Travel has always been an exciting way to escape the monotony of life. In the movies and on television, we often watch stories unfold in countries and locations far away from our own. The characters seem to walk through nearly empty streets, visit charming restaurants, and share life-changing moments with others in front of historic buildings and postcard versions of tourist attractions. We make our own travel plans hoping for the same: an emptiness or serenity that allows us to fully appreciate the beauty of the location. But when we arrive at a destination, often times our experience is completely different than what we saw in the movies or on television.Travelers like you might be both surprised and dismayed to find that these “perfect” destinations are bustling with traffic, global business chains, and swarms of other tourists. While this situation is inconvenient for us as travelers, we have the ability to leave and head back to our own homes; meanwhile, locals are stuck in an endless cycle of tourists, crowdedness, and little recourse of their own. Welcome to a destination plagued by overtourism.

So what is overtourism? Overtourism is, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, “the impact of tourism on a destination, or parts thereof, that excessively influences perceived quality of life of citizens and/or quality of visitors experiences in a negative way.” This situation, most often misconstrued as only occurring in large cities, can also impact smaller towns where tourism is a fundamental staple of the economy, such as a cruise ship destination or port. Reports from around the world describe the canals of Venice as having cloudy water due to the amount of boat traffic caused by tourists. If you want to take a scenic photo of the ruins at Machu Picchu, you will find tourists everywhere and extremely limited time for visiting the ruins due to overcrowding.

While all of these detract from the experience of the visitor, many locals within these cities find their home’s resources depleted in multiple ways. An economy based primarily on tourism means jobs for locals will consist of lower pay and fewer opportunities within the job market. A phenomenon called tourism leakage also takes place as large global brands establish their foothold in these areas, meaning that over 93% of the money generated within a popular tourist site will leave the local community and benefit only global corporations. As tourists spend money in a destination, prices for most products, including rent and housing, inflate making it that much more difficult for locals to purchase what they need on a regular basis.

As prices rise, locals still need to find ways to make up for this new cost of living. This can further accelerate the negative impact of overtourism. Land is sold as global businesses build more hotels and other accommodations for the influx of tourists. As construction increases, animals’ habitats and food sources diminish as properties lay their foundations where vegetation used to be found. Resources taken from the shrinking forests and jungles are used to supply the growing populations (both local and tourist). Former markets and locations frequented by locals are now overrun with tourists. Meanwhile, rural residents find that they need to venture into the city to make any money and witness the slow decay of a place that will not benefit as much as the cities that tourists flock to.

The data can be overwhelmingly depressing but politicians, scientists, business owners and travel enthusiasts alike are working together to create a world in which the conditions for overtourism are reduced and more people can benefit from the tourism industry. The primary ways that this change is occurring is through ecotourism and sustainable tourism. Ecotourism and sustainable tourism promote the growth and care of natural habitats, animal populations, and economies while helping prevent leakage of incoming tourist money. They also help to create environments where locals can value nature and its preservation because that, in and of itself, is an experience a tourist will pay for.

Ecotourism and sustainable tourism practices have already been implemented in many destinations. Here are some examples.. Venice has begun charging an entrance fee of $3.42 USD for daytime visitors to help make sure the city receives an economic benefit from the high tourism rates. Paris no longer allows tour buses into the city but advises individuals to walk, bike, or carpool. Kenyan safaris use the money generated from sales of tickets to prevent poaching and aid in conservation. Amsterdam instituted a program called “Marry an Amsterdammer” which partners visitors with a local who, for a day, will “marry” them at the airport before taking them on a journey around Amsterdam’s local businesses and sights for the “honeymoon.” Each of these locations faces a different set of issues caused by overtourism and are using ecotourism and sustainable tourism practices to make positive changes.

Individual travelers can also participate in sustainable tourism and travel more responsibly. Here are some of the ways to implement these practices in your own travels:

  • Travel to less populous areas. The Incan peoples lived in Machu Picchu but they also created several smaller cities, like Choquequirao and the Sacred Valley, in the surrounding countryside. Besides getting a more perfect shot for your scrapbook, you will have an equally memorable experience without contributing to the deterioration of a cityscape created centuries ago.

  • Travel out of season. Locals rely on income year-round (not just during summer or the “convenient” travel seasons). By traveling out of season, you will find fewer crowds when sightseeing while also providing income to locals and preventing the overuse of resources whether natural or man-made. For example, the Grand Canyon can receive 1.5 million visitors during the summer and less than 250,000 during winter months.

  • Consider options besides globally-branded hotels and lodging. Locals’ living costs are directly correlated with independently-contracted bed and breakfasts or franchised hotels: the more global brands move in, the higher rent and the cost of living become. By staying in local, family-run hotels and lodging, money is kept in the community without driving up the cost of living.

  • Patronize family-owned and locally-owned businesses. This will provide additional income to individuals first-hand while you enjoy an authentic product or experience.

  • Purchase fair-trade or sustainable products. Whether home or abroad, this is probably the easiest technique to introduce to life now. Fair-trade ensures that all individuals participating in the production of a product are paid fair and equally as opposed to providing a cheap product at the cost of an employee’s living conditions. When purchasing souvenirs, look for ones that are locally-made rather than imported.

ExplorEquity organizes travel experiences that highlight less-traveled destinations to create an authentic experience connecting travelers to local communities. Honduras, Belem and the Para State in Brazil, and Las Marias in Puerto Rico are just a few of the locations that ExplorEquity has visited or is currently planning trips for. While these locations may not be well-known, each of them provides a unique experience that is valuable and memorable for anyone visiting.

Overtourism benefits no one and seriously harms local economies, peoples, and nature. By instituting one of the many practices of sustainable tourism, we as travelers are able to create a more memorable experience for ourselves while contributing to a sustainable economic, natural, and local environment for the people that live there. Do you currently travel responsibly? If not, how do you plan to travel more responsibly in the future? Share in the comments!

Updated: May 23, 2020

As summer quickly approaches, many people are finding that they’ve had to cancel or postpone trips due to travel restrictions and COVID-19. The cancellations can be heartbreaking and we need to find ways to cope with the now available time. Boredom while being quarantined is a real phenomenon. ExplorEquity wants to provide you with some short-term solutions to alleviate some of your travel blues. We asked our followers on our social media platforms what they’re doing to get their travel fixes at home and here’s what they had to say:

This is so difficult for me! It’s like telling me I can’t breathe. I LOVE to travel! I have been looking through my travel journals/photo albums and reminiscing while continuing to make a list of ALL the places I have yet to experience!” -Dra. Dulce Lopez, PsyD; @dracrzn

“I’ve been following others’ travel memories on Instagram and looking through my own photos has been quite therapeutic in that respect.”


"In early March, we decided to cancel all international travel because it would put our African women farmers at risk. To cope with this, we've been doing video interviews with them. We miss traveling for conferences so we've been engaging via online conferences and coffee chats. I even have some Zambian-farmed honey to remind me of the local farms. Try it with an English muffin and peanut butter!"

- Michelle; @theharvestfund “I post daily, focus on gratitude and drool at travel photos on everyone's social media. We will definitely be traveling in the future, but just so grateful to have experienced so much prior to this.” -Simone Warren; @ruribluedestinations

I’ve been sorting through, archiving and editing years worth of travel footage. It’s been so cathartic and nostalgic! I finally have time to blog about some of these experiences as well but I’m just waiting until it’s more appropriate. I’ve been trying to stay off of social media but I have enjoyed everyone’s travel-related posts, videos and articles.” -Malou; @skiptomalouuu I bought some passion fruit butter from a local farm I visited in Hawaii and just had the most wonderful breakfast with it. I definitely miss the sensation and thrill of travel, and these small things bring me back!” -Anna I started going through my travel photos and sharing them on Instagram. I've been to 27 countries by the age of 23 and can't wait to visit every country in the world. I'm also learning how to edit photos and videos and watching way too many movies.” -Ena; @globetrottingsolo “I’ve been traveling since so long that home doesn’t feel like home anymore. I know this is just a transient moment, and I apply all the positive thinking and tolerance as I do while I travel, which I learned on the road. Second, I read a lot, learn new things, hear about new stories and work on new projects. The thrill of travel is that everything is always new. So if you get this newness shot every day, it’s a bit like travel. Third, I exchange a lot with all my friends who live all around the world and I make new friends through social media. Lastly, I get as much nature as I can by walking the countryside and helping out at a horse farm nearby.” - @Explorzila_voyage “COVID-19 has given me a new appreciation for staycations. Do I miss traveling? And am I disappointed I won’t be traveling to St. Louis, Colombia, and New Orleans? Absolutely! But with this opportunity to remain home for the past month, I’ve been able to try new recipes, discover international TV shows and films, and enjoy my staycation partner’s (and doggies’) company through it all.” - Adriana Smith, Travepreneur; @travepreneur “This time of shelter in place which has brought travel to a standstill has been difficult. Not only is travel intrinsic to my life but residing on a small isolated island, there is zero possibility of any travel without flights operating. This literal standstill hasn’t been all bad though. It has brought a whole new consciousness by awakening my senses to the treasures around me, even in my own backyard. The sounds, smells, and sights that I once overlooked couldn’t be any more apparent. I’ve returned to some of the simple things in life including enjoying the sounds of bird sounds, tending to the plants and herbs in my garden to make delicious teas and enjoying the fruits growing around me. I have been inspired to see this awakening taking place all around my island. With this new consciousness, I am optimistic that when travel resumes, travelers (including myself) and destinations alike - especially small islands - will emerge from the shelter in place to rediscover and reimagine travel that will be slower and more sustainable. My thoughts and prayers go out to the families who have been impacted by this pandemic.” -Marcelle; @ecoislandtraveller “My partner and I are using the time we have now during this crisis to work on our project: making sure that every travel plan made can make both the traveler and local grow. So we do research, test things, prepare everything, and we have already started giving advice on our Instagram profile.” -Majda; @majdatravels

"I'm getting my travel fix during this time by continuing to plan adventures and creating a support system of other travelers who love travel and adventures as much as I do."

-Shuntelle Paynter; @ajourneytotelle

We love all of the suggestions that were submitted to help the community! After some brainstorming, here are some additional suggestions we came up with:

Take virtual tours: Google Arts & Culture made headlines by working with art museums and cultural centers to provide a platform to showcase famous works of art (and hidden treasures) to audiences all over the world. YouTube also serves as a platform for travelers, experienced and amateur alike, to showcase their travels and adventures for major tourist areas but also areas that are more off-the-grid. Other museums and cultural centers are sharing their exhibits on a case-by-case basis so it’s worth checking out their social media pages to find out more!

Make recipes from around the world: As people are forced into quarantine, more individuals are cooking their own meals and turning to their kitchens as a place for exploration. Travelers and locals alike are sharing their recipes for authentic cuisine which you can make from home. What better way to connect with another culture than through food?

Learn international dances: The rise of TikTok allows people to share their moves within the comfort of their own homes. YouTube and TikTok are great platforms to find traditional global dances that you can practice, especially when no one is watching, and then dance with others (digitally, of course)!

Join ExplorEquity’s virtual events: Joining ExplorEquity’s virtual events like our upcoming happy hour & dialogue with our partners! We love talking and meeting all of you but we love building community even more. Virtual happy hours are a great way to bond with other travel lovers. It’s also a great way to learn more about how everyone else is coping with the lack of travel. Click here to see our upcoming events.

This list is not exhaustive so if an idea inspires you, be creative with your process! None of these will truly replace traveling to other countries, meeting the locals, and experiencing new cultures but we hope that they can help get us through this challenging time. Did we miss a really good idea? Let us know if there are other ways you’re able to get your travel fix right now!

Communities are so important, especially during this time. In this blog series, we spoke to three leaders who build communities around travel and sustainability. They gave us their insight on what they are doing to change the way they build community during this pandemic.

This interview is with Kerry Botensten, the Head of Trips for Tripsha is a community and platform for travelers who want to connect. It’s a place to meet new travelers, join curated trips, host trips and create memorable experiences with like-minded travelers.

As the Head of Trips for Tripsha, Botensten currently leads curated trips while both training and guiding hosts in successfully leading their own trips. Her trips are unique to the travelers attending, consisting of adventures off the beaten path, local experiences, current culture and lots of laughter. She credits her experience on Wall Street, working in entertainment and her passion for travel bringing her to her current role. After leaving her financial job and traveling to over 50 countries, she decided to combine her passion and her professional experience and share travel with others.

In all of your work, what have you learned about the importance of building community?

Kerry Botensten: Communities are built to bring like-minded people together, creating a bond of similar interests, similar personalities and similar processes. Communities are the foundation and support system during rough times (COVID) and the growth/inspiration during good times. You are ultimately creating a “team” which is always stronger together than separate. This is evident in our daily lives. When you’re at a baseball game, most people want to be surrounded by fans of the same team creating a community. When you’re at the gym and you take a yoga class, you’re in a community.

Travel communities are the same. Leaving your daily routine to travel to an unknown place can be scary, so travel communities can help ease this uncertainty. At Tripsha, we believe that travel Communities are extremely important for developing trust, security and a comfort level for all travelers. On a corporate level, the Tripsha community creates brand loyalty, an understanding of our mission and a unified network among our hosts and our travelers.

It then tiers down to multiple other subset travel communities. Are you adventurous? A foodie? Beachgoer? Historian? Figuring out how you want to travel, what you want to do while traveling and the pace of your travel are all key factors in travel communities you can join within our community. We know that our travelers want to find others to travel with, feel secure with, discuss travel interests with and unify with while traveling.

How did the coronavirus impact your organization and its plans for 2020? What changes do you anticipate for 2021 and beyond?

K.B.: We noticed the impact very early in the year as travelers questioned traveling internationally. The fear that came out of China had our clients hesitant about booking trips. We understood the uncertainty and wanted to support our travelers as much as possible. Due to the virus, Tripsha has postponed all trips through mid-summer and is being updated as the environment changes.

As for beyond, travel will slowly resume. I expect that the summer and fall trips for 2020 will mainly be domestic for each country. Traveling will start with transportation via road trips, trains and shorter domestic flights, not internationally. The focus will also shift away from large crowded cities to mountains, beaches, and more remote destinations. To start, travel groups will be smaller and among friends, as people adjust to being in group situations again.

In 2021, international travel will return but maybe selective on which region and type of travel as each country eases restrictions at different times.

Have you changed the way you build community right now? How have you responded? How do you plan to respond?

K.B.: We have changed the focus of our community but have not stopped building it. The focus has shifted from travel inspiration and creating groups in foreign destinations to being supportive, positive and a stabilizer for this uncertain environment. We want to be a safe positive space for travelers who have questions, concerns and need support.

What has been the impact of the coronavirus on your community’s members?

K.B.: Our members are connected because they all love to travel, to meet new friends and to travel together in groups. Right now, none of this is possible, therefore it’s creating a sense of emptiness. Most travelers feel like they have lost the ability to have a balanced lifestyle of work and travel. They are confused, anxious and want to know when life will resume and when they can travel again. Some are feeling isolated and yearning to connect with others who feel the same way. This is why we intend to keep our community present and supportive for all.

What advice do you have for everyone under quarantine, and in particular, travel lovers?

K.B.: We always say that we don’t have enough time. This is your time to learn something new, spend time with loved ones (whether virtually or at home), work out, write, meditate, cook, etc. Catching up with old friends or family will help with the lack of human contact. And travel lovers, you can still go online and plan for future trips, write about old trips, create videos and photo books from past trips. Reminiscing and celebrating past trips are positive ways to keep the travel spirit in you alive. I also strongly believe that knowledge is the key to stabilizing the mind and helping with potential anxiety. Keeping up with the news and current events will give your mind the power to create your own assumptions and feel confident with the vast amounts of information. Because of this, I have been posting the brief news highlights every morning on my Instagram stories. It’s for people who don’t have time to read/watch the news but still want to understand the highlights of the ever-changing environment. It’s true; knowledge is power.

When you look to the future, what are you hopeful for? What challenges do you foresee?

K.B.: I’m hopeful and know that we will all come out stronger, more resilient and not take as much for granted. We will also learn more about ourselves and become more confident. This time at home, without our normal socialization and time schedules, will help us realize how simple life actually is. From a financial perspective, it will also help us understand where and how we spend our money.

The challenges will be reversing the fear of social interaction: getting on an airplane, going to museums, hugging each other, eating at a restaurant, using public transportation, etc. These are all functions of society that, in a month, have become abnormal to us. It will take time, science and our communities to build this up again. I have no doubt we can and will!

What resources can you share?

K.B.: Email alerts are my savior! It’s a quick, easy way to get an idea of what you want to see whether it’s flight deals, news updates, shopping deals, etc. For the current environment, I visit the CDC website as well as the U.S. Department of State’s travel website. I also receive local city alerts (via phone).

If you’re interested in learning more about Kerry’s work and Tripsha, visit her at: