Travel can be a force for good. While waiting for the world to reopen, we’ve had a lot of time to think what that looks like. So we compiled a list of our 2021 travel resolutions below. From ecotourism to sustainable travel, read on for ways to make the world a better place while exploring it.
2021 travel resolutions for peace of mind while travelling
The pandemic certainly shaped the way we think about travel. These resolutions will help us get back out there again when it’s safe.
Focus on flexible travel
Flexible travel was born out of necessity and uncertainty last year, but it’s actually a great travel habit to keep. Our circumstances, both personal and national, change fast, so booking flexible travel helps making plans to get back out there with peace of mind.
But what does flexible travel look like? Firstly, flexible travel means booking flights that allow you to change or cancel your reservation without any fee, or with a smaller fee than usual. Then, flexible travel extends to being able to cancel or change your reservation to a hotel or your car rental for little or no fees.
Since the pandemic started, most airlines have eliminated change fees completely, to make it easier for people to plan ahead. Want to learn more about which airlines are offering flexible flight tickets? Check out our flexible travel guide.
If you need to change your reservation because your flight was cancelled due to changes in COVID-19 travel restrictions, many airlines now issue a coupon or travel credit, so that you can use that money to fly with them whenever it’s possible. Read on for all the things you can do if your flight is delayed or cancelled.
But flexible travel shouldn’t just be COVID-related. At Skyscanner, we firmly believe that everyone should be able to book a trip with comfort and peace of mind. That’s why we added handy tools, both to our website and to our mobile app, to help you do just that.
Whether searching for flights, hotels or car rentals with Skyscanner, make sure to use our filters to only show airlines, accommodation options and car rental vendors that offer free cancellation. That way, even if your plans change, you don’t have to stress. And ‘less stress’ is certainly in everyone’s list of 2021 travel resolutions.
Take more staycations
Did you know that over half (52%) of UK holidaymakers planned UK staycations last year? Staycation as a trend is growing rapidly, and even as the world opens up again, we see no reason for this trend to stop. After all, the UK has so many exciting destinations to offer.
Craving some sea views? Head to Brighton, Bournemouth, Newquay or Saltburn-by-the-Sea in North Yorkshire. Want to marvel at historical architecture? Walk the cobblestone streets of Edinburgh, Canterbury, York or Cambridge. Want to be immersed in a vibrant culture? Pay a visit to Liverpool, Glasgow, Durham or Inverness – the Scottish town has a record number of an average of 11.26 attractions per square mile! Check out our guide for more recommendations on the best cities to visit in the UK.
If you want to explore our own backyard while keeping away from the crowds, how about heading to the rolling green countryside of the Cotswolds, the South Downs National Park, the New Forest National Park or one of Wales’s many National Parks?
Go off the beaten track
Places like Paris and New York will always have our heart. But once it’s time to get back out there again, one of our 2021 travel resolutions is to explore exotic destinations we haven’t visited before.
One way to do that is to opt for unique outdoor activities to help us get reacquainted with nature. How does dune bashing at Rub’ al Khali, the largest expanse of sand in the world, sound? Or hiking the highest mountain in the Balkans? Click here for some more ideas for adventurous holidays in the UK and beyond.
But going off the beaten path doesn’t always mean high-octane activities. Sometimes it can be as simple as relaxing on a sandy beach under the hot, tropical sun, with no other humans in sight. Where can you find such a place? The Canary Islands, if you know where to go. Like Cofete beach, where you will be alone for miles and miles or Güi Güi beach, where you’ll have the cool waters of the Atlantic all for yourself. Check out our guide for more secret spots in the Canary Islands.
If you’re looking to splash out in a paradise setting, it doesn’t get much more secluded and luxurious than a bungalow in the Maldives with a private swimming pool, private sandy beaches and snorkelling in the coral reefs – the Maldives is home to 5% of the world’s entire reef area. Read more self-isolation ideas in the Maldives.
2021 travel resolutions for helping the planet while travelling
Now more than ever, our planet needs us. Once we start travelling again, these 2021 travel resolutions will ensure we do so mindfully and with a lower environmental impact.
Offset our carbon footprint
We all know that travelling, especially by plane, takes a toll on the environment: in fact, the global aviation industry produces around 2% of all human-induced carbon dioxide emissions. This is where a carbon offset comes in. The idea is to make up for the emissions caused by travelling to a place (mostly by air) by giving money to a project that saves an equivalent amount of carbon dioxide somewhere in the world. This can be anything from planting trees to helping projects in developing countries that work towards creating clean water initials, wind farms, hydroelectric power plants and other green energy projects.
The first you need to do is calculate the average carbon footprint of your latest flight. There are several websites that help you do that, which also offer opportunities to then invest in projects that offset that carbon footprint: try Carbon Footprint, Climate Care, Climate Action Reserve, Plan Vivo or Gold Standard. Apart from offsetting the carbon emissions of a flight, these websites also offer opportunities to offset your hotel stay, your daily commute or even your home heating.
Airlines have also started offering opportunities to offset your carbon footprint. Big players like Emirates and Delta offer to offset your carbon emissions, while European airlines like SAS automatically do that for certain types of travellers. You can read more about the airline participants in the carbon offset program here. You can also take advantage of Skyscanner’s tools and filter for flights with lower CO2 emissions to begin with, when booking travel.
Carbon offsetting isn’t a get-out-of-jail-free card for the environment. It’s one part of a complex jigsaw puzzle of cutting emissions to combat irreversible climate damage. However, it’s a good step to be taken alongside more radical measures.
Support ecotourism projects
One of our 2021 travel resolutions close to our heart, is to make travel choices that will help support and sustain ecotourism projects. What is ecotourism? It supports initiatives that help local landscapes and communities all over the world, whether with donations and spreading the word, or with our actual presence. And while in 2020 we tried doing so from home, soon it’ll be time to support ecotourism projects IRL.
Ecotourism is part of a simple (but very important) chain: the more people who choose to visit places that are working to conserve and enhance bio-cultural diversity, the more these efforts and local communities will be financed and supported. If you’re wondering where to begin, check out the official Ecotourism page for more information.
Until recently, ecotourism was focused on small-scale projects in specific areas. But lately, whole countries are jumping on the ecotourism bandwagon. The first one is Australia, whose Ecotourism Australia (EA) non-profit organisation offers certification programs for tourist programs. When you book, for example, a tour guide in Australia, you can look at the tour vendor’s website for the official badge. That badge ensures this vendor is following ecotourism regulations and actively works to support the environment. Find out more about Australia’s program here.
Another country that’s making great strides in ecotourism is Sweden. Their own initiative, Nature’s Best, is actually Europe’s first eco-label certification for tour operators around the country. By booking a tour with one of those certified operators, you know you’ll be positively contributing to the environment where that tour is taking place. Find out more about Sweden’s program here.
Develop a sustainable traveller mindset
Take nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints behind. These sentences sum up the essence of a sustainable travel mindset quite nicely, but how do you actually do it? Sustainable travel means minimising your waste (both when travelling to and from a destination and while exploring it), supporting local vendors so that your money stays within the community and in general be mindful of the place you’re in. You can find more information about the principles of sustainable travel here.
Practical tips on sustainable travel
- Choose destinations that are actively trying to reduce waste and offer sustainable tourism solutions
- Omit checking-in your bag, as this will reduce your carbon footprint
- Download your boarding pass instead of printing it out
- Read ebooks or listen to podcasts and audiobooks on your tablet instead of buying magazines and books at the airport
- Opt for self-catering hospitality options and cook your own food with ingredients from local markets or farms
- Bring a zero-waste kit from home that includes reusable coffee cups, bottles and straws so that you don’t have to buy single-use plastic ones
- When eating or drinking out, request that you’re not served any single-use plastic items.
What are some sustainable travel destinations?
- The Palau archipelago was the first country to ban reef-toxic sunscreen and it’s turned most of its maritime territories into marine preserves
- Norway’s Lofoten islands are a certified Sustainable Destination and are working hard to preserve the local nature, culture and environment
- The Greek islands are a great destination for sustainable foodie travellers, as Greece has increased organic food production by 51% in the last decade
- Gothenburg, Sweden’s second largest city, is working towards being carbon-neutral by 2030 and almost all of its hotels are environmentally friendly
- Antigua and Barbuda have banned single-use plastics and styrofoam
- Costa Rica, through its Pura Vida Pledge, encourages travellers to offset their carbon footprint by donating towards environmental projects. Read more about Costa Rica’s initiative here.
For 2021 travel resolution, this one’s ambitious. Voluntourism shares a similar mission with ecotourism and sustainable travel, with one important distinction: with voluntourism, you become actively involved with a project or community during your time at a destination. It’s basically a combination of tourism and volunteering.
Bear in mind that voluntourism has been criticised. Many people claim that it promotes a ‘white saviour’ mindset among Western travellers. Others note that since most voluntourism projects don’t last more than a few weeks, it’s difficult to have any substantial impact. This means that you must choose a voluntourism project carefully, thinking only about what specific skills you have that can help.
When done right, voluntourism can help stimulate local economies, provide great opportunities for cultural exchange and, yes, help make a difference. The key is to do some research beforehand to make sure your chosen project is committed to the good of the local community over financial gain. You also need to consider whether you’re the right fit for a particular volunteering project. If, for instance, you’re not a very active person, then kayaking in Copenhagen while you also gather waste from rivers and lakes may not be the right project for you. And the last thing you want to do is take an opportunity away from a local person.
Globalteer, WWOOF, Globe Aware and Volunteer World all offer a variety of voluntourism projects all over the world for you to peruse.
So there are our 2021 travel resolutions, from flexible travel to ecotourism and everything in between. We hope they inspire you to make more impactful travel choices this year.
Note: Currently UK is on lockdown until mid-Februry at least, so non-essential travel is not permitted. When travel is permitted again, always check local government guidelines before booking.
Discover where you can go
Making plans to get back out there? Find out whose borders are open with our interactive global map. You can also sign up to receive email updates when your top destinations reopen.