“Live better with less“: this credo is that of minimalism, a way of life that advocates a return to the essential, by voluntarily reducing our possessions. With “decluttering” as its keyword, minimalism has slowly taken its place in travel world – especially in travelers’ bags. So does minimalist travel mean travelling with a lighter backpack? Yes… But not only!
Responsible travel means trying to minimize the negative effects of tourism. It also means supporting a fairer local economy (fair travel), while preserving the environment (sustainable travel) and making more authentic encounters (participative tourism). It’s a mode of travel that is part of alternative travel, that we advocate for!
With travelers becoming increasingly aware and committed, some do not hesitate to brandish the label “responsible travel” to attract a wider audience: after all, in the absence of an official definition, it is not surprising that the concept of “responsible travel” is being used for anything… and everything! How do you unravel the real from the fake? How can we be sure to face greenwashing – those misleading marketing methods that use ecological and ethical arguments to create an image that does not reflect reality at all? This is what we will try to see here, based on specific examples.
While volunteering in a hostel in Kyrgyzstan, we were struck by the interest and enthusiasm of a majority of travelers for attractions involving animals – such as multi-day horse treks with tired horses, or souvenir photo sessions with an eagle on arm… Choices that often exasperated us, but also raised many questions.
During our trip, we asked ourselves several times this question: “Should we boycott over-frequented places?” Indeed our way of traveling tried to be the more responsible possible, but is it really responsible to visit a place that suffers from mass tourism? We wanted to put our thoughts here, bringing both our personal and documented lights on the subject, in order to bring out some answers… but especially solutions!
A recent study shows that global tourism is responsible for 8% of greenhouse gas emissions (4.5 Giga Tonnes of CO2 emitted in 2013 are directly attributable to tourism). A figure that would not be ready to decline, since tourism is growing by + 4% per year… According to these scientists, transport, shopping and food are the main factors contributing to this pollution. Fortunately, today there are plenty of simple solutions, easy alternatives to reduce our environmental impact while traveling – so we can still enjoy traveling without getting annoyed by doing more efforts or feeling guilty!
After graduating as an engineer, Clément, Julien’s little brother, undertook (also) a world trip by hitchhiking with a friend. On the road, Clément developed a reflection on transport and ecology, a subject that is close to his (and our) heart… Not having a blog but things to say, we wanted (with his blessing) to share his thoughts, giving him total freedom of speech – for a result that reflects its author: punchy, scientific and totally offbeat!