Contributed by Liyana Salleh
All wanderlusts are feeling the itch to travel again. The uncertainties are mindboggling; “Will I be able to tick off destinations in my bucket list?” “Is it safe to travel?” However, as all responsible wanderlusts and travellers, we all know that being responsible and safe is of the utmost importance for our own wellbeing. The current COVID-19 pandemic makes it difficult, if not near impossible to travel.
“Why near impossible? Isn’t it clearly impossible to be travelling again?” Not quite. There are still ways you can travel during this uncertain time. First and foremost, always be alert of your government’s directives on whether you are allowed to move during this time. Secondly, take the utmost care of your personal hygiene. Thirdly, research on the places that you would like to go and the organizations you can support.
It is now time for a new normal. That also means changing the way we travel and how we support tourism. Your best bet, for now, is to travel domestically and to explore your own backyard. For Malaysians, most of us opt to travel abroad while we have yet to experience the beauty in our own country.
What can I do?
1. Go on Eco Trips
In the spirit of the new normal, consider going on eco trips. Eco trips mean going on holidays while lessening our negative impact on the environment. This means planning your trip to ensure that you understand and make careful and informed choices in the places that you stay and visit, the activities that you participate in and the organizations that you support.
For example, choose to stay at locally owned accommodations and to eat at local restaurants. This ensures that the money that you spend goes directly to the locals and will aid the growth of their economy and not only benefit a huge conglomerate.
Next, other than sightseeing and shopping, consider spending your time to support a cause for the local community or environment. Through this way, you can create a positive impact with your presence. We have seen how the massive lockdown has helped heal Mother Nature. It is now our responsibility to help her in further healing.
Where can I go on an eco-trip?
If you are a Malaysian, you can go on a 2D 1N Eco Diver trip at the Perhentian Islands where you can help to assess the health of coral and contribute to their research to conserve the marine environment. Moreover, if you want to plan your eco-trip but don’t know where to start, you can ask Fuze Ecoteer to plan your eco-trip for you. Fuze Ecoteer is a Malaysian-based social enterprise that focuses on conservation and the community. Therefore, the money that you pay by engaging their services will go to their marine conservation work at the Perhentian Islands.
2. Go on a Volunteering Trip
Time is the most valuable thing you can give to someone. Hence, spend your time travelling with volunteering for a good cause. There are various causes that you can volunteer for according to your skills and interest. For example, you can volunteer for conservation work, community work or even indirectly by doing administration or technical work to support the organizations.
Why should I volunteer?
Going on a volunteering trip is not only beneficial for the organization that you choose to support, but it is also good for you too. Volunteering trips help you to widen your circle of connection, help you to make a positive impact with your time and skills and are added experience you can use for you to advance in your career too. Other than that, it is a great way to explore a place as you will, more often than, not be among people who have a better understanding of the place.
Volunteering at the Perhentian Turtle Project (PTP) is one of the projects where you can enjoy being in a beautiful island while working on a great cause. The PTP collects data and photo ID of turtles nesting and feeding in the Perhentian Islands. This data will then be used to map areas where authorities can focus on conservation efforts.
3. Virtual Field Trips
For students who have had to cancel their field trips during this pandemic season fear not. You can have a virtual field trip instead. Virtual field trips give you the opportunity to ‘meet’ experts and have a session with them in the comfort of your own home. All that is needed is your computer, internet connection and your time.
These trips can be tailored made to suit your educational needs. For example, some tour agencies can make it a biology field trip, coral conservation trip and more. Discuss with the organisation that is conducting your field trip to make this happen.
In a nutshell, there are so many things that you can do and places that you can explore right where you are. It is time we experience our own backyard and help move our own economy that has suffered due to the pandemic. Let’s travel within and keep our travel spirit alive.