Traveling is one of those things that seem both easy and incredibly difficult, depending on how much you enjoy letting go. But when you go traveling, there’s one thing everyone agrees on: Keep your eyes open to see it all. It’s an obvious piece of advice, and that’s probably why you can’t open your favorite social media platform nowadays without enjoying several pictures of foreign landscapes, wild animals, and exotic culinary dishes. Maybe that’s exactly what keeping your eyes open means. While you want to be an active observer in your travels, you need to consider the hidden pros and cons of your actions. If you’re thinking of environmental issues, you would be right. But this time, it’s more than looking at dirty beaches. It’s about keeping your eyes and mind open to the consequences of your travel choices on others.
The hidden environmental cost of your travel
There’s no novelty in saying that the tourism industry presents a serious threat to the environment. After all, it doesn’t matter how much you try to reduce your carbon emission by reducing the quantity of meat you eat – a vegan diet can make up to 20% difference to your overall carbon impact –, managing your home heating effectively, and reducing the mileage you drive in a year by a third. If you travel, then you are likely to fly. Flights emit a lot of carbon, especially long-distance flights which can emit several tons of carbon. On the one hand, you might be inclined to admire the wilderness of Icelandic landscapes, but on the other hand, you’re damaging these very landscapes by flying to them.
The hidden benefits to the environment
Traveling, however, can have beneficial impacts on the very same environment. For instance, the multiplication of natural reserves and parks across the world is tightly connected to the increased demand in tourism. Whether you decide to spend a week hiking in the Lake District in the UK, or you book a tour with Safari in Africa, you can experience a close encounter with wild animals and landscapes within a protected environment. The protection is both for your benefit and for the local nature too. Safari reserves are designed to protect wild animals against hunters and criminal traffic. Natural parks keep the nature untouched and undisturbed.
The hidden cost on other travelers
Have you ever thought of the impact of your travels on other travelers?Bergün, a small commune lost in the Swiss Alps, is very aware of travel envy and has therefore banned travelers from taking pictures of the village. Their reason? It’s too beautiful, and it will make other travelers sad for not being there.
The hidden benefits on other travelers
Travel envy is a nasty feeling. But more often than not, it is misdiagnosed. When you share your travel memories with friends and relatives, you become an inspiration. For a change of lifestyle. For their next travel. Or simply for a better way of taking pictures – maybe these selfie-sticks are brilliant for landscape pictures? When you travel, you make others want to escape their daily routine and explore the world too.
When you travel, you create a chain of positive and negative events around you, to the environment and your community. You may not be able to control these events, but being aware that they exist means that you can take a better-informed decision for your next travel plans! Keep your mind and your eyes open.