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What does travelling mean today?

Between new trends, sustainability and the responsibilities of modern tourists

What does travelling mean today? Between new trends, sustainability and the responsibilities of modern tourists

What's the next trip you're planning to take? Have you already booked it or are you going on an adventure? Traveling has never been easier, yet vacations remain a true status symbol, something to discuss at dinners, to flex on our unsuspecting acquaintances, to share on Instagram. However, we often forget that traveling consciously is very beautiful, but not easy. Let's take a look at the latest trends and reflect on what it means to travel sustainably and contemporarily, taking on our responsibilities as modern travelers, one Instagram photo at a time.

The New Travel Trends

Once upon a time, traveling was a huge privilege. An unsustainable expense for many families, something only the so-called wealthy could afford. Now, with low-cost airlines and an increase in flexible work, things have changed, especially when it comes to short stays. Life is fluid, and so are vacations. So much so that they blend with business trips, leading to terms like bleisure (business + leisure) or workcation. If it's a trip with friends, the term used is buddycation, if it's for sleeping and resting then it's sleepcation. Some of these trends seem to directly depend on the less-than-ideal economic situation we find ourselves in. When the honeymoon, for example, is cut short, we face a minimoon, if we choose a slightly unknown destination to save money, we're opting for a destination dupe. Others depend on climate change. If we escape the heat for cooler climates, we're embarking on a coolcation, and so on. Even different modes of travel, like skincare and beauty trends, food trends, and any aspect of contemporary life, are all fragmented and repackaged, resold with catchy and memorable names. Under all these terms, however, we must not lose sight of a fundamental truth: being a traveler also implies duties and cannot be disconnected from the times we live in, for better or for worse.

The Sustainability Issue: What Can We Do?

In 2019, the tourism sector was responsible for 10% of greenhouse gas emissions. According to a report from the Mediterranean Tourism Exchange, mass tourism has a negative impact on the natural resources of the places that are periodically overrun. Furthermore, tourist destinations are generally more polluted, natural sites are destroyed, and summers are plagued by drought due to the careless use of water by vacationers. In our own small way, when we choose to travel (alone or with friends), we can do something to limit all this. We can, for example, choose a tour operator that commits to being sustainable, try to take public transportation in the area we're in, buy from local shops and restaurants rather than large chains, in short, be mindful of our behaviors, our waste, and our movements. And if this should always be valid, even when we're at home, it becomes even more urgent when we move to places south of the world, where we have more spending power.

Other Responsibilities of the Contemporary Traveler

It's not just a matter of sustainability, but also of general responsibilities, which are inherent even in the choice of destination. Some places (such as Hawaii, or Florida during spring break) have asked potential tourists to avoid their areas. As true travelers, we should accept their wishes, just as we should commit to respecting the people, animals, and customs of the places we want to learn more about. No more photos of children, no more videos mimicking, no more demanding from the whole world the standards we maintain at home, in all areas. Traveling is not just a way to collect images, to put pins on a map, but also to learn respect towards the new and the different, to develop our spirit of adaptation and curiosity. Otherwise, more than travelers, we are tourists, or worse: rude guests to tolerate, hoping they leave as soon as possible.