Travelling – should it be a guilty pleasure?

Have you ever felt a pang of guilt going on holiday? Shame for taking that domestic flight because it was faster than other transport options? This subconscious feeling of guilt adds a new complexity to travelling today, in times of increased awareness towards sustainability. Because no one wants to be responsible for compounding climate change with their carbon footprint!

Hanging Bridge - Monteverde Cloud Forest
Photo: Shutterstock

With all the problems the world is facing, coupled with constant negativity in the news, travelling is not as carefree as it used to be. The fear of being judged by our peers and the subconscious knowledge that our lifestyle might add to the overall problem, has resulted in travelling being a guilty pleasure for many of us.

This is a shame, as travelling is supposed to be a joyful and carefree experience and it has so many irreplaceable benefits, not only for ourselves but the entire planet.

Not only does the tourism industry account for the world’s majority of employment, and economic revenue but it also allows for cultural exchange between locals and foreigners, breaking down barriers and prejudices and has immense psychological and educational benefits for every traveller. Exploring is a balm for the travellers soul, it broadens our horizons, recharges our batteries, and teaches us life lessons not available in any other circumstance. These are merely a few of the reasons why it shouldn’t be accompanied by this subtle feeling of guilt. 

So where is this travel guilt coming from?

The tourism industry has experienced incredible growth in recent decades. As human beings have been doing for centuries, we all love to explore the opportunities our connected world holds, and travelling has never been as easy as it is today. While the entire industry was put on a hold due to the restrictions in place during the pandemic, tourism has proven to be an extremely resilient sector as people, by nature, now want to make up for what they have missed out on during lockdowns.

At the same time, we’re living in a modern world full of innovation, change, and progress. The pandemic has noticeably increased awareness among travellers about the negative impact their travels can have on the environment which is driving travellers guilt. With climate change becoming a palpable issue for the entire world, consumers fortunately have begun to rethink their choices before acting and this is not only a positive development, but a highly crucial one to begin with!

So how do we get rid of the guilt?

The solution is simple:
Eliminate your negative impact.

If you’re not doing any harm, there’s no reason to feel bad and with this, you get to enjoy all of travel’s benefits to the fullest!

The first step towards that goal is to be fully aware of the effects your travel decisions have. Learn about sustainable options available for your travels and go the extra mile to make a conscious choice. By now we all know not to use plastic straws, to turn off electronics when not in the room and to avoid food waste. These are all small and important actions, but we need to do more.

Ask questions and let your wallet do the talking!

Pick up the phone and give your travel agent or tour operator a call to ask how they offset the carbon emissions on their trips? Before you book a hotel, ask them how they handle food waste and where they get their energy from? Check on the initiatives the tourist attractions you are planning on visiting take to fulfill their part of the sustainability deal.

You cannot make the right choice if you don’t know the whole story, right? Inform yourself and evaluate your options. Then let your wallet do the talking by purchasing the most sustainable option. It will not only make you feel confident knowing you have done your best to minimise your impact! But aid in driving sustainable change for the future.

Carbon offsetting! What is it and can it really help?

Whilst there have been substantial improvements with emissions from transport, until the fuel used for vehicles becomes green and sustainable, the only option we have at the moment is to offset any emissions, thus neutralising our impact. It is certainly better than doing nothing.

When you offset your flights, for example, you are going to pay a small extra fee for purchasing a credit. That money will then be used by the carbon offset company to fund a project that will benefit the environment. So, the damage you caused by the carbon emissions released on your flights is essentially cancelled out! These projects could be, for example, the implementation of hydropower plants or reforestation programs. You can even offset your trips individually through great companies like Tasman Environmental and Terrapass. Gosh, why not double offset and make your journey give back?

Considering flying has a massive impact on the environment and is likely to be the most harmful part of your travels, offsetting your trip is probably the most efficient option to reduce your ecological footprint and still be able to travel guiltlessly. Unfortunately, greenwashing has become a real thing as many companies claim to offset their emissions for good marketing. The industry is not as regulated as it should be, and some companies do take advantage of the loopholes. Another reason why we urge you to ask questions and do some research before booking your next holiday. You and your wallet are powerful.

Check out our blog to inform yourself about Chimu Adventure’s carbon offsets and contact our helpful team in case of any questions.

We hope to see you soon at one of our carbon-neutral trips to explore this beautiful world together – guilt-free and light-hearted!

Author: Bente Bruhnken