'We are in the middle of a climate crisis'
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Open up your heart. Open up your mind
We're in the middle of a climate crisis, and one of the biggest contributors is overtourism.
Many world destinations have benefitted from inviting foreign visitors into their open arms. But certain places have it worse than others. The names are all familiar: Venice, Barcelona, Amsterdam. Iconic top-ranking world sites such as Macchu Picchu and the Great Barrier Reef are feeling serious effects.
Travelling is the ultimate way to bring cultures together. Share our experiences, and educate ourselves to the future of a better planet. Shouldn't that mean we actively make decisions that benefit this lush sphere of green and blue, and don't cause further harm?
Avoiding the most popular destinations
I recently had the enormous pleasure of visiting Italy to see a good friend. She's from a charming city called Vicenza, and I fell in love the moment I set foot among those elaborate three-story buildings. Filled with colour and life. The Italian way of life thriving on every street corner. Inside every trattoria, at every hour of the spritz!
Vicenza is less than an hour fro one of the most popular cities on the planet - Venice. I was the closest I would ever be to a place that has sparked the enamoured traveller in me for decades. We chose not to go, and I don't regret it for a second.
Each moment of my time in Italy was special. I grew to love the community, learn about their way of life, their history. The interactions I had daily filled my heart with joy. I saw incredible architecture, gorged myself on the most delicious cuisine, and made friends for life. I felt like my Italy adventure couldn't have been more complete, and I'd never stepped a foot in Venice.
Travel off the beaten path
I'm the first to admit I'm the first to stray off the beaten path. I can't get enough abandoned buildings, secret hiding holes, and remote cliff tops. I enjoy a good tourist attraction. There's a reason why some sites are popular. They're awe-inspiring, thought-provoking, historical beyond imagination. They're also suffering serious damage as a result of overtourism. Do I want to be a part of that chaos? No.
Slow travel comes with benefits for the planet, your pocket, and your sanity. Spending longer in a destination means fewer flights. Offsetting your carbon footprint astronomically if you're a heavy jet setter. You'll also experience the chance to soak up the culture and get to know the true heart of a destination. More time means more discovery. Once you've checked off the main sites, you have the opportunity to wander off the beaten path. You might find yourself rewarded with something spectacular. You're also more likely to step out of the guidebook and into local secrets. Find the places no tourist will ever see. Isn't that the joy of travel?
Get out of your comfort zone
It's hard to push yourself and get out of your comfort zone. It's easy to rock up somewhere popular. With a proven track record of invoking awe. It sounds terrifying to travel somewhere you've never even heard of. But, you could stumble upon your favourite place in the world. What could be more rewarding than feeling like you've discovered the next best travel destination? The chance to make memories you will never forget?
Say YES to sustainable travel
Say NO to single-use plastics. Send the message to the industry that we don't need this! Make an impact. Carry reusable cutlery. Refuse the plastic lids your drink. Buy unpackaged fruit and veg. If everyone did one of these things every day the plastic problem would be halved in a year. Support ecotourism. Stay in eco-friendly accommodation. Choose with your heart and not your pocket. Walk when you can, and carpool when possible.
Take your trash home with you - Plus three extra
This is one from the Japanese. Who have long instilled the everyday practice of taking your trash home. Not every country is a recycling machine like the Germans. Go above and beyond by collecting extra trash. People should have been more responsible, but they weren't. They don't care about the planet. But we do. One less piece of trash could save a turtle. You want to save turtles right!?
Visit in the off-season
No one likes a crowd. Even if you're at Disney waiting for your favourite ride and you don't mind the two-hour wait. It's still hot, stuffy, you might have someones elbow in your face. Crowds are never fun and they can take away from your enjoyment.
Do as the locals do
Watch where you spend your time and your money. I'm a fan of this in any scenario. Want to find the most delicious food, explore the most authentic side of a place, and discover secret spots? Follow the advice of the locals. They live here, they know what's best. When you take time to appreciate the local way of life, you're enriching your own experience. As well as contributing to the economy directly. Mcdonalds can do without the $10 you spent on a meal. That $10 can go much further in the hands of a local in some countries. Shop at local markets instead of chain supermarkets. Your money will be better spent and your stomach happier.
Airbnb is the enemy of the authentic travel experience. This isn't true everywhere. Staying with locals in Airbnb in New Zealand absolutely enriched my trip. In popular places like Venice, Barcelona, and Amsterdam it should be avoided at all costs. You can't enjoy the local experience when the entire city is being rented out through Airbnb. These cities are seeing their homes vanish under souvenir shops, tour buses, and selfie sticks. Try to stay in locally owned guesthouses, hotels and hostels. My tip for making the right choice with Airbnb is to choose a place that is someones home, not a rented space. The delightful thing about staying with a local family is that you have the chance to get to know people who love their city, enjoy welcoming travellers, and are sure to help you have the time of your life.
Top Tips to Avoid Overtourism
Researching is hard. You work hard all week. You want to go on a mindblowing trip to refuel your passion for life. There's no time for scouring the map for the perfect destination. Paris is nice right?
To make it easier, here's a list of the most useful facts for sustainable travel. And avoiding places affected by overtourism.
You're welcome. :)
Did you know?
Bali runs the risk of running out of drinkable water by 2020 due to overtourism.
The Venice government is having a serious think about banning cruise ships. They rely on tourism. But the immense damage cruise ships have caused in the historical centre is a bigger worry. Not to mention they're terrible for the environment!
Venice sees almost 4 x the number of its population in tourists each year.
Protests in Venice and Barcelona against tourism have been increasing in recent years.
Barcelona is the WORST European city affected by overtourism. Seeing 30m overnight visitors compared to a population of 1,625,137.
Iceland is implementing a ban on tourism in certain spots. Due to the popularity of Instagram selfies damaging the pristine environment.
Macchu Picchu is sinking. Because of the constant beat of footsteps wearing the ground away.
Maya Beach in Thailand (the famous site from the movie The Beach) is closed indefinitely. The water is completely devoid of life and needs to recover.
The United Nations World Tourism Organisation predicted tourism would reach 1.8 billion a year by 2020. We've already reached 1.4 Billion. 11 years early.
In 2019, 300 people died trying to summit Everest. Due to a good weather alert that had eager mountaineers scrambling for the peak. Resulting in a deadly traffic jam.