The Covid-19 pandemic has given the world an unprecedented chance to rethink the way we travel in the 21st century. So as not to cause more harm to the planet than we already have, be a bellwether of this new world by travelling responsibly and without compunction.
“Shall we go to Bali or Bangkok this weekend?” is a tempting proposal often pitched in Kuala Lumpur. And why not, when low-cost airlines charge a pittance for return flights? Even so, the allure of short and sweet vacations someplace close by is coupled with the ominous fact that whether you travel by car or train or plane, going from A to B racks up detrimental amounts of greenhouses gases.
Hence the case for taking longer, intermittent trips. The only way to reduce our carbon footprint, as underscored by Carbon Brief Ltd, is to travel less miles overall. Make it a month-long Euro trip as opposed to four-weekend getaways—all the better to experience a place instead of seeing it superficially.
Now more than ever is a good time to get into cycling. “It’s the safest mode of transport if you care about social distancing,” says competitive cyclist Aaron Chan Chow Hee, who is also an ambassador for Specialized, Lululemon and Ohlins Malaysia. “You’ll also get to see nooks and crannies that you might have overlooked,” adds Chan, making a strong case for bicycles. Invest in a touring bike for cross-country trips or rent a city bike in metropolitan areas.
To add to the aforementioned point on accumulating less miles: seek out local thrills instead of far-flung destinations—especially now that the hospitality industry is focusing on meeting the needs of locals.
Travel bucket lists are partially to blame for the rise of ‘hot spots.’ Our inclination to tick things off the said lists cause overcrowding, which drains local ecosystems. Rather than rub shoulders with strangers at the Coliseum, queue for hours to mount the Eiffel Tower, or add to the problem of pollution at Phuket Island, it can be more rewarding to go where few have gone before—it also makes for better travel photography!
Sometimes written off as laziness, selfishness is what drives the sales of single-use products. Rather than rely on hotel-provided toiletry kits or buy bottled water on the go, bear the small inconvenience of packing a few extra things in your suitcase or carry-on, such as a travel flask and a toothbrush and toothpaste.
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