Let’s promise to be conscious travellers

The world is a divine place and the splendours of nature are a divine art form, says Ridhima Kalra, as she implores travellers to be more sensitive and compassionate towards Mother Earth.

PICTURE THIS: Your friend calls you over for a small party. When it’s over, you take with you happy memories but leave behind paper plates strewn across the living room, plastic wrappers balled up in various corners of the house, and you even carry with you some of the precious belongings of your friend, as if they were your own. How would your host feel? You wouldn’t do that ever, you say.And yet, isn’t that how most of us behave when it comes to our larger home, the planet? When we head for a vacation, explore nature or simply go sightseeing, one rampant tendency of humans everywhere is to behave irresponsible and insensitive towards Nature.Whether walking through a forest trail or trekking up a mountain; enjoying a bonfire or a barbeque session under the stars; heading out for a picnic or camping by the lake; no matter where we go or what we do, we ought to remember that we’re at home and behave accordingly.

Don’t leave any trace behind

When nature welcomes you with open arms to rest upon her land or to visit her beauty she does not wish to be tarnished. She has been preserved for millions of years. How can we be so careless as to not care?

Travelling is an art, and good travellers are not those who have the most stamps on their passport; but are those who show consideration for their host and fellow-travellers.

Here are some basic rules that can be mastered by everyone—from occasional travellers to aficionados.

Organise ahead

The first step to responsible travelling is to plan ahead. If you have planned well and are properly equipped, you are less likely to end up compromising the environment. Often, unexpected situations become the reason for indulging in activities that spoil the surroundings. We can avoid this if we simply remember that every place has its own character as well as rules and regulations; it helps to understand and memorise them before visiting.

Find an established campsite

Setting up a campsite without regard to the location can be harmful. You could end up damaging vegetation and soil and making the land barren for years to come. The best way to overcome this is to use existing campsites or find a place where vegetation is absent. For those of you who like to explore the unknown, make sure to move your camp daily to avoid making it a permanent campsite and take different trails to avoid soil erosion.

Set up an eco-friendly camp

Remember, good campsites are found, not made. Never hammer nails into trees or hack at trees with hatchets or saws. Minimise the impact of your campfire. Try using a camp light-weight stove, which makes cleaning up after a meal much easier.

Clean up after yourself

Imagine this scene: you’ve been trekking for hours to reach up a mountain from where the world seems so beautiful that its grandeur would move your soul. But on reaching there, what do you see? The previous hikers have left it in disorder, there’s trash all around the area. What was supposed to be pure and unpolluted is now littered and contaminated. We must always take our trash with us before leaving a place. We are in somebody else’s home, how can we leave it dirty?

Leave the place as is

As important it is to take what you brought, it’s as necessary that we leave behind what isn’t ours. The key attraction to the unknown is its untouched history. The best souvenir we can take from the outdoors is a lasting memory by way of a photograph. Refrain from picking flowers and fruits if you are trekking or breaking off coral if you are going snorkelling. And don’t go around digging to mark your territory. Let’s leave that to the animals.

Respect the flora and fauna

Do not feed the wild or leave food strewn around lest the animals take it. Avoid scaring away animals by making loud noises or building massive campfires. This is their territory, not ours.

The world is a divine place and the splendours of nature are a divine art form. Follow these standards wherever you go because if you destroy even a tiny bit of nature, you stand the chance of losing rare flora forever. Walk the trail that has been created to explore, tread carefully and above all be thoughtful of your fellow campers.

We cannot have a reckless attitude when exploring the unexplored.

Sitting by the cliff of a steep mountain, watching the sun plunge into the seamless horizon, shutting your eyes and welcoming the beginning of the world; the wind whispering sweet nothings in your ears and with just a gentle rustle wafts into your face, bringing with it a familiar object that lands squarely upon your face. A wafer packet. Picture perfect? Definitely not!

The mark of a conscious traveller is that he leaves no marks of his visit behind.

This was first published in the May 2014 issue of Complete Wellbeing.

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