Travel in a Changing World
Places Around the Globe Where Travelers Can Be Part of the Solution
Text by Darcy Bittner

The world is changing, and often in troubling ways. But as a visitor you can be part of the solution. Concerned about planning a trip to an over-visited city? That’s easily solved by detouring to an equally charming, yet lesser known alternative destination. Wanting to support a struggling country whose resources have been threatened by poachers? Then book your getaway to its national park where citizens are making great efforts to restore their country’s natural habitats. Whatever your focus, here are some under-the-radar trips suggested by various The New York Times travel editors.

CHIOGGIA, ITALY

Built on a cluster of islands in the Venetian lagoon, with centuries-old buildings rising from the canals in all their decadent glory, Chioggia is called “piccola Venezia,” or little Venice. Locals beg to disagree: If anything, they say, it’s nearby Venice that should be described as Chioggia’s larger doppelgänger, and it’s true, Chioggia is older. Venice is so worried about being overwhelmed once again after the pandemic that it is planning to resort to surveillance cameras and cellphone data to control the crowds; visiting other culturally rich places like Chioggia can help relieve the pressure. Today, Chioggia is popular with Italian and German visitors, drawn both by the architectural beauties in the historic center and the family-friendly beaches of its mainland suburb, Sottomarina. The city, which has preserved a rough maritime vibe, can serve as an ideal base for bicycle tours. It is also known for its radicchio. During a time of increased awareness of over tourism, this miniature Venice is a delightful alternative for travelers looking for a lesser-known destination. — Anna Momigliano

CHIMANIMANI NATIONAL PARK, MOZAMBIQUE

Even at a time when many of the world’s countries were under extreme duress, the case of Mozambique was severe enough to catch the attention of the United Nations: In March, Secretary General António Guterres called upon the international community to help the African country as it faced the triple threat of climate change, Covid and conflict. It’s not the first time that Mozambique has faced such crisis — its civil war of more than 15 years resulted in a million lives lost and a huge loss for its wildlife, too. But the country showed its resilience. In 2008, the Gorongosa National Park launched a vast program to repopulate a reserve decimated by poaching, accompanied by grass-roots efforts like training local women as game wardens. In May, another spectacular national park was unveiled: Chimanimani, along the border with Zimbabwe. The park has priceless ancient rock paintings; secluded sacred mountains including the country’s highest peak, Mount Binga; and natural habitats for the plants, birds and wildlife like the southern-ground hornbill, miniature squeaker frog and Agama kirkii lizard. — Ondine Cohane

QUEENS, NEW YORK

“There’s probably nowhere else in the world where you can sample the home cooking of more than 150 different countries within such a compact space,” says the restaurant critic Robert Sietsma, who covers the borough’s restaurants for Eater.com. And at a time when long-haul travel is still uncertain, a dim-sum lunch at Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao in Flushing is as quick and delicious a ticket to China as some nostril-clearing shrimp aguachile at the new Mariscos El Submarino in Jackson Heights is a trip to Mexico. “The Queens restaurant industry was slammed by Covid-19, but now it’s recovering because we’re a borough of family-centered communities where the restaurants take care of their own,” says Jonathan Forgash, a chef and borough resident who founded Queens Together, a nonprofit, in March 2020. — Alexander Lobrano

NORTHUMBERLAND, ENGLAND

Britain’s diverse coastline, from the cliffs of Dover to the boardwalks of Brighton, will soon have a unifying element: the 2,800-mile England Coast Path. Developed in part by the governmental organization Natural England, the path aims to increase public access to the coast while also restoring landscapes, improving community connection and promoting sustainable travel. Trail segments that have opened include a 44-mile stretch in the northeast, from the River Tyne to the Northumberland coast, which is the epitome of rugged England: misty dunes, rocky headlands, wild beaches. At night, look up. The Northumberland International Dark Sky Park has some of the lowest light pollution in the country and features one of the largest areas of protected night sky in Europe. Gaze at galaxies sprayed across the sky at Kielder Observatory, and then venture to the ancient past as Hadrian’s Wall is celebrating its 1,900th anniversary with a yearlong festival. — AnneLise Sorensen

ZIHUANTANEJO, MEXICO

This laid-back beach town — neighbor of Ixtapa, the resort destination on the Pacific Coast — and communities around it have spawned grass-roots environmental projects that travelers can support. The conservation nonprofit Whales of Guerrero has helped train fishermen as whale-watching guides, and Campamento Tortuguero Ayotlcalli offers opportunities to join turtle nest patrols and release hatchlings. The guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela, Rodrigo Sánchez and Gabriela Quintero, are involved with local vegan initiatives; Mr. Sánchez runs his own plant-based restaurant, la Raiz de la Tierra. Check into Playa Viva, 30 miles south. The solar-powered regenerative resort has helped revive the adjoining village of Juluchuca by providing education and employment in conservation, tourism and agriculture. It recently joined a new regional project to protect the watershed of the Juluchuca River, which begins in the mountainous interior where guests can take A.T.V. excursions to explore the headwaters at an off-grid coffee and cacao plantation. — Elaine Glusac

ALENTEJO WINE REGION, PORTUGAL

Alentejo has most of the elements required for wine production: sun, soil, native grape varieties and a centuries-old winemaking legacy. What does it lack? Rain. Global warming has increasingly threatened this arid region known for warm and full-bodied reds, so in 2015, the area created the Wines of Alentejo Sustainability Program. By prioritizing water conservation, with measures like developing cover crops for water retention and creating ponds to collect rainwater, the program has helped wineries reduce their average water consumption by 20 percent; some that were using 14 liters of water to produce 1 liter of wine have decreased their needs to 6 liters of water. While upcoming projects include an online calculator for members to measure their carbon and water footprints, the program in 2020 created a certification process to further verify that wineries are following green initiatives. These wineries include Herdade de Coelheiros, a verdant estate with a walnut orchard, a cork forest and a herd of sheep — an organic solution for weed control. — AnneLise Sorensen

KYOTO, JAPAN

Tucked between pachinko parlors and convenience stores, Kyoto’s machiya — traditional wooden townhouses, long and narrow, and often hiding courtyard gardens just beyond their latticed fronts — have been vanishing since World War II. The city has worked hard to preserve the structures: A machiya development fund was created in 2005, and the buildings were twice put on a watch list by the World Monuments Fund. To encourage their conservation, the buildings are also taxed at a lower rate than modern high-rises. But those efforts may now fall short. Teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, Kyoto is in cost-cutting — and revenue-raising — overdrive. After tourism dropped by 88 percent in 2020, some traditional neighborhoods may be threatened by commercial development. Tourism can help. Some investors have converted machiya into guesthouses, boutiques and high-end restaurants. When visitors, and their dollars, come to these properties, they send a message: The history of machiya matters to Kyoto. — Debra Kamin

VANCOUVER ISLAND, BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA

Long a destination for adventurers eager to surf Tofino or watch for orcas or humpback whales, Vancouver Island has recently been the center of a controversy around one of British Columbia’s few remaining patches of old-growth rainforest. These complex ecosystems, which remove and store significant amounts of carbon from the atmosphere, are in increasingly short supply — an argument demonstrators are using against loggers as they try to protect Douglas firs and yellow cedars in the island’s Fairy Creek forest on Pacheedaht First Nation territory. While the fight rages on and Fairy Creek remains inaccessible, the wonderland of Cascadian rainforest can be explored at MacMillan Provincial Park, Pacific Rim National Park Reserve or the UNESCO-protected Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Reserve. Experiencing old-growth forests while we still can is an affecting way to better understand what’s at stake, and what we stand to lose. — Lauren Sloss