Hyderabad: Quitting a job and travelling the world is a dream for many but is something that’s only possible for a few. For city-based professional traveller Bhavya Vatrapu it started as exactly that but through the years, she has evolved from being a tourist to an advocate of sustainable travel.
Bhavya who had a corporate job wanted to just go and explore the world. “I was fully supporting my family when I was 21. I was just out of college and I was earning and paying for my brother’s education and by the time I was 25, I just wanted to get away for a bit and I ended up going to Pondicherry first and then I went backpacking in Europe a little later,” she says.
While travelling abroad, the kind of people she met made her realise that there are ways in which one can earn money independent of their location and that was when she decided to quit her corporate job and be a full-time traveller and a travel blogger.
After four years and more than 20 countries in Europe and Asia, Bhavya is now a vocal advocate of sustainable travel. “In my perspective, the travel industry is still emerging while the tourism industry makes a lot of money and does its damage to people and ecology,” she says.
The difference between the two, according to Bhavya, is that the tourism industry is very staged and very ‘bucket-list’ oriented as opposed to truly experiencing different cultures. “Everyone goes to Paris and goes on guided tours of the Louvre or the Eiffel Tower but there is little authentic French culture in Paris as it is tourism oriented. Annecy, a little town a couple of hours drive from Paris, would be a better place for someone to experience true French culture. It is about finding authentic culture in an age of bucket-lists and staged cultures,” she explains
Also, while the rise in tourism brings foreign money to a particular place, according to Bhavya, it makes life very expensive for the locals. “I’ll give the Parisian example again. Most of the property owners in Paris prefer renting out to AirBnB or other travellers. This makes rents very unaffordable to the locals. So it is important for travellers to understand about the place they are staying at and how it is impacting the locals,” she shares.
“For instance, I went to a resort in Wayanad, Kerala, and that resort makes it a point to source everything they need from a 5 km radius, be it groceries or decor or furniture. They are sustaining the locals through this and also reducing the carbon footprint as the logistics are drastically minimised,” she points out.
Reducing carbon footprint is another major part of sustainable travel, according to Bhavya. She avoids flying as much as she can, practises a vegan lifestyle, and in fact, has turned down travel opportunities which involved transcontinental flights just for a couple of days of tourism. “My blog is also an attempt to highlight the importance of sustainable travel, whether it is to do with the economics of the locals or the ecology or personal economy,” she concludes.
What is sustainable travel?
Sustainable travel is ensuring travel and tourism can be maintained long term, without damaging the local environment, culture, economy, etc. It also involves ensuring leaving as little carbon footprint as possible.
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