Sustainable Travel: Right Here, Right Now
Recently central London has come to a standstill due to climate change protests which are designed to force the world’s population to recognise that our consumption of material goods at such a global level will mean our world will eventually no longer be fit for human life. As I watch from the sidelines, the questions raised around our future sustainability got me thinking about the global footprint of a traveller.
People who travel for extended periods of time, by default, become temporary nomads. While we may take a few long haul flights to land on a new continent, we own all that we can carry, and usually due to limited budgets, we pick slow travel methods overland and walk to places where possible. We don’t own cars or houses and we consume little electricity – especially in hostels, where the power is used to keep large numbers of people comfortable for the same price of a household. We eat locally, the produce is cooked in front of you and eaten, the supply chain reduced to a minimum, with the profits going directly back to the families in tourist towns that make their livelihood from this business.
Along the way we get to understand the culture when we stay a bit longer. Instead of exploiting those with less than us, we try to address the inequalities by volunteering and lending a hand while passing through town.
Longer term travellers move with the clothes on our back, all that we can stuff in a rucksack, and when the local weather changes we buy local goods to blend in – I have owned a poncho, an Alpaca hoodie and a ski jacket I had to get rid of when I flew to Thailand. All items evoked a happy memory of where I purchased them and why, but I couldn’t justify the luggage cost. In fact that’s a reason why we help backpackers sell items via Travltalk, because we know that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure and we shouldn’t buy more when there are second hand materials we can reuse.
While I am aware I am running a business, and therefore contributing to the depletion of our world resources, as a Startup we are relatively sustainable. We work remotely, but have a coworking space where again, electricity is shared. We barely have any paper copies of our business documents – we are 100% cloud native in document storage and technology platforms, to the point printers have actually started to scare me and I find opening mail an archaic process! Further we do not expect people to sit in an office all day to only be productive at key times but get paid regardless. Everyone at Travltalk has a clear role, and many who work for us do it on a time and materials basis, meaning they only get paid for what they do and the time they spend, leaving them free to manage the rest of their time in a manner that is most efficient to them.
This in turn cuts costs, but really overall our carbon footprint. We use digital reporting, automation, Xero for all financial management and SaaS for every supplier we deal with. We’ve moved to Making Tax Digital and manage all HMRC and Companies House documentation via our online portal. By doing so we are not tied to buildings, structures or material goods. In fact our office is anywhere we are with our laptop. And we only need the clothes on our back.
Whether a company can scale and maintain such a light carbon footprint is the next question.
But for now I’m more focused on how Travltalk is contributing to sustainable travel. As travellers and digital nomads we must always remember while we belong in this world, it’s a privilege to explore it, and not everyone is lucky enough to know it as well as we are able to.
We love to hear the ways in which you are preserving local culture, and ensuring that we do leave only footprints, and even then, they are not all over heritage listed sites like the Great Barrier Reef and Uluru.
We should never forget how far we’ve come and how far we have left to go. But if we only consume, we take it away from others. A true traveller understands the world belongs to everyone within it; past, present and future.
Are you travelling to multiple countries over the next few months? Looking to share your story and get a little extra pocket money? Apply to become a Travltalk contributor now!