Planning A Winter Vacation? Here’s How You Can Help the Environment
Among all the seasons, winter is probably the most favoured season for travelling, in a tropical country like India. The all-round pleasant weather is perfect for a winter vacation without discomfort and without getting tired. Even if you’re looking for a vacation around the world, winter is a good season to travel, although for a different reason. Winter is the off season at most of the holiday destinations around the world. Which means you can enjoy some really great discounts on your travel and accommodation.
While travelling is a vastly enriching experience, it has some unwanted and unforeseen side effects that have a long-term impact on the travel destination itself. Over-tourism is one culprit which has already adversely affected some holiday destinations to the point of no return. Some of the places in Thailand, Cambodia and other Asian countries started off as pristine and serene holiday places. But unchecked tourism and zero accountability have greatly deteriorated these once-beautiful tourism centres.
Not all tourists understand the importance of ‘responsible travel’ – that is necessary to preserve the beauty of a holiday destination. Climatic changes are already altering the world in a bad way. Greenland is rapidly losing its ice cover and some glaciers in Arctic countries have fallen prey to the rising temperatures. So, how can you travel, enjoy your holidays and still help reduce the environmental impact of tourism? Read on to find out.
1. Be a responsible tourist
You can start being responsible by respecting the destination you’re travelling to, culturally as well as environmentally. Do your bit to ensure that you do not leave behind a messy and littered trail while travelling. Understand the fact that some tourist attractions could be sensitive ecological hotspots that need to remain unsullied.
For instance, the Great Barrier Reef of Australia was dying a slow death due to irresponsible tourism. Fortunately, the rot was arrested before it spread too far.
Littering is the bane of any major tourist destination. This is a good place to start being responsible. Always pick up after yourself wherever you go. Use public transportation instead of hiring a car to get around.
If you travel sustainably, only then can you hope to help the environment while enjoying your holiday.
2. Give some thought to choosing your destination
Try to avoid countries that do not treat their tourism with care. Sooner or later, these destinations fall prey to carelessness and over-tourism. Reduce your carbon footprint, opt for the train instead of a flight whenever you can. It gives you a chance to interact with the locals and also get the real sense of your holiday destination without the touristy veneer. Countries like Switzerland and The Netherlands encourage the use of bicycles to get around. Scandinavian countries such as Sweden, Finland and Norway let you hire electric vehicles which have zero emissions. These are some hands-on ways by which you can do your bit. If you really want to make a difference, choose your travel destination wisely.
3. Respect boundaries
If you see a sign that says ‘off limits’ or ‘stay off the grass’ ensure that you follow the instructions. Do not encourage unauthorised tour operators who disregard rules and care only about their profits. If you ever go camping, try and learn the rules about lighting campfires before you go. A careless spark can start a forest fire that is devastating for the local wildlife as well as the environment. Do not try to approach or feed the wild animals as you will only end up disturbing the precarious balance of nature.
Now that you know all about ‘responsible tourism’, it is now time to take a look at some of the best destinations for a winter vacation around India and the world.
Goa, Must Visit Destination on Winter Vacation
India’s de-facto party capital really comes alive in the winter. Its sunny beaches, coupled with the pleasant weather, make it an excellent playground for water sports. The evening beach parties will carry you away with the fervour of music, enhanced by the pleasant evening. The Goa Film Festival, Goa Carnival and the Sunburn Music Fest charge up the atmosphere with pulsating music and liberal doses of fun and frolic. Winter is the best time to visit Goa for the weather.
Nestled in the shadows of the majestic Himalayas, Nainital transforms into a quiet little hill station during the winter season. Even with its proximity to the Himalayas, the Nainital winter is not as harsh as in some of its northern counterparts. When it snows, the verdant environs take on the pristine white of the season. Blessed with an abundance of natural beauty, Nainital has still retained and maintained its ecological diversity that is a part of its inherent appeal.
Known for its stunning natural beauty and ecological diversity, God’s Own Country is a treat to visit in winter. Hot and humid throughout the year, the weather cools down considerably during the winter months. Ride the wave of adrenaline with paragliding at Vagamon or simply drift along the serene backwaters on a leisurely boat ride. Munnar’s lofty splendour offers a totally different experience from Aleppey’s picturesque backwaters. Indulge yourself at the Ayurvedic spas and explore the wildlife at one of the many national parks.
As a not-so-well-known holiday destination, China’s Harbin City turns into an icy wonderland during winter. The city’s International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival features some of the greatest ice sculptors from around the world. People flock in millions to gaze in wonder at some of the most gigantic ice sculptures ever created and includes castles and multi-storied replicas of some of the most iconic structures in the world. You can also enjoy dog sledding, lantern art, ice skating and making snow sculptures.
Prague, Czech Republic
Like most European cities, Prague comes alive with warmth even in the midst of a winter chill. The traditional Christmas markets add colour to a monochromatic landscape with their festive atmosphere. Take a traditional horse-pulled sleigh ride around the town or head to the nearby hills for skiing. Go ice skating at one of the many indoor and outdoor rinks, and warm your heart with a cup of hot, mulled wine. Enjoy souvenir shopping and you’ll find a good seasonal bargain to sweeten the deal.
High up in the north, around the Arctic Circle, a celestial light show of immense beauty plays out every season. Svalbard is one of the northernmost inhabited areas in the world and the perfect place to catch the Northern Lights in action. Experience eternal winter as the sun doesn’t rise during this season and a weak daylight is all you get. Explore one of the coldest and the most rugged landscape in the world. If you’re lucky enough, you might even catch a Polar Bear in action.
Thomas Cook has a wide range of holiday packages that will take you out to some of the most beautiful winter wonderlands of the world. With years and years of holiday experience, Thomas Cook has mastered the concept of responsible travel. So, if you’re ready to travel this winter, drop in to your nearest Thomas Cook branch. You can also avail of the convenience of booking your holiday online, on our website.