Friday, 14 September 2018

Holiday headaches

Planning holidays is a bit tricky these days. It's not just a question of choosing a place to go and booking up. If you're at all politically aware, there are all sorts of ethical and environmental implications to be thought about.

Jenny and I give serious consideration to all the contentious issues before we finally pin down a destination. They might not stop us but we feel as responsible travellers we should at least acknowledge them.

Should we fly long haul when it produces so much carbon pollution? Should we even fly short haul if we could go by train or bus instead? Should we go to places that are already overwhelmed by tourists, like Venice? Should we use hotels that probably pay their employees peanuts?

The problem is that if we took all these issues seriously, we could never go anywhere outside our own country. Well, not unless we're ready to travel overland thousands of miles instead of flying. Or avoid popular places like Sydney, even though it's one of our favourite cities. Or avoid budget hotels and pay quadruple the price for a luxury hotel that might pay its employees properly.

We'd have to settle for a fortnight in Blackpool or a long weekend in Bournemouth. Which wouldn't be quite the same as a tour of New Zealand or a trip through the Canadian Rockies.

Then again, even if the two of us ruled out all unethical and climate-damaging holidays, what difference would it make when millions of other people are busy swanning round the world without a qualm? When global air travel is actually increasing by leaps and bounds (7 to 8 per cent a year)? When vast new hotels are sprouting like mushrooms? When more and more people are visiting Venice, even though it's tourist gridlock in Piazza San Marco? Wouldn't we just be pissing in the wind?

Enjoying yourself is getting far too complicated.

28 comments:

Rummuser said...

Since my travelling days are over and done with, my vacations, incidentally every day is a holiday for me, I do not have such monumental issues to tackle. I however can understand your frustration and send you my best wishes that you solve these problems and enjoy your holidays.

Ms Scarlet said...

Hummpff. There's nothing wrong with a long weekend in Blackpool, or Bournemouth! Plenty of fun to be had.
Sx

nick said...

Ramana: Yes, you've got the ideal answer - just enjoy being at home and forget about holidays.

Scarlet: When I was single, I used to make day trips to the South Coast quite a lot. I enjoyed myself, but there was nothing to keep me there any longer than a day.

Joanne Noragon said...

Consider you are contributing to the economy.

nick said...

Joanne: That's one justification we tend to use. At the end of the day, we're putting money into a local economy. I suppose even the money going to tour operators and airlines ends up in a local economy somewhere along the line.

Bijoux said...

Truly a first world problem! I don't think it's being unaware as much as it's not high on my list of concerns/priorities. We love to travel, but family and work responsibilities limit us more than anything else.

helen devries said...

I just wish we were free to travel at all....but when we did we would take a package, then use the hotel as a base and spend our money with local taxis and shops.

tammy j said...

nothing like lack of money and health to solve the problem for you! LOL!seriously. when one is forced one way or another it's easy to be content. which I am. I used to love to travel. not anymore. so now I'm an arm chair tourist! thanks to people and their cameras and all the talent out there it's really rather nice.
yesterday though... I watched a short video by a tourist that was visiting Denali National Park. they were told to avoid the grizzly bears especially those with cubs.
they were like ants getting off the bus. and from the vantage point one of their cameramen showed a grizzly in the low brush below. following the same trail as a bunch (I counted five) hikers. the bear of course caught up with them.
they all kept together and raised their arms into the air and made noise. he seemed confused. and after one more try he left them alone. ONLY to turn back and encounter three more hikers coming from a different direction! just too many people. we're like ants. I actually felt sorry for the poor BEAR.
we humans are invading THEIR HOME. and it's sad. and though they don't want to kill the bears... two rangers were standing by with high powered guns. it all just seems very wrong to me. very wrong indeed. there is no sanctity anymore for wildlife. if people want to see it they will overload and just DO IT. wow.
oh my. I guess this is called Tammy on her holiday soap box. cue the music. AAAGGGH!

nick said...

Bijoux: It may be a first world problem, but it's still a problem!

Helen: We tend to do the same, use a hotel as a base for exploring and sight-seeing.

CheerfulMonk said...

We're like Ramana, no more traveling for us except to see Kaitlin and her family every other year. But we were lucky and did a lot when we were young, when there wasn't the problem with crowds and when the exchange rate was fantastic. Our trip back from France the long way -- the Middle East, East Africa, India, Thailand, New Zealand, Australia and Hawaii -- cost only $4,000. Now we love our lifestyle and have no desire to leave it.

Good luck with your vacation, I'm looking forward to hearing about it.

Polly said...

I’ve given up being ethical, the planet is doomed anyway, I think it’s good for a few million years (unless of course mad men blow it up), but eventually it will be gone. Meanwhile look at all the comfortable fat cats enjoying massive wealth, do they care about the planet, do our leaders really care? And I suspect that luxury hotels pay their staff the same wage as budget ones, after all isn’t that how they accumulated their wealth in the first place? If I had a shed load of money I would be flying all round the globe. I do fear for wild life though, as Tammy said we are encroaching on their territory far too much. I've had some lovely holidays and will continue to visit my daughter in Australia, but there are lots of lovely places I have yet to visit in the UK

nick said...

Tammy: What I like about you is that you're so adaptable to the circumstances you find yourself in. You're quite happy to watch a video of grizzly bears if you can't see them in the flesh.

It's appalling how animals are under siege from hordes of thrill-seeking tourists wanting to gawp at them. Tourists with any sense will keep well away from over-exploited wildlife areas and find somewhere else to go. As for rangers standing by with guns, ready to kill uncooperative animals, that's just criminal.

nick said...

Jean: It certainly looks as if you've seen enough of the world to prevent any sudden wanderlust in later life. You've been to a lot more countries than me!

Polly: It's a powerful argument that the planet is already doomed and there's little we can do to stop the rot, so we might as well drop all the ethical nail-biting. And as you say, the fat cats don't give a damn about the planet, they just want to have even more money.

kylie said...

If it helps, I can book you a room in Sydney where I know the staff are paid fairly.

I have ethical dilemmas with everything I buy. In the end I just do my best. I think I would love a cruise but I'll never get on a cruise ship while they pollute as they do. The nsw govt is looking to destroy another gorgeous bit of coast in order to build a third cruise terminal but I think we should just have less boats

nick said...

Kylie: Re a room in Sydney, we have some plans. Will update you on that later on....

There shouldn't be another cruise ship terminal when cruise ships are so massively polluting and use some of the dirtiest fuel available. We don't fancy cruising anyway, but the pollution aspect totally rules it out for us.

Wisewebwoman said...

Reflecting on this, I believe I've mostly avoided hot spots and so called "popular" destinations.

This is why I love my "staycations" in Newfoundland where there is room to breathe and chat to the locals wherever I go and vast glorious landscapes all to myself.

I had secret spots in Ireland where no tourist was on the horizon. The Orkneys would appeal to me far more than a cruise or Paris or......

I agree on cruises and invading wild animal territory.

XO
WWW

nick said...

www: It sounds like Newfoundland is so full of quiet beautiful places that holidays in other countries seem rather irrelevant. We've been to the Orkneys - well worth a visit.

Liz Hinds said...

But Venice is so worth it! And actually was fairly quiet when we were there.

I would like to go to the Yorkshire Moors, Northumberland and Scotland. And lots of places in Ireland. You've got me thinking about holidays again now.

re pissing in the wind: if we all said that nothing would ever change. Bearing in mind I say this as someone who doesn't consider all the ethical aspects you mention.

nick said...

Liz: You must have gone to Venice off-season when the crowds had thinned out a bit.

Pissing in the wind is just a feeble excuse isn't it? You're right, we should all do whatever we can to make the world a better place, however insignificant our individual actions seem to be.

Secret Agent Woman said...

Ah, you consider everything and then just do the best you can, knowing there are no perfect answers. I'm not ready to give up travel just yet. But I do try to avoid heavily touristed areas, to tip well, to not expect clean towels every day, to avoid buying things in plastic as much as possible, and so on. It will have to do.

nick said...

Agent: We do all those things as well, and as you say it'll just have to do. But with global tourism rocketing by the day, it does seem that my puny efforts are like trying to drain the Ganges.

CheerfulMonk said...

It turns out your helping the local economy might not be the whole story. Tourism is forcing a lot of people to leave their homes because they can't afford the cost of living. See Fighting depopulation caused by tourism and high rents, activists are helping Venetians take over abandoned properties.

nick said...

Jean: Yes, I've been reading about all the problems caused by tourism, airbnb, second homes etc. As you say, various factors that are driving up rents and property prices and forcing the locals to move out. And once again, the politicians are making only half-hearted attempts to put things right.

nick said...

Jean: Have just read the article you linked to. The situation in Venice is desperate, I've read about it many times. Falling population, ridiculous tourist levels, rents going up and up etc. And again, the politicians aren't doing anything like enough.

Jenny Woolf said...

I don't know some of the answers, but I think that saying everyone else is doing it, isn't relevant to whether it's right or not. That has to be decided in some other way. I don't know what I think either. Like so many issues, this is one great huge big grey area.

nick said...

Jenny: I know, saying everybody else is doing it is just a big cop-out. We have to decide for ourselves whether what we are doing is ethical or not.

Danielle L Zecher said...

Maybe it's wishful thinking on my part, but I think what you do on a daily basis has more impact than the occasional vacation. How often do you take the long flights? Maybe a few times a year? I'm guessing it probably does more harm to the environment if you drive a gas guzzling SUV everywhere, buy things that are super packaged, don't recycle, constantly waste food, etc. It seems, to me, that it would be better if everyone just tried for some improvements rather than a few people trying to be perfect. I have no idea what can make that happen, though.

nick said...

Danielle: Good point. We try to make all those helpful everyday adjustments, so maybe in the long run we do more good than harm. Maybe. We absolutely never waste food, we only buy what's on the shopping list and what we need for the week's menus. The amount of food that's wasted in the UK is horrendous.