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Published: 12/19/22 | December 19, 2022
The term “budget travel” has long been synonymous with “cheap travel”. Finding deals, getting off the beaten track, eating at “non-touristic” (i.e. inexpensive) restaurants, and staying in hostels. The budget traveler is looking for a “local” experience at a low price.
During the 2010s, the rise of sharing economy websites such as Airbnb, increased competition in the travel industry, and a growing number of low-cost airlines offering long-haul flights made it much easier to travel on less.
And travelers took advantage of: global tourism has grown from 946 million travelers a year to 1.4 billion in the past decade..
However, this meteoric rise caused a strong backlash among residents as many destinations were not designed to handle the volume of visitors who moved around the city, clogging the streets and driving up the cost of living. In addition, the locals did not like to feel like they were living in a zoo, being constantly stared at by tourists.
Prior to the pandemic, overtourism was a hot topic in the industry. How to make travel more sustainable? we all wondered.
And despite recent post-COVID price increasestravel is still relatively affordable, especially when compared to historical averages.
But it’s an inexpensive trip Really a good thing? Should it be so cheap if that also means it’s not viable?
I know this is a strange question for me as I am a budget traveller. And don’t get me wrong: I don’t think travel should be just for the rich. Travel opens the mind. It helps people understand the world, those who live in it, and themselves. So, I want to make it clear that I am not advocating that travel be unavailable to all but a select few. I think that every person in the world should be able to see more than their little corner of the world.
But should we support the type of mass tourism that creates a lot of environmental and social problems?
Looking around these days, I think we have too much of a good thing. I think there should be tighter travel restrictions so we don’t love places to death.
I traveled a lot when Wi-Fi, apps and smartphones weren’t widespread and you still had to use a paper guide to get around. (But even then, people told me how difficult it was to travel “in the past” and how easy it was for me with the advent of online booking platforms.)
At that time, there were many ways to travel cheaply – it was just that the information you needed was harder to find. I learned so much in my first year, but it was information learned on the road, not online or in print. These were tips and tricks that I found through people and experience.
The rise of travel blogs like this one, as well as social media, has made it much easier to find information on how to travel cheaply. No tip is a secret that hasn’t been shared yet. Nowhere in the world has at least a dozen articles been written about this. And you no longer need to wander the streets in search of a place to sleep or eat.
Heck, type “Thai” into Google Maps on your phone and you’ll get results for nearby restaurants with directions, saving you the wander off!
All of these new services and technological developments I mentioned at the beginning, combined with easy access to information, have made travel so accessible so quickly that I don’t think most destinations have had time to adjust.
Take Airbnb. Its growth has led to excessive tourism, housing shortages, noise problems and other social ills. Gone are the days when you actually stayed in someone’s house. Now you will most likely find yourself in someone’s tenth rental property where there are no standards or regulations, especially regarding safety.
What happens if there is a fire? Does everything match the code? Who knows!
And this cute area that you wanted to enjoy to get a taste of the local life? Airbnbs is full of tourists right now.
And like everyone else, I don’t like to pay a lot for flights, but all those cheap short distance flights mean a lot of people go to places that aren’t meant for everyone (see weekend trips to Amsterdam). In addition, short-haul flights have the highest environmental impact.
Do we need a frequent flyer tax? Or restrictions like the ones we see in France..
With the rise of digital nomadism and remote work, people are getting up and moving again in record numbers. (Don’t get me started on these bypass visas and work rules.) This means that many people live in places where they don’t pay taxes or adapt to society, or where they cause other problems..
Just look at Mexico City. I like it, but the increase in the number of Americans living there has caused a lot of backlash among the locals, who now receive prices from their areas.
And think about waste. Plastic bags, electricity, even your poop. I’m sure this is a topic you never think about when you travel. But what happens to all the waste you generate? Are the power plants, sewer systems and waste management systems of this beautiful Greek island meant for the 20 million extra people it sees each year? No. This is wrong.
And cruises! Cruises cause a lot of problems (I say this as an amateur). In 2017, Carnival alone caused ten times more sulfur oxide air pollution than all of Europe’s cars (more than 260 million) combined.! This $50 per night cruise might get more people moving, but not as consistently. Santorini during the cruise season is a nightmare.
Solutions to these challenges are complex and will require industry, consumers and governments to work together to ensure tourism is sustainable.
You can’t stop people in popular places from wanting to earn money to feed their families. And I don’t blame many locals, especially those at the bottom of the economic spectrum, preferring to live in the protection of a nearby swamp.
I think as travelers we should be more inclined to vote with our dollars and decide if we’re going to be nice and make sure we don’t leave footprints, or should we treat destinations like zoos, skydiving for a “local experience”. by taking a few photos and then hitting the road, leaving the residents living there with traces of a social and environmental headache?
Yes, it’s not the budget traveler that causes a lot of these issues (they tend to avoid big hotels, eat local food, use public transportation, and stay longer). But they still cause some. The body is the body.
This brings me back to my original question: should travel be so cheap that so many people come? some directions they bend under stress?
While we all want to spend less, I think it’s time to ask ourselves what do we take and what do we leave? How does cheap travel affect destinations and the people who live there?
Yes, hotels and traditional guesthouses are more expensive, but, unlike Airbnb, they are licensed and do not take away from the local housing stock.
Yes, the train may be slower and more expensive, but short haul flights are worse for the environment.
Yes, we all want to see Venice in the summer, but the city cannot accommodate so many people at the same time.
I don’t think there is a solution less travel, but better travel.
When I see cities levying taxes and fees and restrictions on things like Airbnb and cruises, I can’t help but say, “Good!” There must impose more restrictions on Airbnb and cruises, as well as other forms of mass tourism, to ensure that destinations can handle crowds and that local residents are not displaced or otherwise adversely affected.
Over the past few years, we have focused on sustainable travel, alternative toursditch Airbnb, travel off-season and cut back on spending because I’ve become much more aware of the negative impact travel can have with unlimited growth.
I think that everyone should travel, but the unintended consequences that the rise of cheap travel has created must be addressed.
As travelers, we can do a lot. We can avoid environmentally damaging travel, cut back on air travel, ditch Airbnb, and go to “second-tier” destinations—or at least not to the tourist hotspots of overcrowded cities.
How ‘upscale’ destinations are fighting overtourismpeople will have to go to other cities, which will increase the number of tourists and dollars, as well as the demonstration of new destinations and the release of more popular cities.
Plus when you go where the crowds are Notyou tend to get a more unique and interesting experience.
Will additional rules and restrictions lead to higher prices? Probably. Does this mean that not many people can visit Machu Picchu, Petra or Japan? Maybe.
And as someone who wants more people to travel, I admit it sucks. Even though there are many other destinations to choose from, it’s still frustrating that some of these changes will result in some people not being able to visit some of them.
But when thinking about sustainable travel and its impact on the world, we can’t deny that people moving in such large numbers have negative consequences. We need to come to terms with the fact that many places can’t accommodate that many people and that some restrictions are needed if we hope to keep them in, even if it means we won’t be able to see them all.
Travel is a mutually beneficial relationship between a destination and a visitor. We must be willing to give a little more and take a little less.
Our job as travelers is to make sure that we do not harm the locals and the environment. This means traveling as eco-friendly as possible and without harming the local community.
Because it makes no sense to go somewhere, and then leave even worse. We can’t love places to death.
Book Your Trip: Logistics Tips & Tricks
Book your flight
Find a cheap flight with skyscanner. This is my favorite search engine because it searches for websites and airlines all over the world, so you always know that no stone is left untouched.
Book your stay
You can book the hostel with hostel world. If you want to stay somewhere other than the hostel, use Booking.com as it consistently returns the lowest prices for guest houses and hotels.
Don’t forget travel insurance
Travel insurance will protect you from illness, injury, theft and cancellations. This is a comprehensive protection in case something goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I have had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
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Ready to book your trip?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones that I use when I travel. They are the best in their class and you can’t go wrong with them on the road.
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