An absolutely new idea of traveling came into my life in 2007. It was international hospitality exchange networks (such as couchsurfing.org and hospitalityclub.org). First I was only a host, people from all over the world came to my place in far away kingdom called Far East telling amazing stories of their life and trips. It completely has changed all my life.
I was always into “eco” way of living, because all my relatives are biologists – scientists, teachers. I used to think about the pollution of the Earth since I was a child. Russian people mostly don’t really care about anything else, but their today's satisfaction and entertainment. My heart was bleeding when I saw even my friends, people who I knew for all my life, putting garbage to a heap next to a beach, as “there was a garbage already”. I tried to reduce my own eco trace. So, I was glad to find this new way of traveling.
There’s ecotourism, when you visit eco-places and enjoy the nature. But what if you want to do regular sightseeing? Book a flight, book a hotel again? No, there’s a way to do traveling in a responsible, sustainable way.
So… what did I find out during my trips to China, Vietnam and The European Union?
“How to travel with the minimal damage to the nature and maximal comfort to you”.
1. Using hospitality network you decrease the amount of one-use things (toothbrushes, toothpastes, soaps etc). You take your stuff (including linen or a sleeping bag) with you, so there’s an economy of electricity as the hotel (hostel) doesn’t have to wash clothes and clean your room every day.
2. You take part in everyday life; can share ideas and experience, spread the idea of a green life around.
3. Mostly you cook at home for your host or your host cooks for you, so you use less throwaway packs, eat local food, eat “slow food”, not fast food.
4. Hitchhiking (BTW, hitchwiki.org helped a lot) is the way to completely stop using planes, but it doesn’t suits everybody, so carpool would be suitable for those ones who don’t want to wait for hours for the lift on unlucky day. Sharing a car and fuel costs with the driver and another passengers you decrease consumption of the gasoline! (I used this site for Germany http://www.mitfahrzentrale.de and it worked out excellent. Also there's another one for the whole world http://www.carpoolworld.com/)
5. Using bicycles inside of the cities for sightseeing help to fight with air pollution. There are tons of free or not very expensive bike tours in every European city and you can rent a bike very cheap or even buy it in all Asian countries.6. In the end you save a bunch of money, which you can save it up for your next trip, or spend for saving pandas in China or for visiting amazing museums and galleries, enjoying a cultural heritage… whatever…!
I believe that’s the future of traveling!
CouchSurfing grass party in Vladivostok, back to 2008.
Here you can learn more about green economy: http://www.unep.org/wed/