Look around and you’ll find nature’s bounty staring at you with benevolence. Everything around us is governed by nature and out of all the species on Earth, man shares the most intimate relationship with nature. On the one hand, we plant trees, water trees, petting animals, etc that forge a positive bond with nature while on the other hand, we cut down trees, throw waste callously, run our cars on non-renewable fuel or setup factories, etc that put us at odds with nature.

As humans, we are learning to deal with the harsh actions of nature and coping with them, however, some disasters strike without a warning (or the warning is not heeded by humans) and the result is a vast destruction of man and materials.

26th Dec 2004 00:58 UTC: 

15 years back, around 0:58 UTC, the Mother Earth trembled with a ferocity that would lead to 227,898 casualties. It was to be known as the Great Asian Tsunami that had its epicenter off the west coast of northern Sumatra, Indonesia. It was an undersea megathrust earthquake that registered a magnitude of 9.1–9.3 Mw. The quake resulted in an immense amount of Kinetic energy in mid-ocean waves and when these waves reached the shore, they converted into potential and kinetic energy.

How a tsunami is formed?  Source: http://iotic.ioc-unesco.org

How a tsunami is formed? Source: http://iotic.ioc-unesco.org

Thus the height of the waves was 33 feet! These waves swept off the islands and caused enormous destruction! India was badly affected by this natural disaster and the Disaster Recovery Response was too late!

 

Do you sometimes wonder why such events happen and whether such horrific natural disasters occur due to human activities? Well, I do and I feel partly responsible for such events.

When we visit a new city and stay in a plush hotel in the city center. After checking into one of the 150 rooms, we keep the water running, bulb alight and other leisure activities that emanate out of a feeling that is miles away from responsible living. The other day, while reading one of the research papers, I realized that the cost of making one 4 star or 5-star hotel room is an astounding INR 10 million. Yes, you heard it right… that is the cost of making one 5 star hotel room in which we enter and feel like we are in heaven! Imagine the amount of environmental burden in the form of water, wood, and other natural resources that would be caused during the construction of one hotel room! On top of that, if a single corridor of the hotel keeps its lights on during the night for the convenience of its guests! The burden seems to keep increasing with each luxury-filled activity! I can’t even count the amount of carbon footprint consumed by a 5-star hotel in a single year and especially during the holiday season when the guests flood the hotel! It just makes me wonder if I or you as the guest can ever compensate the carbon footprint of our hotel stay with paper currency?? I don’t think we can!

How to Travel responsibly? 

Now that you and I have wondered how irresponsible we have been during our vacations or holidays or stay-cations, let us find a way to enjoy without putting an undue burden on the environment!

Travel like a Gandhi!

The answer is to travel by public transport in which the carbon footprint of the entire journey is distributed over all the passengers. Besides the lesser guilt of having put less pressure on natural resources, a train or bus can give you a beautiful view of the countryside during travel. The outline of trees against a dark background at night can be a sight to behold. I have also read experiences where people have met their potential matches for life during a train journey while sharing the same compartment and that they fell in love during the late-night conversation. So, now you know that traveling in public transport has more benefits than you thought.

Now, let’s come to alleviate the guilt of staying in an environmentally-expensive hotel by scouting for an environmentally cheaper solution. How about planning a stay in a Bed and Breakfast accommodation where you do not put an undue burden on the natural resources? Besides, you get to experience Indian culture first hand and experience the Indian family system and religious customs. Isn’t that better than switching on the TV in your hotel and laying there without learning anything new about a new culture? Let’s take the case of Danny, who is a UK resident staying in Spain and had come to India to attend an Indian colleague’s wedding. He was so enamored by the Indian traditions witnessed during the wedding ceremony that he canceled the booking in a hotel that he had planned to stay after the wedding and instead insisted on knowing Indian culture more intimately by opting to stay with an Indian family in an Indian BnB!

A memorable trip to Surajkund Mela from the eyes of Maureen and Maggie!

He loved the idea of having breakfast with the Indian family and then ask them for the nearest landmarks to visit and what he should pay to the tuk-tuk owner. In a matter of a few days, he was sure of where to go, what to eat and how to conduct himself. When it was time for him to leave for Spain, he was sad to leave his Indian family for his work back in Spain. So, as you can see Danny was guilt-free and happy to have met an Indian family and having witnessed Indian family and customs!

Delhi boasts of warm and hospitable Bed and Breakfast accommodations in the heart of the city.

Delhi boasts of warm and hospitable Bed and Breakfast accommodations in the heart of the city.

Dear reader, as we inch closer to 2020 and the climate change effects are beginning to dawn upon us, let us pledge to make a sincere endeavor to travel and live sustainably. Let us welcome 2020 with a smile and a firm determination to make this world a more environment-friendly place.


Ambuj Saxena

Ambuj Saxena is passionate about all things digital! He likes to travel and explore new culture and places. He likes writing blogs and likes chasing people to make them read the blogs too! Of late, he has been concentrating on providing a social media strategy for a few travel and hospitality companies. His co-authored book, 'Indian BnBs: An emerging disruptor in the Hospitality sector' has received enormous response and has been adopted as a course book in Tourism and Hospitality courses in prominent universities of India such as Jammu University, Jamia Millia Islamia university and Ambedkar university. A 2013 Brand Management graduate from Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad (MICA), he has successfully executed various online and offline marketing campaigns for companies operating in Automobile, Fashion and Lifestyle, Travel and Tourism sectors as well as Government departments. He has provided consultancy to Hop On Hop Off (HOHO) Bus services in Delhi and helped increase its ridership. He participated twice in HULT Competition, an International Annual Case study contest, in Dubai to solve an issue plaguing the society through social entrepreneurship. Earlier, as a Computer Engineer graduate, he had spent valuable time working in TCS to hone his technical skills. He has co-founded BnBNation as he believes that Tourism and Hospitality is as much online as it is offline, and he can add value to both.

15 Comments

Nicole Hunter · December 27, 2019 at 12:06 am

I remember the 2004 Tsunami like it happened last month. I was stunned by the loss of life and I am still stunned by it. I have been to Indonesia and spent almost 3 weeks in many of the hardest hit spots. I can’t imagine the horror of experiencing it.

    Ambuj Saxena · December 30, 2019 at 6:04 am

    Same here! I have read articles, heard the narration from people in Andaman islands and compiled all of it in my MBA dissertation. It was horrifying and we didn’t know much to say the least

Tania Muthusamy · December 28, 2019 at 12:23 pm

A very thought provoking article for all of us travellers. I love the idea of staying in local Bed and Breakfast places rather than large hotels.

    Ambuj Saxena · January 3, 2020 at 3:05 pm

    That’s right! Even i am tired of the monotony that hotels offer… i look for a more cosy experience in a Bed and Breakfast accommodation, wherever i go.

Sara · December 29, 2019 at 2:44 pm

I remember the tsunami on all the news channels. Thanks for sharing this reminder to travel responsibly. I like to walk as much as possible when I travel and take public transit as well, so I’ll keep doing that and look for other ways to save our planet.

    Ambuj Saxena · December 30, 2019 at 6:01 am

    I am glad that you remember it! Its a life long memory for all of us and a grim reminder to save our planet

Adele Gee · December 30, 2019 at 6:00 am

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was shocked to realize it was 15 years ago. I was in Penang and it hit us too though at a smaller scale. People were just curious at such a phenomenon that the waves went away from shore at such a pace. Then we read about the disaster in Thailand. So sad. Thanks for calling our attention back on responsible tourism. Absolutely needs reminding all the time.

    Ambuj Saxena · December 30, 2019 at 6:02 am

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Disasters like these show how small humans are, in the face of nature’ s adversity!

Medha · December 30, 2019 at 11:21 am

Wow I can’t believe it’s been 15 years since the Tsunami, time has really gone by fast. It was a huge calamity and so many lives were lost and although I thank god that I was lucky not to be close to it. I agree with you; it’s time we all look into responsible travel. Using public transportation is one such step I agree with taking. Taking care of reducing our carbon footprint is one issue we all need to start thinking about seriously now !

    Ambuj Saxena · January 5, 2020 at 7:46 am

    It is nice that you mentioned so many points. Public transportation on renewable fuels is another need of the hour.

Brian · December 30, 2019 at 7:39 pm

Yes, I always try to use public transport. I find that it helps you get a better feel for the city, saves you money, and lowers your carbon footprint. This is easy for me, since I prefer urban areas.

Brian Cicioni · December 31, 2019 at 12:44 pm

Happy Boxing Day! I had the chance to visit Delhi for the first time back in late October and was impressed by the metro.

Aditi Sharma · December 31, 2019 at 7:55 pm

I remember seeing the devastation caused by the tsunami across the news channels. This is such a thought-provoking article that calls our attention to responsible tourism. We prefer traveling in public transport as well and I really appreciate the fact that you also recommended staying in bed and breakfasts in this post. Inspiring post!

Ava · January 4, 2020 at 3:44 pm

The tsunami was a horrible tragedy for sure. The type of responsible tourism that especially concerns me is trash pollution – especially the plastic garbage all over the world. That is definitely something we can do something about.

    Ambuj Saxena · January 5, 2020 at 7:45 am

    Trash pollution is a huge concern and I think plastics have entered our lives in such a way that getting rid requires a conscious campaign probably on the lines of a revolution!

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