As I’m sitting in my caravan on a campground not too far away from Schiphol airport I can’t help but notice the high amounts of flights coming by. I wonder how many are filled with passengers going on vacation, or returning for that matter. The covid pandemic has shown us how vulnerable we’ve become as a global population. We love to explore places that are as much opposite as what we’re used to. It always seems that we have to go far away to achieve that and since we don’t have much time we’d like to get there as fast as possible. So we get into planes that are stuffed to the brim, so the prices can stay as low as possible, to get to where we want to go.
A great way to take diseases from one part of the world to another.
Of course I’m over simplifying a bit, but that makes the conversation a bit easier. Let me quickly add that I’m not against traveling. I actually think it’s really important. When traveling we grow our knowledge of the people, the culture and/or the nature of a place we’re visiting. People are in general scared or hesitant of things they don’t know.
A good example is Saudi Arabia, I’ve lived there for about five months and I have a very different view of the country since my stay. With pandemics and climate change in mind it might be interesting to think about a new way of traveling.
A term that I’ve come across recently is slow travel.That is really thé way of growing knowledge of a place. By staying for a longer time in the same place while mingling with locals really educates you to a new level. Without knowing the term slow travel I was already doing something similar in 2017. I worked as a volunteer in two national parks in the US. I noticed how much I enjoyed getting to know that national park inside and out. Since then I’ve been implementing this in my life.
I know that many people will not be persuaded to change to such a way of traveling. Even my own family raises their eyebrows when I talk about things like this. But I know there are people that are open to rethinking their way of seeing the world or already have been for the last few years.
Here are my ideas on how to change the way we travel around the world. It’s something that I’m trying to do as much as I can myself. However I do want to stress that it’s important to not call out other people on their choices. I never say never, maybe I will fly to a destination for only a short amount of time in the future. As I’ve said in previous blogs every person should decide what they can and want to do and everybody has the right to have their guilty pleasures. We can’t decide for others what they should and shouldn’t do to make this world a better place.
Try to be an example instead of telling others what they aren’t doing.
So back to my ideas. I think we can split the shorter getaways and the longer travels. If you (I) want to relax from work and life a bit for let’s say up to three weeks you take any overland travel. The seriousness of the pandemic might help with deciding what type is best. Of course, trains or buses are best when you want to minimize your footprint.
When you are interested in exploring a place a bit further from home take a few months off to go see that part of the world. Once there, try to use overland travel only. Don’t just go for the highlights but fully explore what that area has to offer. I often enjoy the things around the highlight more than the thing itself, because it’s not so crowded. Making an effort to really see some beautiful things can be so much more fulfilling than hopping out of the car, taking a picture and jumping back in to drive to the next thing.
Once planes on green hydrogen or any other environmentally friendly ways of long distance travel are available, I’ll be happy to go explore around the world once more. Until that time I think I’ll do my best to minimize my impact.