Beaches cleared. High streets empty. Wildlife returning to places previously devoid of nature. Space – to wander and to breathe and to take in your own surroundings. Silence.
When borders shut all over the world last year, many of us fell back in love with the places we lived. We cherished our local neighbourhoods, embraced the people around us, and in many cases, appreciated the near-total lack of intruders. Our homes were ours again.
But now things are – fingers crossed – returning to normal. The likes of Singapore, Australia, Thailand, the USA are flinging open their borders. International travel is very much on the cards again, which is great news for those of us who could really do with a holiday (read: all of us).
But it also means mass tourism could well return to its previous, unsustainable levels. The planet – and vulnerable local communities – really can’t hack that.
So with the extra impetus provided by COP26, now well under way in Glasgow, we reckon it’s time to build a better, more responsible tourism industry – one that doesn’t harm the environment, and one that does support local people.
That doesn’t mean avoiding travel altogether: many destinations really are desperate for international visitors to return. But it does mean doing things differently. And that starts with people like us: the people whose job it is to inspire others to get out and explore the world.
So from now on, we’ll be steering our travel coverage towards the local: places you can get to easily, with little impact on the planet.
We’ll be promoting businesses that hire locally and give back to the community.
We’ll be singing the praises of destinations that put the environment first.
We’ll be celebrating activities that respect the great outdoors.
We’ll be spotlighting environmentally-aware firms, from airlines investing in biofuels to hotels that source food locally.
And where you might have to travel far, we’ll be recommending train and bus options, rather than flights.
In a world increasingly affected by the climate catastrophe, we have to rethink the way we go about our daily lives – and one thing we can’t overlook is the impact of our holidays.
So if you’re thinking about a trip and want to do it right? Watch this space for the very best sustainable travel tips and inspiration: there’s a heck of a lot of it coming your way.
And if you’re planning a trip already? Here are 10 eco-friendly companies you can feel good about booking with.