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  • Claire Kalikman

IS IT STILL ETHICAL TO TRAVEL? AND WHAT TO DO INSTEAD.


We need to apply a sustainable mindset to all of life’s choices. Many of us try our best to avoid plastics, eat organic, and buy less clothing, but we don’t always think about the impacts of our travel, writes Claire Kalikman.


Travel is one of life’s most beautiful opportunities. It opens you up to new cultures, languages, foods, and ways of life. It breaks you out of your comfort zone, your daily grind, or a rut. But it’s an understatement to say that the coronavirus pandemic has changed our relationship to travel. Now it’s generally unsafe to travel and if you do, no matter the reason, you may face “travel shaming.” Moreover, the pandemic has forced us to confront the loss of a freedom-of-movement we took for granted - our readers in Australia mostly can’t leave the country (or get back in) and where I live in the US, don’t have anywhere to go.


We’re also rethinking our relationship with the planet. Emissions were down 7 percent in 2020 compared to 2019, and a lot of that can be attributed to reduced emissions from cars and planes. Some travel writers are saying they’re not going to travel anymore due to the carbon emissions.


Tech entrepreneurs too are catching on to the relationship between travel and emissions. A new app from Josie Stoker called Capture tracks emissions produced by daily commutes as well as flights. Did you know that each flight produces thousands of kilos in emissions? In contrast, an hour in a car produces about .7 kilos of carbon dioxide. Driving our cars more is certainly not the solution, so what is?


TRAVEL CREATIVELY

Perhaps you should consider alternate ways of travel. Slow travel has historically been the only way to get around - well into the 20th century, it was still common to travel overseas by boat. Greta Thunberg took a strong stand when she traveled from Sweden to the US via boat. Megan O’Malley and Gab Murphy from Walk Sew Good (featured on episode 34) walked 3,500 kilometres across Southeast Asia. Or that guy who took a jetski to the Isle of Man to visit his girlfriend under lockdown (he did later get arrested, so think through your actions…). These sorts of options aren’t always available, but the next time you travel, consider if there is a creative way to get there - and who knows, getting there might be half the fun.


TRAVEL FROM HOME

Maybe now is the right time to think about a vacation from home. Not just a staycation, but immerse yourself in another country from your own house. For example, I was devastated when my semester abroad in Paris got cut short due to the pandemic. To try to compensate for it, I spent a few days “travelling to Paris.” One Saturday, I got a croissant from every bakery within walking distance and made an official croissant taste-testing chart. I started listening to French music on my daily walk to put myself in a Parisian headspace. I’ve incorporated some “French girl chic” into my wardrobe. Since I can’t get to France anyway because of the travel restrictions, I’ve been able to enjoy a piece of the country in my home.


TRAVEL WITHIN YOUR COMMUNITY

Too often, people don’t explore the cities and towns we already live in. If you live in a big city, when was the last time you visited the sites and monuments? Why not spend a day with no plan and a map in hand and discover a new park or restaurant. Walk on streets you never have before, linger at the spots that you always pass and say to yourself you’ll come back to.


TRAVEL LESS, MAKE IT COUNT

Maybe the sad reality is that for the sake of the planet, we should all travel less. The whole fashion cavalcade treks from New York to London to Paris to Milan twice a year (not even counting fashion weeks in other cities such as Copenhagen and Stockholm). With more brands embracing digital shows, maybe there won’t be as much need to travel across the world twice a year. That doesn’t mean no travel ever, but perhaps a more mindful way of travel. A whole industry of sustainable resorts is growing up. You can stay in eco-resorts that run the gamut from glamping to a 5-star experience. Just because you leave your home country doesn’t mean your carbon footprint doesn’t count.


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