Holiday, lots of people are having it every year, some even twice a year. Some people travel to the other side of the world, others stay home. I decided to go to Saint Martin (the Caribbean) not because it is a very environmental friendly choice but because my sister lives there. Despite the flight, I hope to make the holiday as sustainable as possible. At least I have choices that can make this trip more or less sustainable.
The trip starts with going there, the Caribbean is quite far away so it will take me too much time to go there by boat. Which leaves me to taking the plane. I think you know, just as well as I do, that this is not very environmental friendly. Luckily, when being at the destination there are several decisions that I can make to make sure I will not have a too big impact on the environment and to stimulate the local economy.
I am staying at my sisters place, so no hotels or hostels involved. But when you are not visiting a relative during your holiday you’d better decide to stay in locally run guest houses or hotels. That gives you more certainty that the profit they make will benefit the local economy. If you decide to choose for a big multinational hotel you could still try to do your best by only choosing half-board. Because then you are not only stimulating the local economy, it also gives you more freedom about where and what you want to eat. I always like to eat outside hotels because the food is often much better. The only rule that I keep in mind when choosing a place is checking if the place is busy. If it is busy and locals are eating there the food is probably nice and the hygiene is good. When the place is empty, no matter how nice it looks, don’t go in because you are taking a risk! You can off course never be 100% sure that you will not get ill but at least you decrease the chance.
When you want to travel around a country, think about choosing for public transport instead of renting a car. There are such wonderful railway tracks around the world. They can really add something special to your holiday. Unfortunately the public transport at Saint Martin isn’t that great but I used it a lot when I travelled around India. There are sleeping trains going all across the country. When you leave the station in the evening and when you wake up in the morning there are wonderful sights. You also have the opportunity to get in touch with locals or other tourists travelling through the country. But again, when travelling via public transport, it is the local economy that benefits from it.
So when going on holiday, always ask yourself: Who owns this place / Who will profit from this? If it are the locals and the economy of the country that you’re in, your making the right decisions!
BOOK: A good life, the guide to ethical living – Leo Hickman