‘We must travel better’
To travel or not to travel? That is the question so many of us have been grappling with in different ways for the last several months. Gone are the days when we could hop on a flight for an indulgent weekend, taking for granted the crossing of borders, without eyeing everyone we came across with suspicion, and exploring new places without a shadow of doubt hovering over us as to whether strict protocol is being followed. Has some of that carefree joy of travel disappeared? Yes, it has. But, there’s more.
This past year has also forced all of us to think about what we love so much about travel—and that’s made us realise just what we are in danger of losing. As more forests burn, as more glaciers melt, as more pollution damages the air, as more wildlife slips away, as the world heats up, we stand to lose many of the things that don’t just make us want to travel, but simply the joys of being alive.
The tragedies of this past year have been overwhelming, and yet, through all the darkness, I do see light. There has been light ever since the early lockdown days, when Mumbai’s sunsets dazzled fuchsia and orange like they used to when I was growing up. When we began birdwatching in our own cities through our windows. There has been light since Delhi breathed some of the purest air it has in years. There has been light since our readers began asking more questions than they normally do about a trip to Goa or the Maldives. There has been light since the day you started buying local, since the day you decided to give your neighbourhood darzi more work instead of throwing away an outfit. There has been light since the moment you had a staycation. We have—myself included—for many years considered sustainability unfashionable, the domain of hippies. But what we all learned this year was that there are a million ways to be sustainable and in our own ways, we are all trying to do better. And that’s what matters.
Creating a sustainability-themed issue is always a danger because it is almost impossible to encourage travel without leaving an impact on the environment. But we all know how important travel is, to us personally, to the economy, for a larger understanding of the world we live in. It is one of life’s greatest joys. So don’t feel overwhelmed by the prospect of travelling more consciously; embrace it and figure out your way to do it better. Make it your own project. There are so many amazing women in this issue who manage to travel the world responsibly, inspiring me to do the same. Geetika Jain and Pragya Kapoor’s stories will definitely make you think—and also act. And Sandip Roy’s cruise down the Sunderbans, India’s own beautiful mangrove swamps, will make you dream again. So to answer the big question: to travel or not to travel? My answer is we absolutely must travel, but we must absolutely travel better. I hope this issue is a step forward in your own journey.