From giving back to nature to spending more time in a single place, here are pro tips to keep in mind
Maria Goretti – Chef, author, TV host
Going to smaller places is a nicer way to travel right now. I went on a road trip to Ahilya Fort Hotel in Maheshwar with my kids, and later to Ahilya by the Sea in Goa with my parents, where three out of the nine rooms belonged to us and my parents were relieved not to be wearing masks. For my birthday this month I hope to go to a forest. Favourites in the past have been the Shiroli Forest, the Satpura Ranges and Wayanad, but let’s see what is possible. When choosing properties, it is good to know that they have reinstated their staff.
With school online, this is a good time to take your children along, provided you ensure you have good WiFi and they know they must apply themselves to studies and homework. On road trips, we try to stop at any of the small eateries, though most of them are shut now. The trick to travelling with kids is to look for food that is freshly made, like dosas. I stop to buy fresh fruit being sold by the road, preferably oranges or bananas that can be peeled. Restroom stops will always be a problem, and I hope with this Covid-19 situation, the state governments will look into basic sanitation, with clean toilets and sinks in public places. I am not a paranoid traveller, but I am a cautious traveller.
Rocky Singh – TV host (with Mayur Sharma), Highway on my Plate
We have seen several ‘picnicking’ groups leave behind large amounts of trash in pristine places. What makes them so entitled? Carry your food and water (to avoid social contact), don’t demand international standard conveniences, buy local arts and crafts and support those on the frontline.
We promote regional and local solutions, and small economies. For example, at Guru Shikhar in Mount Abu, we criticised the piles of trash left behind by tourists and thanks to the video, locals organised a cleaning drive a week later. The simplest way to make an impact on the environment is to only visit those hotels and home stays that follow practices like rainwater harvesting, serve organic food, among other things. This will create a demand and market rules will ensure others follow suit.
Coming soon: While navigating the new normal, we got behind the wheel for a 14-day road trip across Rajasthan in September for the first edition of HistoryTV18’s digital travel series, #RoadTrippinWithRnM. Our journey started from New Delhi to Bharatpur with stops at Jaipur, Ajmer, Udaipur, Mount Abu and locations off the beaten track. For the show’s second season, we’re travelling from New Delhi to Pragpur and back via popular tourist hotspots and off-the-beaten-track stopovers across the spectacular Himalayan mountainscapes of Himachal Pradesh.
Mozez Singh – Writer, producer, director
If you want to go on an eco-friendly holiday, plan one where you can give back to nature. I really want to travel to the Amazon and participate in the ongoing efforts by environmental groups to bring back the forest. And because I would like to do this in a comfortable way, I plan to check into one of the many amazing ecological resorts there. I want a holiday that is devoid of the usual trappings of shopping, eating and sightseeing; instead I want to focus on the ecology, the indigenous people. It would be fulfilling, both from a humanitarian point of view and as a regular person who wants to help out. I think people should choose their holidays with this specificity built into it.
Divia Thani – Editor, Conde Nast Traveller
Beyond choosing destinations and hotels, our own behaviour while travelling is most important. So make sure you’re respectful of the environment and not using or disposing of plastic; be sensitive to the sentiments of local communities; don’t encourage irresponsible tourism like harsh animal rides or petting zoos; respect all natural and cultural heritage — there’s no need to leave your initials or footprints of any kind behind. Travel is a privilege, and we should treat it as such.
Shivya Nath – Travel blogger @shivya on Instagram
We have moved to a small Goan village, where an old trading shop turned studio is ‘home’ and we (temporarily) own a kayak! Spending more time in a single place rather than packing in multiple destinations means that you’ll choose to stay somewhere local. The longer you stay, the more you’ll end up trying, and appreciating, local food. You’ll spend time discovering places off the tourist track, buying directly from farmers and artists, interacting with locals and getting a sense of their way of life. In the process, you’ll have contributed to the local economy, kept your environmental footprint low and built a deeper connection with the place. Look beyond popular destinations, to offbeat states with immense natural beauty like Odisha and Chhattisgarh.
Even though India has gradually been unlocking, I’ve made a conscious choice to not travel yet. The thought of catching the virus on the go, or worse, passing it to a vulnerable rural community is a scary one. Besides, I don’t see the joy in socially-distanced, mask-covered travel. For me, the essence of travel are the people I meet along the way — and this strange time has put those interactions largely out of bounds!
Saransh Goila – Chef and co-founder, Goila Butter Chicken
A small yet significant rule I follow is to stay away from touristy spots and activities that may cause harm to the environment. Sustainable travel is the norm we must all abide by today. Avoid littering and be mindful while disposing of thrash. Ditch plastic bags, bottles and containers. Engage in responsible safaris and wildlife interactions. Book accommodation that is eco-friendly. Consume and purchase locally-produced goods — it serves as a souvenir and allows you to boost the local economy. I usually buy a lot of local spices and kitchen ingredients during my travels. I also pack smartly to fit in reusables, like my mugs and bottles.
Dilip Kapur – Founder, Hidesign
Visit a beautiful beach instead of going on an international holiday. Visit our rich sanctuaries that host abundant wildlife and birds. We are lucky to be in a country with a massive coastline and forests. I’m definitely staying away from the cities. And I want a place with nice food [with space to partake it safely outdoors], a bottle of wine, and a cocktail to clink away the blues.