The term “budget travel” has long been synonymous with “cheap travel”. Find bargains, go off the beaten path, eat at “non-touristy” restaurants and stay in hostels. The budget traveler is looking for a “local” experience at a lower price.
In the 2010s, sharing economy sites like Airbnb, increased competition in the travel industry, and an increase in the number of low-cost airlines offering long-haul flights made air travel less viable.
Travelers have benefited: Global tourism has grown from 946 million travelers a year to 1.4 billion in the past decade.
However, this exponential growth has generated much resistance from the population, with many visitors wandering, stumbling in the streets and ill-equipped to cope with the rising cost of living. In addition, local people do not like that they live in a zoo and are constantly teased by tourists.
Before covid, overtourism became a hot topic in the industry. How can we make travel more sustainable? We were all surprised.
Despite recent post-COVID price hikes, travel remains relatively affordable, especially when compared to historical averages.
But is cheap travel really a good thing? If it means it’s unstable, does it have to be cheap?
I know this is a weird question because I work in the budget travel industry. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t think travel should be for the rich. Travel opens the mind. It helps people understand the world, the people they live in and themselves. So I want to make it very clear that travel is not possible except for the elite. I think everyone in the world can see more than their little corner.
But should we create the kind of mass tourism that causes so many environmental and social problems?
Looking back these days, I think we are getting too far ahead of things. We don’t like places where we die because I think there should be strict travel restrictions.
Long ago, when Wi-Fi, apps, and smartphones weren’t everywhere, you had to use a paper guidebook to get around. (Even then, people were telling me how hard it was to travel “a day early” and the advent of online booking platforms.)
Back then there were so many ways to travel cheaply – it was hard to find the information you needed. I learned a lot that first year, but I found it on the go, not online or in print. They are tips that you discover through people and experiences.
The rise of travel blogs like this one, as well as social media, has made it easier to find cheap travel information. No tip is a secret. Nowhere in the world have at least a dozen articles been written on this subject. You no longer have to scour the streets looking for a place to eat.
Just type “Thai” into Google Maps on your phone and you’ll get results with directions to nearby restaurants so you don’t get lost!
These new services and technological advancements, along with the easy access to information I mentioned earlier, have made travel so affordable that I don’t think many places have had enough time to adapt.
Buy Airbnb. The growth has led to overtourism, housing shortages, noise pollution and other social problems. Gone are the days of staying in someone’s home. Now you could be in a 10th rental that has no safety standards or regulations.
What happens if there is a fire? is everything okay We know who!
That cool neighborhood you want to visit to enjoy the local life? It is now filled with tourists staying in Airbnbs.
And like everyone else, I don’t like paying a lot for air travel, but most of these cheap little flights go to places that aren’t designed to handle a crowd (see weekend trips to Amsterdam). In addition, short-haul flights have a major impact on the environment.
Do we need frequent flyer tax? or restrictions found in France.
With the advent of digital mobility and remote working, people are getting up and moving again in record numbers. (Don’t even get me started on those visa and work rules.) This means that many people live in places where they don’t pay taxes or don’t fit into society or cause other problems.
Look at Mexico City. I like it, but the increasing number of Americans living there has created a lot of friction among the locals, who are now paying the price of their neighborhood.
And think about trash, plastic bags, electricity, or even your trash. I’m sure it’s something you don’t think about when you travel. But what about all the waste generated? The power plants, sewers and sewage systems of that beautiful Greek island for the other 20 million islanders to see every year? No, it’s not
And sailing! Cruising caused a lot of trouble. (And I say it because they love it.) In 2017 alone, Carnival polluted the air with 10 times more sulfur oxide than all European cars (over 260 million) combined! A $50-a-night cruise could turn even more people away. But in the not so sustainable sailing season, Santorini is a nightmare.
Solving these problems is complex and requires industry, consumers and government to work together to make tourism more sustainable.
You can’t stop people from popular destinations from wanting to make money to feed your family. And I don’t blame those people. especially those at the lower end of the economic spectrum. who chose life over protecting the nearby swamp
I think as a traveler we should be more willing to vote with our dollars and decide: we are better and it doesn’t matter. Or should places like zoos, skydiving, etc. be treated as ‘local experiences’?” Take some photos and leave. Left a trail of social and environmental headaches for residents?
These problems are not faced by budget travelers. (Avoid big hotels eat local food travel by public transport and stay longer) But they still caused something. The body is the body