Every time I step outside I’m reminded of the large hole in the ozone layer over Australia. This hole leads to sweltering hot days and high UV indexes. It also leaves me with a sunburn no matter how much sunscreen I apply. The ozone hole is a prime example about why it’s important for me to be a mindful traveler and try to contribute to this hole as little as possible. I wish I could say I walk everywhere, but I can’t. From my apartment to my dorm I have to walk 10 minutes then catch a 20-minute bus to school. I can’t do anything about attending school by bus so I’ve tried to reduce my footprint in other ways. Over here I’ve made a big effort to recycle. I switched to reusable bags and I’ve stopped buying plastic water bottles and instead use a refillable one. One of the most impactful things I do is pick up garbage I see on the beach. It may seem small, but picking up one bottle cap can save an animals life.
My ability to be a mindful traveler will again be tested with all of the trips I’m planning on embarking on while abroad. I am planning on visiting New Zealand, Thailand, and Bali. Traveling to these places involves flights, which produce CO2 thereby polluting the air. Before reading Chapter 3 I did not realize the huge ecological impact every one of my flights will make. I think it’s a tough subject. Do I visit these places and experience all they have to offer, or stay back to preserve my carbon emissions? As Slimbach says, “I’m under no illusion that we can simply turn off our fossil-fuel-powered civilization and conserve our way to zero emissions”. I don’t want to not visit these places and flying is the only way, therefore I will have to take extra care to minimize my ecological impact while there. This means using as little waste as possible and choosing to walk over public transport.
I think the worst part about doing this assignment is realizing that I’m not the most mindful traveler in ecological terms and every time I look down at my sunburnt hands I’m reminded of how important that is. I have tried and will continue being a mindful traveler in every other way though. Culturally and socially I always respect customs and traditions that are different from my own. I make sure not to sneer at something that may be different then what I’m used to but instead try it. I think that is a key difference between being a mindful traveler and a mass tourist. A mindful tourist cares about the place they visit and wants to experience it, yet leave it in the same shape it was when they came. A mass tourist makes me think of the people who look down upon customs different from their own and carelessly leave trash at places they visit. I never want to be this type of traveler. I want to be the kind who benefits the global community by embracing cultural differences and minimizing impact.
The picture I chose is from a hike to the eastern most point of Australia. In this picture I do believe I was being a mindful traveler. The eastern point of Australia also features a light house. This lighthouse can be reached by car or through a 3K walk. My friends and I chose to walk and see all of the beauty and nature. We left for our walk at 5 so we would make it to the lighthouse in time for sunset. The walk was absolutely breathtaking along the eastern coast and it would not have been nearly the same if we had taken a car. Yet, so many people did. When we got to the top, there was a line of cars waiting for parking spots. They all sat in idle, leaving their motors running, knowing full well someone wasn’t going to leave until the sun had set. Even when the sun set we still chose to walk back instead of calling an uber like some of those around us. The walk was well marked and there was enough moonlight to guide us back.
Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC, 2010. Print.