Future of Travel: The Sustainable Traveler

Iran Nomad ToursEcoutourism iranFuture of Travel: The Sustainable Traveler

If you’re anything like us, you’ve probably given some thought on the ways our decisions and habits influence the world. In today’s modern world, nothing comes without a price, and a concept as normal and innocent-looking as traveling can come with many negative consequences. In today’s world, in addition to the joy we get from traveling, tourism is considered one of the major industries around the world and countless people’s livelihood depends on it. That’s why being a responsible & sustainable traveler is now more important than it ever was before. Because we’re faced with a multitude of people who want to travel, and if we’re not mindful of the effects we have on our host communities, we might slowly deteriorate them bit by bit. That’s when the idea of a sustainable traveler traveling responsibly comes into our lives.

Principles of Sustainable Travel for a Sustainable Traveler

Sustainable traveling means that as travelers we are responsible for the state of wellbeing and the changes that we make to our host country. That we should leave our traveling destination in better shape than what we found it in. As much as traveling can be a positive source of revenue and cultural exchange for the local communities, it can also be their end. It can mean the excessive opening of grand hotels in untouched and pristine environments, it can cause a rapid loss of culture and increase the use of plastic and unrenewable natural resources. On the other hand, a lot of travelers want something more these days. They don’t just want to go to a destination, stay at a fancy hotel, and visit the touristic sites. Nowadays, many people want to take it up a notch and have a meaningful experience with the locals and at the same time have a clear conscience that they are doing the community well.
In sustainable traveling, sustainable travelers try to travel by the following principles:

  • They try to practice the optimum use of environmental resources. If you’re traveling somewhere that is suffering from a drought, don’t take showers like you used to. Try to learn how local people manage their resources and live like them.
  • They try to cut down on buying plastic as much as possible and bring their own set of reusable dishes and cutlery.
  • Instead of buying from chain supermarkets in the big cities, they opt to shop for groceries from the small local shops in their destination.
  • A sustainable traveler tries to stay away from fancy hotels that come with a sky-rocketing carbon footprint and instead try to couch surf, stay at eco-lodges, and locally-owned apartments, preferably with a local family.
a group of smiling tourists gathered in the yard of a traditional eco lodge with colorful windows in Shiraz, Iran.
Eco-lodges offer a traditional and cozy atmosphere that feels more like home than most hotels do
  • A sustainable traveler has respect for the culture of the local community and travel with an open mind. They don’t presume that they are always right and they practice not judging people that they have met for a short time. Instead, they try to submerge themselves in their culture and learn as much as possible from their hosts’ perspective.
  • They say no to touristic spectacles and scams that they know is hurting the community or the environment. They don’t take selfies with chained wild animals, they leave only footprints on the delicate natural environments and they don’t buy mass-produced souvenirs and instead support the authentic handicrafts and arts of the local people.
  • Whenever possible, they try to walk, cycle, hitchhike, or book a train ticket instead of boarding an airplane.
Cycling Tour-Iran Nomad Tours

Iran Nomad Tours and Sustainability

Iran is home to one of the world’s largest nomadic populations. Traditionally, all the nomads of Iran took part in Kooch or seasonal transhumance to find better pastures for their livestock and avoid scorching summers and harsh winters. Unfortunately, in the past decades, the number of nomads have been rapidly declining. In addition to that, even the nomads that have not migrated to cities are slowly setting aside their ancient lifestyle and are now living a sedentary lifestyle in villages. Only a small group of nomads in Iran still do the seasonal migration just like their ancestors did. It’s crucial to save these micro-cultures for many reasons.

  • First of all, when the nomads start to settle down in villages, they will soon deplete the water resources and face several problems.
  • When the nomads migrate to cities, because of lack of education and financial assets many of them have to live in the slums and work very low-paid jobs.
  • Another huge consequence is the loss of this ancient culture and knowledge which is the fruit of thousands of years of living aligned with the surrounding nature. If the nomads set aside their lifestyle, all that practical knowledge will soon be lost as well. But according to Mr. Allan Savory’s ted talk “How to Fight Desertification”, nomadic life has another equally vital aspect for the environment, and that is the fact that herds of livestock in big numbers moving from pasture to pasture, mimic nature and can stop desertification. As he puts it “The ONLY option to fight desertification and reverse climate change is to use livestock bunched and moving as a proxy for former herds and predators and mimic nature. There is no other alternative for humankind.”

So How Will These Tours Help All That We Just Said Above?

These are the principles that we have in mind for these tours:

  • We always take a very small group of a maximum of 4 people to a nomadic family. In this way, we make sure that the nomads are allowed to continue on their normal life routine, uninterrupted, and our tourists can live with them and have an ultra-authentic experience.
  • To watch our carbon footprint, we usually go to our destination by car and try to board very few domestic airplanes (well, except your flight to Iran). The road trip to nomads’ land takes almost an entire day and is also a great chance for our travelers to bond and also to shop for fresh fruit by local producers on the towns and villages that we pass.
Mighty Zagros mountains and a green camp of travelers who have spent the night sleeping in nature
Nothing can be more adventurous than camping among magnificent Zagros ranges near Bakhtiari nomad families
  • We do not interrupt their traditions or presume to know that what they do is “wrong” and what we know is right. We accept that they have different culture but their lifestyle has sustained them for thousands of years, so we try not to upset its delicate balance.
  • Whenever possible, we try to talk to our nomadic partners on the importance of the environment and wildlife, and how all the animals play a part in the ecosystem.
an old local woman, greets a female tourist while a carpet-weaving loom and colorful balls of yarn are seen in the background.
you don’t need to speak the same language to convey a warm greeting. A Positive attitude speaks for itself.
  • Our nomadic partners always get a share from these tours and in this way, they can live more sustainably and not grow their herds in numbers that would deplete the environment.
  • We try to undo the decades of humiliation and undermining that the nomads have endured by emphasizing how their life is rich and meaningful and that we respect and honor their culture and way of life.
  • We make sure to connect with many nomad families so that they all have the chance to host tourists from time to time and not just become tourist workers and lose their actual culture in the way.
  • We make sure that the nomads are not “serving” us and we are not there to just look. We take part in their daily chores. We gather wood, fetch water, wash the dishes, and do anything that we can to fit in their lives and be as helpful as possible.

Sustainable travel is a fairly new concept in the world. Ironically, the most sustainable thing we can do might be to avoid airplanes, cars, and hotels altogether and just stay at home, but as human beings exploring is part of our nature and is something that brings joy and learning experiences to our lives. That’s why we are trying our best every day to travel more sustainably and to make sure our tours are as sustainable as possible. We are still learning in this process and we encourage you to try and practice sustainability in your travels. Remember to take small steps and don’t let all the rules intimidate you. Maybe you have already started to cut down on using plastic, or maybe you are cycling to work every day to make up for that flight you are going to take on your vacation, just know that whatever step you take can tip the scale in favor of sustainability. Never is too late to be a sustainable traveler.

A nomadic woman dressed in black is showing a tourist how to knead the dough to make traditional flatbread
When in Rome do as the Romans do. In this case, learn how to make flatbread from nomadic women.

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