Just a fortnight into 2023, reasons to feel positive about anything feel few and far between. The war rages on in Ukraine. The cost of living crisis is pushing thousands to the brink of poverty. Strikes across healthcare and transport are bringing vital services to their knees. And always, beneath it all, the planet is burning; temperatures continue to climb as humanity continues to fail to act quickly enough to address the climate crisis.
Cheery stuff, eh? I bet you’re glad you clicked through to this article.
All that said, there always remain reasons to stay hopeful. And, in this new column, Travel Positive, I’ll attempt to find those in the world of travel: the sustainability good news stories that are getting me genuinely excited about taking my next trip. Here, we’ll be swapping doom for delight, anxiety for inspiration. Join me, won’t you, as we celebrate the sunny side of what one of my colleagues calls “the industry of human happiness”?
After all, there is little in this life that brings joy like travel does. But there’s no doubt that it causes more harm than good when it comes to people and planet: ever-increasing numbers of emissions-heavy flights contributing to the Earth’s warming; cruise ships dumping thousands of passengers at a time on destinations unable to accommodate them all; the rise of accommodation-sharing platforms pricing out local residents; overtourism putting a strain on once pristine destinations.
However, plenty of places are fighting back post-pandemic, attempting to replace previous unworkable tourism templates with something better, something which works for inhabitants as much as it does visitors. When you start looking for them, in fact, there are many reasons to feel positive about the future of travel at every turn.
One of the elements allowing for more sustainable trips that’s really getting its groove back is the humble sleeper train. Rail travel is clearly much better, emissions-wise, than hopping on a jet – producing on average 16 per cent of the CO2e emissions burped into the atmosphere by a flight per passenger, per kilometre – and much more enjoyable, too, in this travel editor’s honest opinion. Watching the countryside speed past, with the space to stretch out and wander about the cabin at will, plus no seatbelt signs, turbulence or limited baggage allowance…