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Speaking of reciprocity, one of the simplest ways to give back to local communities is to put as many of our travel pounds into the pockets of locals as possible. According to the UN’s World Tourism Organisation, just 5 per cent of money spent by tourists actually stays in the local community, with the rest ending up in the hands of multinational corporations. We can change that, by making sure we’re staying in locally owned hotels, eating in locally owned restaurants, employing local Indigenous guides and buying locally made handicrafts.
By surrounding ourselves with flourishing natural environments, by prioritising hiking and biking trips, camping adventures and sailing journeys, we’re allowing ourselves to feel awe for our planet. Research tells us this feeling of awe tends to make us kinder and more generous, and encourages us to forgo our personal interests for those of others and the world. Exactly what’s needed at this crucial moment in time.
Choosing travel companies and hotels with a commitment to conservation, or who fund conservation initiatives, is another way to protect the natural world while travelling. Seeking out rewilding or citizen-science trips takes this one step further, since guests can participate in projects that restore environments and bolster populations of endangered species, often alongside local scientists and researchers.
If you’re reading this and thinking: we just lost two precious travel years, let’s not make this harder than it needs to be, then please think again. Only six per cent of the world’s population has ever set foot on a plane. That’s right, six. It’s imperative to remember what a privilege travel really is, and to go about it in a way that’s as nurturing for the places we visit as it is for us.
Go Lightly: How to Travel Without Hurting the Planet by Nina Karnikowski is out now (Orion, £14.99)
This article is taken from The Big Issue magazine. If you cannot reach your local vendor, you can still click HERE to subscribe to The Big Issue today or give a gift subscription to a friend or family member.You can also purchase one-off issues from The Big Issue Shop or The Big Issue app, available now from the App Store or Google Play.