorations lies in discovering joy, well-being, and deep connections.
Mindful travel does not demand sacrificing comfort or imposing unnecessary restrictions upon ourselves.
On the contrary, it presents an invaluable opportunity to unearth and experience pure bliss in the most unexpected corners of the world.Being in nature has a restorative effect on our lives. Immersing oneself in pristine environments can help travelers escape the stresses of everyday life. It is mindful travel that led me to discover the beauty and fragility of our planet. Experiencing a sunrise over a mountain peak or bathing in the tranquility of a forest brings about joy that is unparalleled by anything else. It also reminds me of our individual responsibility to preserve the natural world for future generations.
Throughout my ventures to over 65 countries across the globe, I have been blessed with the opportunity to intimately witness the deep impact our actions have on both the local economy and the environment. When we foster genuine connections with the communities that call these places home, we bring back something that goes far beyond mere souvenirs.
One way to look at it is through the lens of hospitality and leading the charter through sustainable practices at the source. Whether it be offering vegan or plant-based food to promote a more sustainable food system, judicious utilization of water, or opting for renewable energy, a host can contribute to long-term positive change.
From the perspective of a mindful traveler, planning makes an incredible difference in this experience.
Choosing eco-friendly accommodations, dining at locally owned restaurants, and practicing fair trade contribute directly to the economic well-being of the destination. When crafting my itinerary, I prefer to seek out low-key destinations during the offseason, purposefully escaping the hustle and bustle of city life. Engaging with local artisans, participating in community-based projects, or volunteering with conservation initiatives offers an invaluable platform to learn about diverse cultures, traditions, and challenges.
Knowing first-hand the power of travel in bridging cultural gaps, supporting local businesses, and absorbing authentic experiences allows us to learn about different ways of life, traditions, and perspectives. Sharing stories, laughter, and meals with locals transcends boundaries and creates lasting memories.
Personally, I find great satisfaction in supporting women-owned businesses.
Women often champion sustainability and demonstrate a strong sense of responsibility. By empowering and endorsing small businesses run by women, we help shape tourism away from exploitative practices. These experiences enrich our daily lives, offering new insights that enhance our creativity and provide fresh perspectives on various topics. And by becoming responsible travelers, we embark on a transformative journey that extends beyond leisure, allowing us to evolve as conscious global citizens.
It is important to remember that as a tourist, we carry significant influence. The money we spend, the social interactions we engage in, and the resources we consume all wield considerable power in shaping the very fabric and future of a given area. The joy lies in the knowledge that our travel adventures leave behind a positive legacy, benefiting not only ourselves but also the communities and ecosystems we encounter along the way.
Shreya Ghodawat is a sustainability strategist, impact entrepreneur, writer, speaker, and advisor in the fields of sustainable ecotourism and lifestyle. She is founder and CEO of Sustainable Guides, as well as the India ambassador for She Changes Climate.