The world is a smaller place in many ways. Today, a flight can take you anywhere you want to go, and a huge percentage of the world is open to tourism and travel. Television, radio, phones, and the internet allow us to know what’s happening anywhere, and even keep up with friends who live thousands of miles away. But the world is smaller in another way, too. The environment and cultural resources of our planet may not be able to keep up with all this travel.
The Answer: Conscious Travel
Conscious travel is budget travel, but that doesn’t just refer to cheap flights or discount travel. It’s a movement that’s budgeting everything: your personal resources as you plan a flight, and the need for sustainable travel to preserve the resources of the world. It’s aimed at preserving cultures, species, the environment, and your own funds!
Consciously Choosing What and Where
You want the important experiences that come with travel. You need airline deals that fit your personal budget. But you also want to go places with intention. What experiences do you hope to have, in particular? What activities can you plan that allow you to enjoy without harming anything? Plan places where you can go hiking, for example, without leaving any trash. Consider whether that helicopter tour will be disruptive to the local wildlife. Look for eco-tours that are specifically designed to provide tourists with a way to engage without disruption.
Consciously Choosing Not to Pollute
This is a lot more than just remembering to pick up your trash. Are you bringing noise pollution with you, blaring music in a quiet village? Are you uproariously laughing and yelling through the sacred ground of a temple or while passing through a quiet forest? What about the political and cultural pollution you bring? Respect the fact that other cultures do not share the same values as you do and see the world in fundamentally different ways. You don’t have to become like them: but you don’t need to foist off every thought you have on others, either.
Consciously Showing Respect
When you book a flight, you probably do a lot of searching online to discover cheap flights or tips for traveling on a budget. Don’t forget to also look online for tips about what to do or not do in your destination. Are there hand gestures you should avoid? What is the local tipping culture? Are there local businesses you can intentionally patronize so that the economy is improved because of your presence?
Being a responsible, budget-conscious traveler is all about being careful with all resources: your own, those of others, and the resources of our shared Earth. The next time you look for a cheap airline flight for a getaway, make sure you’re being a conscious traveler.