Amara Amaryah | travel + books + poetry, always poetry. a platform for story-telling, visuals, positive self-talk and empowerment | ecotourism and mindful travel.
today i’m sharing something that is becoming more and more crucial to me: ecotourism and mindful travel. i’m learning that as traveller and someone who enjoys seeing the world, i have a responsibility to do that considerately. i’ve seen the word ‘ecotourism’ thrown around and i’ve made an effort to atleast understand it. but with a few flights booked for 2019 (ayee), now feels like a good moment to implement. in a sentence, ecotourism is travel in the most eco-friendly and planet-conscious manner.
this here blog post is my intro to ecotourism and mindful travel. i’m learning. this post is a look at my research, thoughts and theories so far. this is an invitation for travellers interested in eco-travel habits. i’m here for us to initiate all of the learning and all of the inspiration together because that is how we move in 2019. and so:
ecotourism and local economies
it is super important to consider the economies that you are supporting whilst travelling. choosing local/ independent / family-run businesses over chain restaurants is always the way to win. whilst travelling, choose to go to the markets and support the smaller establishments whenever possible. this could even extend to accommodation . rather than choosing a chain hotel, consider staying with a family or using locally run establishments. this is a diffcult one for me personally as i am always cautious about who i trust. but with time there will be a way around the security issues in my mind i’m sure.
avoiding capital cities and tourist populated places
there is a real need to avoid the highly targetted areas by tourists. when there is a massive influx in tourism in one city we see the effects in the environment. the feel and fibre of the city deteriorates once a place becomes subject to hyper-tourism. this article speaks about the overtourism in Venice. too many people visiting one place at the same time can be a strain on a city. more than this, it causes disproptionate tourism in comparison to the other cities. in the future i will try and rectify this by visiting less popular cities in the country first? or maybe altogether? it could also be a good way to support locals in quieter cities.
respecting culture and language barriers
this is my favourite way to practice mindful travel. i’m a big lover of learning new languages and try to have a chat with locals as often as possible. i reached my highest self when in portugal (shout out to carlos). i painfully an shamelessly got through english-portuguese conversations with whoever would entertain me. the trick is to engage in meaningful conversation with locals. understand them. understand their joys and frustrations about the area. ask them for tips on where to eat. actually foster a connection with someone who lives in the place you’re exploring. this is humbling and respectful and a beautiful human exchange. i recommend putting this on your travel bucketlist for each trip.
also, pay attention to culture differences. and don’t overthink or feel offence (because sometimes you might). just remember that you are a visitor, travelling to learn. notice the difference, remember it and keep it moving. we have to not feel entilted to behave how ever we want. instead, respect the cultural ways.
tell their stories
another point which is very close to my heart. tell the stories that you encounter. the travel industry is slowly becoming ours, i think. we’re able to control the narratives thanks to travel blogs, vlogs, platforms etc. this is a massive motivation for my blog. my travel encounters serve as a way to share my travel stories as a young black-girl traveller. this documentary is a way to undo negative narratives, stereotypes and share actual realities. a massive part of ecotourism, from my understanding, is dissolving the idea that cities can be trendy and that we travel to the ‘city of the moment’. there are stories everywhere, always. remind people of that and know the power of your recommendation.
this is not for the gram
a simple thing to consider. so often we travel almost exclusively with travel pics in mind. this often leads to us interrupting locals or nature. mindful travel means not intruding, ignoring, disrupting or disrespecting for the sake of content. there are so many examples of this being done wrong. i remember when first travelling (and sometimes still) i’d feel awkward about asking permission for a picture. but you must. lool i once learnt the very hard way. but this is relevant even when you don’t have to ‘ask’, such as with nature. consider the field/pasture/land that you want to explore. if you’re going to damage the land for the sake of a pic, relocate the photoshoot boo. there will be more photo opportunities!
animal treatment + admitting my past L’s
this is an easy one to forget but is very important. basically, sanctuaries > zoo’s or animal shows. even still, sometimes these are not as transparent as we’d like to believe. animal labour is also something to be aware of. i made a mistake whilst travelling in morocco and chose camel riding rather than go-karting. i knew as soon as i saw the skin of the camel wearing away that i would never do this again. it is so easy to get swept up in the experience and forget about animal labour as a way of poor ecotourism.
waste + plastic free travel
my reading has taught me about loads of easy ways to travel and minimise waste. i came across The Sandy Feet blog on pinterest which helped me consider ‘eco-friendly’ travel essentials. one small thing that i will be doing is carrying my reusable water bottle around to fill up. i hate feeling clunky while travelling but it is better than buying plastic bottles over again. i’ll also carry tote bags for any shopping that i do.
we should be practicing this at home… but it is important to take these behaviours with us while we travel. a note: while we travel it is easy to adopt the mindset of ‘i’m on holiday, let me live luxury!’. which is fair. but convert your mindset to being a wanderer, a grateful guest having a brand new experience. see how that makes you compassionate and humble enough to not over-consume and mindlessly waste. (preaching to myself who tries to do bouj. our new aesthetic is eco-friendly bouj).
and so it is. my learnings so far. it will be a long journey and i cannot wait to practice and discover new things. i know that there is still loads to learn and i am open to correction or addition to anything in this post. are you a mindful traveller or focussing on ecotourism? drop your thoughts in the comment section below.
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