Many people may feel that quarantine and the travel lockdown are some of the worst things happening at the moment. We all feel frustrated that our summer holiday travel plans have been cancelled, and we are itching to get away and book our next trip as soon as possible.
As an avid traveller myself, I am sad that I might not get to spend the summer in Finland, by a lake at my grandparents’ cottage. Instead of being sad, we might as well reflect on the incredible privilege we have had so far, to make amazing and memorable travel after covid 19! As we are all sitting at home with more time on our hands than ever, this is the perfect moment to sit and reflect on our own travel habits and look at our actions with a more open and critical point of view.
It is not breaking news that the travel and tourism industries have been greatly impacted by the effects of the COVID-19 and the global travel restrictions. Many global airlines and hotels are struggling to stay functional, not to even mention smaller B&Bs and family run businesses in the industry. Many of them are in dire need for our business, as soon as the travel lockdown is lifted. Overtourism, pollution and the negative impacts of tourism have been discussed and debated on a global scale long before anyone had ever heard of COVID-19. But the travel restrictions have provided us with some new insight into what the world without tourists looks like. The usually bustling and polluted canals of the Italian city of Venice have been spotted crystal clear, with dolphins and marine wildlife returning. Satellite imaging has shown an astounding decrease in air pollution in even the world’s busiest cities. It seems that while we are restricted to our couches, the planet is embracing this pause.
With budget flights and cheap Airbnbs enticing us to book our next weekend getaway, who wouldn’t want to jump at the opportunity! But maybe once the travel lockdown lifts, we can focus on more purposeful travel and supporting the local communities we are visiting and giving our travels more depth. Purposeful travel encompasses a wide array of travel activities and generally focuses on giving back to the travel location in some way. This can range from international study programs, retreats, volunteering/ voluntourism to responsible tourism.
International Study Programs:
There are a wide range of different studies you can incorporate with your travels after Covid 19. Explore a new city while building your professional skills, win-win! Summer school studies, vocational studies and pre-university foundation studies all fall under this category. Many universities and colleges offer shorter summer courses which can even provide you with college credits! If the more serious studies aren’t for you, you could look into a vocational course such as cooking, photography, art, languages or even scuba diving! Many of these courses offer cultural activities in your free time, so you will leave both culturally and professionally enlightened.
In need of a proper getaway? Book into a retreat! Retreats are usually more focussed on the arts and personal development. These can range from a variety of fields such as: visual arts, writing or photography to yoga, spirituality and mindfulness. Retreats are usually more slow paced than international study programs, and allow you to really immerse yourself into relaxing and developing your new skill.
Voluntourism and Volunteering:
If the thought of helping a community or environment while doing your travels sounds appealing, why not try volunteering or voluntourism? Voluntourism usually consists of a package-deal, with volunteer work alongside sightseeing and free time. Usually accommodation and meals are included, and this type of tourism is more short-term. Voluntourism also ensures that all profits made from your travels are inserted into helping the local community. But make sure to do your research as there are many ethical points which can be raised with this type of tourism, and you want to ensure that the organization which you are collaborating with is ethical and transparent in its practices and supports the local community through sustainable development, and not by building reliance on the voluntourism sector.
If the thought of a package deal does not sound up your street, Volunteering could be more suited for you. Research the options in your travel destination: charities, non-governmental organizations, hospitals, shelters and schools are all great options for volunteering. Being able to find your own organization provides you with flexibility and the freedom to choose to help something close to heart. Be aware that in volunteer posts, the organizations may be looking for a longer-term commitment and you may be required to attend an interview. In addition, in most cases you will be responsible for your own accommodation and meals. But in this type of activity, you also have the chance to learn, build your skills and develop your CV.
In any case, whether you choose voluntourism or volunteering, both of these options are a great way to obtain memorable travel experiences, achieve personal development and skills, all while helping someone in need! Just make sure to do your research beforehand.
If you’re really just in the need of a holiday, and none of these travel opportunities sound like the option for you, why not focus on responsible tourism? The main mantra behind this type of tourism is giving back to the local community through your visit, and being mindful and aware of the impact of your visit. What does this mean? Focussing on quality over quantity. Staying at a locally run hotel or B&B, instead of one of the global chains. Visiting and buying from local artisan shops, restaurants and museums. Participating in local experiences, such as cooking classes, pottery or even a city tour by a local guide. Although at times these might come with a higher price tag, I guarantee that the genuine experiences and encounters will far exceed your normal Big Bus tour. Participating in responsible tourism practices not only provide you with a more encompassing experience, but also gives back to the local community. This way the places that you love to holiday in will stay authentic and you help minimize the negative impacts of tourism.
If anything, when quarantine is over, the travel lockdown lifted, and life returns to normal, we can decide what the new normal will look like in terms of our habits of travel after covid 19. I hope this list of new, exciting and purposeful travel options have given you some food for thought when planning your next trip and will help you in making the right decisions to support the future of travelling after covid 19.
If we have sparked your interest and you are looking for your perfect purposeful travel destination, look no further than placement-international.org. We offer training programs and international academic courses, which can help you make the most of your travels after covid 19, both professionally and culturally, or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.