There are many different words one can choose from to try and describe how it feels to travel and the experiences people take away from their escapades. It can feed the soul to the point of exhaustion one moment and the next see you soaring on top of a mountain. Pick a continent – any continent really now as even aeroplanes and ships find a common destination in Antarctica – and you will find cheap flights going on the red eye descending into a whole new world.
Travel is so easy today sometimes it is a little hard to imagine the Smith brothers were awarded for the first flight from England to reach Australia in 30 days or less. In 1919 they opened the biggest door for civil aviation in Australia on a global platform after the industrial boom from World War One.
Today we see an average of 93,000 daily flights originating from almost 9,000 airports in the world. You can fly between England and Australia in 24 hours with one stopover to refuel and stay in a $457 billion hotel industry.
With such staggering numbers and billions of priceless dollars spent on experiences each year, it begs the question what eco friendly practices are available in the travel industry to help reduce our global footprints?
I can’t deny in my adventures I feel guilty for losing track of time in hot showers or running the aircon overnight, especially in the more humid tropical climates. So to my delight I was surprised at a small footprint I became a part of on a recent trip to Thailandand will look forward to experiencing more of for future adventures.
I spent my first two nights on Khaosan Road in Bangkok near the Grand Palace and fell asleep every night with the aircon on listening to all of the Tuk Tuks drive by and loud doof doof music. The people were eclectic, the food was cheap and everyday I would struggle to find a bin to put my rubbish in. I loved the hustle and bustle of the capital city with streets lit up and awake until dawn, but I was extremely excited for my Phuket leg of the trip.
I stayed at Thavron Beach Village Resort and Spa just ten minutes drive from Patong Beach with a view any office junkie – like myself – was dreaming of. Their slogan was “Where Thai tradition meets nature” and was founded by Tilok Thavronwongwongse whose mantra was, “He that conserves nature loves others besides himself”.
Waiting for me on the bed was my invitation. It was asking me to “conserve and make a difference” with the hotel. Rather than have the staff take the golf carts to every room each day up the side of the hill, guests could hang this little sign and receive a voucher for the restaurants in exchange for being a part of their small footprint. 150 Thai Baht converts to roughly $6 Australian dollars.
Out of the five night stay I participated three nights and made do by hanging towels out on the balcony and folding my sheets up a little with my laundry basket empty and some clothes hand washed hanging on the towel rack. It’s not that there weren’t beautiful facilities to use with environmentally friendly soaps. And we’ve all heard the stories – some funny and some down right scary – of hand washing clothes when travelling around and how it can smell, wreak, make flowers wilt turn out after weeks. The sheets were still crisp and the bathroom was iridescent in marble. I was happy and content in amongst the trees and away from the sensory overload looking forward to falling asleep to the strange sounds of the Asian jungle.
My contribution may have only been three nights, but if one of the 40-odd rooms at the hotel, for each of the Thavron Hotels and Resorts, or every hotel in the $457 billion dollar industry saved one night’s laundry bill in their stay how much do you think it would add up to? My guess is a lot, and this is just one chain’s values I have interacted with committing to sustainability.
Thailand is a small and dense country with culture inextricably intertwined with the earth and sea. I would encourage any person who longs for the buzz of a jungle or ocean mist on their face to holiday there and escape city madness.
Make sure to keep an eye out for your own green invitations when you travel and let us know what you find! I think we can all look forward to future ideas the travel industry will offer to help preserve the natural environment around us, one small footprint at a time.
This post originally appeared in HART Magazine, writing content for the soul.