Tuesday

Top questions to find out whether sustainable travel is still en vogue


There are endless moments when I realize that it isn’t easy to do everything right for everybody. On a sunny morning I was at a delicious café, meeting a friend for breakfast. After a few moments three grown-ups, dressed a bit earthy, as in Birkenstock and slightly wrinkled shirts, came along and sat down at the table closest to ours. It seemed as if they were on a visit in Berlin, probably staying at one of the nearby hotels. They were the sort of people searching for breakfast at a place where all the locals hang out. Soon the waiter served the group three coffees and three croissants. They looked at it
, complained, raised from their seats, very harmonic in unison, and almost as perfect as they were part of a play in London's West End and left without having touched the croissants. Experiencing a mild shock, I asked the waiter what their problem was, and he said they considered the croissants too flat. I was close to yell after them “for crying out loud, really?” I managed to control myself and didn't.

I thought of how many people live in poverty, and how many go through the day starving and for a moment I imagined how these three would look into these people’s faces and tell them “you can’t eat these croissants because they are too flat.” It taught me once again to always take things easy and not to complain about every little detail. As I know, it isn’t easy to do everything right for everybody but there are actually easy ways to contribute to a better future, not only at home but also when you travel.

Sustainable travel is still en vogue – Answer these questions to see whether that theory is correct

# Is your future life going to be dreadful, when you eat a flat croissant for breakfast?

# Do you want to spend your money at one of the hotels from an international hotel chain instead at a local and privately owned charming and stylish boutique hotel where you will find a home away from home?

# Would you want to schlepp all packaging from home even if you already know that they won’t have the means to recycle on your island paradise?

# Would you want to eat the same old sandwiches, burgers, espresso drinks or smoothies from an international fast food outlet, while you can have the time of your life eating local delicacies at smaller restaurants or on food markets?

# Can the people serving you live decent from their work? Look at the price of your trip. You can easily calculate whether costs are realistic. You found something where you pay a small amount of money for a dream vacation in some far flung island paradise, in a four-star hotel; all-inclusive ... you already notice that there is something wrong with that offer. For such a low rate it is most likely that the hotels have to save costs somewhere, and we all know what the easiest is: Staff will get paid badly. Does it delight you when people work under bad conditions?

# It is very popular providing your skills to others during a vacation, it is called voluntourism. It truly sounds perfect to support social- or environmental projects in your free time. And yes, it even sounds sustainable, and makes you look great on Instagram and Facebook "Look, this is me holding the poor little orphan Kevin..." Staying at an orphanage to look after children for a short time might be good for your self-esteem, but what is happening to the children in that moment, and how confused and hurt will they be when you leave them without any obvious reason? Do you want to be the one who disrespects your host country?

# Answer one last question. Have you answered all of the above questions with a no? That answer will answer the question whether sustainable travel is still en vogue. Yes.

Going all the way back to my breakfast. I can assure you that not a single croissant was harmed in this story. The episode ended positive. The waiter was on cloud nine, he and his colleagues had the croissants for breakfast, he admitted they were flat but “oh so very delicious”.

From Berlin with love

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Greetings stranger. I always try to be myself and to be a tourist as often as I can. I would love to get in contact with lots of hard travelling tourists who love to be out and about as much as I do. I am looking forward to all your comments. Thanks so much in advance.